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Pushing Ice

Jul. 8th, 2008 10:50 pm
prunesquallor: (sf)

Pushing Ice (2005) by Alastair Reynolds.

This was very readable though not particularly original. It's 2057 and there's a fairly mature comet-mining industry. Captain Bella Lind and the crew of the Rockhopper are busily working in said industry, when Janus abruptly drops its disguise as a moon of Jupiter and begins to accelerate out of the solar system. Of course, it turns out that Lind's is the only ship close enough to trail this newly revealed alien artifact and gather data before it fully gets away. And equally of course, things don't go smoothly and the situation rapidly descends into an 'incident pit' (i.e., FUBAR).

A large part of the novel is devoted to the conflict between Lind and her chief engineer Svetlana Barseghian: mutiny and counter-mutiny, exile and restoration, tentative accommodation and renewed hostility. The two women aren't really well-rounded characters, though Reynolds does his best to carefully balance the scales between them: both are deeply flawed individuals (they make parallel disastrous decisions) but they govern well during their respective administrations.

Janus turns out to be a bit of a sideshow, and aside from some relatively meaningless booby traps isn't really developed as an interesting setting. Instead, new complications are constantly added to the mix: an even bigger Big Dumb Object, several alien races (including one so disgusting you know they just have to be Evulh), and some perfunctory chat about the Fermi Paradox. Plus there's the far-future human civilization that is considering sending a welter of probes out into the universe to search for its 'Benefactor' . . .

Not really recommended, though parts of the plot are moderately surprising.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 – 2008.

The passing of an era - who else is left of that generation? Fred Pohl and -- ?


First in a possible series. This time, theme of writers:

If this person had remembered The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, they wouldn't have needed to ask this particular question:

"You have forgotten to clean your sword[.]" . . .
It was true. Peter blushed when he looked at the bright blade and saw it all smeared with the Wolf's hair and blood. He stooped down and wiped it quite clean on the grass, and then wiped it quite dry on his coat . . .
"[W]hatever happens, never forget to wipe your sword."



Feb. 15th, 2008 12:02 am
prunesquallor: (sf)

I wonder if any critical work has been done on a certain possible sub-sub-genre of fantasy/speculative fiction, or whether it's even been labelled yet. I think it exists, but can't totally define it. It would probably include works like Tom Reamy's Blind Voices, Robert Stallman's Beast Trilogy, some of Zenna Henderson's People stories, and the HBO series Carnivale. (Other candidates solicited.) Tentatively posited attributes: set in the late twenties or (more likely) the thirties, a certain proletarian sensibility, a focus on outsiders - particularly carnival/ freakshow people and hoboes - and a feel for the rural American landscape. (I notice that The Encyclopedia of Fantasy does not have an entry for The Great Depression.)

I'd love some pointers to any articles or books with criticism even remotely approaching the above.

ETA: Charles Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao, Howard Waldrop's "A Dozen Tough Jobs", Tom Tyron's The Other, the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Robert Charles Wilson's A Hidden Place.


Andrew Rilstone on Tolkien and torture.