Friday, 7 November 2008

Beggars in Spain, Higher Education and In Fury Born: Three science fiction book reviews

The Random Quote: There is a theory which states that if anybody ever discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. DOUGLAS ADAMS - THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

Three random reviews of Science fiction books

Nancy Kress*'s Beggars in Spain: futuristic, US, some people are modified not to need sleep, and therefore become brighter and smarter and excel. this leads to the usual xenophobia, hate and fear, and most of the sleepless separate from society. It has a longish timeframe and deals with cultural values and conflicting philosophies.

Also Higher Education (J. Pournelle and SM Stirling*) which resembles a semi-predictable Ender's Game or one of the new ones by James Patterson (Wings, with the corporate-mutated induced winged children - it read like that in style and substance) and had a scarily similar US based-future-complacent-hardly anyone is able, or needs, to, read setting to Beggars in Spain. The protagonist (teenage boy) is expelled and recruited into a secret mining organization. Tough love, intriguing space maths and real education ensues. Opinions of the company - as revealed by the narrative - swing dramatically through: They are good, they are bad, they are okay... (*Note, both books/authors looked up through the Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction anthology ).

Had a lot of difficulty trying to get through David Weber's In Fury Born. I made the fatal mistake of leaving it for a few days. It is huge, and he is very fond of the self-evident exposition, irrelevant back history and detailed technology. Some of it is interesting, or even required but the rest... repeatedly and obviously explaining someone's motives, usually through a character thinking for two pages about the physical stance, or fleeting impression, or back history:
the adjective way they verb simply to point out something that was obvious. For example "they knew their job, he disliked her, they had no choice but ..."
So it is very hard to jump back into. Which is annoying, as there is good story in there, it just takes several pages to find it again.

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