I've read a couple of Chuck Wendig's stories prior to this, so I was familiar with his style. (He tends to write in present tense - and if that botherI've read a couple of Chuck Wendig's stories prior to this, so I was familiar with his style. (He tends to write in present tense - and if that bothers you, you might want to avoid this book. It didn't bother me.) I was excited that he was chosen to write this trilogy, but after reading Aftermath, I'm not sure he was the best choice. His stories are gritty and personal, but I think of Star Wars as being more epic than this.
Norra Wexley, a "retired" rebel pilot, has returned home to the son that she abandoned to fight the good fight. Of course, since this is Star Wars, she runs headlong into an Imperial mess -- the Galactic Empire is meeting on her home planet to regroup and plan their future. Her son is not exactly what she remembers -- he's more scoundrel than kid now, and doesn't want to leave. And there's a bounty hunter and an ex-Imperial officer who help them. Oh, and there's a Rebel special forces soldier who never really encounters the rest of the characters until the last handful of pages.
The real problem here is that the Empire is portrayed as squabbling and inept. They're too busy arguing with each other to be more than a trivial threat to the heroes. There's no Death Star looming here. There are no evil Force users. A handful of ships, captained by rivals who don't agree on anything, and no leader in charge. The Empire, in this story, is its own worst enemy -- not the Rebels. I'd argue that the eventual outcome of the story would have happened without any of the heroes stepping foot on the planet.
It's not a bad story. Several of the characters are interesting, and the dynamics of Norra and her family are well written. But that's where the heart of the drama and tension in this book are -- personal relationships and family issues; not epic battles between Rebels and Empire, Jedi and Sith. Which doesn't feel much like Star Wars to me.
I'd recommend this book to Chuck Wendig fans and Star Wars completionists....more
Kim Stanley Robinson has been recommended to me several times. He's a talented, prolific sci-fi writer, and touches on some of my favorite subjects. SKim Stanley Robinson has been recommended to me several times. He's a talented, prolific sci-fi writer, and touches on some of my favorite subjects. Specifically, colonizing our solar system. But I had avoided him because people warned me that he was overly descriptive and kind of obsessed with the environmentalist aspects of science fiction.
Given that, I was surprised to find that Red Mars spends so little time talking about the science, the technology, and the difficulties of colonizing. Instead, we have a political novel. Three of the POV characters are smarmy, self-serving politicians who seem primarily focused on gathering power. Only one of the main characters seems interested in actually, you know, making Mars livable. This was a big disappointment for me.
Also, having just read the Martian, I was surprised at how quickly Robinson glossed over the difficulties of colonization. The first 100 are dropped on Mars, and within a generation there are a million people living there. With almost no description of how all that happened.
Having said all of that, Robinson is a good writer, and there are parts of the story that caught me up. There's a bit of crime-solving and political intrigue, and at least one POV character that's very engaging. But I'm not sure I'd recommend this to any but the hardest core KSR fan. And they've probably read it already....more
I could not put this book down. For the first 600-something pages, I gave up my hobbies, my free time, and a good number of hours I should have been sI could not put this book down. For the first 600-something pages, I gave up my hobbies, my free time, and a good number of hours I should have been sleeping. This is the first time this has happened in years, and I've read some pretty damn good books in those years. Neal Stephenson grabbed me from the very first sentence, and did not let up.
I have some minor quibbles. I was able to put the book down in the last 200-something pages. I don't want to spoil anything here, but the story builds up the tension nicely, comes to a satisfying conclusion. And then has what amounts to a 200-page epilogue. It's an entertaining epilogue, but not nearly as awesome as the first 2/3rd of the book. Also, there are some digressions (this is Neal Stephenson after all) - but one in particular, erg. Let's just say that something horribly exciting happens, then there's about six pages describing orbital mechanics before we see how the excitement is resolved. Tom Clancy, eat your heart out.
Having said that, this is the most engaging, entertaining book I've read all year. If you like Neal Stephenson, if you like near future science-fiction, if you like apocalypse stories, and if you're not scared off by 900-page books with lengthy digressions, you *have* to read this book....more