Book Briefs

2018-04-04 06:04

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IN my quest to attempt at least one book by every mainstream science fiction writer (past and present), I’ve come to find the works of John Scalzi incredibly easy to finish.

Hailed as the guy who reinvigorated space opera when many thought its warp drives had sputtered out, Scalzi seems happy to play down the science in his offerings in favour of energetic plots and gleefully absorbing character interactions.

In The Collapsing Empire, a vital, interplanetary mode of transport begins to falter, and two of humanity’s most powerful houses are in disarray over the new possibilities for their future.

What transpires then is a rich tapestry of political power plays (think Game of Thrones in space), and though the book isn’t devoid of action (it opens in the middle of a ship mutiny), it’s in the details of his storytelling that Scalzi manages to elevate himself above the mundane, giving not just his heroes genuine likability (there’s an unforgettable and hilariously foul-mouthed character in the book; you’ll know her when you see her), but complex and understandable (if not acceptable) motivations for his villains.

If you’re looking for something a bit more science-y, check out Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, wherein a scientist inadvertently populates an empty planet she one day plans to visit, with mutating insects. If reading about giant spiders trying to make their way in the world is inclined to give you the creeps, it may interest you to know that the book harbors a brilliant twist at the end to reward you for your efforts.

Report: Omar Sayed


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