Back to Infinity and Beyond

Having finished Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I decided to switch genres again and go back to science fiction for a time.  Larsson’s book was pretty good; the story was engrossing after it took of but you did have to be patient for that.  I felt like some of the writing was very pedestrian, but I can’t help but imagine that a part of that was due to the fact that it was a work in translation.  So, I’m going to blame the translator a little here.  All too often I felt like someone was relaying the narrative to me as if it was a newscast.  I didn’t feel like I was in the story as much as I might have wanted.  Was it good enough to make me want to read the two other books in the “Lisbeth Salander” trilogy?  Sure, but not right away.

Instead, I decided to head back to space.  A while back, before I started this blog, I read Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space and Chasm City.  I enjoyed them, the second more than the first, but when I finished Chasm City I didn’t want to read any more.  It’s what they call “hard” science fiction, which means its heavy on the science and technology aspects.  But it is also classified as space opera – large, sweeping narratives encompassing enormous amounts of physical space and civilizations.  That part is what I can really get behind.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the hard science parts, just not as much.

So, this morning before work, I read the prologue and I’m hooked.  It picks up several decades after Revelation Space left off, but in space opera time, that’s not a whole heck of a lot.  His idea of the “melding plague” (a virus that infects nano-machines and biological matter the same, merging them together in a horrific juxtaposition) is back and I have to say, that’s one of the coolest sci-fi ideas I’ve read.  Probably why I enjoyed Chasm City so much; it was all about that.

So, this book picks up with the idea that humanity has gotten the attention of the Inhibitors, a mysterious race of heretofore unseen aliens who have set up, for lack of a better word, space stations throughout the universe to alert them to the presence of other star-faring cultures.  Alert them to their presence so they can destroy them before they become a threat.  Destroy them with super weapons that rival what the Death Star could do.  Now if that doesn’t set up a good conflict for space opera, I don’t know what does.  We’ll see where it takes me…


5 thoughts on “Back to Infinity and Beyond

  1. As a genre I really enjoy Sci-Fi in films and television but find it so much harder to read Sci-Fi. These books sound really intriguing but I just know I won’t understand the science parts at all! Science is fine until I have to imagine myself what it looks like and how it works lol.

  2. Found Chasm City to be my favorite of his by far, though I’d argue that it’s closer to technopunk than space opera. Much more BladeRunner/Neuromancer than Star Wars (the original space opera), with a tighter and more human story. More action too, but rarely gratuitous. Of his books, it’s the only one I’ve felt the desire to re-read…which is a shame because I can’t seem to find it.

    Simmons and Hamilton are probably my favorite authors for multi-volume space opera, with Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy/sextet being the best example of the genre. Got draggy in some places, but for all that he manages to accomplish it’s outstanding.

    Still waiting for you to pick up Name of the Wind, though given your frequently declaimed (and understandable) bias against starting a series that hasn’t been finished I can understand some hesitation. Especially given that the second still isn’t out.

    Better track record than Martin, though.

  3. Jessica, I understand. Reynolds is probably not for you then, but if you haven’t read Dune, you’ve done yourself a disservice.

    Hudd, Whoa! Where’d you come from? How’d you find me? Not that I mind, I just haven’t advertised this blog.

    Oh man, you like Hamilton? I put Night Dawn Trilogy down after the first part of the second book. It just got a bit ridiculous for me, what with Al Capone and all that stuff. I liked the first book a lot, but then he went off the deep end for me.

    Yea, Chasm City probably is more techno punk, but the others are def hard core sci-fi space opera I think. And of course, you have to love Simmons’ sci-fi work.

    Name of the Wind is for sure on my radar, but you correctly pointed out my bias against starting a series before it is finished. I put that by the wayside for Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, the Gentlemen Bastards series, because they seem more like stand alone novels with the same character rather than continued narratives. And unlike Martin, Rothfuss isn’t in immediate danger of a coronary, given he’s both younger and healthier!


  4. Found the site from Facebook, I think. Tend to lurk, so hadn’t commented before.

    Lies of Locke Lamora was great, with the followup also being good but suffering from a “gotta be bigger and better” feel.

    Rothfuss isn’t known for speedy writing – think Name of the Wind took 14 years or so, but that’s apocryphal.

    Regarding Night’s Dawn: I always forget about the initial Al Capone part. Partly because it seems unnecessary, but also because the character gets fleshed out quite a bit more later in the book. One of the reasons I like the series is because there’s so much going on. There are definitely shortcomings, but overall it works well.

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