Cover art Luca Oleastri
The Flowery War by Tim Andersen is an odd novel. Not weird just odd. Yes! I know I am talking about science fiction.
Putting my finger on its oddness is a difficult task. Part of it could be that I get this “old” feeling from it. It is as if it has been written in a different era, yet the copyright page does say 2012. There is this Asimovian or Herbertian feeling about it without the feeling of any copying going on.
I love the protagonist. Unlike a great deal of “heroes” of fiction, Goshan Fenn is this awkward guy who is trying to carve a name for himself rather than live off his mother and grandfather’s fame. Going into the same area (alien contact) kind of complicates that for him, but he is determined to make a go of it. His new boss is the kind who could care less who a person has for parents. Either you do things Mr. Smith’s way or you can expect a ton of trouble.
I love the intelligence that is expected of me as a reader. I tend to be offended when an author seems to equate fantasy/science fiction with dumbing down stuff. I also hate it when authors have to show off just how incredibly smart they are. Tim Anderson treads that line perfectly.
“Permanence” is a stand-alone novel. Karl Schroeder brings us to a future where man-kind is spread across the galaxy. As he states on his website, he wanted to bring a new hard science into the world of science fiction. There, space-opera could run its course in whichever manner the book dictated. The added knowledge of our universe in 2001 made it possible to theorize in a new manner.
So in “Permanence” we get to meet brown dwarfs and the human habitats that surround them. Schroeder has used this knowledge about their strong magnetic fields to create a place where humans can exist. In this brown dwarf world interstellar cyclers are used to maintain contact between human habitats.
On one of these Halo worlds we find Rue Cassels. She runs away from home and finds an empty but functional cycler. She lays claim to it and in a race against other factors she works towards the right to ownership and the right to explore and exploit the cycler. We know right away that in such a plot there has to be conflict. There is plenty of that.
Schroeder has written a book that I’ve just read for the third time. There are some books that are like old friends. You don’t have to meet them all the time, but when you finally get together you have a really good time – as did I. Schroeder even managed to convince me to stay up late. Old age really does not teach us any sense. When I get a really fun book between my hands, I’m hopeless. Oh, well.