Methuselah's Children

Methuselah's Children by Robert A. Heinlen

@Amazon | @Heinlein Book Bin

Woodrow Wilson Smith, a.k.a Lazarus Long, the oldest man on Earth, a ‘Howard’ – a family of people long-lived by heriditary selective breeding, zooms into this tale and is a character that I’ll not forget soon. Heinlein’s story-telling is impressive as he manages to do so much – interwine a strong character-driven plot with science fiction – with so little talk. The pace of the story is fast – perhaps too fast – and it compresses seventy odd years of his life into extremely enlivening pages. This is not ‘hard’ scifi, so die-hard fans of the genre can look elsewhere, but Heinlein is impressive in the people that he creates. It’s astounding the amount of work that has gone into making Lazarus beleivable, and it’s even more impressive in this book’s sequel, Time Enough for Love. This book ends well, and although the second (and way better) book can be read separately, this serves as a very good launch-pad into this universe.

I liked this.

Marooned in Realtime

A screenshot of Marooned in Realtime

@Amazon | @SFReviews

Marooned in Realtime is certainly a refreshing change from the other Scifi that I’ve read. Vinge provides a way to skirt around what he calls a Singularity, and the implications and reponses of people jumping across millenia in a time bubble only to return and find that the entire civilization has been abandoned. It’s not an enviable plot by any means, but Vinge makes gigantic issues seem smaller, and the whole story is told from the PoV of an old-fashioned detective, W.W. Brierson, who eventually manages to solve a mystery (though not the mystery that we want him to solve)

The fact that the greatest mystery of them all is still unresolved (how the world got abandoned) is overshadowed by a genuine resolution that the story brings about, quite astonishingly simple and satisfying in that respect. I liked this.

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings By George R.R. Martin

Still reading, see my comments for book 1. This seems to continue in the same vein, with something that troubles me lurking inside it.

Edit: 12 December 2003 – Well I’ve finished this, and I’ve deduced an interesting fact about Martin and the way he writes. In any fantasy story, there should be a semblance of balance between good and evil – Martin is very harsh when it comes to destroying the hopes of the good, but the way he destroys evil is particularly cruel, he makes the reader see that there is some good even in a bad person and then when we start to empathize with them – whack! – a head goes off. I don’t like this kind of writing, but Martin keeps me holding on to the series in the hope that there will be an eventual (good) resolution.

Memory

Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold

@Amazon | @All Consuming

Memory is an enjoyable read that marks a turning point in the saga. Miles Vorkosigan, our lovable mutie, grows into the person that he really is. And it’s done so convincingly that we rarely even think that Admiral Naismith will forever be no more. I read this after the later books in the series, but I have to say that this is one of the best books ever – it doesn’t have the fast-paced action of the earlier books nor the romantic slower-paced drama of the later books, but it’s a classic all by it’s own. I love this.

The Seduction of Simone

The Seduction of Simone by Harriet Scott

View the story at Harriet’s Place

‘The Seduction of Simone’ provided a welcome break from the other book that I’m reading (Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin), this is a light novella, written in a style both fluttery and vivid and one that I found pretty engaging. The story itself is pretty good, and the telling is nice as it is so clearly told by a woman. Scott diverges entirely from modern female writers (who tend to be sexless and hence boring (an exception to this is probably Love Again by Doris Lessing) and writes in a style which seems overly blithe at first but which quickly converges into a tempo that is fascinating. Margaret is a thirty-something woman, and she sees Simone, a pretty twenty year old in a bar one day and falls in love with her. Like I said, clich�. Except maybe for Margaret’s and Simone’s bisexuality, but that is glossed over in this story, and somehow that makes what happens between them more an act between people falling in love than an examination of a peculiar kind of love – this is most refreshing among online writers. I liked this. Another tinge of vivid color in this book is the Modern Britishness of it all – how Margaret frames her personality to suit the younger crowd that Simone hangs around with and how she describes Britan in a trip that she and Simone goes on. In fact, I think I’ll quote something:

Whatever you may have read about the London Eye, it is a truly spectacular sight, a marvel of our times. The overriding culture in Britain at the start of the millennium is one of laboured and unpleasant cynicism, a sour refusal to look at anything in a positive light, but the Wheel is a true triumph, an aesthetic delight, a cultural treasure and a shared experience which can unite a nation riven by self-made divisions. It is, simply, beautiful.

Simone and I stood on the steps beneath Westminster Bridge, looking over the Thames at its splendid steel frame, glinting proudly in the emerging sun, with the grandly functional County Hall forming a sober backdrop. It was so big. No matter how many times one hears how big it is, the first sighting is always a shock.

“It’s fantastic,” Simone said, unable to tear her eyes from it. “Stunning. I had no idea it would be that good.” She turned and looked at me, and for the first time her cool demeanour slipped and a look of unrestrained excitement invaded her features. [..]

Link to an eBook version of ‘The Seduction of Simone’

As an aside, this is the first time that I’m featuring online writing at Vysnu. Scott seems to be an apt author to feature since she provides a good median among the writers that I’ve read – readily flippant and serious, and an easy read to the eye. With no offense to Ms. Scott, there are better undiscovered writers out there, and I’ll feature some of them when I get to them.