Sunday, March 15, 2015

H'mm, Again. Also: Books I Have Mixed Feelings About

I thought the Terry Pratchett announcement would be a good place to stop the blog but ideas keep floating to the surface. So maybe not. However, my health is still not what it should be and posting may be a little catch-as-can for awhile.

Recent reading has included three Jack McDevitt novels in the "Priscilla Hutchins" series. They are splendid trainwrecks; McDevitt has the mechanics of writing down pat and his science is good enough. His characters are often interesting but they're too often unnecessarily foolish. Alas, his technology is risible, starships engineered in ways that make absolutely zero sense and cardboard McGuffins he couldn't sell if you spotted him ten bucks and a fake expert. Also unsellable, in these books, set some two hundred years in the future, the culture of North America has barely changed, give or take union between the U. S. and Canada plus several feel of sea-level rise. To call this implausible is to give it too much credit -- consider the alien gulf between today and 1815. It just doesn't fly. The assemblage of nicely-drawn, well-meaning muddlers he trots forth are likeable and relatable, but none of them are especially competent. The books would be a better read if he could stay out of the engine room -- and could keep his people in the middle ranks, where most of them belong. It looks like hard SF but it's space fantasy with a good paint-job; the tech shrinks and expands as needed to fit the plot, FTL radio is tossed off with nary a handwave and FTL travel is apparently easier than a solo drive down the Isthmus of Panama. Frustratingly enough, there are occasional gems in this mud, wonderful stage-settings and edge-of-your-seat scenes, moments that carry you along through the silliness hoping for another flash of the good stuff. Flashes are all there are. These are "buy at the terminal/leave on the plane" books. If you're technically inclined, be warned: you're going to keep stumbling over the painted backdrops, canvas flats and foil-covered props. (McDevitt also wrote Ancient Shores, also long on sense of wonder and a bit fast-talking about tech and how long technological objects might last in working condition.)

11 comments:

B said...

Hey, post when you have sumthin' to say, and if yer not feeling it, don't. You don't owe us anything. I like reading your stuff, it is interesting, but it isn't like I am paying you for it or anything....

I sincerely hope yer feeling better soon.

B

RandyGC said...

The great thing about RSS feeds. I have several that are occasional posters, but are worth reading when they do post. Avoids the frustration of clicking a link day after day with no updates, but no missing it when something does come up.

I hope you feel better soon. I do enjoy the free ice cream when it is available.

Old NFO said...

I agree with B. Do what feels right. We'll be around.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Post when you like. $DEITY$ knows, I do.

LCB said...

Please, all comments about free ice cream on my part were in good fun...well, were meant that way. Your health comes first. Please, as I've said before, let yourself HEAL. When you come back we'll be here. And if you decide NOT to come back, just ask Tam to let us know how you're doing.

RE: life not changing much in 100 or 200 years...yes and no. We have housing in our area from late in the 1700's. So, other than the houses might be filled with the latest electronic geegaws and electric or Hydrogen cars in every garage...the beds we sleep in and the furniture we sit on may not be all that different.

I realize you're talking bigger things, such as countries, politics and perhaps environment. Maybe world hunger will be wiped out and cancer will be cured. But on the smaller level of day to day life, unless society completely collapses, I don't think people will see life change all that much. They may have make-work jobs, but they'll still have jobs. And they'll still come home and watch the telly...whatever it might be called in 200 years. (Or they'll put on a helmet and "experience" the telly.)

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

As the others have said, dammit, concentrate on getting well, woman! And please let Tam know it'll be a cold day in Hell before I pay $41. For six cans of Spam!

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

.....and I _LIKE_ Spam.....

Roberta X said...

....But it's *flavored* SPAM...! ;) And they are the big cans. What we'd do with three-quarters of a pound of of the stuff at a single sitting, though, I am not so sure.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Wait, we're supposed to post semi-regularly on these blog thingies?

Oops.

Seriously, though. What B said.

John Block said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Block said...

One can = six slices(my way) = three