I bought this for Winterfaire Gifts, and at least tried the others; I loved the Bujold. Deb Stover's story had the most appeal to me of the others, thI bought this for Winterfaire Gifts, and at least tried the others; I loved the Bujold. Deb Stover's story had the most appeal to me of the others, though I don't know if I would reread it. The formula for romance appeals to me if there is a great deal of humor, or a knockout voice. I was not the audience for the Putney or the Asaro, though I'm sure their fans would like those stories....more
This science fictional story posits a far future. Human beings are living on New Earth, governed by The Committee. Erik and his parents, Harald and FrThis science fictional story posits a far future. Human beings are living on New Earth, governed by The Committee. Erik and his parents, Harald and Freya, live in a small town called Osterfjord, working hard on a failing farm. But hard as farm life is, it's far better than being forced to reallocate, leave everyone they know -- and maybe be stuck in the coal mines. Erik's parents hint that things could even be worse than that, but they won't tell him why, and at first he is especially angry with his father, since the one way out is to win in the computer game world Epic -- and his dad refuses to play.
Everyone plays Epic, adults and kids. They pretty much spend all their free time at it -- and even steal time from chores, since winning in Epic is the only way you can gain material good to make your real life better. Which unfortunately takes its toll on the economy of the planet. Young people have to score at a certain level before Central Allocations decides on their future studies -- or work. Life centers around the game to the degree that it isn't really a game, it's become their way of life. And Erik resents it even as he strives to figure a way to win in the game.
When the book opens Erik's been killed one too many times, losing carefully accrued points; his parents are supportive but he can see the stress his failure has caused. Erik goes in to try something desperate. Instead of designing a new character who scarcely has any physical attributes at all, reserving their limited choices of attributes for equipment and weapons to enable them to win the ongoing duels in the arena, which is where all characters eventually end up -- the only place you can win anything to help your life in the real world. Erik goes against unthinking tradition by choosing to run a girl player -- named Cindella -- full of charm and swashbuckling style.
And thereby Erik changes everything. At first just slowly -- only his best friends, stolid, honest Bjorn and tomboyish Injeborg, know who he is. They loyally ally with him as Erik tries for bigger stakes.
Along the way the game keeps taking unexpected turns -- and not just for Erik, Cindella, and their friends in and out of the game world, but for the adults. Including those on the Committee. We meet the Committee members, begin to understand their motivations, and how some of them developed their viewpoints on how New Earth ought to be governed -- even they can see that the economy is sliding toward disaster. There are moments of beauty, humor, big surprises, action, tension, and fascinating character insight, and very little that is predictable.
Using a game world inside a story is not a new trope, but Kostick's take is quite rare, and the characterizations are so strong this is never merely an RPG plotline written out in prose. Kostick writes with skill and grace, accelerating the story in Epic to a surprising climax. I believe kids in this country would love this book, as video games are a big component in kid life these days, and some even come to question gaming's place in the world at large. Can we really siphon off the all-too-human desire for violence and adventure through gaming? This book takes that idea about as far as it can go, and gives us some honest answers, while entertaining us right to the finish line. ...more
Crystal Dragon is the second half of the Great Migration Duology. Readers should realize that this is not a sequel so much as the second half of the sCrystal Dragon is the second half of the Great Migration Duology. Readers should realize that this is not a sequel so much as the second half of the story began in Crystal Soldier. In that book we met Jela (full name M. Jela Granthor’s Guard), the burned-out soldier who was a genetic experiment, and Cantra yos’Phelium, the burned-out smuggler pilot. Jela, stranded for a time on an empty planet, finds a single living tree, and rescues it.
Those who have never read a Liaden book will shrug at those three essentials, but anyone familiar with the series will resonate immediately. This duology is the prequel to all the Clan Korval tales. As the story spins out, elements behave almost like hypertext: you realize, ah, there’s where that came from! Oh, that’s what’s behind that mystery! What’s particularly cool is, I believe that new readers who might begin the Liaden tales with the duology will experience the same effect, only in reverse--when they read the books farther down the timeline they’ll discover what those same crucial elements eventually become. As soon as I finished reading Crystal Dragon I revisited one of the much-read Liaden novels and discovered that story elements I was used to now revealed new layers of meaning, which subtly altered how I perceived each scene, novel, and the overall arc of Liaden history.
It would be a mistake to go into the plot too much because there are so many surprises. So what I’ll do is confine myself to a bare sketch of the story-line, and comments on the reading experience.
Most important, don’t begin with this book--before the prologue it says Part Three. Even those familiar with the Liaden tales up the time-line really ought to read Crystal Soldier first. Crystal Dragon opens with a vastly strange prologue that makes sense only if you’ve read the first book. Chapter One brings us back to humans, specifically Tor An yos’Galan; and Chapter Two shifts us to Cantra and Jela, launching the second of the three lines that eventually converge at the promised galaxy-destroying disaster. In Part Four we meet some new characters--including a cat, who, like the tree, is more than it seems. These new characters form the third thread, binding the aliens and humans together at the last..
Events, and their own inner drive, force Jela and Cantra to transcend their tired, middle-aged humanness. The aliens become gradually less impenetrable and more interesting as the sides in the universe-scale conflict form up. Along the way many questions are answered about the nature and origin of the tree, the dramliza and sheriekas, the true meaning of Korval, and finally where ‘Liad’ comes from. .
The flow of the story begins with deceptive slowness, but the threads bind together around a single thread of luck with inexorable speed, wracking up the tension line to a taut ending. The impact of the last chapter, only a page, was just breathtaking--especially the last line. ...more
I think the history of this novel is more interesting than the novel itself. The summer that was no summer, forcing them to storytelling, the shenanigI think the history of this novel is more interesting than the novel itself. The summer that was no summer, forcing them to storytelling, the shenanigans among them as Byron was hounded by his male and female lovers, the "electrifying" science fiction that was high tech at the time, the structure of the novel buried in layers of letters to make it seem more real, all those are fascinating aspects.
But I don't think the story itself works. I guess we'll never know how much of it was a group project; the monster is actually the hero, until the imposed ending. So much of it actually makes no sense, with all its contradictions, yet it retains a lot of power. In an alternate universe, they all lived, and Mary rewrote it from the monster's point of view, taking a hard look at what humanity really is, and where it's going....more