What I’ve read this fall

December 10, 2011

September issue August issue

Okay, it’s been nearly three months since I shared my readings here n the blog, so I’ve got lots to tell you about!

Please note: I will be discussing a plot spoiler for “Childhood’s End”, by Arthur C. Clarke further down in this post. If you don’t want to get spoiled on this fine book, then don’t read past the paragraph on “Castle for Rent.”

“The Gripping Hand,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I finally finished this in early October. I loved the main thrust of the action within the Mote system, with the Empire expedition running into a new civilization of space-born Moties this time and getting caught in the middle of a war between them. Frankly, the novel could probably have done with less build-up to the point of “OMG a new jump point to Mote system could open up any day now!” and it would have been at least as strong, in my opinion. But I loved reading the build-up anyway.

“Gateway,” by Frederik Pohl. Overall, I really liked this – I liked the concept of humanity discovering strange and temperamental alien ships and heading out to prospect the galaxy in them. I want to read more of the Heechee series by Pohl, and I like a lot of his secondary characters. On the other hand, Robinette Broadhead just pissed me off a lot of the time, and as fun as Sigfrid von Shrink was, I didn’t really feel impressed with the therapy plot thread or Rob’s enormous survivor’s guilt for trying to do the right thing, to sacrifice himself to save his teammates, and getting the timing wrong.

I also had problems with the physics at the end – if you’ve got ships that can somehow circumvent the speed of light, then the event horizon of a black hole isn’t an impassable barrier anymore. I think that the Heechee ships must already cross an event horizon with every trip, so why can’t they get out of the black hole – or if the development of the black hole threw off their targeting, then how could Rob get back home once he passes the event horizon by another means?

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