December 31st, 2005


More Honor Harrington

Following on from my earlier reading of Harrington books I've read some more.

74. Weber, David (editor). Worlds of Honor
75. Weber, David (editor). Changer of Worlds

These two short-story collections are books I've only read in ebook (thanks to the free CD of ebooks bound in my hardback edition of War of Honor). There are nine stories between the two of them, and a somewhat better standard than those I was complaining about in More Than Honor. Worlds of Honor's highpoint is probably The Hard Way Home, a story featuring both the young Susan Hibson and Lt. Comm. Harrington. Changer of Worlds has an excellent story by Eric Flint called From the Highlands which is the story that lead eventually to Crown of Slaves.

76. Weber, David. At All Costs

The latest Harrington book. I'm not really sure what I can say about it without dropping spoilers, except that it has a big climatic battle at the end and there are surprises on at least three sides of the war. Oh, and more ridiculous stuff happens to Honor (of course). Still, 'tis lots of fun even if it is silly in places.

Mixing your mythological metaphors

Hamilton, Peter F. Pandora's Star (Actually read in 2004)
77. Hamilton, Peter F. Judas Unchained

Imagine a universe in which populated worlds are linked by railway.

OK, try again with the important detail that the actual connections are wormhole "tunnels", seems a little more plausible now doesn't it?

This is a universe without manned spaceflight (wormholes reached Mars at the same time that the last NASA mission did), but with mass colonisation of the stars facilitated by unmanned probes.

It's also a universe with known aliens (who generally keep out of the way of humans), and one secretive one. Well, at least if you believe the universe's Number One Wanted Criminal who is a terrorist working against a conspiracy only he can see in the government planted by that secretive alien (that noöne else thinks exists).

Add the discovery that an unusual astronomic event that's just visible to human telescopes turns out to be instantaneous and all of a sudden mankind wants manned spaceflight; and that really opens Pandora's Box….

Whilst this is published as a pair of books, the story flow is more like a quartet (in a very similar way to Donaldson's Mordant's Need), with sections that might be described as Exposition, Beginning, Middle, End. It's a format that works very well in this kind of stand-alone setting; and Hamilton's talents are well suited to this kind of length, particularly as he managed to avoid the temptation of a literally Deus ex Machina ending that he succumbed to in the Night's Dawn trilogy.

Possibly the best new Science Fiction of recent years; and hard to put down.

1634: The Galileo Affair

78. Flint, Eric & Dennis, Andrew. 1634: The Galileo Affair

The first of probably four 1632 books set in 1634. Now what comes to your mind when you think of 1634? The trial of Galileo of course! OK, imagine you're a bunch of American Kids in Venice in 1634, with an enthusiastic (if small) local supporting and a vague knowledge of history; what do you do? Try and rescue poor old Galileo of course.

Never mind the fact that he wasn't in much danger in the original history, and "current" history is changing all the time and such like.

I think I can't really improve on that section of Starlog's review quoted on the back of this volume:
…a mixture of Machiavellian intrigue, old-fashioned romance, travelogue, and Keystone Kops comedy. There's plenty of meat on the bones of this book, and it's well-seasoned.