Posted on | May 9, 2014 | 32 Comments
— by Wombat-socho
Literally and figuratively, this is the plot of John Barnes’ Daybreak novels, which start with Directive 51 and continue on through Daybreak Zero and The Last President. These have a very weird feel to them; the basic plot, in which ecosaboteurs spread genetically engineered plastic- and gasoline-eating bacteria along with nanobots designed to wreck electronics, is very reminiscent of both S. M. Stirling’s Change novels (Dies the Fire) and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, while also containing elements of Barnes’ previous apocalyptic novel, the nightmarish Kaleidoscope Century. The Daybreak novels give you a front-row ringside seat for the collapse of global civilization as scattered, seemingly anarchic ecoterrorists, religious nutjobs, and hippie fruitcakes plunge the America into bloody chaos, exacerbated by a split of the Federal government into Provisional and Temporary factions over the issue of who’s in charge and whether Daybreak is a conventional enemy that needs to be crushed by military force or a memetic weapon that needs to be countered by other means. I’ve finished the first two novels, am going back for the third today, and can attest that these are some good -if occasionally squicky- reading. Barnes makes a powerful argument in these books for the power of ideas, and also recognizes that there’s times when nothing but brute force will do.
This is shaping up to be a busy year for John C. Wright. Not only has he (courteously and with cold logic) shaken the dust of the SFWA from his sandals, he is concluding the crazy, wildly inventive, millennium-spanning series of evolutionary novels started in Count to a Trillion with The Judge of Ages, not only has he had the massive cojones to write sequels to William Hodgson’s half-forgotten “The Night Land” (Awake in the Night Land) , he’s also put together a collection of essays: Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth which I have seen excerpts of. I don’t know if Mr. Wright is the best SF author out there, but in these sad times when it seems every competent tale slinger is surrounded by packs of dull-witted, unhousebroken PC puppies with not a tenth of his talent, he’s definitely in my top ten. Go read his stuff. You’ll thank me later.
Speaking of the whole SFWA and Hugos kerfluffle, Vox Day’s Hugo-nominated “Opera Vita Aeterna” is one of the three stories in The Last Witchking, which I snapped up when it was offered for free last month. All three stories are set in the universe of Day’s A Throne of Bones, and are definitely not your usual elf & dwarf crap. I thought they were all pretty good, with the nominee story the best, but they’ve accomplished their main goal, which is to get me to read -and maybe buy- more of Vox’s stuff.
I hardly need that prodding to read Sarah Hoyt’s writing. On the contrary, I was frustrated that it took me as long as it did to pick up A Few Good Men. However, I haven’t read much of her fantasy, so I thought I’d try out Where Horse And Hero Fell, a short story involving a computer geek suddenly thrust into a leadership role in a wizards’ guild. It was a fun read, but I’m not sure it’s worth $1.99; stories like this are a good reason to have Amazon Prime, so you can borrow them for free.
Finally, I have to admit the trailers for Edge of Tomorrow are looking very interesting, if for no other reason than the protagonist’s cycle of death/rebirth/combat/death/rebirth/etc. reminds me of the undeservedly obscure On My Way to Paradise by Dave Wolverton. I’m giving serious thought to picking up the movie’s source novel, All You Need Is Kill, though I may pick up the manga instead.
So…what’s on your summer reading list?