Friday, April 25, 2008

Rolling Thunder by John Varley

Search for title: HCL RCL MPL SPPL MnLINK

Well. That was nice.

Really. Varley tells a quick paced story, and has engaging charecterization and all that. In some ways it's a Heinlein juvenile (but with sex). Heck, the main character is even named Podkayne.

On the other hand, having just finished "Half Share" - a far more egalitarian space opera (that is - everyone is NOT rich, or beautiful, or a super-genuis (or all of the above)). I feel like this is kind of a wish-fulfillment story, pretty and with lots of neat things - but not as real as "Half Share." (even if, to be honest, Varley has been at this longer and reels off a nice yarn; he's got skills Lowell is still working on). Both authors are compared to Heinlein - not without reason.

I was a little let down by the end - the romance is a little off for me, and doesn't seem to be integrated into the whole saga. And the story's big problem seems to have just been forgotten/avoided, more than dealt with. Of course, maybe that's just Varley's way of setting up the next sequel. (I swear some series seem more like "retirement plans" than works of literature).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quarter Share

by Nathan Lowell

Click the arrow below to listen to the first episode of this free audio book:

The 1st Trader's Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper...

When Ishmael Wang is orphaned by a flitter crash, he must make some hard decisions about how to survive in a Company-owned universe. With limited time and fewer options, he lands a job as the newest hand on the Solar Clipper Lois McKendrick and learns there's more to life than making coffee. Join Ish, Pip, Big Bad Bev, and the rest of the Lois McKendrick's crew as they sail the galaxy in search of profitable trade.

For more information on the book and the Golden Age, see

Wow. This was just a delight. From the start with the hornpipe background music leading into the story, I was hooked. This is a very solid "coming of age" story set in a nicely thought out space opera setting.

No battles. No big space empires, murders or villains. The hero isn't Luke Skywalker or Captain Kirk - he's just a kid. More-or-less an orphan, clueless and unskilled, he signs up as a merchant space crew and learns the ropes - thats pretty much it.

Lowell has thought out a lot of details and it makes the "Golden Age" seem quite real (and he's been listening to his audience in fleshing out more, to judge by his blog/forum I expect to see this make the Universe even better in the future.).

This is the first book I've listened to from and I'm very impressed. They've found a ay to package books as podcasts - you just download the files OR set up an RSS feed and get them in installments with your other podcasts. Works very nicely, and they created a good infrastructure to give support back to the authors (75% of donations go to the authors). For the authors, it gives a way to get (and GROW) an audience; successfully enough that some have gone on to build enough of an audience to translate into getting real book contracts.

If you've read "Starman Jones" and wanted more - this will do quite nicely! Terrific!