Perhaps I'm being too sentimental, but I'm giving this book an extra star because it's remarkably gentle—for Pohl—and has a beautiful ending that I rePerhaps I'm being too sentimental, but I'm giving this book an extra star because it's remarkably gentle—for Pohl—and has a beautiful ending that I remember vividly....more
Why I Read This Book: I'm a big fan of Frederik Pohl (and have an amusing story of the first time I met him; perhaps I'll tell it sometime). Pohl's fiWhy I Read This Book: I'm a big fan of Frederik Pohl (and have an amusing story of the first time I met him; perhaps I'll tell it sometime). Pohl's first solo novel in 13 years came out last month (April 12th according to his publisher's website). Baen released a bundle of ten (!) classic Pohl books on the 19th; I bought it within minutes of reading the emailed announcement (and quickly got sucked back into Jem; only the fact I had to finish Great Apes for our SF reading group forced me to put it down). So when I finished Great Apes, I definitely wanted to read a Pohl; the only question was, which one. I discovered that Tor, Pohl's publisher for his latest, posted on their website, asking 13 SF and Fantasy luminaries for their favorite Pohl novel, and Vernor Vinge (!) responded with Slave Ship. While I'd certainly heard of it, I hadn't read it, and was surprised to find I didn't even own a copy. Off to Abebooks! (That's abebooks.com , my favorite used-book meta-vendor.)
I got a copy in very good condition and started to read it in a gingerly fashion. (Reading analog books is annoying: They're so fragile, and they aren't self-illuminating, meaning I have to light up the whole bedroom just to read them.) (Luckily my wife is a good sport.) (On the plus side, analog books tend to have great layout and typography, and older books have actually been proofread by humans.)
Alas, my expectations were too high. While I enjoyed this book, I certainly wouldn't call it my favorite Pohl, or probably even include it among my top ten Pohl books. The cover, and some other sources, led me to believe that there would be a lot more about human-animal communication than there was. On the plus side, this is perhaps his first novel with a claustrophobically grim not-quite-total-warfare future; see Jem, Man Plus (which I've convinced our SF reading group to do in June), and Gateway for others.
My next book? Probably Pohl's Age of the Pussyfoot, which was picked by Neil Gaiman, Larry Niven, and David Brin. And happily I'll be able to read it digitally: Just this morning, Baen released their second bundle of ten (!) classic Pohl books, and Age of the Pussyfoot is among them. (So's Slave Ship; I coulda saved a few bucks and gone green by just waiting a week.)
Why I Read This Book: I'm a big fan of Greg Egan, and had been on my local library's waiting list for the hardcover for about a month before it arriveWhy I Read This Book: I'm a big fan of Greg Egan, and had been on my local library's waiting list for the hardcover for about a month before it arrived. Then I saw that it'd been added to the Kindle store—and, more to my tastes, Baen's ebook store (where it's cheaper, can be downloaded in several formats, and has no DRM).
I'd rate this 9/10. Egan's previous novel, Incandescence, is set in the far future and is somewhat inaccessible as a result. Zendegi has two parts; the former is set in the very near future (2012) and is arguably the most accessible (and one of the most readable) things Egan has done. The second part is set a few decades later; it's slower-paced, but reaches a very satisfactory conclusion.
(Finished 2010-10-25 23:59:16.1 +/- 0.06s. Approximately ;-)...more
Why I Read This Book: One of my very good friends posted about it to our SF mailing list, but with a spoiler warning. I decided to read the book so IWhy I Read This Book: One of my very good friends posted about it to our SF mailing list, but with a spoiler warning. I decided to read the book so I could read the spoilery message ;-)
I'd rate this 7 out of 10 (3.5 on the Goodreads scale ;-). It's one of Heinlein's very compulsively readable works, but on the downside, I found the way he stacked the deck to be rather heavy handed. He also downright cheats: The narrative has a couple of discontinuous breaks, the first coming at a point where Heinlein had painted himself into a corner.
The second break moves the narrative to a far future that seems simplistic and could be considered racist (it presents a culture built around race-based slavery) but Heinlein has a few tricks left up his sleeve.
Overall: I enjoyed it, but found the flaws a bit off-putting.
Also: I highly recommend the review by "Manny" on Goodreads. Can anyone tell me if there's a way I can link to it?
(Finished 2010-10-29 23:14:02.5 +/- 0.11 s. Approximately.)...more