This is a book in the, Earth sends Colonies to the stars, and runs into major problems, genre. It is interesting as I read this book just after a Nanc...moreThis is a book in the, Earth sends Colonies to the stars, and runs into major problems, genre. It is interesting as I read this book just after a Nancy Kress novel in the same genre. This particular book was published twenty years ago, so the science assumptions are subtly different than more recent books.
I first picked this book up while I was on my Larry Niven kick. It was very different than other Niven books because this is a colaboration with two other authors. This adds to the book in my jaded-older-self opinion, as I have trouble reading Niven books right now.
This is a very character-based book. The science in it is subtle and largely in the background. The plot is also fairly simple. The book relies on inter-character interaction to drive the story forward.
Those of you interested in Polyamory may want to take a read of this one, as multiple partner ideas are covered in here.
This is a book that has aged well. It is still readable in 2007, even though it was published in 1987. This is true even for science sticklers, which is a nice feat.(less)
This is the third book in Niven's series on Live Action Role Playing gone high-tech, called the Dream Park series. The first book was Dream Park publi...moreThis is the third book in Niven's series on Live Action Role Playing gone high-tech, called the Dream Park series. The first book was Dream Park published in 1981, the second was The Barsoom Project in 1989.
In this series, our protagonists are participants in what modern readers would identify as a cross between Reality TV and a LARP. The characters are playing characters in a live game, run in a high tech setting to provide an immersive environment. There are levels for the characters, as well as special abilities, and working with and around non-player-characters is something each player/character has to work with. The events in game are filmed and broadcast, which is partly how the games are funded.
This is the last book in the series, and one where Niven made some serious corrections to the universe created in the previous two books. The earlier books used holograms and other classic SF ideas of the 1970's and early 1980's to provide the immersive environment. This book changes that to use Virtual Reality goggles, thumper vests, and other items to provide the space.(less)
This is a book in the, New Human Colony Meets Disaster, genre. As this is Nancy Kress, the science is right up there. The Disaster in this case is get...moreThis is a book in the, New Human Colony Meets Disaster, genre. As this is Nancy Kress, the science is right up there. The Disaster in this case is getting caught in the cross-fire between two alien races.
There is no hyperdrive here. Travel between the stars is done relativistically, making most interstellar travel a one-way trip with regards to those left behind. This allows interstellar wars to last for centuries.
An interesting feature of the writing of this book is that it doesn't hit you over the head with the science. Yes, it is hard science. However, one of the characters sharing point-of-view is a just tell me the details, don't need the 120 page proof administrator. Many, many times scientists launch about three paragraphs into a long exposition about how something works and they get cut off at the knees. It's enough to show the hard-SF fans that these issues are being though of, while at the same time avoiding glazed eyeballs from those more interested in how the characters interact.
This book was my first introduction to Jack Chalker. This particular book was written to be a stand-alone, but it did well enough he wrote several oth...moreThis book was my first introduction to Jack Chalker. This particular book was written to be a stand-alone, but it did well enough he wrote several others over the years.
Midnight is the first 'Well of Souls' book he wrote. Like a lot of Chalker, the themes in this one speak to those who fantasize about changing their body in some fundamental ways. The base premise of the universe is that a long lost race found a way to generate a new one in a sort of vast computer simulation looking for the right evolutionary path. The universe is the lap, and the 'Well of Souls' the staging area for the lab.
All of our protagonists start Human, but that is quickly fixed. The new species our actors belong to are subtly based on their psychie.
Events and people in this book are mentioned in the later Well of Souls book, but this is a stand-alone book.(less)
A book set in an indeterminate period somewhere between 2020 and 2040. This is a nice character driven book that also explores concepts of what a futu...moreA book set in an indeterminate period somewhere between 2020 and 2040. This is a nice character driven book that also explores concepts of what a future would look like. In this future computing is nearly ubiquitous and government surveillance is universal, if they know to look. Meanwhile, the world is a much more creative place.
This was a very nice book. A variety of backgrounds allow the reader to explore different aspects of the world. From net-savvy kids, to recovering Alzheimer's senior citizens adapting to a new world. This plot moves much more on the actions of the characters rather than the goals they have, if that makes sense.
One thing that struck me was Vinge's take on the place of PKI in the future. Specifically, every transaction is certified in some way, and it all devolves onto apex Certificate Authorities (think VeriSign). This concept is involved in key events in the book.
Another thing he posited was what he called the Secure Hardware Environment, mandated by our very own DHS. Sometime in the teens a security layer is mandated in all net-connected devices (which is pretty much everything) that can be used by DHS.
Vinge also takes on intellectual property. Unlike some other authors, the IP system is not thrown out. Rather, a robust system of micropayments is postulated which actually drives the economy. What is now known as "Big Content" apparently died in the teens, replaced by the global micropayment and licensing systems. A much more connected internet, combined with much more ubiquitous computing, creates an environment where creativity flourishes and can get a wide audience without a megacorp being involved for distribution. One might call this a sane copyright system.
If you like near future books, this is a good one. It'll be interesting to see how it ages. I wonder what I'll think of it if I re-read it in 2027?(less)
This book is one that is commonly on, 'Best of SF,' lists. It is there for a reason. It was written in 1973 and it shows in many ways. What also shows...moreThis book is one that is commonly on, 'Best of SF,' lists. It is there for a reason. It was written in 1973 and it shows in many ways. What also shows is the influence it had on other books in Science Fiction.
This book is about the Moties, the aliens that The Empire of Man has just run into. It is told from the point of view of the representatives of Empire sent to investigate these aliens. This book represents the most complete description of an actually-alien species I've run into in fiction. Their story is a tragedy, bar none.
From a story-telling standpoint it was a bit jarring to realize that the Navy of the Empire of Man runs along similar to the British Navy of the 1800's, complete with teenage Midshipmen, Sailing Masters, and bunking in the gun room. Also, the role of Women in the Empire of Man is decidedly paternal, something that stands a stark contrast to more recent fiction, and plays its own role in the unfolding of this story.
Something that stood out to me quite clearly is just how much Marc Miller borrowed from this book to create the Traveller table-top role playing game. Traveller was the first RPG to take place in space rather than a fantasy world, and molded the minds of later games designers. The concept of "the black globe" was introduced by Mote, as well as the general feel of the space combat system of Traveller. Marc Miller also took the idea of very detailed aliens to heart, as the "Alien Modules" to Traveller are still the most detailed description of an alien I've run into anywhere; coming complete with anatomy drawings, language samples, history from evolution to a tool using species to gaining space capabilities, and very good descriptions of government.
In my opinion, The Mote in God's Eye and Traveller helped define how space opera worked in Science Fiction until David Weber introduced the Honor Harrington series. The Honor Harrington series took over as the default 'how space works' meme.
There are a couple of books after Mote, but this is the one with the biggest impact on the field. To a reader used to modern SF it comes across as stilted, with flat characters, and contrived tech. That said, the authors did make some astute guesses about technology. If read in the context of the time it was written (1973), it is a very good read.(less)
I read the original shortish story a while back, so I knew where the added material was. In terms of craft this book felt a little sloppily put togeth...moreI read the original shortish story a while back, so I knew where the added material was. In terms of craft this book felt a little sloppily put together, but that didn't hurt the story one bit. This is Mil-SciFi, but not in the same vein as Honor Harrington. Some of the technology used is reminiscent of the Honor books, though.
I liked this book. It is a story of vengeance, but tempered with humanity to give it the conflict needed. The added material greatly flesh out Alica's back story and make the events in the shortish story have that much more impact. (less)
Not as gripping as Old Man's War was, but still a darned good read. This expands on the universe introduced in Old Man's War, though with different ma...moreNot as gripping as Old Man's War was, but still a darned good read. This expands on the universe introduced in Old Man's War, though with different main characters. Old Man's War was pretty much an update of Heinlein's Starship Troopers brought forward, and it really succeeded in that goal. Old Man's War wasn't based on another novel, so it doesn't have the same kind of feel. Still a good read by a good author.(less)
Yummy Stross. A stand-alone sequel to Singularity Sky. It shares some plot-threads from Singularity Sky, but it doesn't feel like the second of two bo...moreYummy Stross. A stand-alone sequel to Singularity Sky. It shares some plot-threads from Singularity Sky, but it doesn't feel like the second of two books. The opening section describes what happens to a planetary system when the sun goes super-nova. That alone is worth the read.(less)
This is space opera! This is not hard science-fiction at all, it's an adventure. For those who like adventures in space, but tire of long-winded expos...moreThis is space opera! This is not hard science-fiction at all, it's an adventure. For those who like adventures in space, but tire of long-winded expositions about how this nifty weapons system is really nifty, this is a very friendly series.
This first book sets up the rest of the Mageworlds series. It doesn't stand alone well at all, but the craft is pretty good.(less)
Space Opera! This is the story of Joss Metadi and the Domina of Entibor. Pieces of this have been hinted before this book, but this is the story that...moreSpace Opera! This is the story of Joss Metadi and the Domina of Entibor. Pieces of this have been hinted before this book, but this is the story that sets a lot of the Becca books up. There are more prequels to this one, but this is how 'known space' crystallizes from a group of separate nation-states into a larger political entity.(less)