Tuesday, 18 March 2014

I Can Read.

For some unknown reason, I've been reading science-fiction lately. I've finished three books in recent days and I'm going to say something about each.

First off, David Weber's contribution to the Bolo saga begun by Keith Laumer - Bolo!.

The book is a collection of shorter stories. I'm not sure if they'd rate as "short stories" or "novellas." I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Weber can write military sci-fi as good as any and better than most. In the stories, he includes new characters who are massive, self-aware, autonomous tanks/fighting machines in the distant future. Included are a Bolo in love with its commander, a wounded Bolo driven insane by its wounds and hunted by a healthy Bolo of the same unit, and in the final chapter of the Bolo saga, a machine that's wiser than humans.

Second, another piece by David Weber, part of the Honor Harrington series, A Rising Thunder.

This is Weber's signature series and it's a good one. Political intrigue, space battles, back-stabbing, mind control - it's all there. I think we all know this is an homage to the great Hornblower series of books. (If you haven't read them, treat yourself and read them. C.S. Forester can cast a literary spell that could catch almost anybody.) I will admit that I had some difficulty keeping all the characters straight since Weber tosses in dozens - from Manticore, Beowulf, the Solarian League, the Republic of Haven, and many other space-faring nations. There are aliens in other books of the series, but only one species is present here. There is one serious space battle, which is engrossing and has a bit of a twist. I won't say more about it. It does remind me of the space battle in Asimov's Second Foundation, which has to be a favourite of mine.

Last, another Weber novel. (I'm sensing a theme here.) It's the invasion novel, Out of the Dark.


I bought the book with the left-hand version of the cover, but I'd have preferred the right-hand version. Our planet is invaded by a race of canine-ish carnivores who smash most of the world's cities and military installations with kinetic strikes from orbit. When the aliens land, they soon realise that humans don't give up all the easily. The narration follows guerrilla fighters in Roumania, Ukraine, and North Carolina in the US. It also follows the various personalities in the invading force who are baffled by psychology of the human species and whose military technology is only a hair better than the human examples. The book is quite dark and often hopeless from humanity's point of view. Without giving away the ending, I found said ending quite unsatisfying and odd, almost as if the author had written himself into a corner and escaped by climbing the wall. Maybe you'll like it; maybe you won't. Of course, that goes for all books.


  1. I am Webber fan from way back ( the 90s) when I was first given a copy of On Basilisk Station. I can recommend the Dahak series. The books Mutineers' Moon, The Armageddon Inheritance and Heirs of Empire are all good. And the last one Heirs of Empire is considered a stepping stone to the Safehold series.

    1. I'll have to look into those other series.

  2. You might like David Feintuch's 'Hope' stories. In these, Nick Seafort is a space-going Horatio Hornblower type of character. This is very obvious in 'Midshipman's Hope', but the later 'Voices of Hope' (the only other one I've read) is a whole different gig. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Voices' - in my view a strong socio-political comment on the moral bankruptcy of modern government.

    1. Thanks! I'll have to see about that series as well. However, I may have to read some of the Hornblower books again!