Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bear, Brin, TF, Devlin's Razor, AI War ...

Foundation and Chaos, by Greg Bear

I very much liked Foundation and Chaos. It has the Asimov feel and the Asimov tone, tied to genuinely (at least in the context of a Foundation novel) graceful prose. Bear bounces back and forth between Hari Seldon and the various forces of Daneel Olivaw. He opens with Seldon about to go on trial, and covers, in time, the same period as Asimov's very first Foundation short story. I'm not going to do a book review here -- but I will say that this is the novel, of the three, that felt the most like an Asimov novel. The plotting among the various factions of robots feels Asimovian, the final confrontation between mentalic humans and mentalic robots reminded me strongly of Asimov's Second Foundation faceoff between Bail Channis and the Mule, followed by the First Speaker and the Mule. The cleverest sequence has to be Seldon's trial: Bear recreates the trials as Asimov reported them, going into the motivations and backgrounds of the various characters in substantially more depth than Asimov bothered to, in his original short. It's a worthy expansion and a good read.

Foundation's Triumph, by David Brin

I enjoyed the Bear better than I enjoyed the Brin, and I enjoyed both of them better than I enjoyed the Benford. That said ...

I very much respect what Brin did here. He did what I'd have done in similar circumstances: it's evident from the work that he went back to the source, re-read Asimov end to end, took notes, looked at what worked and didn't work in Asimov's attempts to unify his storylines, took note of interesting questions left over from the likes of the infrequently read Empire books -- Pebble in the Sky and The Stars Like Dust and The Currents of Space. (I re-read Stars & Currents recently myself, and there are obvious and less-obvious references in Triumph to both of them.)

Brin even put together a pretty good timeline covering the events from Susan Calvin's birth to Foundation and Earth -- not the obsessively detailed timeline I'd pay money to see, but nonetheless -- writing this novel really didn't require the work Brin evidently put into it. I'm sure all three of these men wrote their novels from love -- they couldn't have made much more from the Foundation works than they made for their own novels, if any. But Brin is the guy whose work shows most clearly, and whose sympathy for Asimov's base work shines through most clearly.

I wish I liked the novel better. It's not Brin's fault I don't; it's too crammed with incident and ideas, and Brin doesn't take the time to slow down and linger with his characters. He has a lot to get in in this one novel, and might have been better served by two novels -- Douglas Adams stuck 5 or 6 books into his trilogy, I don't see why Brin couldn't have managed it. He doubtless had material, if not time or interest, for his own Foundation trilogy.

~~~~~

Next up, the novels of Steve Perry....

~~~~~

I'm going to edit TF and Devlin's Razor this weekend, and send them on to Immunity. Anyone with copy edits for either, please send them to me. Amy's reading a novel by Tanarive Due right now, and I'm promised a read of AI War's 1st half thereafter ...

I may have other good news about AI War soon. No promises.

~~~~~

I caught a little piece of The Little Mermaid, walking through Best Buy the other day ... Ariel singing "Part of Your World." I'm not sure there's ever been a purer expression of longing, put to music. Having seen Enchanted recently, I'd really like to watch The Little Mermaid again. I suspect my six year old's never seen it.

~~~~~

Still in court. (Going to be in court, one way or another, until Alan Rodgers dies, most likely. Cost of business stuff, there. Fortunately I expect to outlive Alan by thirty or forty years.) No complaints on my end, yet; the kids still haven't been forced to deal with Alan directly.

13 comments:

Thomas said...

Re: Steven Perry

I always loved reading his work. Very truthful. Also, whenever he sang Open Arms, it was like he was singing right to me.

(yea, I bet he's never heard that joke before)

J.D. Ray said...

Fan fiction is hard stuff to write. I mean, you get a basic idea in your head, write out a plot, then figure out how to merge it into the universe of your favorite author. If the author is Asimov, well, there are ups and downs; he's not with us any more, so it's hard to ask questions about what he meant here and here, or whether or not he has further notes on this event or that. But you know that he's not going to come along later and overwrite your story with one of his own, or publish something that scuttles the basic premise of your story.

Of course, if the author in question is still alive, you can get lucky and find him on the Internet, discussing the weather and local events with his constituency. And, well, maybe you can get a detail or two out of him. Maybe. Alternately, he could subtly suggest in a series of essays that the best thing to do is your own research, then take your best shot. Oooh. That would suck. It's best if you get the former. Small seeds, planted with a nurturing hand, can grow to mighty sequoias. In time.

Glad to hear AI War is on its way.

BTW, for any interested, I wrote a review of Devlin's Razor. It's here: http://somethingstirring.blogspot.com/2007/11/book-review-devlins-razor.html
Short version: it's good, but not sci-fi. If you liked Terminal Freedom, you'll like this (I loved Terminal Freedom both times I read it, btw).

Cheers.

JD

Dan Moran said...

"Of course, if the author in question is still alive, you can get lucky and find him on the Internet, discussing the weather and local events with his constituency. And, well, maybe you can get a detail or two out of him. Maybe. Alternately, he could subtly suggest in a series of essays that the best thing to do is your own research, then take your best shot. Oooh. That would suck. It's best if you get the former. Small seeds, planted with a nurturing hand, can grow to mighty sequoias. In time."

Sory, man. :-) Didn't mean to blow you off about this, you just tagged me on a subject I know very little about. First, as far as fan fiction goes -- I don't think I could say no, and I wouldn't be inclined to. Anyone who wants to write Continuing Time fan fic is welcome.

If you'll take one request -- please don't kill any of my characters. You want to write slash, fine, I don't care, but I'd appreciate people not killing off any of my characters. Introduce your own and kill them.

Steve Perry said...

I have a whole stand-up comedy routine about not being the former lead singer for Journey. I get enough mail for that Steve every year that I have a form letter template, into which I can just plug the name and address.

Gotten a couple semi-naked pictures of young women over the years.

TS - That Steve -- doesn't maintain an online presence under his name, and I used to point folks to his fan club website, but I don't think they are in contact with him, either.

I started writing before TS hit it big, otherwise, I'd probably used my full name; the basic moniker is as common a dirt -- there are writers, other singers, movie producers. Ever hear of The Cherry Poppin' Daddies?

In the most eerie coincidence so far, I logged onto Amazon.com once to check the sales of a small-press novel I wrote, Windowpane. I get there, and the boobs have misspelled it as Window Pain.

Wonderful.

I clicked on it. Nope, not me. Another novel by another Steve Perry. How spooky is that?

You the Steve Perry who wrote Windowpane?

Maybe. Spell it ...

J.D. Ray said...

Dan:

Thanks. I don't think anyone will die.

Steve:

I can't believe you've heard of The Cherry Poppin' Daddies (later just "The Daddies" for a while until they returned to their original name). Circa 1990, I used to go see them play in Salem, Oregon when they were the regular weekly band at a place called Westside Station or something equally forgettable.

Are they still around, do you know?

JD

Steve Perry said...

Last time I heard about the Daddies, they were still around. In Eugene, I think.

Family newspapers wouldn't print the band's name, so that's why they got to be known just as the "Daddies, I believe.

Kind of rock/punk/ska stuff, and I can't claim to have been a big fan, but I did notice that the lead singer's name was Steve Perry.

J.D. Ray said...

Yeah. This is going to sound campy, but I remember going to see them the first time; someone said, "The lead singer's name is just like the guy from Journey."

I said, "Or just like the author."

I had read the 97th Step series maybe a year prior. I was probably more familiar with your name at the time than Journey's lead singer.

But enough of this. We're hijacking Dan's blog.

Dan Moran said...

Don't sweat it. I've done worse to Steve's. (Or if I haven't, it's just a matter of time.)

quarkwright said...

So sorry - I was on the proofreaders list, but I guess I've been slacking. I barely started Devlin's razor. Guess you got enough proofs from the others. Sorry I won't make it through before you send it off. I still feel honored that I got to be one of the first to see it, though.

eponymous said...

Ditto what quarkwright said. I go and volunteer to proof something I've been dying to read for years (and TF, which I am lucky enough to have two numbered/signed originals of) and then "real life" goes and rears its hideous head. I haven't had a chance to even glance at either, much less read with an eye towards error catching. *sigh*

Thanks for including me Dan, I promise I'll be better next time (if there is a next time...)

Steve Perry said...

Say, you still post at the AR Experience? I'd be interested in keeping up with the Antichrist and his latest ...

Dan Moran said...

The Alan Rodgers Experience isn't being updated at the moment. Odds are good it will be again, sometime down the road. Alan and I promised the judge we wouldn't talk about each other -- hasn't stopped Alan from recently calling me a bad guy who bad things are going to happen to. (He also promised the judge he wouldn't drive by our house any more; did it at least twice, coincidentally after 2 AM both times. We moved about 3 months ago, haven't given him the new address. Not that Alan has ever paid any attention to court orders when it didn't suit him.)

I filed a defamation suit against him recently, and my oldest daughter is filing a wrongful death suit on her baby brother's behalf, against Alan and Amy Casil, when she turns 18. There may yet be some justice for that baby.

Brendan said...

Good to see you're writing and working on the Continuing Time books again, Dan. Here's hoping the recovery of The AI War from Bantam goes smoothly. That news -- and the news that you're blogging -- is the best Christmas present I got this year!