Archive | January, 2016

Luna: New Moon

23 Jan

New Moon (Luna, #1)New Moon by Ian McDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a bit disoriented at first by the admixture of common moon colonization tropes with the almost medieval merchant-dynastic politics whose commonplaces include trial by combat and arranged marriages (granted, some of them are same-sex arranged marriages).

This novel is soap opera-meets-space opera, most specifically, a 1980s-prime time type soap opera of the “Dynasty” stripe. Once you accept that, though, it’s good entertainment. Me, I dig soap opera when it’s done well, as it is here.

I found the feudalistic/Wild West/post-nationalistic depiction of the Moon’s near future unlikely, but the narrative admits freely that that is the kind of world it is depicting. It helped having one character’s (Adriana Corta) past set in our present as a bridge between the now and the future of the story.

Indeed, this first novel in the Luna series is Adriana Corta’s story. She is the common thread that knits together the various story lines of her children, grandchildren, allies, and enemies.

There is also a “character of invitation” (a character with a background more like the reader’s), Earth-born Marina Calzaghe, who reacts to and interprets the actions of the characters in a way most readers will. This also helped ground me in the story. However, you don’t start to see those reactions until after you’ve been thrust into the story world as it is perceived by Moon natives.

This book is way sexier than KSR’s 2312, I must add, although it is downright pornographic in places.

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2312

11 Jan

23122312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It might have been too soon after Aurora to read another Kim Stanley Robinson novel. But I’ve had 2312 in my collection for two years and needed to finish it. Also, I’ve been Jonesing lately for science fiction stories that take place exclusively in our solar system, rather than depicting interstellar travel.

Robinson builds up a plot in his usual way– out of a mosaic of endless, tiresome, breathtaking description. He does random, nonsensical things just for the opportunity they provide for his long-winded sensualities, like having his protagonist travel from Io to Earth on a ship with absolutely no internal lighting, and another ship that is one long orgy.

He breaks up the narrative with entire chapters of scientific, technological, and sociological exposition and lists, which he calls “abstracts,” “extracts,” and yes, “lists,” as if determined to show off his world-building notes and editing castoffs. Must be nice to get away with that.

His main character is annoyingly, stubbornly naive and storms through the novel like a bull in a China shop. I went back and forth between admiring her courage and wanting to smack her.

I was intrigued by the actual plot, when Robinson actually paused to spend syllables on it. It presents as a political mystery–terrorist acts the main characters must trace the origin of. Robinson should consider adding a plot to his word paintings more often in the future.

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The Three-Body Problem

2 Jan

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2015’s Cloud Atlas: a somewhat offbeat tour-de-force whose character motivations ultimately strain credulity just a bit. Every time someone went into the three – body game, I wanted to skip over those parts. I didn’t see the appeal of the Trisolaran culture as depicted in the game. In fact, I found it repugnant. So I couldn’t really understand its appeal to the characters.

A lot of this book relied on tell-don’t-show, flashback, and pure info dump to get the entire story told in a reasonable length.

The Chinese cultural setting is the most interesting and refreshing part of the book. Well, that and the living computer circuit scene.

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