PDA

View Full Version : Mixon: Not a quitter


RedFred
03-02-2004, 21:30:55
I'm sure you are all aware of my continuing quest for a good science fiction novel. And possibly you may have seen some of my rants on what is wrong with the genre these days: lack of originality, lack of maturity, lack of science, or worse still, bad and wrong science. Then there is too many authors becoming a slave to hackneyed SF conventions like: FTL travel, space wars, or aliens more human than my next door neighbour. Another disturbing trend is the endless serial. How many times have you browsed a book that at first looked interesting only to find out it was book sixteen in a series and the original novel was no longer in print?

I recently read Laura J. Mixon's Burning the Ice and I can give it an unqualified two thumbs up. I'd be interested if anyone else has read this or her other novels and if they are as good as this one.

She pays attention to science and does her research. But science doesn't crowd out the excitement of the book at any point. Without giving any of the plot away the novel is well paced and more credible than most. She does particularly nice work exploring the humanness of clone 'families' instead of the usual treatment where they are often little more than robots. All of characters, even the virtual ones, are realistic and believable.

BigGameHunter
03-02-2004, 22:26:46
Hmmmm....I might have to try that one out.

Have you read "Noir" by Jeter? Some strong science in there along with a great "pot boiler" type pace.

Admittedly, I prefer to avoid the "science" portion of Sci-fi, 'cause I haven't a linear cell in my brain.

Prefer the psycho sci fi stuff a la Le Guin's "Left Hand of Darkness" and all of Phillip K. Dick, Bradbury, etc.

RedFred
04-02-2004, 21:45:36
No, the only Jeter I have heard about is a baseball player. I'll look for him/her next chance I get.

Rereading my earlier post it looks like I suggested that Burning the Ice is a science-intensive novel. It isn't. In fact Le Guin is listed as one of the author's big influences. It is just that when something scientific does come up she makes a point of getting it right... or at least not making any silly blunders.

Qweeg
05-02-2004, 13:32:47
Originally posted by RedFred
[B]..Then there is too many authors becoming a slave to hackneyed SF conventions like: FTL travel, space wars, or aliens more human than my next door neighbour. [B]

Now now, you leave the space-wars out of this, sure a space-war is a ridiculous concept that makes as much sense as a termite trying to build a termites nest and do other termitely things deep beneath the sea but they're fun, and have flashing lights. And without FTL travel, stories in space would just be lots of stuff about people floating around Earth breeding ant-farms.

Space is essentially a very big- and very boring place, so you need FTL just to justify how somebody might've been able to find something interesting out there in anything less than a few hundred million years of travelling in a straight line.

BigGameHunter
06-02-2004, 00:23:09
Anyone read the "Hee Chee" novels? Damned if I can remember the author, but the story is about finding alien technology that's barely understood and the mercenaries who "jump" it back to Earth with little survival rates. I think one of the books is about Event Horizon...

jsorense
06-02-2004, 01:58:20
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Federik Pohl is the first one in the series. I liked it very much.

BigGameHunter
06-02-2004, 06:03:39
Yeah, that's it! I'll bet RF has read it though...I seem to recall the series sort of worsening as it went along, but damn, that first book was really excellent.

RedFred
06-02-2004, 22:16:36
Right on both counts, BGH - great book, I've read the series and the first was the best of the lot.

Qweeg - I have nothing against the concept of FTL travel. After all, in the future who knows what will or won't be possible. I only object to the convention of FTL travel. Dunno who was first... Asimov? but the convention goes: you need a spaceship, for some reason you need to be away from a gravity well, there is this sudden lurch and presto! you are there. Nothing wrong with it, but why do billions and billions of authors use exactly the same device?

At least someone with some creativity like C. J. Cherryh will put her own spin on it. That is all I ask. So in her novels, time does pass, different people react differently to 'hyperspace'; most requiring drugs, a few getting a sort of mystical experience a bit like Aboriginal Australian's idea of 'dreamtime'. Another author with some creativity might suggest... Hamilton?... the idea of 'runcibles' connecting populated planets without any need for a spaceship. And there are some great authors who can come up with a great novel without having to resort to the hyperspace thing everytime.

Noisy
07-02-2004, 00:33:56
For FTL as the central theme read Tau Zero (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0575070994/102-0040350-1844161?v=glance) by Poul Anderson.

Did you mean ansible (http://www.quinion.com/words/weirdwords/ww-ans1.htm)?

RedFred
07-02-2004, 19:33:32
Nce link. It has been so long since I read Left Hand of Darkness that I could be mistaken, but I thought Le Guin's idea was more of an instantaneous communication device... more like Captain Kirk's 'subspace radio' than his 'beam me aboard' thing.

But it is possible that whomever thought of 'runcibles' was influenced by 'ansibles'. Or 'lesbians'... :)

Honestly, not every work of science fiction I read has to be heavy on future scientific speculation. I enjoy some lightweight stuff like Weber's Honor Harrington series or Bujold's Miles V. series. But I worry that too many authors jump from pre-existing SF writers' convention on how the future will be without putting any of their own thought into the science aspect of things.

Really good science fiction writers often seem to be able to create an internally consistant 'universe' in which to base many of their stories. But most writers these days seem content to borrow someone else's.

The romance novel at the time of the Bronte sisters was true literature, yet look at what it has become. That is my fear about science fiction. There was always a lot of SF schlock aimed at the teen market, but I hope that there will always be enough good stuff to engage an intellegent adult as well.

RedFred
10-02-2004, 23:05:58
Me bad.

Although the novel above reads well as a stand alone novel, I have just found out that it is part of a loosely connected series. Mixon's prior novel Proxies doesn't seem nearly as good. But this could be partly because I can kind of guess where this novel is headed, or partly because I now live in fear that even Proxies is not the initial novel in this series...
:clueless:

KrazyHorse@home
14-02-2004, 11:02:34
Originally posted by BigGameHunter
Anyone read the "Hee Chee" novels? Damned if I can remember the author, but the story is about finding alien technology that's barely understood and the mercenaries who "jump" it back to Earth with little survival rates. I think one of the books is about Event Horizon...

Gateway
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon
Heechee Rendezvous
Annals of the Heechee

Also, there's a collection of short stories by Fred Pohl using some of the characters you're familiar with set on Venus and the Gateway asteroid called The Gateway Trip

KrazyHorse@home
14-02-2004, 11:03:32
Originally posted by jsorense
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Federik Pohl is the first one in the series. I liked it very much.

That's the second in the series. The first is Gateway.

Qweeg
16-02-2004, 13:32:39
Originally posted by RedFred
Right on both counts, BGH - great book, I've read the series and the first was the best of the lot.

Qweeg - I have nothing against the concept of FTL travel. After all, in the future who knows what will or won't be possible. I only object to the convention of FTL travel. Dunno who was first... Asimov? but the convention goes: you need a spaceship, for some reason you need to be away from a gravity well, there is this sudden lurch and presto! you are there. Nothing wrong with it, but why do billions and billions of authors use exactly the same device?

At least someone with some creativity like C. J. Cherryh will put her own spin on it. That is all I ask. So in her novels, time does pass, different people react differently to 'hyperspace'; most requiring drugs, a few getting a sort of mystical experience a bit like Aboriginal Australian's idea of 'dreamtime'. Another author with some creativity might suggest... Hamilton?... the idea of 'runcibles' connecting populated planets without any need for a spaceship. And there are some great authors who can come up with a great novel without having to resort to the hyperspace thing everytime.

May I suggest Adam Roberts, in his book Stone we had a very interesting idea about weak and strong forces used in transportation, again without space-craft, just a form of smart nano-foam. I have to say that as far as I can remember, although most SF writers use FTL 'drives' to power space-craft, they usually personalize the concept to some degree. Maybe SF writers are just the kind of people that become slaves to 'convention'. tehehehe.