A truly unique setting with a massively developed backstory and resources in the core books. The mechanics are very minimal, which is a refreshing cha...moreA truly unique setting with a massively developed backstory and resources in the core books. The mechanics are very minimal, which is a refreshing change for a hard sci-fi system.(less)
This is one book that just didn't work for me. The idea was a clever spin off of vampires meet the apocalypse, and the plot was interesting, if overly...moreThis is one book that just didn't work for me. The idea was a clever spin off of vampires meet the apocalypse, and the plot was interesting, if overly episodic. The genesis of the disaster required a lot of hand-waving and avoided any effort at rationalizing. Once past that, the story was decent.
My biggest gripe was with the actual writing. Cronin writes a very non-chronological style. Almost every chapter opens with a scene 4-7 days forward, then backtracks to explain how the situation he opens the chapter came about. A potentially interesting technique, it's just overused here to artificially develop tension without really building any foreshadowing in. further, most of the chapters have a gooey "filling" -- once the scene for action is set, he devotes the middle third of the chapter to character building in high detail. Too high detail considering the size of the cast and the rapid turnover. The story is too epic to really focus on as many as he did, and the inconstant nature of this seems to hint Cronin wrote these tantalizingly detailed and admittedly riveting vignettes whee he had a vision, and ignored those that he hadn't puzzled out yet. In the end, they just distract from the actual story, and add a lot of heft to an already over-long story.(less)
I enjoyed this book. The author distilled the search for the Northwest Passage into a strong, linear narrative and focused on the many (many) individu...moreI enjoyed this book. The author distilled the search for the Northwest Passage into a strong, linear narrative and focused on the many (many) individuals whose bravery, courage, determination, and dedication to a single goal drove them beyond the limits of human endeavor. Sandler uses several interesting tricks to develop the story in a way to keep it fresh. First, while several maps are in the book, none actually present the entirety of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This keeps the reader in the same frame of reference as the explores themselves, many of whom had little more than scratchings on a scrap of paper and readings to go on. Second, nearly every chapter has one or two significant footnotes -- these are often multiple page digressions into peripheral issues or explorations. They add to the general knowledge of arctic exploration, but are not directly required for the story. It keeps the story trim and on target, but I felt it was occasionally over-used and the main story would have benefitted from the inclusion. You get an awesome understanding of how difficult it was to survive in such conditions, and how most expeditions survived even after running into disaster. At one point, you even sense yourself getting a bit jaded. I once caught myself thinking, "Negative 30 degrees huddled in the hold of your ship? That's nothing! Try being trapped on a floe in negative 70. And you call yourself explorers!"
My only minor quibble with the book in general is the title, Resolute>. The Resolute would play a part in the story, but not nearly as much as this title promises. The subtitle is far more expansive and describes the book much better.(less)