more bookish thoughts…

but this time, it’s a bit heavier.

there are a few books i’ve read lately that were very good, but much more thought provoking than those from yesterday. so i’d like to recommend them, but they’re not escapist beach fiction.

out in hardcover is Orson Scott Card’s Empire. originally created for Chair Entertainment as a concept for a video game, it’s a hard and disturbing look at a possible second American civil war. instead of a geographic divide, the two sides are separated by political extremism. while some of the gadgets are a bit far-fetched, the covert machinations that destroy the American Republic are entirely too believeable.

almost more disturbing is John Birmingham’s Axis of Time trilogy. those who remember the old movie The Final Countdown will find the premise familiar – modern aircraft carrier goes back to World War II, and stuff happens. yet instead of the USS Nimitz (and Admiral Kirk Douglas), it’s an aircraft carrier (with most of her battlegroup) from the year 2021. what makes this story disturbing is not the dark way in which the author portrays the Greatest Generation, but the realistic attitudes he gives his 21st century characters – all of whom appear to be scarred to a greater or lesser extent by twenty years of the “War on Terror.” his near-future characters think little of torturing and publicly humiliating their captive enemies, using codified and legal methods. all three books are available in paperback, and if you’re not squeamish they’re very good. also, as an added bonus to fans of alternate history, Birmingham puts in several “easter eggs” that are references to other writers (and their works in the genre).

one of the writers who gets a “shout-out” in the Axis of Time books is Harry Turtledove, who’s the last author i’m recommending tonight. specifically, i’m recommending his Crosstime Traffic series. very much in the spirit of the Heinlein juveniles, they are suitable for adult readers as well. they do deal with some serious topics (and it helps to know some history going in), but they are much more approachable than the other two books/series i’ve recommended today.

happy reading!

quote of the day:

“I’ve always liked the idea of a special Hugo to be awarded (by force, perhaps) to literary authors who write books dripping with themes filleted from mainstream SF and then deny that it’s science fiction ‘because it’s not about robots and spaceships’. ” – Terry Pratchett

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2 Responses to “more bookish thoughts…”

  1. Joan Says:

    Just fun FYI, Birmingham has a blog where he often lets readers help with character development:
    http://birmo.journalspace.com/

  2. jhota Says:

    i’m aware of Birmingham’s blog. i understand it’s similar in some ways to Baen’s Bar.

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