Posted on | September 26, 2013 | 53 Comments
– by Wombat-socho
Joe The Fat Man recommended Point Apocalypse in the comments last week, and Richard McEnroe likewise put in a good word for The Futurians by Damon Knight, The Way the Future Was by Fred Pohl, and Dream Makers by Charles Platt. There’s also Dream Makers, Vol. 2 if you can’t get enough of the SF author interviews.
C.M. Kornbluth is one of those great talents who died far too early, but he did leave us some great stories to remember him by. In addition to the classics “The Little Black Bag”, “The Altar At Midnight”, and “The Marching Morons” (for a more modern take on this, watch Idiocracy) he collaborated with Fred Pohl on the marvelously cynical Gladiator at Law and The Space Merchants, both of which look into futures where businesses dominate politics and people are shamelessly manipulated by advertising. Most of Kornbluth’s short fiction has been collected in the NESFA Press anthology His Share of Glory.
More recently, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have collaborated on some excellent books revisiting “tired” SF tropes, the best known of which is The Mote in God’s Eye , which is mainly about first contact with aliens. They returned to that topic in Footfall, in which intelligent alien elephants conquer the world – but not for long. Niven and Pournelle can also do non-SF: see Lucifer’s Hammer for their account of a cometary impact on Earth. HUGE cast of characters, all done well, unlike some other SF authors I could name. They also had the chutzpah to rewrite Dante’s Inferno and send an SF writer to hell in Inferno, and (with Michael Flynn) did a novel on global cooling in which SF fans save a pair of stranded astronauts: Fallen Angels, which may already be familiar to you through Instapundit’s mocking references to it throughout the “global warming” nonsense. As if that weren’t enough, they also collaborated with Steven Barnes on the extra-solar colonial horror thriller The Legacy of Heorot and its sequel Beowulf’s Children .
David Drake has done a whole slew of collaborations with other authors, but I’m going to focus on my personal favorites, the Raj Whitehall series co-written with S.M. Stirling. This tale of a young officer on the faraway planet of Bellevue chosen by an ancient AI to unite and save humanity comprises five novels in which Whitehall goes from one difficult campaign to another, with the ever-present threat of his paranoid governor Barholm Clerett hanging over him like the Sword of Damocles. Roughly based on the life of Belisarius, the series is full of fun little oddities -to cite but one example, riding dogs have replaced horses; for another, the predominant religion in the mostly Hispanic Gubernio Civil is the Church of the Spirit of Man of the Stars, which considers computers holy and their components sacred relics- tense battles, and political skulduggery mainly handled by Raj’s noble-born wife Suzette. The five novels got bundled into two collections by Baen, Warlord and Conqueror . The series went off-planet in three sequels: The Chosen , The Tyrant , and The Reformer. A new series of sequels seems to have begun with The Heretic , co-written by Tony Daniels. I picked up a copy from the local library back in July, and it was good, but there are too many loose ends for me to think this is going to be a one-off like the two previous sequels.
So what are you reading this week?