Book Thread

Anything not relating to the X-Universe games (general tech talk, other games...) belongs here. Please read the rules before posting.

Moderator: Moderators for English X Forum

Post Reply
User avatar
mrbadger
Posts: 5649
Joined: Fri, 28. Oct 05, 17:27

Book Thread

Post by mrbadger » Sat, 18. Nov 17, 23:26

This thread is primarily because I keep starting to talk about books and writing in other threads, messing up the original topic. I really shouldn’t do that, so now there is this thread.

I had some more to say about Machiavelli’s The Prince, and it really didn’t belong in the thread where it was first mentioned (by me), and commented on by others.

It is an odd book. One thing that is really odd about it is that I haven’t actually read it yet, and yet I know a great deal about it. And this isn’t just because I just followed an audio lecture series on it. I plan to read it over Christmas.

So how do I know so much about this book I’ve never read?

Simple, it’s influence is writ large across the history of science fiction.

That’s how I know it (and didn’t know I did until I worked through the lecture series).

Harry Harrison was heavily influenced by Machiavelli, whose influence can be seen even in the Stainless Steel Rat series of Books, although it is at its most overt in the Homeworld and Deathworld Trilogies, Mostly in the former, where Machiavelli’s philosophy almost wafts from the pages, it’s subtle, but once you finish the trilogy it has quite a powerful effect on you, or it did on me. In the Latter it’s even more subtle, but still there.

I think I got most of my understanding of a Machiavellian Philosophy from his work of which I have an extensive paperback collection. Which I now want to get down and read again…..

I think some Classic Era SF writers misunderstood Machiavelli’s point, or just adapted it to suit their story, which of course they were entitled to.

Heinlein wasn’t helped by his brain tumour interlude, but he hit what an absolutist government would be like in Starship Troopers, except characters sometimes spout Machiavellian ideals, misusing them entirely to support a totalitarian regime (I begin to understand now why Harry Harrison got so upset with him and Wrote Bill the Galactic Hero in protest).

I don’t rate many of his books now, unlike other writers, his don’t tend to age well.
I own quite a few of his books, no decent SF book collector can’t, every release of Citizen of the Galaxy in Paperback in paperback for instance. That book I like a lot, but it’s an early work, before he got too odd.

I don’t much like many of his later books. Stranger in a Strange Land is utter garbage and Friday is just far too sexist, even for when it was written, never mind now.

Frank Herbert had to have read it, with all his novels political complexity and Larry Niven’s Puppeteers too, with their need for subterfuge that ultimately dooms them to [oops, spoilers, nope], read the fleet of worlds books yourself, the last ones a killer.

I think Frederik Pohl’s Heechee Saga was influenced by Machiavelli, at least in the latter stages of writing, but I’m not certain. I need to go through it again I think.
Not that I mind that, there’s nothing he wrote I don’t enjoy.
Since he rounded of the saga with ‘The Boy Who Would Live Forever’ it probably needs going through again from the start anyway.

David Weber on the other hand has a character in his Safehold Saga which is blatantly lifted right from the pages of The Prince, fleshed out and used, he’s a Borgia in all but name, and the character is even told to read Machiavelli at one point, which breaks all pretense that he's anything but a direct rip from that work.
Don't get me wrong, the character is ok, and the story he’s in is great, packed full of political intrigue, which makes up for it, but it’s not as good a use as when Harry Harrison made of Machiavelli’s work.

My knowledge of modern writers is less extensive, but I’m getting there. I’m not interested in adding any modern writers to my paperback collection though, they’ll all digital.

Trying to get my hands on Discourses on Livy, but wow is that expensive, over £150. I have my friendly neighborhood bookshop on the hunt for a cheaper copy. After all these years she’s used by my bizarre book purchase requests.

‘ I want this book from 50 odd years ago, but only this print run, with this particular cover please’.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. ... Niccolò Machiavelli

RegisterMe
Posts: 726
Joined: Sun, 14. Oct 07, 17:47

Post by RegisterMe » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 02:02

It's not very long. You could read it in one good long soak in the tub.
Gavrushka wrote:The problem with 'freedom of speech' is it makes wackos think they have something of value to say.

*WE WANT THE amtct BACK*
Rapier's search

User avatar
Antilogic
Posts: 604
Joined: Wed, 6. Apr 05, 20:33

Post by Antilogic » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 03:05

David Weber
Needs a bloody editor who cuts 75% of each book in the last 5-6 years.

Cpt.Jericho
Posts: 2554
Joined: Mon, 17. Jul 06, 15:44

Post by Cpt.Jericho » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 03:19

Antilogic wrote:Needs a bloody editor who cuts 75% of each book in the last 5-6 years.
And he is not the only one...
Winner of 350 Mil class of X-Verse Fleet Fest Italiano
Boycotting Steam since CS 1.6

User avatar
mrbadger
Posts: 5649
Joined: Fri, 28. Oct 05, 17:27

Post by mrbadger » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 11:47

Antilogic wrote:
David Weber
Needs a bloody editor who cuts 75% of each book in the last 5-6 years.
I agree, but I like the story, he works best when he collaborates, then he's forced to write shorter work. I fear the Safehold Sage will just drag on until it becomes pointless.

'This will be an 8 book series'...

'No, this will be an 11 book series'

Nine books in, and still they're nowhere near being a highly advanced high tech civilization. I just don't think he knows what to do any more. He needed a better editor a long time ago.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. ... Niccolò Machiavelli

User avatar
Morkonan
Posts: 1669
Joined: Sun, 25. Sep 11, 04:33

Post by Morkonan » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 18:37

mrbadger wrote:..I agree, but I like the story, he works best when he collaborates, then he's forced to write shorter work. I fear the Safehold Sage will just drag on until it becomes pointless.

'This will be an 8 book series'...

'No, this will be an 11 book series'

Nine books in, and still they're nowhere near being a highly advanced high tech civilization. I just don't think he knows what to do any more. He needed a better editor a long time ago.
I stopped reading the Safehold series because it began to suffer from the same problems that many "epic battles" series suffer from: "Yet another gigantic battle/war with a twist" book. When an epic largely based on battles starts accumulating books, this is usually why and it will get boring, fast, no matter how many huge, ginormous, dramatic, battles there are. The problem with such a series is that it has to "advance" and battles, while they're battling, don't "advance" anything. They're great fun to read and naturally create drama, but while they're happening they do nothing to advance the setting/plot/characters/politics/whatever that span a long epic series. Plus, there's only so many times the reader is going to want to be dragged to the "edge of their seat" for yet another battle. (Especially if the Good Guys keep winning them all, despite the "overwhelming odds" against them. Too much sugar will make anyone throw up..)

Weber sells. He can write anything and it sells. He's a truly gifted writer and he's no "one-trick-pony", even though many people just point at his five shelves at the bookstore and scream "Honorverse" or "Safehold." He's got the "full range" talent of a capable writer. (Some of his smaller series and one-offs are truly wonderful diversions from his standard military-sci-fi fare.)

I no longer read cooperative efforts that include writers I don't know.

If Weber is teaming up with an unknown, I won't read it. The same goes for any of the other very popular writers. Why? Many times, it's just a vehicle to get some shelf recognition for a writer the publisher thinks can benefit from in order to sell another book. That doesn't mean a well-known writer doesn't have a say, of course. It just means that I'm very wary.

Lastly - If a series keeps selling books, nobody cares if it's ever going to end. I don't mean that it's simply being exploited, I mean that it's obvious that readers are reading it as it is written, so there's no problem if the writer wants to keep producing pages. Plus, the number of books in a series has a selling point all it's own. Witness: "The Wheel of Time." All respect due to Jordon, but I couldn't stand the thing and it made little sense half of the time. But, the number of books in this fantasy series, not usually a genre noted for stretching past the trilogy-point, drew attention and fans kept grabbing up copies, hoping to find something worth reading in each new book...

PS: There are no "lastly's" in my posts, it seems.

If one wants a book that many other books are inspired by, look no further than C.S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" series. I love it. I don't mean I love it like I "love" pie or even "The Lord of the Rings." I love it "fiercely" with love that "only wake up in the morning to smell her hair, no matter how crusty her eyes and repulsive her breath" kind of love... (No, I am not romantically attracted to series of books! It's a metaphor.)

Every page is golden, every word meaningful, everything has its purpose and its place. The individual books are the most prominent examples of "well-written" that I have ever experienced. It's more well-written than any popular fantasy or science fiction series in existence, including LoTR, Honorverse, Heinlein, Asimov (who has some books that come "close"), etc...

Anyone who likes a good book should have read Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" series by now. And, if they haven't, they should go out and buy it, all of it, right now. (A few of the later books aren't as good as the earlier ones, but that's like saying a piece of chocolate pie isn't as good as another, simply because it has just a little bit more crust...

User avatar
Antilogic
Posts: 604
Joined: Wed, 6. Apr 05, 20:33

Post by Antilogic » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 20:37

Morkonan you also need this editors services FYI ;)

User avatar
mrbadger
Posts: 5649
Joined: Fri, 28. Oct 05, 17:27

Post by mrbadger » Sun, 19. Nov 17, 21:07

I found a decent writer, John Ringo, by his co-authoring with Weber, but only one, and I don't think he was an unknown. I just hadn't heard of him.

But on reading more of his work I get the feeling it was more Ringo than Weber. I haven't got everything by Ringo, not everything looks like it would appeal, but what I have I've liked.

The bad thing about Safehold is he's already written the story in the Dehak series. Only there it was shorter, more interesting, and actually bloomin ended.....
That series I really like, I've had it for years and it's still one of my most listened to audiobooks.

I do get the feeling that the Safehold Saga is heading towards being fragmented out to different authors, who will all write it with Weber. Meaning he'll just approve what they write.

I've got to the point where for me the story is over. They can't do what he intended in two more books if he keeps writing the way he is, and I can't keep buying 30 hour audiobooks where almost half the runtime is battle related.

The last book wrapped up all the major plotlines that had driven the previous 8 books, yet he shoehorned in some flimsy ones that seemed only to exist to justify more books. That sort of thing kills a series.

That didn't matter so much when I was needing something to occupy me on evening long walks, but I don't now.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. ... Niccolò Machiavelli

User avatar
Morkonan
Posts: 1669
Joined: Sun, 25. Sep 11, 04:33

Post by Morkonan » Mon, 20. Nov 17, 16:56

mrbadger wrote:I found a decent writer, John Ringo, by his co-authoring with Weber, but only one, and I don't think he was an unknown. I just hadn't heard of him.
Ringo is a prolific, much-beloved, military-science-fiction writer. Well, mostly miliatry sci-fi, that is. (He has a large body of work.)

His books, novelettes, and shorts that deal with Keith Laumer's "Bolos" are, perhaps, the most well-known. (Other writers loved Laumer's "Bolos" so much they started writing about them, too.) A "Bolo" is a... sentient tank. As in, a mechanized armored ground unit capable of massive amounts of destruction that is also intelligent, "conscious," and has a strong sense of "duty" and not just a little bit of personal morality... Can a "tank" care.. about anything? Apparently so! :) (There are various "Bolo" books. "The Road to Damascus" is one that covers the basics, I think. Bolos are used by several authors, each with their own bit of flair.)
But on reading more of his work I get the feeling it was more Ringo than Weber. I haven't got everything by Ringo, not everything looks like it would appeal, but what I have I've liked.
Aside from Ringo's take on Bolos, his "Troy Rising" series is entertaining. But, it is starting to suffer from "The Good Guys Win" problem. Then again, if the Good Guys ever fail in this series, there won't be any other books... :) I also enjoyed his "Voyage of the Space Bubble" (ie"Looking Glass") series. Both are military sci-fi, but the former is much softer and deals mostly with space combat and a "besieged Earth." The latter is more hard sci-fi, with small unit tactics and what is basically a "besieged Earth" start after an alien invasion of sorts, but one that is very unusual.
...That didn't matter so much when I was needing something to occupy me on evening long walks, but I don't now.
For me, it's "end of the day" reading sorts of stuff. I am rarely so wrapped up in a book, these days, that I will purposefully make time to read it. Which... is unfortunate.

********

I just picked up the authorized sequel to "War of the Worlds!"

Yes, that's right, there's an "authorized sequel" to the penultimate science-fiction work of all time... I $4@$ you not.

The Massacre of Makind - Baxter

I haven't yet started it, still trying to finish something else. But, what science-fiction geek wouldn't freak out at seeing an "Authorized Sequel" to... "The War of the Worlds?" I picked up the hard-copy, immediately, without one bit of reservation, since I already knew Baxter was a firmly established author. ie: It surely isn't some ridiculous "vehicle" marketing attempt for a new author.

Jericho
Posts: 461
Joined: Wed, 6. Nov 02, 21:31

Re: Book Thread

Post by Jericho » Mon, 20. Nov 17, 17:59

mrbadger wrote: (I begin to understand now why Harry Harrison got so upset with him and Wrote Bill the Galactic Hero in protest).
.
I'd heard lots of people talking about Bill the Galactic Hero (And the idea of a guy with 2 right-arms due to an arms-shortage kind of appealed to me.)

So I read one book, and thought it was bloody awful. Felt like some guy had sat at a typewriter, drunk 12 cans, and then thought "Ah, this is funny! Bawb! Yes! Bawb! That's funny! Bawb! I created a new word! All my characters will say that over and over! Oh, and 'Hyperbole'! That's a new word I just discovered, I'll put it on every other page so people don't know that I'm drunk and high as a kite right now."
"I've got a bad feeling about this!" Harrison Ford, 5 times a year, trying to land his plane.

User avatar
mrbadger
Posts: 5649
Joined: Fri, 28. Oct 05, 17:27

Re: Book Thread

Post by mrbadger » Mon, 20. Nov 17, 19:13

Jericho wrote: stuff....
I agree with you, I didn't say I liked it. In fact it's the only thing he wrote that I don't like. For one thing I disagree with Harrison on this. Starship Troopers didn't need a 'protest book' written to contrast it in the first place. Bill The Galactic Hero is awful.

But it was written at a time when Harrison and the other authors were literally being paid to churn out books as quick as they could, and a lot of the people doing that were producing terrible work.

Not everyone. Some people, like Frederick Pohl, never put a foot wrong, that guy was a literary genius.

I own a lot of it, because I collect books from that era, and much of it just for the cover art, since I am as interested in the work of Chris Foss and his contemporaries as I am in the good SF authors, so I own some real duds.

Morkonan wrote: I just picked up the authorized sequel to "War of the Worlds!"

Yes, that's right, there's an "authorized sequel" to the penultimate science-fiction work of all time... I $4@$ you not.
Have you read his other Authorised Sequel - 'The Time Ships? Follows on from the end of Orwells 'The Time Machine'. I really enjoyed it, superbly written, can't say anything about it, because anything I say would be a spoiler, but don't look it up, just buy it, you'll like it.

I already have 'The Massacre of Mankind', but I'm working towards it, probably reach it in a month or two.

I didn't think this authorised sequel thing would work, but it does, really well.


Troy Rising and the Looking Glass Series I read. I assume those series are concluded now.

I thought Troy Rising was good, but ended poorly, like there was supposed to be another book but wasn't, and the last book wandered a bit and got boring.

Looking Glass I liked. Suffered with the same issue in the last book however, although not as badly. Ringo doesn't seem to end his series well.

They start out amazing, the middle is strong, then the final book tends to be a bit dull. This has been true of every Ringo series I've read.

Black Tide Rising was another one where the last book just fell flat. Frankly I hated the last book, but the rest of the series was great.

His Empire of Man Series, the one that introduced me to him is great. but again the last book is weak. I just don't know why I keep thinking that.

It hasn't stopped me buying them, but I wish he'd get over it.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. ... Niccolò Machiavelli

Jericho
Posts: 461
Joined: Wed, 6. Nov 02, 21:31

Re: Book Thread

Post by Jericho » Tue, 21. Nov 17, 11:38

mrbadger wrote:
But it was written at a time when Harrison and the other authors were literally being paid to churn out books as quick as they could, and a lot of the people doing that were producing terrible work.

Hmmmm... I seem to recall stopping buying books around that time (when Bill and the Planet of Tasteless Pleasures came out) because everything I was buying was crap (Good covers, good copywriters!) and you could just tell they were written over a weekend, and the font was slightly larger than the usual...

Then the Thrawn trilogy got back into reading once again... Only to be put off a couple of years later as I sampled more of the Star Wars EU and wondered how they managed to fit so many monkeys and so many typewriters into a room...

I remember reading War of the Worlds and feeling it read as more of a travel guide of my home town and surrounding area then anything else. I never really felt engaged in the book. I actually prefer the film... (The old film, not the Cruise film or the internet film).

Never read The Time Machine...


If we're discussing authorized sequels... Here are some to avoid!

Blade Runner 2 & 3... Truly awful books. The 'author' (or 'word-slinger' as I call him... He throws words at a page, and if they form a sentence he keeps them) combines Electric Sheep with Blade Runner to form some horrible combination where you have both JF Sebastian and JR Isadore. (Yes, apparently JF Sebastian didn't die! He just feinted, and the police thought he was dead... because he looked old... Yeah, when people feint, they're out for 2 or 3 days sometimes, right?) Horrible horrible book.

6th Hitch-hiker's Guide... Terrible. Avoid. It goes nowhere and does nothing, and there are a couple of 'wacky!' characters. Oh joy.

I've never read Starship Troopers either, I've not read most of the 'classics' to be honest. My staple is more pulp. I'm currently re-reading some Asimov, and it just gets 'better' with age...

... 'better' as in 'more entertaining'... The character's speech, the type-writer internet that prints out slips of paper, tape recorders... It's so precious! I just wish he'd written them all a few years earlier, so they were still using propeller planes etc... Would love their rockets to actually be propeller-powered... (Well, if an X-Wing Fighter can have an etheric rudder...)


Has anyone read a collection of short stories by Alan Dean Foster? I'm looking at his catalog and none of them stand out... He basically tried out lots of different concepts. An almost-steam-punk world where their rockets and blimps are powered by Ice2 (i.e. more powerful steam). Another one was about beating the nazi's to the south pole (erm, maybe north pole, I read it 20 odd years ago), and they get there to find that the Earth is actually spinning on the giant pole that goes through the Earth.

The one that always stands out though was in the far far far far future where man has evolved/devolved to live underwater, stuck to the undersurface catching food that washes down. Each tribe considers themselves 'true' human, but the further down stream they go the more mutated they are...
"I've got a bad feeling about this!" Harrison Ford, 5 times a year, trying to land his plane.

User avatar
mrbadger
Posts: 5649
Joined: Fri, 28. Oct 05, 17:27

Post by mrbadger » Tue, 21. Nov 17, 12:26

Jericho wrote:

If we're discussing authorized sequels... Here are some to avoid!

Blade Runner 2 & 3... Truly awful books. The 'author' (or 'word-slinger' as I call him... He throws words at a page, and if they form a sentence he keeps them) combines Electric Sheep with Blade Runner to form some horrible combination where you have both JF Sebastian and JR Isadore. (Yes, apparently JF Sebastian didn't die! He just feinted, and the police thought he was dead... because he looked old... Yeah, when people feint, they're out for 2 or 3 days sometimes, right?) Horrible horrible book.

6th Hitch-hiker's Guide... Terrible. Avoid. It goes nowhere and does nothing, and there are a couple of 'wacky!' characters. Oh joy.

I've never read Starship Troopers either, I've not read most of the 'classics' to be honest. My staple is more pulp. I'm currently re-reading some Asimov, and it just gets 'better' with age...

... 'better' as in 'more entertaining'... The character's speech, the type-writer internet that prints out slips of paper, tape recorders... It's so precious! I just wish he'd written them all a few years earlier, so they were still using propeller planes etc... Would love their rockets to actually be propeller-powered... (Well, if an X-Wing Fighter can have an etheric rudder...)


Has anyone read a collection of short stories by Alan Dean Foster? I'm looking at his catalog and none of them stand out... He basically tried out lots of different concepts. An almost-steam-punk world where their rockets and blimps are powered by Ice2 (i.e. more powerful steam). Another one was about beating the nazi's to the south pole (erm, maybe north pole, I read it 20 odd years ago), and they get there to find that the Earth is actually spinning on the giant pole that goes through the Earth.

The one that always stands out though was in the far far far far future where man has evolved/devolved to live underwater, stuck to the undersurface catching food that washes down. Each tribe considers themselves 'true' human, but the further down stream they go the more mutated they are...
I don't actually like 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'. I tried to, but like much of Dicks work, it's a hard read. I certainly wouldn't bother with any sequel, authorized or not.
I keep trying to enjoy his books, I know I should, but I just don't.

I could describe how much I dislike the Authorized H2G2 sequel, but this forum has language rules that I would definitely break.

It was just so very, very bad, I have to move on to another topic now....

Starship Troopers is good, nothing like the movie. In fact the movie is barely related. I'm not sure if I should recommend it, I like it, but it's got a very definite right wing bent to it (which given how left wing I am, makes it odd that I like it, but it's fiction, escapism).

It's ok military fiction I suppose. Apparently it was on the recommended reading list at Westpoint Academy for a long time. Might still be.

Asimov? I like some of his work. I liked it more when I was a kid. I have a few of his books in my collection, but not many.

His robot books just aren't that interesting for me. They aren't really robots, they are technological puppets with emotions. Not very complex, just morality plays for the most part. Yet we still get his style of robot popping up in movie after movie, because it's easy to write I suppose.

Other writers did a better job at the same time (I think, you can of course disagree), but he was always held up as 'doing it the bestest'. His Foundation Series was great to start with but fizzled out, with even him admitting he had no idea how to end it. I've never read the final books, I got bored. I'm not even sure it was him that wrote them, I think it might not have been.

As with Philip K Dick, I prefer the Movie Adaptions of Asimovs work to his books.

I'm sure I've read some Alan Dean Foster, but for the moment I don't recall any specifics. Only it wouldn't have been short stories.

Edit: Oh, he wrote some Star Wars books, yes, I read them, but didn't keep them because I couldn't collect enough to have a proper set in my overall book collection, so I gave them to a colleague.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. ... Niccolò Machiavelli

pjknibbs
Posts: 28311
Joined: Wed, 6. Nov 02, 21:31

Post by pjknibbs » Tue, 21. Nov 17, 13:17

mrbadger wrote: I'm sure I've read some Alan Dean Foster, but for the moment I don't recall any specifics. Only it wouldn't have been short stories.
The only ones of his I can remember having read are his "Spellsinger" series, which runs to six books but pretty obviously was only intended to be two--he had to pull some retcons in the third book to provide an excuse for the story to continue.

User avatar
Morkonan
Posts: 1669
Joined: Sun, 25. Sep 11, 04:33

Re: Book Thread

Post by Morkonan » Tue, 21. Nov 17, 17:13

mrbadger wrote:...Have you read his other Authorised Sequel - 'The Time Ships? Follows on from the end of Orwells 'The Time Machine'. I really enjoyed it, superbly written, can't say anything about it, because anything I say would be a spoiler, but don't look it up, just buy it, you'll like it.
I didn't know about that one. Of course, I'll pick it up. :)
I thought Troy Rising was good, but ended poorly, like there was supposed to be another book but wasn't, and the last book wandered a bit and got boring.

Looking Glass I liked. Suffered with the same issue in the last book however, although not as badly. Ringo doesn't seem to end his series well.
I agree. It's one of the dominant problems with "military sci-fi" IMO. There are few options to "end it" because the focus tends to be on "flat characters involved in military conflict." I don't mean the characters are badly written, it's just that we don't usually get many stories that focus on the characters changing during the story. There are several "military sci-fi'ish" books that have "round" characters, characters that develop and change during the story, but then such books deviate from the "formula" of mlitary sci-fi so much that they run the danger of alienating the fans they were written for.

IOW, "after the war" we're often left wanting. Sure, it's a blockbuster ending, usually, with howitzer-blowups-stuffs and all that, but once it's over, everyone takes their toys and goes home..

My favorite "military sci-fi book that isn't" is John Steakley's "Armor." I won't say how deeply this book effected me, since then I'd get all gushy and have to buy a flannel shirt, grab my axe, and go chop some logs or hunt down some poor critters, just to recover my Man Points.
Jericho wrote:...Has anyone read a collection of short stories by Alan Dean Foster? I'm looking at his catalog and none of them stand out... He basically tried out lots of different concepts. An almost-steam-punk world where their rockets and blimps are powered by Ice2 (i.e. more powerful steam). Another one was about beating the nazi's to the south pole (erm, maybe north pole, I read it 20 odd years ago), and they get there to find that the Earth is actually spinning on the giant pole that goes through the Earth.

The one that always stands out though was in the far far far far future where man has evolved/devolved to live underwater, stuck to the undersurface catching food that washes down. Each tribe considers themselves 'true' human, but the further down stream they go the more mutated they are...
I've read just about everything he's written, aside from the movie adaptions. (I did read his "Alien" and it's particularly good.)

I know I've read at least one short collection of Foster's. He's one of my favorites, ever since I was a kid. He has a style that's "easy on the eyes" and is just plain... "welcoming" to the reader. His characters are wonderfully believable. But, at the moment, I can't recall the short-stories you're describing. There is a little spark trying to light up in my brain after reading your descriptions, but it's terribly dark in there, right now... :)

I read most of his works when I was younger and picked up new ones, here and there, as they came out. His "Commonwealth" setting is great for all sorts of stories.

"Pip and Flinx" series - Required reading for any young person interested in Science Fiction. It's a beautiful story. Though, a couple of books are a bit "off track" and the ending, while good, leaves me a bit hollow. But, then again, it's a series that has a lot of meaning for me, so it's natural I'm a bit hesitant.

"Icerigger" series - It's probably one of the best written of his series, at least in the quality of individual books. The last of the trilogy is a bit underwhelming, but still worth the read.

"The Damned" - I don't know why there isn't fifty-eleven books in this setting. It's awesome. There are so many possibilities for stories and Foster explores just a tiny few, but explores them well.

Two things to point out - He doesn't write bad books and there's a reason why he's chosen to do the adaptions of most science-fiction movies - He's damn good at it. One would be hard-pressed to find any writer with as polished a style. His style is so open, easy to read, warm and intimate that it's difficult to compare it to any other writer's. Heinlein'ish, perhaps? At least with most of his novelettes and older stories.

PS - For those with a young son or, perhaps, a daughter interested in science-fiction, the "Pip and Flinx" series is a wonderful introduction to a sci-fi series. For standalones, I'd obviously suggest Heinlein's YA books, probably starting with "Starman Jones."
pjknibbs wrote:The only ones of his I can remember having read are his "Spellsinger" series, which runs to six books but pretty obviously was only intended to be two--he had to pull some retcons in the third book to provide an excuse for the story to continue.
You are correct. :) Well, it was supposed to at least be a trilogy, but then it kept on going. In terms of a book-to-book, it's a bit like a roller-coaster, but the high-points being wonderful and the lows being... wtf? And then, he went off-the-rails and pulled a "Wesley Crusher" or, a more accurate simile, pulled Stasheff's "Warlock" series out of his hat and pumped out a kid into the story.

So, yeah, I'm not sure he knew where it was going to end up to begin with. But, at least it didn't suck. :) (Until "Son of Spellsinger" that is.)

Post Reply

Return to “Off Topic English”