Sawyer tries really hard to give a reasonable explanation of the difference between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens and of course, falls on the ethicalSawyer tries really hard to give a reasonable explanation of the difference between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens and of course, falls on the ethical side of the Neanderthals. He makes the error of many sci-fi authors: To vilify everything about modern man and lift up an unattainable ideal as better and just out of reach. His answer in this series is to bring into our time (from a parallel dimension) a group of Neanderthals who actually sound like members of the Green Party. In fact, they would be poster children for all things green. The startling reality is that this series has become a best-seller. People in our age really do think life sucks sometimes, and this makes for great escapist lit....more
Later on in his career, Brin will learn how to fashion together a plot, to make characters that have depth and to understand how to blend science in wLater on in his career, Brin will learn how to fashion together a plot, to make characters that have depth and to understand how to blend science in with a believable world. This novel was written in 1984 and does not have any of those elements.
There is one intriguing plot twist and I will reveal it right here: What happens if we reverse the Second Law of Thermodynamics? This book is a lame attempt at trying to explain what would take place if nothing falls apart but actually improves over time (except people).
This is obviously the work of a young David Brin. The dialogue is contrived. No one talks this way. The two primary characters fall in love but there is no explanation of why. The girl is good looking and this is the extent of the attraction between them. Yet, they are willing to be in a relationship with an alien based on a few passing glances and an improbable ride on a glider turned single-engine aircraft. The battles have no drama in them. The main character knows all about all of science and almost never follows a wrong hunch. The primary foil character is almost as likeable as the main guy and the evil villain gets thwarted way too easily. There is no quest, no self-discovery and very little suspense to hold the story together.
To top all of that off, the ending makes no sense at all. Even if it did make sense, it has no point to it. The only point I could conjure was wondering if the hero becomes his own ancestor.
There is so much Deus Ex Machina that I wonder if Brin himself believed his book would improve over time. All this book proves is that the second Law of Thermodynamics applies to this novel. It looks very weak, even after all these years....more
People who like this series have an "over-the-top" love affair with it. Those like me who have read many, many sci-fi/fantasy series probably shrug thPeople who like this series have an "over-the-top" love affair with it. Those like me who have read many, many sci-fi/fantasy series probably shrug their shoulders and say "it's nothing I haven't heard before in the writings of 100 other authors." I don't play role-playing games (takes too much time, not grounded in any reality, borderline too intense), but this book series has the feel of that sort of game. I can even see George Martin taking some of the scenarios played out in a Medeival RPG and adding them to his books.
Without giving away any spoilers, let's say that this book has many characters, most of whom we find it hard to feel sympathetic toward. The book really has no focal character. Martin chooses to use the Floating Point of View, otherwise known as the Intermittent Third-person Omniscient. That is, Martin follows the thoughts and actions of a different character with each chapter. He does do a good job at carrying along a complex plot through this POV. But the result is we often wait for a third of the book to pick up again on particular characters.
His female characters are much more likable than their male counterparts. All but a few of the men are misogynists, and not a single male character is monogamous. Two females are the heroic archetypes (Arya and Dany), but neither of them is particularly feminine. This points out an unusual pattern in Martin's writings: The more likable the female, the less feminine and the more feminine the more stupid. This is endemic to all his writings. His men are more complex than that.
The book is plot-driven, violent and devoid of all moral values. Ethical values are much more prominent, but not necessarily consistent, even with the main characters. The dwarf, for instance, values those who tell him the truth. But he sees no reason to return the favor. He respects those who keep their oath, hates those who break them, but is instrumental in breaking a number of oaths himself.
I recommend this book for young men who want to see how a plot can be written. Women will most likely hate this book, unless they hate women. ...more
David Brin really can create alternative worlds better than anyone. The basic plot is fascinating in itself. In the far future, anyone can create a duDavid Brin really can create alternative worlds better than anyone. The basic plot is fascinating in itself. In the far future, anyone can create a duplicate of themselves out of special clay that functions almost like the real person. In fact, at the end of 24 hours, the clay disintegrates, but the memories of this "golem" can be uploaded to the real person. Therefore, people end up making copies of themselves to go to the store, to work, on dates. There are many levels of quality in the golems and each level is more expensive. Some levels are just for doing gardening, going to the store, cleaning up messes. Others are for romantic duties and others for intellectual pursuits. All golems have the same memories (except for the daily differences of course) and are then reintegrated. Heaven for a golem is making it home to the original before disintegrating. But the real issues of what is a real person come to play in this saga. If it wasn't for the fact that it reminded me too much of the movie "Multiplicity" I would have enjoyed it more....more
By now I should have an entire section devoted to dystopic books. This is the fourth one I have read in the past year, and may be the second best, shoBy now I should have an entire section devoted to dystopic books. This is the fourth one I have read in the past year, and may be the second best, shown up only by "Blindness". Atwood has been a favorite author of mine since childhood, since she has that Canadian knack for hearing a great blend of words as she puts them on paper. The story borrows heavily from the Greek mythological story of Odysseus, but only sprinkles that story among the details of this one (unlike Joyce).
This story combines the dangers of overpopulation, genetic tinkering and lawlessness brought on by a lack of moral compass. One is never sure when reading Atwood whether she approves of an uncompassed life or if she just interpolates that as the direction mankind is heading. In this sense, she sees many of the same problems with society as Michael Crichton. There is no doubt however, that this book is better written than Crichton's and contains characters that excel in their depth and believability. This book is so much more than a prediction of a dire future. It actually lays the groundwork for a more advanced form of humanity, similar to what Greg Bear does in "Darwin's Radio"....more
Vernor Vinge does something that only the great writer E.B. White was able to accomplish: He makes spiders the good guys. This story is obstensibly abVernor Vinge does something that only the great writer E.B. White was able to accomplish: He makes spiders the good guys. This story is obstensibly about the discovery of a different race of space alien. What I have always liked about Vinge is that he refrains from making social, political or environmental statements and just allows the story to tell itself. What is unfortunate about this book is that he wastes too much time in his attempt to span 80 years by giving us the long view of characterizations. This book could have been improved by brevity, more action and less characters. It reads like a russian novel. But at those points where the story does take off the reader can hardly put the book down. I wish there had been more of those moments....more
This was a quick read on an airplane. Not close to his best. This read more like a file folder full of articles on the dangers of genetic modificationThis was a quick read on an airplane. Not close to his best. This read more like a file folder full of articles on the dangers of genetic modification than it did a novel. There really is no sustained plot; just a series of unrelated incidents involving scientists and their "evil" hell-bent approach to genetic engineering. Think of "Jurassic Park" without the kids; or the park; or the island. But he does his typical mountain of research and this makes the book interesting if not disjointed. This would have worked better as a series of essays....more
Mercedes Lackey does not disappoint in her books. That doesn't mean she represents high literature, but she does know how to tell a story that moves.Mercedes Lackey does not disappoint in her books. That doesn't mean she represents high literature, but she does know how to tell a story that moves. Like many books published by Tor, the appeal is to the late teen/early 20s reader. I like the relationship between the brother and sister, a type of relational situation not found in many sci-fi books. This is the first of a trilogy and gets off to a good start. It has all the features of a Lackey novel: Mages, theories about magic, betrayal (she has betrayal in every book she has ever written...I wonder what that says about her life), great personal battle scenes and self-doubt. The only thing I really was frustrated about was her interminable dialog leading up to events of great drama. It is like she wants to tease the reader as long as possible to prolong the excitement. I think she goes too far with it....more
It's curious that everyone wants to find another book that compares to LOTR...this does not compare, but it is a good story. It drags at places and isIt's curious that everyone wants to find another book that compares to LOTR...this does not compare, but it is a good story. It drags at places and is nowhere as tightly written as Eragon....more