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…