I am so, so tempted to recover his password, change it, and then begin creating a life story for Chuck. Perhaps he's become a drag performer on Bourbon Street. Or he has recently been promoted to associate drug lord in Caracas. Or his hobby is skeet-shooting kittens.
But that would be wrong. No, wait, not "wrong". I think I mean "probably illegal". And yet, it's tempting.
This should be the kind of science fiction I like. There's an interesting premise -- if electricity, gunpowder, and a few other technologies suddenly and mysteriously stopped working, what would happen? At the macro level, Stirling does a good job of answering this, following various groups around central Oregon as they struggle to survive while reinventing medieval tools and techniques, from farming to warfare.
The problem is that he is so busy playing what-if games he forgets his characters. I could go on and on, but one example will suffice. Late in the book, one community is in negotiations to ally with another, with distrust on both sides. The doctor of community B reveals that he has had a stockpile of powdered antibiotics since the Change, which he's barely begun to use up. And the doctor for community A punches him, screaming that a child died of disease under her care because she didn't have antibiotics.
A powerful scene...or rather, it would have been if this weren't the first time we heard about this dead child. Here's a group of perhaps a hundred people, close-knit, terrified of disease as the world goes to hell around them. Wouldn't everyone have been obsessed with the outcome of a child's fight with disease? The leader of community A is a Wiccan high priestess, deeply concerned with the welfare of her people, and we never heard her talking or even thinking about this???
I nearly threw the book across the room. And that wasn't the only time. I'd heard great things about Stirling, but from this book, color me extremely unimpressed. I won't be reading the huge number of sequels (two trilogies, a tetralogy, and more), that's for damn sure.
Oh, but he gets his cavalry tactics excruciatingly right for fifty pages at a time. I'll give him that.
- Software Engineer, present
- Harvey Mudd CollegeChemistry, 1980 - 1985
Write to the President & Congress - The Planetary Society
Spring campaign to Write the President/Congress 2015.
YouTube to MP3 Converter - Fast, Free - ListenToYouTube.com
The most trusted YouTube to MP3 converter tool. It's fast, free, and no download or registration is required!
The bogus Tesla backlash: What if the Internet saves the middle class?
Silicon Valley, even super-cool electric car companies like Tesla, is getting a bad rap for upending the economy
Predictions for 2012 | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine
Miscellany | So you don't enter the new year completely unprepared, here are my most secure predictions for 2012. Unlike other prognosticati
Google Currents Might Be the Coolest Thing Google Has Ever Made
If you need a reminder that Google can still make cool stuff, check out their latest app for iOS and Android: Google Currents. It's pretty m
Home, from space: Earth Illuminated | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
Cool stuff | Earth | I've been posting a lot about Mars lately - and stay tuned, there's plenty more! - but let's not forget the first plane
Mars orbiter catches pic of Curiosity on its way down! | Bad Astronomy |...
Cool stuff | Curiosity | This is truly astonishing: the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped what may turn out to be the
Dismal Global Equilibria | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine
Entertainment | The Civilization series of games takes players through the course of history, allowing them to guide a society/nation from w