Cowboy Blob's Saloon and Shootin Gallery

I'm not a real Cowboy, but I play one in the movies.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CB's Summer Book Report

Finally finished David J. Williams' Mirrored Heavens, which I neglected to take along on vacation. Perhaps in future studies I'll learn to write glowing reviews that get published on book jackets, but you'll have to settle for a bluntly honest one.

Mirrored Heavens is the best book ever sent to me by the author and the greatest I've ever read in the sci-fi cyberpunk genre!

In full disclosure, it's the only book on both counts. Can I prevent it from being the last? Call me the Full Metal Skeptic.

DJW is certainly a good writer; it was partly due to my own limitations that resulted in me dragging myself through the story kicking and screaming. His dark future of political intrigue (the plot's more of an onion than a parfait) and self-contained bionic super-hackers is riveting enough, but the inclusion of common jet/rocket-powered battlesuits threw this tale into the fantasy genre for me. It's a shame the Japanese islands were practically obliterated in a fusion accident in this world; they would have enjoyed seeing their manga/anime stories come to life.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
-- Arthur C. Clarke's Third "Law" of Prediction

In a Voltron cartoon, it's easy to create a "mech." Just draw on some mechanical limbs, some weapons, rocket thrusters, etc. And it'll be as tall as a 10-story building so it can hold some fuel tanks and/or reaction mass. Shrink that down to a manned suit that can operate inside human spaces inside Earth buildings and habitations on the Moon... where's all that fuel or reaction mass stored? Man-portable rocket packs exist today, but they're limited in range due to thrust- weight- fuel limitations. What's powering them in this story? A tiny fusion reactor? That's gonna create heat, but heat's not gonna move you anywhere unless it's pushing out a reaction mass (stored in a 5000 gallon Bag of Holding, I suppose). Or is a tiny closed-circuit fusion steam reactor turning itty-bitty "jet" turbine fans? What's shielding the user from heat and radiation?

What is the waste product of a fusion reaction (it's Helium and a neutron) and why is Japan a "contaminated wasteland?" Maybe it wasn't safe for human habitation for a while, but if it's been depopulated, it ought to have reforested itself in time. Same with the Middle East to a lesser extent (due to climate), depopulated by nuclear war. Williams' horribly polluted Earth could have sprouted new lungs despite the loss of Amazon rain forests. Since fossil fuel use has long since peaked, what's polluting everything? Carbon dioxide? Trees love that stuff! Forests that burn to the ground come back over time. Battlesuit exhaust? Why do they wear and use them inside lunar habitats? Don't they know that's murder on the ventilation?

See why this disjointed questioning may have affected my enjoyment of the story? My failure to suspend disbelief is at fault here. You ought to buy the book! It's reasonably priced, so check it out and maybe you can add to the debate.

Thanks again, Mr. Williams, for sending me the book. Good luck on your next one (that one I'll buy)!

Meanwhile, I'm gonna slip Project A-ko into the video player.

PS: Funny, I don't have the same hang-up about Warp/Alderson/Hyperspace Drive and Underpants Gnomes.



  • At 12:34 AM, Blogger Serr8d said…

    Best in the cyberpunk genre? Now, Snowcrash was my favorite until I read that 4-volume monster set by Tad Williams, the Otherland series. Then I re-read Snowcrash.

    Sheesh. It's hard to beat Snowcrash, but I'll take your word that this is a good buy.

    As soon as I finish Liberal Fascism, and two or three others that are taking far too long to get through...

  • At 12:50 AM, Blogger Cowboy Blob said…

    Like I said, it's the *only* cyberpunk novel I've ever read.

  • At 7:33 AM, Blogger Serr8d said…

    Ahhhh, I see that now.

    Snow Crash also made Time Magazine's "Top 100 all-time best English language novels since 1923".

    Until you've properly met Raven, you don't know what badass means.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Visits Since September 11, 2004