RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Rising Thunder: Reasons Before Honor

I seem to be coming over all full-circle. I once made a contribution to a book club, my two cents on the book On Basilisk Station by David Weber. Of course, look far enough and you’ll notice this became a prototype for my posts here on the Library of Alexander. Now that I’ve finally laid hands on the latest book, A Rising Thunder, I’d like to expand on it and summarize the series so far.

Image

Weber’s books belong in the genre known as ‘Space Opera’ science fiction. Like Star Wars, it features cool ships, large fleets and empires, high romance, melodrama, archetypal characters and grandiose action.

On Basilisk Station and Rising Thunder form (for now) opposite ends of Weber’s Honor Harrington series. The core of the “Honorverse” is Weber’s currently-thirteen-book-long series about the title character. In addition, there are a number of spinoffs, often written by or co-written with other authors like Eric Flint, Timothy Zahn and John Ringo.

Most of the latter involve important characters in the Honorverse in their own adventures. But the main books themselves have a single character at their heart: Honor Harrington, an officer in the space navy in the Star Kingdom of Manticore.

In the Honorverse, it is two thousand years in the future, humanity has spread across the galaxy and a number of powerful ’Star Nations’ exist. Honor Harrington is expressly based on Horatio Hornblower and Lord Nelson, and her universe reflects that: the Star Kingdom has three planets, analogues to the three British Isles (one of them, Gryphon, even has ‘highlands’) and its economy is based on its merchant navy. The People’s Republic of Haven has elements of Revolutionary France and Leninist/Stalinist Russia, the Andermani Empire is disciplined and expansionist Prussia. Honor’s career also shows the Nelson connection; she’s a rising star in the navy and earns high rank and peerage titles, and she loses an eye and an arm over the course of her career. Fan outcry caused her to survive her Trafalgar, though, and the series’ Napoleon counterpart fails to come to power, and these mark part of the transition the series has made stylistically.

Against this setting, most of the series is like Hornblower or Cornwell’s Sharpe novels: it’s a story following our protagonist’s military career and all the tactical, political and personal challenges that it brings. Through the escalating war with Haven and, most recently, the entry of a third-party conspiracy and their puppets, the bloated and arrogant Solarian League (a bit of a vision of a possible future for the USA), Honor has risen, and occasionally fallen too, as the fate of her Star Nation and, these days, civilization itself rest in her hands and those of her friends.

Weber is also an historian of naval strategy and politics, and his world building is meticulous and rich.

The greatest triumph of the books is the space combat. One of my least favourite things about Star Trek is that battles between ships had ill-defined rules and how effective or, indeed, intelligent our heroes’ actions were was mostly defined by who the plot needed to win. Honor Harrington, however, has very clear rules, and cooler still, the combat is based on the broadside-against-broadside combat of Napoleonic ships of the line. Weber has taken that as a starting point and then bent it around the real laws of physics. Battles between capital ships take place at enormous speeds and distances. I also love that Weber remembers that space is three-dimensional, so that instead of ships of the line, you have ships of the wall. These are massive warships that fire broadsides of missiles and lasers at one another, and ‘sail’ the gravity waves of hyperspace.

As a onetime history student, I can see Weber’s understanding of political plots, military force and technology and how they would work. The origins, disposition and character of each country is equal parts historically resonant and appropriate to a setting with 2000 years of futuristic tech behind it. A particularly delightful aspect is the way people’s ethnicity has become so jumbled up that people’s appearance or culture and their name can have no connection whatever. I especially treasure the brief appearance in Rising Thunder of a Rabbi O’Reilly.

He populates this world with colorful if basically archetypal characters. Honor herself, a hot-tempered, principled but privately shy woman; the mismatched brothers-in-arms Scotty Tremaine and Horace Harkness; the officer and gentleman Earl White Haven, Manticore’s Queen Elizabeth III and Honor’s bonded animal companion, a Sphinxian ‘treecat’ named Nimitz to name a few.

I usually don’t go in for long-running series, unless they’re light enough you can read them in any sequence. Up to about the Short Victorious War, that’s true of the the Honorverse. I’d read the second through tenth books before the first. However, as the series has progressed, this has become a lot less practical, for two reasons. One: the spinoff novels have begun to inform the plot and Weber seems to be assuming his fans have read those too, so events that didn’t happen in the main series are mentioned and form part of the plot, but aren‘t explained very clearly.

Two: Weber’s love of political intrigue. He has been expanding the scope of his stories, linking their plots together and creating the need for a lot more background knowledge from one book to the next. And it’s reached the point of getting unfocused.

See, in the early books, Honor would be in command, and dealing directly with a tense political/military situation. As she’s risen through the ranks from Commander to Fleet Admiral, the scale of problems and responsibilities she faces has increased apace. But Weber’s style of cutting away to characters also involved in the situation – the enemy, related fronts, Honor’s deputies and friends and so on – now encompasses so many people that in Rising Thunder, Honor herself barely appears.

The books have increasingly featured lots of people talking at the expense of character and pacing. Weber also loves asides to explain how, say, the tactics of the current battle are working against how standard thinking says they should work. Apparently, he has this in common with Tom Clancy and definitely with Herman Melville.

For a geeky sci-fi fan and world building enthusiast like me, it’s actually pretty neat, and considering the distance and timescale of combat in the Honorverse, he can usually weave it in artfully. Unfortunately, Weber has the most maddeningly pedantic writing style I’ve ever seen. Everything is an info dump. His characters always speak in extremely precise terms about anything from affairs of state to the quality of the coffee and he’ll never use a sentence to say something when he can use a paragraph. For more, see the parody “David Weber Orders a Pizza,” but to give a snippet, this is an excerpt from Rising Thunder from the POV of the Solarians facing an incoming Manticoran missile volley – I repeat, they are currently under enemy fire:

“In theory, a purely ballistic missile with the standoff range of a modern laser head was just as accurate as one which could still maneuver. Even an impeller-drive starship couldn’t produce enough Delta V to change its predicted position sufficiently to get out of the laser head’s effective range basket during the three min…”

Okay, okay, you get the picture. I sometimes think he forgets he‘s writing novels about these ships, not the instruction manuals. Part of the reason Rising Thunder seems to just fluff about is that it’s actually part one of a sub-duology because this book had to be split in two to prevent it collapsing under its own weight.

For all that, though, I keep reading the darn things. It’s a bit like hacking through the jungle to find lost treasure. Despite his excesses, Weber has a Phillip Pullman-esque talent for making even one-shot characters remarkably vivid and interesting. His depiction of the horrors of war and his policy of all characters standing a chance of dying give the books unexpected emotional punch, and his willingness to put antagonists of all political stripes in different factions is very intelligent and interesting.

Honor herself, as I said way back when, can seem a trifle over-idealized. The fact that she’s always, always at the heart of the action is part of this. She’s never quite as believably flawed as I’d like, and the scale and number of her achievements and honours against her shrinking violet personality is a little hard to take seriously. Still, as a classic Luke Skywalker or Katniss Everdeen-type hero she’s still captivating. To his credit, Weber doesn’t make a big thing over her being a woman, unless there’s a good reason to do so. 

The battles, when they happen, are well worth waiting for. The personal drama is cheesy but in a cute kind of way. I usually hate love triangles but [SPOILERS] Honor’s with Earl White Haven and his wife of many years is gratifyingly solved the ElfQuest way of just marrying both of them.

The Honor Harrington novels are intricate, imaginative and richly detailed. Excitement, melodrama and intrigue are the orders of the day, but you have to be prepared to tackle or tune out the technical jargon and Weber’s keenness to show off his efforts. His collaborators in the spinoffs do rein him in a bit, too. Still, if you’ve got the energy to see past its faults, the world and the characters in it are well worth it.

“Let’s be about it!”

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Book

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday Supplemental: the Old Ways of Great Documentaries

It’s been a while since I watched television with any constancy, but I’ve nevertheless been well-aware of the recent outcry about the decline of Discovery Channel, as represented by it kicking off its annual staple, Shark Week, with a completely fabricated documentary about the possible survival of the long-extinct shark Megalodon.

Speculative documentaries are not a new thing, but this was arguably the first time Discovery had aired such a work that was clearly designed to lie to its audience.

I grew up with the old school National Geographic/BBC style documentary where you watched the natural world and listened to a calm voice taking you through parts of life and the world new to you. It certainly characterized my first Shark Week (or Shark Bowl ‘92 as it was called back then) and the pleasant, low-budget programs about Canadian wildlife I used to start my days with as a schoolboy.

In more recent years, television documentaries began to emphasize an element of spectacle and a more forceful, frenetic presentation style. That in itself isn’t a bad thing. However goofy or over-the-top, Mythbusters, for example, is still about bringing science to the people. But it’s like diarrhea, it could just mean you ate something too rich, or it could mean you have amoebic dysentery, you have to investigate further to find out.

The decay of educational television is something I’ve been observing since I was 12. When I was a kid, TLC showed programs like Beakman’s World, PaleoWorld, Body Atlas and Archaeology. The History Channel, likewise, aired such things as War and Civilization.

My first warning sign was when TLC started airing an anomalous number of shows about nights in the Emergency Room – this was in the late 90s when the drama series ER was in vogue. Then shows like A Baby Story and home improvement programs started to creep in as well. Now, TLC’s flagship product is the voyeuristic and vapid Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo, a title that makes me feel sick even typing it out.

The History Channel, meanwhile, has gone for the over-the-top presentation in shows like Dogfights and Greatest Tank Battles, which do at least redeem themselves by A) actually concerning themselves with history and information, B) remembering that countries other than the USA have permission to win famous battles in World War II and C) including firsthand interviews with real veterans from both sides. But they’ve sunk badly since they’re now best known for the irresponsible spewage and inexcusable hairstyling of shows like Ancient Aliens.

Despite its own good quality, Discovery’s start of darkness began with Mythbusters because suddenly every show had to be like it, except with just the superficial elements. This affected the History Channel and others as well. Discovery Channel also had I Shouldn’t Be Alive, Canada’s Worst Driver and semi-reality shows about gold-panning and piloting in the arctic which at best upheld the letter but not the spirit of their mandate. However with Shark Week and Animal Planet’s Mermaid show they’ve completely abandoned any pretense of integrity.

Anyway, there’s not much I can say about this that hasn’t been said already, many times and better. So rather than continue to rant on and on, I’d like to raise a positive flag instead and list my top 10 favourites of the classic style of documentaries that are easily available through YouTube and your local library system. Some are old, some are new, but then again it shows that this trend is not dead and worth upholding.

10. Walking with… Series

Image
Justly famous, its first instalment, Walking with Dinosaurs, is what you’d get if Weta Workshop made shows like this. A tour of the Mesozoic Era, it uses puppetry, animatronics and CGI to effectively and imaginatively bring Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures to life and tell their stories. Originally narrated by Kenneth Branagh, the American version with Avery Brooks is equally enthralling. The other two main series, Walking with Beasts (about the age of Mammals) and Walking with Monsters (about the life before the Dinosaurs) are good but not as good. I don’t like the use of the term ‘Monsters’ for one thing and the speculations about ancient life start to seem increasingly arbitrary and slapdash. Various spinoffs like the Ballad of Big Al also exist. The series is already becoming dated, as these things do (none of the theropods have feathers, for instance) and its determination to cover large areas of time means you tend to learn broad or vague facts about any one time or creature, but it’s a great refresher for a paleontology fan or a great introduction to the subject.

9. Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking

Image
Written and presented by famous physicist Stephen Hawking, most of the narration is actually read by his proxy, actor Benedict Cumberbatch. In four parts, Hawking takes viewers on a tour of the Universe. He speculates on the nature of space and time and whether time travel would be possible, and whether there are aliens out there and what they would be like. Finally, he muses on the concept of God and what the evidence says about the idea in the Universe and in our minds. Very much a successor to Cosmos (see below), Hawking’s famous charm and intellect are on full display as well as his uplifting love of the Universe and the scope of his imagination. Couple that with gorgeous CG imagery and it’s a lovely show.

8. David Attenborough’s First Life

Image
Opabinia, one of the many weird prehistoric critters you’ll meet in “First Life”

This two-part BBC production seems to be a case of Sir David Attenborough saying “Right, I’ve been telling you about the natural world for decades now, so where did it all come from?” Sir David takes us around the world and hundreds of millions of years back into time to learn how life as we know it got started. From Britain to Canada to Australia, we meet some of the oldest fossils of the first big animals to exist on this planet, brought to life in beautiful CGI. A moving retrospective on our very beginnings and living things, presented by the greatest veteran of documentary filmmaking alive today, a must-watch!

 

7. Egypt: Uncovered

Image
A modest little series from the BBC, each episode is a topical coverage of a different aspect of Ancient Egyptian history or culture, including the role of the Pharaoh, the gods of Egypt, their pyramid-building days or their imperial period. Very much in the tradition of the low-key BBC-style narrated documentary with talking heads, it is both hauntingly beautiful with its music, camerawork and writing, as well as informative. I made great use of it as a high school student and as I built on that in my studies in university, I can vouch for its accuracy. Although it is a brief survey (each episode only half an hour long) it is as thorough and stirring as you could ask for.

6. World War I in Colour

Image
There are so many World War II documentaries out there I could make a list of them alone. World War I on the other hand is far less well-served. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh once again, the centrepiece of the series is the computer-colorized footage of WWI action and political events. Each episode covers different aspects; the trenches, the air, the sea, the Eastern Front. Each makes heavy use of the diaries and speeches of the politicians, soldiers and officers of the day. The series is very Britain-centric and spares little time for the Canadian forces and none at all for theatres in Asia or Africa – even T.E. Lawrence‘s exploits don‘t warrant a mention. It makes up for it with interviews with (as of the year 2003) the last surviving British veterans of the war, including Harry Patch who died in 2009 at the age of 111 as the last trench veteran in the world. A deeply moving and straightforward portrayal of this decidedly un-heroic age.

5. Rome: Power and Glory

Image

A sample of the series setpieces

A sort of unofficial counterpart to Egypt: Uncovered, Rome: Power and Glory surveys the major themes of Roman history: its army, its politics, its decadence, its achievements and its decline. An American production, it uses modern American politics and culture as a recurring analogy, but in a responsible and helpful, not boastful way. Narrated by actor and perennial narrator Peter Coyote, it makes great use of the Ken Burns Effect (see below) to animate the statues and friezes, as well as short, artistic dramatizations and set pieces. Enthralling and informative, its commentary on Rome’s echoes in the modern age are thought-provoking indeed.

4. Connections and the Day the Universe Changed

Image

James Burke in action

A classic, Connections existed in few incarnations on BBC and TLC between the 70s and the 90s. James Burke, a British science journalist whose early career included coverage of the Apollo 11 mission, takes viewers on a mind-knotting meander through history to see how something we take for granted in the modern world, like photography, plastic wrap or computer technology, only came about because some seemingly unrelated development in, say, the Middle Ages, started a train of causality that brought about all the little details that had to happen in order for that modern item to exist. The Day the Universe Changed, also on TLC in the 90s, had the same format but tracked the change in ideas – our life’s strucutre, how we see the world, scientific principles – rather than concrete objects, inventions or products. A remarkable revelation of the intricacy of modernity and history, presented with Burke’s famous dry wit and kindly British snark, it holds up well and stands up to rewatching, if only to make sure you followed it properly!

3. Jazz

Image
If you’re interested in American history from a sobre and even-handed perspective, you can’t go wrong with Ken Burns. A perennial favourite at PBS, Burns has set the style for documentary filmmaking, including codifying the Ken Burns Effect (slow pans and zooms on buildings, documents and photos to bring them to life for the viewer) in making series about American History. The Civil War, Mark Twain, and Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery are among his works, but for my money his magnum opus is his epic ten-part series, originally aired in 2001, Jazz. Following the footsteps of Jazz elder statesmen Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Jazz explores the music from its birth in post-Civil War New Orleans through its evolution throughout America to the present day. Not only does it cover the music, but the personalities that shaped it: Armstrong and Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, and many others. More than that, Jazz’s cultural impact is explored, through the Depression, the World Wars and the evolution of the Civil Rights movement. Lavished with the music whose story it tells, narrated by Keith David (formerly of Gargoyles and Mass Effect) and with the writings of journalists, musicians and commentators of the age read by such actors as Samuel L. Jackson, David Ogden Stiers and Derek Jacobi, Jazz will fascinate and enrich, and is a great introduction to wonderful music.

2. Planet series

Image
The famous Planet Earth series by the BBC is actually one part of a larger sequence. Planet Earth itself surveys the many different biomes of the Earth; Jungles, the Polar Regions, the Ocean Deep, Deserts, Grasslands and (my personal favourite) Caves, to name a few. Blue Planet follows a similar format but is entirely focused on the oceans and the various sub-environments within them. Frozen Planet, of course, is entirely focused on the poles, following the tribulations of penguins, seals, polar bears and whales. Each brings you honest and exhilarating stories of life and death in these places. Frozen Planet also dedicates time to what it’s like for humans who live in these environments. All are excellent, although Planet Earth’s Polar episode and its supplementary episodes about conservation, living in the age of Climate Change as we do, are, for me, too gut-wrenching to watch. Frozen Planet, mercifully, is informative without being maudlin. Narrated, yet again, by everybody’s favourite naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, the British original version is the best. For some reason the USA seems to think Alec Baldwin and Sigourney Weaver are more palatable than Sir David, so just ignore them until they go away…

1. Cosmos: A Personal Journey

Image

Carl Sagan taking us around the Solar System

Other than the first incarnation of Connections, this is the oldest production on my list. Airing in 1980 on PBS, Cosmos was the brainchild of Cornell physicist and educator Carl Sagan. A 13-part series, Sagan personally walks us through the history of the Universe, life on Earth, and how we as humans have evolved and what we’ve made of it all, and what possibilities await us in what he calls the ‘Cosmic Ocean.’
Cosmos was once described by Sir Terry Pratchett as “the best piece of popular science that there has ever been.” And, as usual, Sir Terry is absolutely right. Carl Sagan’s great opus combines a huge range of subject matter into an informative, hugely uplifting and cautionary tale about the Universe and about us. It captures the profound joy of discovery and learning and simple satisfaction of watching the stars. Using the quaint but effective special effects of the time with art by the likes of Rick Sternbach and Adolf Schaller and the beautiful music of Vangelis, William Jeffery Boydstun and more Classical artists than I can remember, it’s an intensely emotional experience which hopes and fears for humanity’s future. The most remarkable thing about it is that, in terms of both the artistic assets and the scientific accuracy, it has aged ludicrously well, and is just about as good a teaching tool and entertainment experience as it was 30 years ago. Moreso than any other documentary on this list, this one is a must-see and is easily found on YouTube. Indeed, a lot of modern science documentaries can be seen clearly to descend from it in one way or another.

There are others I could list, the Battlefield World War II series, the Ancient Warrior series and the speculative documentaries the Future is Wild, Life After People and Alien Planet among them, but these are my favourites in the old style. Most of the older ones are on YouTube and the rest available in your average library system. So, as Prof. Hawking says in his introduction to Into the Universe, “Check it out.”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Saturday Supplemental, Television

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Phule’s Company: A Curious Play on Words

One day on the drive home from school my mother handed me a dimestore Star Trek paperback to read. I remember being taken aback since I was used to her plonking me down in front of somebody like George Orwell, Somerset Maughn or P.G. Wodehouse.

But as she explained at the time, sometimes it’s nourishing in its way to read something pleasantly pointless.

And talking of Wodehouse, I’ve been enjoying an experience that was recommended to me by my friend as being Jeeves and Wooster IN SPACE. Specifically, the Phule Series by Robert Asprin.

Image

Willard Phule is a junior officer of the Space Legion peacekeeping force who is being hauled up before an inquiry for, in short, a harmless but embarrassing friendly fire incident. Because of his formidable family connections he’s punished by being promoted and sent to a remote mining colony to take command of an Omega Company, a dumping ground for legion misfits.

With his trusty valet Beeker in tow, Captain Jester, to use his Legion pseudonym, sets out to command this disorganized, bored and disinterested rabble. Said cynics are decidedly taken aback when Phule starts whipping them into shape on one hand and treating them lavishly on the other, using his immense personal fortune to freshen up the company’s HQ, uniforms and quality of life. Watched with chagrin by his Legion superiors, Captain Jester eventually leads his men and women and aliens through a series of adventures involving new species, skullduggery and military politics, ploughing along by force of personality, both Phule’s and various eccentrics marching behind him.

I’ve read three books, Phule’s Company, Phule’s Paradise and Phule Me Twice, the latter co-written by Peter J. Heck. They all follow the pattern above in different settings – a remote mining settlement, a casino space station, the homeworld of a new ally. But the same pattern holds: the company goes someplace new, their personalities and eccentricities raise red flags among the locals, and Phule slots them into places to deal with the new situation and their mission, throws some money around and puzzles out what bounces back. Ultimately the strange, daft and sometimes illegal shenanigans of the Company thwart more stolid-minded opposition.

While there is a superficial resemblance between the mutual respect and counsel between Phule and Beeker and that of Bertie Wooster and Reginald Jeeves, the main difference is that Phule, while a bit naïve and with his head in the clouds, is by no means stupid or idle, and Beeker, while taking great measures to anticipate and care for his employer’s needs, is still an employee, not the virtual surrogate parent that Jeeves can be. What makes Phule distinctive is moreso his capacity for straight-line thinking. He kind of reminds me of Captain Carrot in Discworld, in that he doesn’t seem to connect much with politics or strategy. He just approaches a problem with complete honesty and lack of guile, which in itself confuses the hell out of the people around him. It makes him a charming out-of-the-box thinker, though a bit of a workaholic. Indeed he comes across as a little over-idealized, in that he sometimes gets away with things that defy logic somewhat and I can’t recall any occasion where he makes a serious mistake. He does somehow remain very relatable, in that he’s kind of a mild-mannered, middle-management everyman. While we were never meant to like him, General Bliztkrieg’s contempt for Phule and insistence that he’s incompetent, in this context, comes across less as contemptible or unfair than as just plain daft. I was assuming that this was set up like Bernard Cornwell’s character Richard Sharpe and his conflicts with the snobbish old-school officers above him. Actually it’s more like Chief Inspector Dreyfuss’ complex against Inspector Clouseau, and I’m honestly not clear on whether it’s deliberate or not…

The characters of the company itself are studies in contradictions. You’ve got ‘Mother’ Violet of the comm centre, who is witty and loquacious on the comms but rendered almost mute by shyness in person; Escrima, the masterful cook with a murderous temper; the Volton ‘Tuskanini,’ a massive, warthog-like being strong as ten men but also a bookish pacifist. The list goes on.

The Phule series raise many questions in my mind. What is the Space Legion force meant to remind me of? UN Peacekeepers? The French Foreign Legion? A private security firm? I have no idea. It seems to resemble different things at different times. The custom of Legionnaires having pseudonyms seems completely out of left field to me, and seems mostly there as a shorthand for what kind of person you’re dealing with, especially in the case of top brass like General Blitzkrieg or Colonel Battelaxe, or as bad jokes like Super Gnat, Tuskanini or, for that matter, Jester. The ex-biker supply sergeant, a black man known as Chocolate Harry is particularly glaring since I gather that’s considered a racist slur in some quarters, or the Japanese computer whiz with Yakuza connections known as Sushi. Both are actually good and interesting characters but the sensibilities informing their names and backgrounds seem to belong in 60s television not in the future. The main downside of this character kaleidoscope is that there are so many of them that I occasionally lose track of who’s who.

The other odd thing is that the books spend most of their time with the conflict just being the Company handling everyday life in their latest surroundings and whatever issues that brings, with the main conflict which frames the story only really hitting its stride in the last twenty percent of the story. It gets to the point where, when the aliens invade or whatever, I’m thinking, “Oh, right, I forgot about that.”

The humour of the stories – and as you may by now have guessed, these are comical books – is situational, with the simple humour of the silliness of the current circumstances. There’s also occasional wordplay and references to science fiction tropes, like robots controlled by their Asimov Circuits. The series started 20 years ago and some of it is funny because it is, or has become, very retro. My particular favourite is Beeker’s reliance on the super-expensive luxury of a small ‘Port-a-Brain’ personal computer. As I sit here typing on my commercially accessible AlienWare laptop, I have to smile.

Maybe it’s the offbeat characters or the unconventional plot structures, but regardless of how silly or superficial the Phule series seems to be, I still enjoyed them enough to get this far. It’s light enough to be fun, but just grounded enough not to be totally absurd, imaginative enough to be fresh but shallow enough to be easy on the mind. The unconventional plot structure actually makes it hard for me to stop reading them.

I’m not sure if I can truly recommend them. They’re not as funny or intelligent as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy nor as emotionally involving as the Sharpe novels or the Honor Harrington series. They’re probably a sci-fi fan’s equivalent of beach-reading. They’re fun. Simple as that. I felt like I had gone too long without cracking a book, and I was happy to have something to get me back in the groove. So, if you like the sounds of it, have fun!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Book

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,