Monday, February 25, 2008

And More Reading

S.M. Sterling's The Sky People starts out with a winning concept. In this alternate history novel, when the USA and Russia sent probes to Mars and Venus in the 1960s, they found both planets were inhabited. Jump forward to the late 1980s and America has a small colony on Venus, a world inhabited by bronze age humans, stone age beastmen, and dinosaurs. Sounds like a book meant for me, eh? Well it is, and it isn't.
This affectionate tribute to old fashioned SF has more than a hint of Edgar Rice Burroughs to it, especially with the contemporary earth people running into the beastmen and dinosaurs. There is certainly the stuff of high adventure here. However I ended up having the same problem with The Sky People that I have with most 'hard' science fiction, in that the author just spends too much time explaining everything. See, I know that's what a lot of people want from SF. They want to know how the humans got to Venus and how they used parts of their rockets to build their habitats and how they domesticated the triceratops and how they control it and how the gravity is lighter than earth and how the atmosphere has a higher oxygen content so the pterodactyls can grow larger than they could on earth and, and...
I know that's what many people expect from SF but after a while it just bogs down the plot. I began to find my eyes glazing over whenever someone would start another explanation. Overall I did enjoy the book, but there were times I wanted to bail and go read something that moved a bit faster. Looks like the Sky People is the beginning of a series, so we'll see where it goes from here.
Also read Rogue Angel: Destiny, the first in the Gold Eagle series about Annja Creed, a young woman who's kind of a cross between Lara Croft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She's an archeologist, but she also works for a cable TV show that specializes in hunting for mythical monsters. Of course Annja soon learns that some monsters aren't mythical after all. Nothing earthshaking here, but a nice, action packed adventure with a likeable and capable heroine. I'd certainly read another one and probably will.

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