This was the first Darkover book I read, back in '97 or so, and it provided the impetus for the first story I wrote and finished since college. (No, yThis was the first Darkover book I read, back in '97 or so, and it provided the impetus for the first story I wrote and finished since college. (No, you'll probably never read it. A suitable title might be—with apologies to Elisabeth Waters and Deborah J. Ross—"Destined for the Trunk." Still, to have actually finished something is a matter of note.) Clearly, then, it made an impression; and having read a fair amount of other Darkover material since then I thought it high time to revisit the novel and remember why it made an impression.
Two reasons: One, it relates a milestone event in the post-Chaos history of Darkover, the Sharra Rebellion. If you've read The Sword of Aldones (or, ahem, listened to the audiobook available from Audible.com [advert.]) you know that despite their good intentions, those who used the Sharra Matrix in the Domain of Aldaran brought on a psychokinetic-pyrotic disaster of invasion-of-Poland proportions, wrecking a city, diplomatic relations, and many lives. (Why, when Star Wars decided to blow up a planet, did they pick one called Alderaan? You heard it here first...) You also know that Regis Hastur has become a pivotal character in this era of the Darkover tales. In Heritage you see how both these threads get set up. When you don't know what's going to happen, in the case of Regis, it's intriguing to watch; when you do know, in the case of Sharra, it takes on the fascination of the proverbial trainwreck.
In either case it's fun to watch MZB assemble the pieces so that they fall together just so, and sometimes in ways you might not see coming. In her preface to the sequel, Sharra's Exile, she notes that her initial ideas often came as climactic moments in the history of her characters or her setting—which is altogether appropriate; why would you want to start a tale at any other point?—but they were then followed by ideas about what might lead up to such climaxes. As a result, by the time she wrote The Heritage of Hastur she had quite a bit of experience with the Art of the Prequel, and it shows....more
The dialogue (and the narrator's relay of Matt's thoughts) flows naturally, realistically--not in formal prose, certainly, but nonetheless clear. WritThe dialogue (and the narrator's relay of Matt's thoughts) flows naturally, realistically--not in formal prose, certainly, but nonetheless clear. Writers wanting to improve in this respect would do well to take notes.
Like H.G. Wells, Haldeman uses his time machine to play with some "if this goes on" ideas, including academic politics and questionable theology gone wild. Some might consider this overly derivative, but if anyone has earned the right to borrow from Wells, Haldeman certainly has. Indeed, I have yet to encounter a "bad" Haldeman book--and this is another good one. ...more
I have had the pleasure of teaching Fahrenheit 451 as the capstone to my "Literature of Mankind" section for the past two years. Indeed, anyone who unI have had the pleasure of teaching Fahrenheit 451 as the capstone to my "Literature of Mankind" section for the past two years. Indeed, anyone who understands Bradbury's theme in this novel will understand why we need literature classes in the first place.
Even though SFF does not presume to predict the actual future (contrary to popular misconception), back in the early 1950s Bradbury nailed trends that have made our present what it is:
• the "mass" in "mass entertainment" becoming so large that the purveyors of entertainment "dumb down" their product to their audience's greatest common factor, which continually decreases • attention spans shrinking so that pressure increases for the quick, neatly tied-off ending • reluctance to offend an increasing number of minorities of all kinds (can you say "political correctness"? I knew you could!)
Our world hasn't hit 451°F yet, but stand by......more
I have a weakness for stories showing the private and social life of people who solve problems using resources at hand (start with MacGyver, subtractI have a weakness for stories showing the private and social life of people who solve problems using resources at hand (start with MacGyver, subtract half of the science, add a broader social context, and build from there). Repairman Jack is one such problem-solver, a gent I'd like very much to know. I've read Wilson since his early Analog stories (one "Easter egg" hints at his SF roots: the deliberately-uncredited motto from Van Vogt's "The Weapon Shops of Isher" posted in a friend's shop window), and like Dean Koontz, he has grown to appeal to a far wider audience....more
First, I'd recommend it because ... well, it's Billi! How can you go wrong?
Second, however, is an additional factor that sets this story apart from itFirst, I'd recommend it because ... well, it's Billi! How can you go wrong?
Second, however, is an additional factor that sets this story apart from its predecessor. (No, not the New Zealand–born librarian, although of course she's a welcome addition.) Not only is it a story of 1930s Chicago crime mixed with a bit of magic, as before, it's also a love letter to BASEBALL. If you've enjoyed sitting in the stands of a minor-league team, or even a major-league one (even though those seats are just too dang far away unless you're wealthy), you know the delightful combination of energy, leisure, and involvement of watching what is still deservedly "America's pastime." That ambiance fills this book. Morris loves baseball (and dedicated this book to his father, a professional umpire), and Pitcher's Pendant demonstrates what "for love of the game" can be....more