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Rolling Thunder (Thunder and Lightning #3)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  751 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Lieutenant Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Strickland?otherwise known as Podkayne?has joined the Music, Arts, and Drama Division of the Martian Navy, passing the audition with a little help from some higher-ups. And now she's going to Europa, one of Jupiter's many moons, to be an entertainer. But she's about to learn that there can be plenty of danger to go around in the Martian ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by Ace Books
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Jun 06, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Renata
If you couldn't get enough Heinlein back in your teens, and especially if you were female and aggravated at the lack of strong female characters, well, Podkayne is back, and more liberated than ever! Varley has created an excellent Heinlein homage for we baby boomers, with references to many of "the Dean's" works that are so subtly inserted into the narrative that you might even miss them if you're not looking. I had a blast reading this book! Varley must've been channeling Heinlein. Climb on bo ...more
Jan 06, 2010 Bondama rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first John Varley book I've read in a very long time -- and it's made me remember how very, very much I liked his work. His novella, "The Persistence of Vision" is one of my all time-top ten favorites. This is the work that won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.

But I love John Varley, in particular, because the man has a sense of humour. The protagonist in this book is a 6'4" (or 5") 19 year old, Martian born girl named Podkayne. (At least that's the shortened version of her name!)
Roger Bailey
Back when I was in junior high school the school library had a shelf with all the Heinlein juveniles on it. I read every one of them, but my memory of each varies. The school itself no longer exists, but if I could somehow be transported back in time I could still go directly to that shelf and even be familiar with the order in which they were shelved. One of those books was Podkayne of Mars. That is one that, after more than forty years, I have no memory of the plot. I only remember that it had ...more
May 10, 2008 Jude rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The last book in Varley's most recent trilogy -- much like Red Thunder had a different feel from the first book, this one, too, reads differently from the first two books. I wouldn't recommend reading this book without reading the first two, as you might be a bit lost, but that's just a better reason to read the whole trilogy!

To me, Varley sort of has two different writing styles... his "old" style and his "new", as I call them. The old style includes many of his Eight Worlds stories like Steel
Douglas Berry
Dec 23, 2016 Douglas Berry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it in two days. It's really that good. And I swear Varley didn't write this, it was Robert Heinlein. The style, the plot, the characters . . . Everything took me back to my earliest days reading SF and Heinlein's juveniles.
Kathy Davie
Aug 01, 2011 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, young-adult
Third in the Red Thunder young adult science fiction series set in an alternate Earth where Mars and its people have the upper hand and disaster has created havoc in America splitting it into several independent countries.

The Story
Lieutenant Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Podkayne Strickland-Garcia-Redmond is fulfilling her required military duty acting as Martian Consul on Earth when she's recalled home. Granny Betty is dying and she wants to say good-bye to everyone. The trip is a blessing as Poddy
Katie King
Jul 30, 2012 Katie King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just listened to my Kindle read this to me. Perhaps the mechanical voice is perfect after all for something like this. The first time I read this, well, frankly I didn't get all the way through it actually. The second time I did, and gave it four stars even, but that was a gift really, in celebration of this series and of Varley as a beloved author.

But this time, mechanical voice and all, somehow it got to me -- differently and better. It still felt a bit too rambling, but then so is Time Enoug
In the sequel to Red Thunder and Red Lightning, we yet again skip ahead a generation, this time to Podkayne, granddaughter of Manny and Kelly. Martian born and bred, she is drafted (as all are) into service with the Martian Navy. The book starts by ridiculing Earthies (those who live on Earth) as generally helpless and whiny. It is hard to find too much fault in that assesment, but more about that later. As is sometimes the case with Varley, he writes more chronicle than anything else, and thus ...more
Jun 27, 2008 Kit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It's unabashedly Varley's take on Podkayne of Mars, starring 18-year-old Podkayne Strickland-Garcia, granddaughter of Manny and Kelly from Red Thunder. I'm starting to wonder if there's some kind of "Curse of the Podkaynes" that turns otherwise hopeful books into bad ones.

The nearest I can come to explaining What Went Wrong is that this book reads like the first halves of three different books one after the other, all of which could have been good, none of whic
Bruce Sanders
This work is an homage to the juvenile science fiction of Robert Heinlein. In that regard it is very well done; it is very Heinleinesque. I grew up reading Heinlein's juvenile sci-fi, and very much enjoyed it. One way in which this book is similar to those books is that it has what I call a Manichean shallowness to it. The world is black and white, there are certain values propounded as simply common sense, and there is no critical thought provoked vis a vis those values. This is probably okay f ...more
Richard Risch
First of all I want to say it's a pretty good book. It's unique treatment by the author cleverly wraps humor and science fiction together as one in the form as a personal diary type story. It kept my interest fairly well throughout the reading and also was very accurate for the most part in science fact and description.

With that said, however, there were several aspects of the book that I didn't like, one of which is mountains on one of Jupiter moons, which turned out to be some type of celesti
Aug 19, 2011 Beau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly lightweight and more-blatant-than-usual Heinlein pastiche by Varley, but great fun for all of that, more delicious cotton candy than a hearty steak. Not much happens, really -- the narrator is a spectator to alien life landing on Earth ("contacting" is the wrong verb) and to what happens after. Still, it's a fun tour of yet another of Varley's Solar systems where alien life has completely outclassed humanity. The ending -- when the meaning of the book's title is finally revealed -- ...more
Steven Cole
Nov 08, 2010 Steven Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's really hard to review this one without spoiling it, but I'll give it a shot...

Rolling Thunder is a strong third novel in the Thunder and Lightning series, with a wonderful, powerful protagonist in the narrator Podkayne. She's resourceful, energetic, and capable of doing what needs to be done.

The plot devices in the latter half of the book, though, are a bit much. The grand threat the human race faces is unlikely in the extreme (though that's not necessarily a bad thing in science fiction)
Why I read this book: I thoroughly enjoyed Red Lightning.

This book was fun, but it strikes me as the weakest of the series. The plotting is very loose, and the book lost all its dramatic tension about halfway through. Also, the references to Heinlein started grating on me after a while. (It felt like the title of every Heinlein juvenile was shoehorned in someplace or another.)

Still, the first half (or so) was every bit as much fun as I expect from Varley.

Will there be more books? It seems to me
Graham Crawford
I was looking forward to this as it had some good reviews. Alas it did not meet expectations. I enjoyed the first half of the book, then it went sour. I could accept the main character's silly teenage self- absorbed superficiality for a while, but after she'd been through all her physical emotional relational and economic super trials and tribulations she's still driveling on in the same whiny voice. No character development. Her marriage to the old mentally retarded savant was just plain stupid ...more
Jun 16, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loving it. I love scifi so much and it's so hard to find an author I really like. Varley is great. Not least--especially after I've been immersed in John Christopher, who always, always writes about boys, boys, boys--I appreciate how well he groks his narrator and main character, who's a young woman. And he is a master at introducing new technologies without descending into the dreaded Technology Report mode, or interrupting the flow of his story to explain things we don't need explained just ye ...more
Janine Southard
The fact that he named the main character Podkayne is pretty much the only reason I haven't given this book less than 1 star. Mostly, Podkayne was a Mary-Sue . . . written by a man (so she was more obsessed with her breast size than she was by her exotic eye-color; she did, however, manage to be strong, tall, blonde, and an amazing musician, so we'll forgive the lack of purple eyes). Also, there was really no plot. This was deeply disappointing on many levels, not least of them being the sad lac ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, mars
Rolling Thunder is a fun book. Even though it's deep in the middle of a series, it still stands alone as inventive and colorful. The author doesnt spend much time in rehashing the past episodes. It's also (you could say) dystopian because the Earth doesn't fare very well by the end of the story. yet is is also hopeful in that the characters persist and look to the future as becoming better than the past. It was good escapist reading with a strong female narrator / central character. I liked the ...more
Nov 22, 2009 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is apparently the third book in a trilogy, but if you, like me, didn't know the first two books existed before reading this one, no problem. Any characters or plot details from the previous books that you might need to know about are well-explained and any confusion was minimal and short-lived. Once again I was very impressed by the heroine, Varley writes female protagonists very well, (something I'd learned earlier upon reading his Gaea trilogy), and Poddy was smart, funny and pretty damn ...more
May 29, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I like about these books is that there isn't a lot of science - it's all plot and no long discourses on the physics of the sun or vectoring in space. There's a device that allows limitless energy and, basically, stopping time, but no one knows how it works and they're not too worried about it - this allows for main characters that are normal people and not pilots, soldiers, or scientists (though there are a few of those hanging about, too) and the plot trips along accordingly. Plus, no alie ...more
May 06, 2008 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is the first I've read of this author, and I rather liked it. I was grinning through the first half, this was not the usual fleet-in-space book that I've read before, and I rather liked his descriptions of the Jovian moons. The politics reminded me of Heinlein that I'd read long ago. (I'm not much of an SF reader, I just dabble in it.)
Then, it took a serious turn south in terms of destruction & death, and it was still rather believable. It ended on an unhappy-hapy note. Like life does,
Dec 19, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it. It's nice that the books are so different -- this trilogy really avoids the 'more-of-the-same' problem that afflicts so many series, as history is radically changing during and between books.

The last chapter, where Varley throws in as many Heinlein titles & references as he can, kept making me chuckle, but felt a bit juvenile.

The many descriptions of Podkayne's 19-year-old body felt quite unlikely, especially written by a 63-year-old man, but I can't say Heinlein wouldn't have
Martian girl, Podkayne, Joins the Martian navy as an entertainer, puts together a band and goes on tour to navy bases all over the solar system. That's the 1st 110 pages, yaaaawwwnnnnn.

Then we have an alien mystery that leads to a music mystery and a spectacular shuttle crash. Actually, a quite interesting 75 pages.

And then the rest of the book was just ok.

And because I know you would be disappointed if someone told you their life story and didn't tell you about every single time they had sex.
Clayton Yuen
Jun 23, 2012 Clayton Yuen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you get to the third story in a series of adventures, well, you expect the same pizzazz as the previous two. Rolling Thunder was interesting, with some pretty cool scifi concepts, but not as cool as the first two.

I give this novel 4 stars because it had many good parts within a large B+ storyline. If you read the first two books, of course you have to read Rolling Thunder, but take it with a grain of Martian Salt!
Karl Schaeffer
Mar 16, 2013 Karl Schaeffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#3 in the series. "Military" SF except the military is on the entertainment/morale side of the "battle". Again, a coming of age story for generation 3 of the Ramirez clan. I enjoyed the book, nice easy read. As others have noted, very Hienlien-ensue, but in a good way. Not sure if it made sense for Poddy to get entangled with Jubal, after her youthful infatuations with Travis. Also, the whole crystal being thing was left wide open... Maybe for another book? Hope so.
Oct 25, 2015 Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rare book off my to-read pile rather than from the library hold list. Book 3 of 3 of which I hadn't read one and two (though I've got one on hold now). An out and out Heinlein homage done fairly well - which includes in the last sentence of the book "the Red Planet", "between planets" and "time for the stars". And characters named Jubal and Podkayne. But the homage was much more than skin deep. It did peter out a little before the end which was a bit disappointing...
May 16, 2011 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, coming to the end of this trilogy was bittersweet. Varley certainly covered all the bases, getting more than enough Heinlein references in by the end. It was a very interesting story all on its own, regardless of the first two books or the constant winking at Heinlein fans. (If Varley had winked at us one more time, it might have developed into a permanent tic).

I wonder how many Heinlein references I managed to miss.

Aug 27, 2008 Kathleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved Red Thunder. I enjoyed Red Lightning; it was fun to have a follow-up to a book I really loved, even though it wasn't as good as the first. Rolling Thunder...I wanted to like it, of course, but it wasn't that great. A lot of the first half of the book could probably have been eliminated, as the more exciting stuff happens later. I also found the ending anti-climactic.
Nov 12, 2011 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cap to the Red Thunder trilogy, this one follows one of the next generation in the Garcia/Strickland/Redmond clan. Just as in the previous novels, circumstances propel her to the forefront of history. In this case, it's the interaction with some strange crystal entities found on Europa that causes the upheaval for humanity.
Jun 11, 2013 Ralph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The style of Varley's writing brings a personal touch between the heroine, Podkayne, and the reader. Although there is a lot of science fiction space travel and living in the book it takes a back seat to the interpersonal actions of the various characters. I do think that the book winds up pretty quickly leaving room for at least one more book in this series (it doesn't happen though.)
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Full name: John Herbert Varley.

John Varley was born in Austin, Texas. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, moved to Port Arthur in 1957, and graduated from Nederland High School. He went to Michigan State University.

He has written several novels and numerous short stories.He has received both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

More about John Varley...

Other Books in the Series

Thunder and Lightning (4 books)
  • Red Thunder (Thunder and Lightning, #1)
  • Red Lightning (Thunder and Lightning, #2)
  • Dark Lightning (Thunder and Lightning, #4)

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