I had an argument in the summer about Kevin Anderson's credentials as an author. I think he's technically a pretty good wriI'm really torn about this.
I had an argument in the summer about Kevin Anderson's credentials as an author. I think he's technically a pretty good writer, but I'm still not sure he's any good at ideas - after all, a lot of his best selling stuff is actually Frank Herbert's ideas. So, anyway, I expected this should be pretty good, as the ideas are Neil Peart's.
And Neil Peart is one-third of the last of the great prog-rock bands, "Rush" (are there any prog-rock bands left in their original lineups?). Neil says he's been a member of Rush for 38 years, so I guess that means I have been a fan since they were founded... sigh. I thought they were older than me.
I was disappointed to find that it was all very Young Adult - which is becoming a laughable stereotype when we deal with Steampunk. But then, when your central theme is the lyrics to 66 minutes worth of album (which necessarily has to involve considerable time given to instrumental solos), how deep can you really go?
Still, I appreciate the ending. And Peart's afterword is almost worth the price of admission....more
A bleak look at what happens when the world passes (and is well on the downhill slide beyond) "peak oil", and GMO agri-businesses control the world'sA bleak look at what happens when the world passes (and is well on the downhill slide beyond) "peak oil", and GMO agri-businesses control the world's food supplies.
Thailand is one of the few countries that is managing to survive without selling out to agri-business, even though the "calorie companies" routinely create new genetically modified crops that sterilize any other crop they contact. But how do you keep the contraband out when everybody takes bribes, and how do you convince everybody that long-term self-interest means not taking the bribe.
Given those questions, it's hard to believe that the story can have a positive ending, but surprisingly I find it does....more
I was conflicted when I heard this was "a gripping and brilliantly imagined take on ... Moby Dick" (so it says on the cover blurb). On the one hand, M
I was conflicted when I heard this was "a gripping and brilliantly imagined take on ... Moby Dick" (so it says on the cover blurb). On the one hand, Miéville at his best is one of the best writers on the planet. On the other hand, I hated Moby Dick (yeah, I gave it 2 stars - because one would have meant I couldn't finish it).
On the gripping hand, I already panned The Scar because it was too much like Moby Dick!
It turns out Miéville is either mocking Moby Dick, or he's explaining it in terms that make it easy for illiterates like me to understand! In any case, I find the book vastly more interesting than Moby Dick.
Everybody knows that Moby Dick is not actually about hunting whales, it's about the sort of worldview that leads to monomania - about philosophy. In Railsea, Miéville turns this on its head: the massive animals hunted by railsea captains, those animals that in prior encounters have removed a limb or two from said captain, are known as Philosophies! Any captain worth his or her salt has a Philosophy (and one or more missing limbs).
Despite being marketed as a Young Adult novel, I don't see it. The protagonist is, presumably, a youngish adult. Not so young that it seems inappropriate that he frequents pubs, though, and he could in any case be fully adult without anything changing.
The world of Railsea is, as always from Miéville, finely rendered and quite unlike anything anybody else has written.