The Other McCain

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

The Annual Admiral Of The Ocean Sea Appreciation Post

Posted on | October 15, 2019 | Comments Off on The Annual Admiral Of The Ocean Sea Appreciation Post

— by Wombat-socho

Yes, it’s time again to give Christopher Columbus his due, smack down Aztec apologists, and mock the weak and ungrateful Anglos who agitate for “Indigenous Peoples Day”. I say, if they don’t like it here in New Spain, they can go back to whatever endemonised Protestant hellholes their worthless ancestors came from. In the meantime, what better way to honor Columbus than by perusing his biography, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, written by the eminent naval historian, Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison? Speaking of Morison, you might also enjoy The Two-Ocean War, a distillation of his excellent fifteen-volume Official History of the United States Navy During World War II down into one volume.

It’s not often that an author can kill off his main character in the opening chapters of the novel and still make it work, but that’s exactly what Neal Stephenson does in Fall: or, Dodge In Hell, a sequel to his technothriller Reamde. Bluntly stated, this is a book about death and the afterlife, in an age when people with sufficient wealth can have their brains scanned and uploaded into computer networks. As the first man to have this done, Richard “Dodge” Forthrast finds himself with a lot of time on his hands but no idea what to do with it…at first. This book works on two levels – there’s the people trying to sort out the legal, moral, and practical aspects of dealing with people who are dead, but whose minds are very much alive on a network, and there’s the people living in the afterlife Dodge has made, some of whom are none too happy with it. That section reads like a bizarre riff on Greco-Roman mythology, with echoes from subplots in Cryptonomicon lurking in the underbrush. If you liked Reamde and its characters, you’ll probably enjoy Fall.

I was looking forward to Rebecca Kuang’s The Dragon Republic with mixed anticipation and dread – on the one hand, her protagonist Rin is easy to sympathize with, but on the other hand, the fantasy milieu of a China torn by the ravages of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) is pretty horrifying, perhaps more so if you’re familiar with the history of that war. So at the beginning of the second novel, despite having obliterated the invading Mugen Federation by unleashing the Phoenix Goddess, Rin and her fellow mages/shamans (there’s effectively no difference) are hiding out, doing odd jobs for the Pirate Queen and on the run from the vengeful Empress. A good part of the novel has to do with the intervention of the technologically advanced Hesperians, who intervene on behalf of a rebel warlord whose wife was raised in Hesperia and is a fanatic worshipper of the the Hesperian god, the Maker. Rin is forced to undergo tests and examinations by the Hesperian priests, and manages to escape with some of her friends when the warlord betrays her to the Hesperians. There’s a lot of action in The Dragon Republic, since most of the book involves an ongoing rebellion against the Empress and ends with a secondary rebellion by the southern provinces against the Dragon Warlord and his Hesperian allies. All this is very entertaining, and occasionally horrific, but I for one am starting to wonder if I’m cheering for the wrong side here, since almost all of Rin’s choices seem to make things worse.

Next time around, I have a few things to say about Robert Patterson’s biography of Robert Heinlein and a few other books besides.

Hey! I have some short stories you might be interested in!


Comments are closed.