I was a big fan of Anderson's Saga of the Seven Suns series, so I was pretty interested to see something show up on Tor.com that looked an awful lot lI was a big fan of Anderson's Saga of the Seven Suns series, so I was pretty interested to see something show up on Tor.com that looked an awful lot like a new story in the series. Sure enough, he has a new book coming out in June 2014 that's the first in a trilogy set twenty years after the end of the last series. This story appears to be a prequel to the new series, but it's called "an adventure from The Saga of Shadows: The Dark Between the Stars," (that's the title of the new book) so I can't swear that it isn't actually an excerpt from the book or when the events take place. It isn't really a complete novella, it's definitely an introduction designed to snag you and pull you in and make you want to read more. But I think it does a pretty good job of doing that. I have a really bad memory. I remember that I liked the original series a lot, but very little about what it was about, but this helped jog a few memories loose, and reminded me that I like Anderson's style of writing. I'm looking forward to finding out where things go in the book. I hope there are a lot of surprises. You can read the story for yourself on Tor.com....more
It was a good book. Originally titled Jessica of Dune, Jessica does play a major part in the story, which is fun. There is a lot of Gurney and DuncanIt was a good book. Originally titled Jessica of Dune, Jessica does play a major part in the story, which is fun. There is a lot of Gurney and Duncan and Alia as well. It felt comfortable and familiar, like a visit with old friends.
The most enjoyable part was watching how the authors wove this new story in between the previously existing tales. This book takes place after book 2 of the Dune saga and before book 3 begins. It adds layers to the characters, and their histories and motivations that read true. It felt like watching a circus act in a way, as the stories wove in and out of the previously established truths.
The bad part is the rather heavy handed writing. There are a lot of coincidences and characterizations that do not read true. The masses of people are repeatedly portrayed as plain stupid, buying "relics" by the billions that were supposedly owned by Paul. Bronso is the most wanted fugitive in the universe, yet late in the book he runs around without bothering to disguise his red hair, a very distinguishing feature. Most of all, Jessica travels to the Bene Gesserit home world and just happens to run into the last person they would allow her to have contact with, a person under huge amounts of security (as shown later in the book). Plus Gurney, who was hunted by the Harkonens, is now a hunter himself, which really felt off. I loved the mention of gaze hounds (similar to greyhounds or wolfhounds) and the love people can feel for their dogs, but that Gourney would enjoy personally running in a hunt for fun just doesn't ring true. There were just a lot of times in the book where it felt like the authors took easy ways to get to their desired plot points or used simplistic characterizations to make a point. It felt like they thought I was dumb enough to fall for their slight of hand tricks, and was a bit offensive.
Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book or wouldn't recommend it. If you like Dune and the new Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson entries in the series, you will like this. It was better than Paul of Dune and an enjoyable read.
In addition, I read an interesting quote from a website about the original Dune books and Frank Herbert's ideas: "Evolutionary priorities take precedence over man's desires for an ideal world." I thought this sums up a lot about the series and the dark turn it takes after Dune. From http://tim.oreilly.com/herbert/ch07.html ...more
A big sweeping space opera with a huge cast of characters. I love this style and I'm a big fan of both KJA's solo works and the authors' Dune collaborA big sweeping space opera with a huge cast of characters. I love this style and I'm a big fan of both KJA's solo works and the authors' Dune collaborations. But a lot of this felt forced and most of the characters lacked depth. It was fun, and I'm looking forward to the next one, but they can do better....more
3.5 stars. This book was better than the first one, it flowed better and the characters felt more interesting. I probably would have given it four sta3.5 stars. This book was better than the first one, it flowed better and the characters felt more interesting. I probably would have given it four stars if it was more in my area of interest, it was just a bit too political and military for me, but that's just a matter of taste.
There were a few issues though. Some of the sections got very repetitive; Ishop repeated his issues over and over again, and we saw Bolton's history with and concern for Keana too many times, as a couple of examples. And the heavy foreshadowing about the enemies of the Xayans that everyone kept ignoring was pretty annoying.
But overall I liked the style, the short chapters work for me and don't mind the constant POV switches. I have a short attention span and it makes the military and political sections go down more easily, instead of getting too complicated or intense. Anyone who's read the authors' Dune books will be familiar with the style. I'd just prefer a bit more of the character-driven space opera of Anderson's Saga of the Seven Suns. But this is fun too, I'm enjoying it....more
I was looking forward to reading this book for a long time. I first heard about it when the table of contents was announced on SF Signal. That seems tI was looking forward to reading this book for a long time. I first heard about it when the table of contents was announced on SF Signal. That seems to be how I hear about most of the anthologies I read these days. It sounded like a lot of fun, but it was a kickstarted book so I wasn't sure if it would be available at my library. But I put it in my calendar to check when it was supposed to be published and lo and behold, a year or so later, after I checked at the library for a few months, it showed up, I was so pleased. And it pretty much lived up to my expectations. It was nice to read a book that was all fun stories. Most anthologies swing around from nice to pretty grim. Because the authors were trying to tell a space opera in a short story, which is normally a form that requires several books to tell a solar system or galaxy spanning adventure, they all had to stick pretty tightly to the adventure aspect of the stories and just try to figure out a clever twist or show us a clever character portrait or something like that. I started out taking notes on each story, but I petered out after a few because they were, well, not too similar exactly, but didn't have enough going on that felt compelled to take notes. They were fun. I just didn't need to analyze them, enjoying was enough. There were only two that I kept my notes on.
Seanan McGuire's story, Frontier ABCs: The Life and Times of Charity Smith, started the book and it was just top-notch. I don't think I've read a science fiction story from her before, but it was as terrific as her stories always are. What a neat character, it was so easy to imagine her sharp-shooter frontier schoolteacher flying around the solar system for three hundred years meting out her version of justice in the name of the children she'd made herself the protector of. The seeds. The story felt complete by itself, but I could also easily see McGuire writing more stories about this character or this world. What she established in so short a time feels so real and established now, it's out there and waiting if she ever wants to go back. I'd definitely want to go back with her. But if not, that's fine too, because I know that Cherry is still there, taking care of things, whether we're getting reports about it or not. It was a great story and quite distinctive compared to the other stories in the book relative to character and settings.
Then there was Mike Resnick's story, Catastrophe Baker and the Ship Who Purred, which was appalling. Apparently this spacefaring scoundrel is a classic character of Resnick's, which just makes it worse. If this story had been written sixty years ago maybe I wouldn't have been so surprised at the total cheeseball schlock but it was just dumb and offensive on every level, not funny, not cute, just dumb. Even without the parts with the female ship having orgasms just from him touching her buttons, every part of the story was just dumb, dumb dumb dumb. It felt like a parody of an old-fashioned story but I'm pretty sure it wasn't, I'm pretty sure this is what he and lots of other people think is fun. I'm too confused by it. His second story about the same character was just short, dumb and porny, I don't know what the point of that was. It should have been a quicky in Playboy. I don't understand any of it. I like fun and funny characters, big broad humorous silly stories. Throwbacks can be fun. But this is just bizarre to me.
And moving on... A.C. Crispin's stories were quite good. I liked Brenda Cooper's story a lot too. A.M. Roelke's was good, though not a space opera, just a time travel story. And ending the book with Kaolin Fire's poem, The Legend of Rae Raygun, was the perfect ending and the perfect bookend to Seanan McGuire's Cherry Smith story. And the cover is great! Paul Pedersen did a wonderful job with that, people who bought the book got a absolutely super cover for their shelves. Oh, and a small thing, I really like that with the author bios in the back it lists their stories and the page numbers underneath their bio, it's very nicely done. I prefer bios after the stories instead of at the back of the book, I want to read about them and look them up to find more of their work right away after I've read a story. To me learning about the author is part of the fun of reading an anthology, but that's my quirk I guess. But that one little detail in the back is something I haven't seen before and it really works well, it looks polished and makes the book more functional at the same time. And that brings me to congratulating Bryan Thomas Schmidt for pulling it all together, it's a great accomplishment. It was clearly a labor of love, so it's nice to be able to be a tiny part of something like by saying that I enjoyed it. It's a fun book, and everyone who had a part in pulling it together should be proud....more
It's a space opera. Mostly fun space opera with really cheesy, obvious, heavy-handed story telling, kind of the equivalent of one of the pretty good sIt's a space opera. Mostly fun space opera with really cheesy, obvious, heavy-handed story telling, kind of the equivalent of one of the pretty good shows on SyFy (not anywhere near as good as their great shows like Haven or too many to mention that have been canceled too soon). I remember really liking the Saga of the Seven Suns. I loved the scope of it and how he wove all of the stories together. I don't remember if it was this cheesy. I suspect that Anderson has gotten a bit lazier (sorry fans) recently because some of the things that bothered me in this book also bothered me in the most recent Dune book (Mentats of Dune). For example, really heavy foreshadowing. Like just naming the planetary system Shoel - gee, I wonder if something might go wrong there. Or when at one point a character says, "That feeling of euphoric satisfaction should have made her suspicious right away." Especially when that was the last sentence of a chapter, turn the page. Now that's heavy-handed, cheesy space opera.
The other thing that bothered me a lot in this book that also bothered me in [i]Mentats[/i] was the repetitiveness. It wasn't nearly as bad here, but with the short chapters and the switching points of view the characters repeat themselves a lot, as though somehow I don't remember the last few times they said it. It really wasn't nearly as bad here as in the other book, but it got a bit irritating.
And there are a lot of holes in the logic that that just bugged me. All of Iswander's people were mad at him for placing them in danger for the sake of profits, for not providing comprehensive escape plans. Sure, they should be. But didn't any of them ask about that when they took their jobs on that horrible and obviously dangerous place? The book keeps pointing out all of the disasters Roamers have had to deal with, you'd think that escape plans would be one of the first questions any Roamer would ask about. Or how about the thing with Zoe and Tom. With all of the intense amount of tests that Zoe has done on Tom Rom because of her paranoia, how did he have any private analysis done to discover something as detailed as the fact that he was the disease carrier that infected her father? It said that it was much, much later when they were in her sophisticated Pergamus facilities, had unlimited funding, the best researchers, etc., so it can't be argued that she didn't have the technology to be checking up on his health yet. He had the technology to purge all traces of the disease from his body, but how did he do it secretly?
It also really bothered me that Anderson played it so coy about Terry and Xander's relationship. I totally couldn't tell if they were just friends or lovers for a huge portion of the book. He even told this adorable story about how they met and I still couldn't tell that they were anything more than pals. They thought they were still just friends, but it seemed pretty odd that they were so sentimental about visiting the place that they first met as often as possible, and Xander talked about treating Terry to a vacation. Friends don't usually pay for friend's vacations. Why wouldn't Anderson just say that they were lovers? Finally after more than 400 pages and numerous chapters about the men it said about Terry that he's in a happy relationship. I admit it, it did say that they were partners early on, but it seemed like they were business partners, why not make it clear that they were involved? Saying stuff like, "Xander indulged his friend." wasn't making it clear. When you've been romantically involved with a person for many years, he isn't your friend, he's your boyfriend or your lover, or your partner as he called him a couple of times. This was just really weird and uncomfortable.
The thing is, there isn't really anything wrong with cheesy space opera. It's fun. I prefer less cheese maybe, a few less holes in the logic or laying off with the foreshadowing a bit. I can't remember if I thought the original Saga was well written. I'm pretty sure it was better than this. I don't know if anyone who hasn't read the original Saga would get into it. But fans will likely enjoy it. ...more
I wasn't rushing to read this because it's so darn popular and I was being obstinate. Like not wanting to buy Gloria Vanderbilt jeans when I was a kidI wasn't rushing to read this because it's so darn popular and I was being obstinate. Like not wanting to buy Gloria Vanderbilt jeans when I was a kid, it just felt a bit like jumping on the bandwagon. But it was on the shelf when I went to the library so I decided to give it a try. And I'm glad I did, it was fun. It feels like the beginning of a good space opera novel or television series. It had a lot of elements happening at once, but they mostly work. The pacing was really good. The characters were very attractive and likable. Even the secondary character, the assassin, is developing a storyline where we don't know if he's good or bad or both, do we root for him or against him? Keeps things interesting. The only part I didn't really like was the robot people, I didn't get them at all. They aren't really robots, they have sex and are having babies. So what's up with the heads? It's just weird, it doesn't hold water. And I really want to know how Marko sleeps with those horns. They showed him laying flat on his back at one point, and that's the only position he could be in, I'd imagine. It's a good idea visually, but impractical to live with.
As for the art, it's serviceable. It does a good job of showing the people or focus of each scene, but there's no attempt to create backgrounds or to give the eye little details to enjoy. Most of the backgrounds are just watercolor washes, maybe with a few trees or other details to show the setting, but with as little work as possible. The focus is always on the people. It's very film-like in the styling. And I just did not like the computer text, it was off-putting. I haven't read that many graphic novels so I didn't realize how much the hand lettering matters. But it really does. It's fine, the art serves the story, it's just not a book I'd follow up and purchase because I'm longing to look at the art again and again.
But the story was a page-turner. I liked Alana and Marko, and the adorable baby, right away. They were brave and funny and felt somehow very real and normal, like people I could know and really like. It's impossible not to root for them. And I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in this bold space opera/fantasy mash up....more