In the third installment of the Ripple Creek series, the crack team of Ripple Creek bodyguards is tasked to protect a government official and election candidate while she tours a backwater planet riddled with factional violence.
While a solid entry in the series, I found this one to be slower moving than the others, at least for the first two thirds before the crap hits the fan. Williamson competently moves the action forward with plenty of battlescenes, weaponry details and tactical minutiae. The more interesting parts of the novel are about handling a distasteful protectee who detests her detail, and of the personal struggles of one team member. Unfortunately, the rest of the team are by now far too polished and perfect, leaving the ending not very much in doubt.
Subtitled “The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must”, this is non-fiction detailing how and why man should colonize Mars. Zubrin is a rocket scientist and the founder of the Mars Society, and thus knows what he is talking about.
Fantasy/Science Fiction hybrid set on a world where one side always faces the sun and the other is always dark. The light side features science while the dark side is the realm of magic. Our hero Jack is a sort of spy/mythic hero and these are his adventures. Zelazny weirdness is all over the writing of this rather lighthearted tale.
The crew of a colony ship has set itself up as the Hindu pantheon, lording it over the descendants of their former passengers by controlling access to superior technology and enacting laws forbidding progress. This works well for a long time, until the Buddha appears.
A deep novel which is sometimes difficult to fathom, it is nevertheless considered a science fiction classic for good reason. The way in which Zelazny uses technology as a metaphor for spirituality is masterful.
So what happened after The Return of the Jedi? This series answers the question. If you are a Star Wars fan, you will want to pick this up. The writing won’t win any literary awards, much in the same way that the movies were not nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but who cares? It’s action with all those characters that we have come to know and love. The series consists of :
Set in the same universe as Freehold but preceding it chronologically, this novel follows a group of bodyguards tasked with protecting the president of a nation wracked by civil war. The setting is very much inspired by present day Afghanistan and Iraq. Clan warfare and a lacking sense of national identity make the task of unification and pacification very difficult. To make it worse, the bureaucrats and military organizations of the UN (now a world and multiplanetary government) don’t care one way or another. They simply want their own agendas pushed. When it all hits the fan, the bureaucrats choose to simply “remove” the president, but the bodyguards have other ideas.
From the excellent action scenes to the realistic character studies, Williamson displays his impressive knowledge of military matters. The plot is a bit slow and perhaps even unfocused in the first half, but then picks up speed to end in a huge climax. If you are a fan of Williamson’s other work, you’ll like this one, but it is only really for the hardcore military fiction buff. That’s right, I didn’t say science fiction. In fact, this book could have been set in the present day Middle East with very few changes.
In this classic short story, a mercurial genius poet linguist is on Mars as part of an expedition. He delves deep into the mythos of the ancient (and still existing) Martian civilization.
Zelazny’s story is astonishing in its beauty. The use of Book of Ecclesiastes to illustrate the ennui felt by the Martians is genius. The prose is masterful and gorgeous. It is not a long story, but it lingers.
The sequel to the outstanding The Weapon takes places a decade and a half later. Kenneth Chinran has assumed a new identity and is living peacefully with his now teenage daughter. However, he is found by the Freehold special forces and asked to do one more mission. Kimbo Randall, a member of his team that Ken thought had died during the attack on Earth, has resurfaced as an assassin for hire. We follow Ken and his new associate Silver as they chase down Randall across several planets.
The action takes place on Grainne, Mtali, Caledonia, Novaja Rossia and even Earth. It is interesting to revisit the places that were featured in The Weapon, especially Williamson’s over the top oppressive Earth. The action is constant and excellent, with Chinran’s first arrogant person voice a sardonic guide.
Ken Chinran is a tortured soul. He is reviled on Earth as the biggest killer in history, and feels personally responsible for the death of billions during the war. His daughter gives him a reason to live. Williamson very skillfully explores Chinran’s soul and his bleak outlook without sliding into corniness. This story is a journey of redemption, of sorts, and the last few dozen pages surprised me greatly. Almost to the end, I thought it was just a very good chase novel, but the ending raised it to another level.