Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Round-Up Mind Melds @SFSignal & Gannon and Williams @SFFWorld

A few new things over the past couple of weeks from me on Teh Intarwebs. Let’s go with oldest first, shall we?

Last Tuesday (the first in March), I posted my review of the final (for now, only I hope) Bobby Dollar novel from Tad Williams Sleeping Late on Judgement Day

Bobby is a cynic and hasn’t always fallen in line, at least philosophically, with the Almighty’s directives. Most blatantly, he fell in love and has relationship with a demon. His long-time friend Sam, also an advocate and an angel with whom Bobby fought in the many wars against Hell, presented a Third Way earlier in the series, about which Bobby was very curious. So after Bobby’s diversion in Hell in the previous volume, the Third Way returns front and center as the primary plot point in Sleeping Late on Judgment Day.

Throughout it all; though, the thing that drives Bobby the most is his forbidden love of the demon Caz, the Countess of the Cold Hands. Having bargained for her in Happy Hour in Hell, he managed to both give his nemesis the demon Eligor what the demon wanted while still failing to save Caz from his clutches. Despite her protestations (through a very entertaining communication “device”) that Bobby just move on, he doesn’t. After all, Doloriel is a stubborn git.

Also last week, the Mind Meld tables were turned on my by Paul Weimer Sequels We Want to Novels We Love.
I began my response with: “The standalone novel – That rare beast in the grand umbrella genre of Speculative Fiction; it is rarest in Fantasy, slightly rarer in Science Fiction, and even less rare in Horror. My friend Paul proposes we make this beast an even scarcer commodity with this topic. So, I’ll posit some sequels to standalone novels that “could be.” I think the key ingredients for readers wanting a sequel are one or a combination of (1) great characters and (2) great world-building to the extent that readers care about those elements and hope for more”

Tuesday I posted my review of an excellent SF novel, Charles Gannon’s debut Fire with Fire

Gannon parses out the novel in three sections, each with a fairly distinctive flavor: thriller/mystery with Caine at its center; political intrigue with Caine viewed more at a distance; and the final third back to the SFnal theme of first contact. The first third was exciting and completely pulled me into Caine’s plight and the future history Gannon is mapping. While the middle section moved at a slower pace, it was a good intake of breath between the bookend sections which were more exciting. That middle section set up some of the bureaucracy which sets the stage for humanity a century henceforth as well as the machinations operating behind-the-scenes of the bureaucracy which helps to propel humanity forward. That final third shows that regardless of the civilization, bureaucracy can be both an impediment for progress and a reason for conflict.

It is very evident to me why this was short-listed for the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel. Having been given a copy of the sequel Trial by Fire at New York Comic Con in October 2014, I’m pleased I have it on hand to read. Charles Gannon has been writing Science Fiction for a few years, despite Fire with Fire being his debut novel. He’s contributed to Larry Niven’s popular Man-Kzin milieu, Eric Flint’s popular 1632 setting, the Starfire shared world of David Weber and Steve White and David Weber’s mega-popular Honorverse. That all these milieus find their publishing home at Baen Books is no mistake in the fact that Fire with Fire is published by Baen. In other words, the publisher has done a great job of cultivating authors and Gannon is no exception considering both Fire with Fire and its sequel Trial by Fire have found themselves on the final Nebula ballot in back to back years.

As an adjunct to Paul Weimer’s recent Mind Meld, this one is about series and specifically, series that improved after book one. Maybe the first was just “good” but there was potential, then bam at some point a that series became either a great or your all time favorite. For bonus (imaginary) points, what book in the series leveled it up?

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