Review: New York 2140

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Posted on : 4/06/2018 11:34:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

New York 2140 New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a 2-Star review of a book that I DNF.

I read this book in preparation for voting in the 2018 Hugo awards. I'm familiar with KSR's general outlook on the world and have purposefully avoided reading his works as a result. But he's nominated this year and I try to give each author as much of an equal shot as possible.

The premise of the book is that global warming has melted the icecaps. The seas have risen. And New York is largely underwater. Or at least the water is high enough to cover the first couple of floors of most buildings. And then there is a story told within that milieu.

The book deviates from reality, science/economics, you-name-it so many times that is felt like the ghost of Dorothy Parker was reading over my shoulder.

Spoilers
(view spoiler)



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Review: The Collapsing Empire

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Posted on : 4/06/2018 11:10:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

The Collapsing Empire The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a 4-star review. A 3.5 star rating represents my experience with this book.

I read this book in preparation for voting for the 2018 Hugo Awards.

John Scalzi once again tells an entertaining and serviceable tale. The book relates the story of an empire that is about to collapse; hence the book's title, natch. The empire in question is based on human travel through the "Flow" to reach solar systems that would otherwise take decades to millennia at sub-FTL speeds. Human habitation in those many systems trade among one another for various goods necessary for their mutual survival.

The empire is threatened when access to those systems is about to end as the Flow undergoes a periodic but unpredictable shift. Those habitations are about to be cut off from one another as the Flow will presently shift in a way that stops all trade between those systems.

That ability to trade is controlled/regulated by the monarchy-based Interdependency, ruled by an Emperox, that controls who can access the Flow at the central hub, or Hub, world.

If you don't think about it too much, the story is quite a satisfying little romp. The characters engage the reader by being sufficiently complex in their motivations and experiences. There is political intrigue between the ruling house of Wu, the various other trading families or houses, and the religion that ties the worlds together.

When you consider some of the details, large and small, the story begins to unravel a bit.

Spoilers
(view spoiler)
As long as you don't put a lot of thought into the mechanics of the world building, this is an engaging and entertaining story. Be entertained and then move on.

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2018 Hugo Novel

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Posted on : 4/03/2018 03:33:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

This is where I will review and rate the nominees in the novel category for the 2018 Hugo awards.

I make a point of purchasing all of the nominees in the novel category.  Authors should get paid whenever possible.

  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin - More later.  Very well written while being disturbingly negative in outlook.
  • Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee - This is the second book in a series.  The first book was also nominated.  I believe this book benefitted from literary inertia; people that enjoy the first book in a series are likely to find and read the second book in the same series.  I read this year's installment as a fantasy novel wrapped in a sci-fi cloak and had a much better time.
  • Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty - More later.  Almost certainly not making it to the top of my ballot due to some plot holes.
  • No Award
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - longer thoughts to come soon.  The short version is that while it is enjoyable, it is not one of the five best books of 2017.  It isn't even close.  The longer version is that the world building was poorly executed, there were problematic characters, and there were features in the storytelling that undercut a more serious reading experience.  While reading this book was an enjoyable experience, it was not of the stellar quality that one associates with being a Hugo Award-winning book.  [For the record, I have found other works by Mr. Scalzi to be definitely worthy of such recognition.  This book is just not in that category.]
  • Provenance by Ann Leckie - I made it through about a third of the book before I gave up.  The main character was uninteresting and not terribly inspiring.  She was essentially flailing about in pursuit of some way of lowering the status of her adoptive brother.  She had no plan, she just jumped from one "idea" to the next.  Add to that the incidents where characters were confessing their crimes to her for no valid reason whatsoever.  
  • New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - The level of utter nonsense in this book made it a Do Did Not Finish tome worthy of Dorothy Parker's best.
This was a disappointing group of nominees.  Just off the top of my head, the following are easily as good as (if not better than) the works that I put below "No Award".
  • Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell
  • The Core by Peter V. Brett
  • All Good Things by Emma Newman
  • Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames