This is ridiculously awesome. Gollancz decided to bring a lot of classic SF/F back into print as ebooks. More of this stuff should be out of copyright by now, it’s all DRMed, and two-thirds of it can’t be bought in the United States, but despite all that I’m really happy. Cordwainer Smith, Pat Cadigan, Kuttner and Moore — lots of books that should be available, and now sort of are. It’s cultural history that matters to my tribe. There are books I’m keeping in physical form just because who knows when someone will digitize all the old Gardner Fox? But efforts like this one make me hopeful.
It is rather difficult to talk about Neal Stephenson’s newest without spoiling lots. In generic, cloudy, unsatisfying terms: it’s a Stephenson book, with lots of thought experiments and science and so forth. There are action scenes. The world changes dramatically during the course of the book, as a result of the actions of the protagonists. There is a romance of sorts, in which a practical female character falls for a slightly fuzzy-minded idealist.
The alien world setting is nice. I found myself very engaged by the society and the worldbuilding. Which is good, because there’s a lot of it before the plot proper starts.
OK, spoilers. Don’t get too excited, since it’s just gonna be a one-liner quip.
Daniel Keys Moran has put The Armageddon Blues up for download, right over here. It’s not his best novel, but it’s worth reading. And it’s a good sign, because it fulfills the promise that there’s more coming. So big thanks to him.
The judge in the Rodgers/Moran court case has apparently asked both parties to stop flaming each other online. At least, he asked DKM to take his blog down and there’s nothing left of all the posts Alan Rodgers made about how evil DKM was over on his blog. Thanks thusly go out to the judge, too.
From his new blog:
In any event, AI War is the only thing I’ll be working on this summer, and once it’s clean, I’m going to roll into the concluding sequel — it’s been years since I’ve written SF, but I am going to publish AI War and its sequel, Crystal Wind, before the people who care about it succumb to Alzheimers.
But, yeah. He was gonna turn in AI War to Bantam in 1995. And he was gonna animate The Long Run in 1998 — “the pilot will happen.” Plans, I suppose, sometimes fall through.
There’s this weird dichotomy, too. DKM says, “Now … the book is still under contract to Bantam. I doubt they want it, but who knows?” Bantam said, back in 1998, “Mr. Moran has bought back the rights to his Players: The Ai Wars and left Bantam.”
So take it all for what it’s worth. It’s also the case that the guy went blind in one eye, and I can see how that would blow out one’s ability to write. I wouldn’t criticize him for not finishing the books; I’m just suspicious of his ability to self-evaluate the chances that they’ll get done.
The Last Colony is a pretty fun read in the “crowded galaxy with humans jostling for position” subgenre of the space opera subgenre. It’s kind of hard for me to evaluate it objectively, because it kept hitting all these SF tropes I know and love. Look! A colony lands on a new planet, and yeah, that thing that happens quite often in colonizing novels happens. Hey, there’s a wide-ranging alliance among semi-hostile races. And… wait, no powered armor.
This isn’t a bad thing at all; it’s all done quite well, albeit there’s no payoff to the thing that always happens in colonizing novels. It’s just the kind of thing that suits me perfectly, and I can’t say if it’d make someone who isn’t steeped in the field quite as happy.
The politics is fun. I really like the way Scalzi writes politics; you get a good range of motivations, bad guys don’t always agree, and it’s complex but believable. People get lucky a lot, but I suspect that’s a world law of the Scalziverse.
Hm. Yeah, it definitely is. “Hey, we managed to lay our hands on this MacGuffin here for reasons which will go completely unexplained, but it’s what you need, yep.” OK, so his characters are remarkably lucky as a class.
Quibbles: there’s a big expository lump or two in the middle of the book, and a couple of characters who exist largely to feed our protagonist expository lumps. See also Scalzi’s remarks on the Fermi Paradox. It might have been a slightly better book if he hadn’t given into the temptation to answer those particular critics via lumpage, but eh, it’s a pretty small lump.
So fun reading. I really like coherent straight-forward heroic space opera. (I also like Iain Banks, mind you.) This is that.