Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher
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Recommended Books

Implied Spaces
It's rare for me to feel the "sense of wonder" from an SF novel today. I've read enough that most books are exploring niches or playing with variations on stuff I've seen before. Implied Spaces isn't the first SF novel I've read on Singularity-level societies either but it does it better. The inhabitants think of themselves as having come up to the Singularity and stopped just before it, but by my definition they're well into it. Not least of their powers is effective immortality--for someone to die for real the sun would have to blow up and destroy all his backups. That raises the question of what people want when they have it all, which the characters refer to as the "Existential Crisis." The author finds one answer in the Most Ambitious Villain Ever. Seriously. Next to this guy Sauron is shaking down kindergarteners for lunch money. What he wants is too big a spoiler for me to ruin for anyone. Highly recommended to all SF fans.


The March Series (aka Empire of Man)
At first glance this series fits nicely into the Military SF blood-bath niche. Bunch of guys dumped on a dangerous world, slaughtering wogs in piles and taking casualties so heavy that not even a name will keep minor characters alive. If Weber's outline had been handed to a lesser writer that's probably what we would've gotten but Ringo found more in it. The dominant theme is Prince Roger's growth from a spoiled, sheltered child to a man and a leader. It's not easy--the only thing in the book more dangerous than walking point is being a father figure to Roger--but he rises to the responsibilities forced on him. The more subtle theme, driving the second and third books, is how religion works as part of society, both driving behavior and being used as a tool. Having a practicing Satanist Priestess as part of the Marine unit makes it easier to illustrate some of those points.

The series is supposed to go for seven books. Right now there's no date for the fifth one--Ringo is waiting on an outline from Weber--and I'm fine with it ending where it is. At the end of book four Roger's completed his personal journey. There's room for plenty of stories in the setting but Roger would be off-stage for the best ones. If he does his job well he'll never have blood on his sword again.


Cotillion
Of all the heroes of Heyer's romances Freddy has to be the least romantic. It's made very clear that he's not handsome or witty or commanding. The only classic romantic hero trait he has is dancing skill. What he does have to offer is practical competence. Not in the fixing plumbing way, that's nothing a Regency gentleman would even think of doing. What he does is solve the problems faced by a lady of his own class dealing with the complexities of Society. Something that, after a while, is more appealing to our heroine than cutting a dash or striking Byronic poses. As a guy who's more practical than romantic myself that makes me like the story.
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