In the same vein as our ‘Catching Up With SciFi Movies’ posts, here are my quick thoughts on several books I’ve read (not so) recently.
- Diving Into The Wreck – Three linked short stories that together tell an engrossing tale of mystery and intrigue. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has done a tremendous job of worldbuilding for Wreck and has concocted what I’m calling a ‘pocket Space Opera’: the scope isn’t as overtly wide open as in normal space operas, but it does have elements that touch on wider issues that aren’t covered in the book. Instead, we have some ingenious tech as a prize for the team of wreck divers which drives the story and illuminates some very interesting characters. One of the few books in recent memory that I hated to put down and couldn’t wait to pick up again.
- The Caryatids – This book is another stellar example of worldbuilding a near future Earth after an environmental collapse. Sadly, Sterling forgot to add an interesting story. What we get instead is a disjointed series of chapters, each one focusing on a ‘Caryatid’ and barely touching each other, and when they do it’s abrupt and has a ‘WTF?’ quality. But the world is vividly realized and full of interesting technology, I just wish there was a better story.
- Titanicus – I loved Abnett’s Eisenhorn and Ravenor stories so I was all over this book about giant mechs fighting it out. Unfortunately we don’t get much actual mech on mech combat, instead we get a more political story, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s full of twists and surprises, but I felt the story Abnett was telling could have used bit more room. It felt like it was shoe-horned into it’s 400 pages. Yes, I’m saying there should be story here, the size of the cast almost demands it. Otherwise Abnett is up to his usual tricks writing some great combat scenes scattered inside an absorbing story. It just needs some more room.
- Drood – I’ll read anything by Dan Simmons, he’s one of my favorite authors. However I’ve decided that I like his science fiction a bit more than his horror/fantasy works. Drood starts out as a straight narrative of Charles Dickens’ life, as told by his friend and confidant, Wilkie Collins. Once Dickens meets the mysterious Drood after a train accident, he becomes consumed with the man and Collins is pulled in for the ride. Things are only somewhat interesing until about half-way into the book when a major event happens for Collins. From this point on, the book swings much more into familiar Simmons mode and rockets to it’s twisty, somewhat ambiguous ending.