Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Too Much Soda

posted by Tim Walters @ 10:58 PM

Charles Stross, Singularity Sky. A disappointment. I enjoyed Toast, his short story collection (thanks, Todd!), and since it felt like a grab bag, I was hoping that his novels would be even better. This one, at least, is not. Stross's good-natured humor is spread quite thin as, along with the smart, sexy cyber-libertarian protagonists, we follow a bunch of straw-man technophobes to their long-foreseen demise. And, aside from some fun surrealistic interludes, that's pretty much it. It's perfectly readable, just kind of meh. John Clute nails it.

Given that I thought Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space flat-out sucked (characters who change arbitrarily to drive the plot, insane amounts of padding), and that Ken MacLeod's The Cassini Division was bogged down with tedious and cliched political didactica, I'm only batting .250 on the much bally-hooed Scottish hard-SF renaissance; hence my title for this post. That hit, though, is Iain Add-M-To-Taste Banks, which I would score as a home run.


At 7:30 PM, Blogger Todd T said...

I wonder if SS is perhaps an early try that misfires? I haven't read any of his novels, and don't know which has received the most praise. As for the others, I have read shorter work by Reynolds that was good, neither technically inept nor padded. Never tried MacLeod. I have no stomach for clumsy tracts of any kind in fiction, even those that I might agree with, so I am now quite leery.

I don't know whether the 'hard' term was yours or the community's; based on a more limited sampling than yours, I might've chosen 'space opera', which of course is often not hard at all. Hard-sf, that is. Hard to do well, certainly.

A homer in 4 AB is slugging 1.000, and that's not accounting for multiple books. For me, Banks looks good off the bat but fades just foul, and I wish I knew why.

Too much soda - or perhaps you should just stick with that single malt.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Tim Walters said...

I think SS was what made him famous. The sequel (which I own already, we'll see if I read it) is up for the Hugo this year.

To be fair to MacLeod, TCD isn't a tract, exactly; he doesn't the characters as mouthpieces or anything. But the various political systems in the book get a lot of discussion time, more at least than I wanted.

You're right, "space opera" is a much better term. And it is really hard to do well, and I'm pretty persnickety about it. But I like Vernor Vinge's last two, for example, quite a bit better than any of these. Even the Hyperion books, which I had mixed feelings about, had way more flair. These guys seem to want to be cool and/or serious, and I think space opera isn't the best format for that.


Post a Comment

<< Home