The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Space Opera, Skulduggery, and a Stray Draftsman

Posted on | April 28, 2016 | 18 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

The end of tax season ate most the time I usually devote to reading, so it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve actually had any time to fire up the Kindle or thumb through a book off my (not nearly numerous enough) shelves. Finished Vaughn Heppner’s The Lost Colony first; it’s a decent enough sequel to the first three books in his “Lost Starship” series, even if it didn’t go where I thought it was going. Captain Maddox and the crew of the starship Victory are off to save humanity again, this time despite a force of infiltrating androids replacing humanity’s leaders, the machinations of the New Men, and the possibly lethal lures laid out by Professor Ludendorff. Good brain candy, and quite possibly better reading than at least one of the Hugo-nominated novels this year.

Speaking of which, the nominations are out, and our Supreme Dark Lord has some amusing things to say about them and the entirely predictable reactions by marginally talented hacks like John Scalzi. Also, links to an interview and Reddit AMA with Chuck Tingle, author of the Hugo-nominated “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”. Must be read to be believed. The International Lord of Hate had rather less to say, but as usual, he’s right. I’m not even going to speculate on how it’s going to turn out; I have better things to spend $50 on than a MidAmericon II membership, and with the Dragon Awards coming out, the Hugos are soon going to be as irrelevant to fandom and the SF market as (sadly) the Neffies.

Meanwhile, back at my Kindle, Marko Kloos’ fourth novel, Chains of Command, is out. I read most of it on the way up to Minneapolis, the remainder on the way back, and I’m giving serious thought to re-reading it this weekend. It is, of course, the latest volume in the “Frontlines” series, describing the war between -very recently united- humanity and the alien Lankies, who up to this point have been having it all their own way against the divided and technologically inferior monkey-boys. Our hero Andrew Grayson is bored, playing platoon sergeant for a basic training unit in the same base he originally trained at a lifetime ago, when he gets tapped for the special ops mission to end all special ops missions. You’ll recall that toward the end of the previous novel, a big chunk of the North American Commonwealth’s senior leadership (civilian and military) did a bunk to points unknown, taking a dozen combat ships and transports full of the leaders’ families? Seems the traitors’ bolthole’s been found, and a legend in the NAC special ops community wants Grayson to lead a platoon of Spaceborne Infantry troopers under his command to get those ships back for the impending invasion of Lanky-held Mars. It’s a similar theme to Heppner’s novel, but Kloos is a very different writer and this book goes in a very different direction. If you liked the first three “Frontlines” novels, you’re going to like this one too.

This week’s moldy oldie is Keith Laumer’s The Time Bender, recently republished for the Kindle by Hachette’s Gateway imprint. The Time Bender in question is Lafayette O’Leary, a draftsman whose dabbling in autohypnosis slides him from Colby Corners to Artesia, a pumpernickel principality with a dragon problem that the locals think O’Leary’s the man to solve.  Unfortunately for O’Leary, his propensity for coming unstuck in time and ability to tweak the local reality rapidly makes the dragon just one of many lethal problems he needs to solve. It’s a lighthearted fantasy, with occasional dark hints of what was to come in Dinosaur Beach, and the original DAW edition with the Kelly Freas cover is available if you don’t feel like buying e-books from Hachette.


18 Responses to “Space Opera, Skulduggery, and a Stray Draftsman”

  1. CaptDMO
    April 29th, 2016 @ 6:06 am

    Lewis’ Law sounds suspiciously like “gay” law, “health” care administration transfer of wealth law, illegal alien law, and global warming economics transfer of wealth law.

  2. Eric Ashley
    April 29th, 2016 @ 8:19 am

    The Hugos are irrelevant to the market already, and have been for some time. Your prediction for Fandom is on target.

    Been spending my reading time on the Kindle with litRPGs, except for Brandon Sanderson’s finale in his evil supers world, Calamity, which while not as good as the first two, was quite decent.

    I do need to read ‘SRBI’ on kindle if only to shake my head in shock.

  3. JeffWeimer
    April 29th, 2016 @ 8:41 am

    Devoured Chains of Command as soon as it came out. I like the series, but I’m disappointed in Kloos vis-a-vis the Sad Puppies. He really didn’t need to mention last year’s kerfluffle in the acknowledgements. Virtue/tribal signaling, I suppose. You can’t let *them* know you’re not absolutely opposed to whatever the Puppies are doing – it might mean they won’t like you any more and there goes your career.

    Checked out Seveneves from the library, as it’s a near-unanimous recommendation for Hugo-worthiness. It’s the usual cerebral Stephenson stuff, and could be trimmed *in half* and be just as effective. It takes nearly 2/3 of the book to get to the titular characters, which is where I’m at now. It seems to be overall a wargaming exercise on just how we can get to human genetic engineering without the troubling ethical issues. Because we have to since there are only 7 fertile women – and no men – left in the universe. Based upon chapter titles, it seems to begin jumping ahead from this point on, so I think he spent far too much time setting the scene and had to rush the rest of the book to meet deadline. We’ll see. I’m not planning on putting it at the top of my Hugo ballot as it stands right now.

  4. Quartermaster
    April 29th, 2016 @ 9:20 am

    While the Hugos are irrelevant, except to certain SJWs, it is quite entertaining to see what Vox Day and the Rabids are doing to the SJWs who hold them so dear.

  5. Wombat_socho
    April 29th, 2016 @ 9:46 am

    I’m not too happy with that afterword either, but he has a ways to go before I’m actively avoiding his writing as I am, say, Charles Stross.

  6. Wombat_socho
    April 29th, 2016 @ 9:46 am

    Save your money, read Tingles’ interview and the AMA instead.

  7. Wombat_socho
    April 29th, 2016 @ 9:47 am

    I think you’re in the wrong thread, Cap’n.

  8. Wombat_socho
    April 29th, 2016 @ 9:47 am

    Sweet, delicious tears.

  9. JeffWeimer
    April 29th, 2016 @ 9:48 am


  10. JeffWeimer
    April 29th, 2016 @ 10:11 am

    You can’t show them you agree, or even be agnostic, with the Puppies *at all* to these folks. His response to genuine fans was to declare his works not worthy of consideration, because of unrelated political disagreements. Grade-school “cooties”, in essence.

    And they say the Puppies (sad and rabid) are immature.

  11. SouthOhioGipper
    April 29th, 2016 @ 12:04 pm

    I just discovered Kloos’ work recently and was waiting for the release of chains of command. Better hit the kindle.

  12. Fail Burton
    April 29th, 2016 @ 12:50 pm

    Burroughs’ WW I dinosaur island is looking more modern by the day. We’ve come a long ways in 100 years. Yes we have. Why, just look at all the new genders. How did our ancestors miss all that? Were they blind?

  13. Steve Skubinna
    April 29th, 2016 @ 2:59 pm

    They were too busy surviving.

    What we see today is decadence. By which I mean, the result of a society that meets and exceeds the needs of nearly all of its members. So when you have no real challenges to face, gazing at your navel and making profound observations about the universe appears to be a viable use of one’s time.

  14. Eric Ashley
    April 29th, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

    I pretty much followed your advice. Thanks.

  15. Fail Burton
    April 29th, 2016 @ 4:00 pm

    Well, he and Eric Flint are being rewarded by being in an autograph-signing at the Nebulas for their good work opposing people who for some weird reason object to daily racial and sexual slurs from award-nominated SFF writers. Why wouldn’t white men understand the slurs are meant with the best of intentions so they’ll stop acting so white and male?

  16. Quartermaster
    April 29th, 2016 @ 5:42 pm

    Indeed! Very sweet. Very delicious.

  17. Fail Burton
    April 30th, 2016 @ 5:29 am

    Ya got any Green and Clear? Cuz I could use a couple of thousand of those. Just send them to my office at the United Nations and then we’ll come and pay you.

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