Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday review, 8/20/2012

We're just back from the ball game. One of the summer reading programs my eldest daughter is/has been participating in gave us free ball tickets. We left during the 7th inning stretch - the visitors were up by one, and it looks as though they kept that lead and won the game. Still, it was a close thing. Not sure if that's because our team has improved since earlier this year, or if the visitors were just not very good...

Anyway, one book this week:

James Corey - Caliban's War

This is the sequel to Leviathan's Wake, the new space opera that Corey is working on. The scope is pretty sweeping - questions about the nature of humanity and the possibility of Empire in Space. The alien from the last book is still causing trouble - but it's not clear if the alien is causing trouble or if humans are using the alien to cause trouble. Which is an important distinction. I would not be at all surprised if the next book featured an attempt by the alien to initiate communication with humanity.

Anyway, I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the publisher, Orbit. Orbit is doing some VERY nice things recently - new authors and, in this case, a big risk. Big is the operative word here - this book, and Leviathan's Wake are both massive door stops of books. And Corey isn't an established author*, so there was no guarantee that Orbit could actually sell a massive doorstop of a book, let alone a series of them. Especially since the doorstops are in a sub-genre (space opera) which is, supposedly, not very popular right now. So, kudos to Orbit for taking a big risk on some big books. I think it's probably paid off for them.

It's certainly paid off for fans of sweeping novels with breathtaking descriptions of space craft, broad vistas of planets, and discussion of the complications of living in space. Also, politics, space marines, and giant freakin' alien/human hybrids flying through space without space craft. There's a lot for fans of those things to love in these books. Corey also packs a lot of humor into the books. Oh, and puke zombies - can't forget the puke zombies. They aren't as horrific as they were in the first book, but they're still there. Clearly, there's plenty of room for all manner of things in a doorstop of a book, and Corey takes full advantage.

Trigger warning - for parents of small children especially, this book is full of nightmare fodder. One of the major plot lines focuses on the abduction of a young girl. There are also some (false) accusations of child abuse midway through. So, consider yourself warned.

*Corey isn't exactly a new author, either. Corey is the pseudonym of a pair of authors, one of whom has published under his own name, and the other of whom is an assistant to George R.R. Martin (himself an author of doorstops). Still, I don't think that diminishes the risk that Orbit is taking here, so the kudos still stand.