Sunday, 6 November 2022

Book review: Heroes and Best Served Cold

PXL_20220925_092618342 I read Heroes first; and then Best Served Cold. And for whatever reason, I assumed that was the order they were written in. So I was confused when Caul Shivers was two-eyed. But I decided that perhaps fantasy doesn't have to be totally self-consistent across books, and even decided I quite liked that. Then he got tortured and lost an eye and I realised I had them the wrong way round. Never mind. Except, in arrears, I'm now slightly disappointed that CS doesn't get more development in Heroes; he is rather a background character there.

But overall, I greatly enjoyed both of these. They are set in the same "First Law" world as... ah yes, The Blade Itself, which I also read. I enjoyed that too, but got slightly sick of it towards the end and so avoided any sequels for a while; and then got hooked again. They are both quite long, possibly just a little too long, but both good. In that they have a decent story, and the characters are actually thinking.

Also, they are both funny; not constantly, but enough as light relief.

I should pick a nit, for the sake of form: In Heroes, Bayaz or his assistants are developing cannon-and-gunpowder. They drag into the depths of the wilderness three large heavy cannon, and manage to get a few not-very-useful shots off before they inevitably break down. But think - in stark contrast to Bayaz -, how much more useful that gunpowder would have been as grenades at the battle for the bridges.

Book review: The Exiles Trilogy

PXL_20221004_193700422~2 By Ben Bova. Now I look - even prompted by his bibliography - I can't really think of anything of his I've read before, which is odd, cos he is antique. Alas, The Exiles Trilogy has not aged well like fine wine.

TL;DR: well, indeed, I didn't. I got through the first book, skimmed the intro of the second, put it down (with a pat on my back for not wasting my life on trash), went back and tried the third, and gave it back to Oxfam.

The basic plot idea is that the World Govt, fearful of any danger to stability in an overcrowded world, decides to exile something like 20k scientists-plus-family. Ludicrously, they decide to put them on a space station they happen to have empty. And equally ludicrously, they turn it into a starship and fly away.

Most of book one is set on Earth, as Our Hero escapes captivity and does some stuff. The writing level is low, the characters cardboard, but the story kinda manages to limp along. Book two starts off with a Deeply Exciting Intro as there is a fire-in-the-cryo-section! And Our Hero (a different Hero this time) learns that his father has thereby died. By amazing chance, so has the father of the Anti-Hero and, with some implausible but not hot Girl Action, suddenly they are Enemies and... I got bored and stopped. Why would you keep burnable levels of oxygen in a cryo section anyway? Book three is set in the far future, the ship still voyages on but may be approaching wherever-it-was-they-were-going-who-gives-a-toss-really, unfortunately the crew has reverted to semi-savagery and... you get the idea, I'm sure.

The interesting thought here though is: what's the point? I do feel that voyaging to a far star would be a splendid endeavour, and would sign up myself if given the chance, but only if there were continuity of history: getting there with your culture destroyed is pointless. Which applies more generally (I've said this before I think): what matters is being part of the stream of history; contributing to the future.