This is the first of the Anne McCaffrey books that I’ve read; I wanted to start with the Dragonriders, but there are more than 10 books in that series, so I decided to let it lie for another day. This book is the second in the Pegasus series, and usually I’m very reluctant to begin with a later book, because then I won’t ever read the earlier books. So two firsts for me with this one; make that three: the first time I’ve read about Mind-Powers (aside from punk literature, but that doesn’t count, usually) I’ll place this book as a tentative liker, I think I recognize this book and it’s writing as that of one which grows on you, as you advance within the series, you’ll learn to love the characters and cry and laugh with them. I also got a very skewed opinion about McCaffrey (regrettably) because this isn’t the best of her writing. That is not to say I didn’t like this book, but I’ve read much better ones (even in the so called punk-genre of Ereading). I’ll place the Pegasus series in a Must-read slot though, since it deals with the Mind, and that I like. Psychohistory anyone?
Anne Rice is delightfully Victorian in this Vampire drama, and it’s one of the few books in this style that I like – that of a flashback novel. Most of the story is a single person narrative, and every other paragraph starts with a quote, so it’s in no way an easy style to engage readers in, but Rice is wonderful here. I learned to re-love Lestat (pronounced Lesdot, with an emphasis on the second syllable) and the new Vampire introduced: Quinn Blackwood, is unique and infinitely enjoyable. Rice does create great characters. The only flaw perhaps in the novel is the enormous narration throughout the text, however great a writer Rice is, she isn’t able to pull it off quite that effectively; writing this as first person singular could have been much more effective. I liked this.
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Lazarus is an old man now, old enough that he wants to die. Well, who can blame him, he’s lived many a millenia too much. And yet, there are many people who have vested interests in his living – after all, the oldest man on Earth should have much to teach his children (many, literally his children since he’s spawned his seed throughout the breathing universe) When he does manage to convince himself to live (with some help from a beautiful woman computer, a seedy rejuvinist, and his diploid twin sisters) the fun begins.
Time Enough for Love has also time enough for the umpteen lives of Lazarus – a person who’s older than anyone should be. It describes how he grows from one culture to another, how he reluctantly shrugs off his Old-Earth education that had till then sexually-repressed him, it talks about the difference between love and sex – Eros and Agape – and it tells how even his lengthened life is not enough for love. The last few hundred pages of this book deal with difficult to resolve issues, incest for one, and multiple loves for another and Heinlein brings about a harmonic fusion of love and sex and everything in between -of morality and of licentiousness – and detailed definitions of ‘incest’, ‘life’, ‘mere sex’, and ‘fun’ that I never expected in a book of this kind. This is an epic, and for all people, this is a must-read. I loved this.
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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.
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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.