Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sky People!

I just finished reading The Sky People, a new sci-fi book by S.M. Stirling. It’s the first of his books that I’ve read and I loved it. I haven’t enjoyed a sci-fi book this much in a long time. I love the old sci-fi, from the sixties, where life is possible on such close planets as Mars and Venus. For obvious reasons you don’t get stories like that anymore. However, Sky People sets itself back in time and gives the reader that great sense of hope of life on planets close enough to travel to. The book was everything that I ever wanted but never got from a Ben Bova novel. It had a tight storyline, believable characters and perhaps best of all: dinosaurs! Now, the ending was pretty loose but you can’t blame Stirling for that. It is my belief that sci-fi and fantasy writers cannot properly end stories. You usually just get a great story and then the sudden feeling of “and that’s that folks”. I can’t think of a single sci-fi or fantasy book that has a good conclusive ending. Even Stephen King, master of story-telling and plot has never ended a story well. Stirling also throws in the requisite amount of humor that I demand out of science fiction, at one point even making a slur against trashy sci-fi novels of the sixties (that made me laugh out loud). Now, I know that this is supposed to be the first book in a series, (you don’t need a crazed fan site to tell you that, Stirling clearly sets up the book that way) but I’m tempted not to read any more because as a general rule I hate sci-fi follow up books. Too often writers get caught up in their own fantasy world and all you get is a character driven book, richer in detail than a Victorian sitting room. While detail and strong characters are a necessity so is plot. A strong plot with good character development has allowed me to forgive a lot of poor writing in the science fiction genre. All in all though, it’s a terrific book and a fun read.

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