Apr. 15th, 2015

daveon: (Default)
EDIT: Lines of Departure has been withdraw from the ballot which renders what I wrote somewhat out of date.  I'll be clear.  I REALLY wanted to like it, I really did, but it had too many flaws for that.  Still, as I said at the end, it sounds to me like Marko Kloos is a good guy and I wish him luck.

Because one of the charges I have seen hurled around is 'at least we [puppies] read the books we nominated unlike you', I thought I'd see what all the fuss is about.  I'm not a huge Butcher fan, I've read a couple of Dresden books but it's not really my thing.  I have read an Andersen, and been on a panel with his wife, and I can't imagine he's not a decent writer - he's been a jobbing author for a while now but I'm not sure I want to dive into the first book of a new series following on from a previous series...  so I bought a copy of Marko Kloos Lines of Departure.

I wanted to keep an open mind, I wanted to be fair, simply put I didn't want to dislike this as much as I did.  Actually, strike that, dislike is too strong there.  It's just not terribly good - not completely bad, but still.

One of the claims of the Puppies is that they want 'good' stories that hark back to some mythical Golden Age - well, this certainly felt like it could have been writen in the 1960s, that's for sure.  The protagonist, a weapons specialist, has worked as a Neural Systems operator - except that the neural systems in this future don't appear to do anything that computers do now, in fact, I'd argue they seem dumber, as do the people, more on that in a moment.

It felt like Aliens fanfic - the tech level is roughly late 20th century, except for the giant spaceships and the Albucurie 'shute' which functions as some kind of 'tram line' FTL system, but there's no background to that, nor any description how they get the 'chutes' in place.  The aliens are inscrutable, although 80 foot tall aliens weighing 1000 'metric tons' that move around in 1 gee environments did give me a pause for thought - how does their nervous system work? How do they manage to move around without spending all day eating and so on...

The Earth is a ruin, the population of the US is 3 billion, the world is over 30 billion - nothing is said on how that happened, just that it has.  All the money has been spent on extra-solar colonization for getting people off planet and getting resources in... yes, I typed that correctly.  They're importing ores and other materials from outside of the solar system.

Some years before the story, the 'lankies' turn up and start terraforming planets we've colonized and they can't be stopped - until one of the people on a planet they capture/liberate (bit vague and I was skimming by now) from the Sino-Russians (yeah, there's still time for a turf war between us and the damn commies) remembers some school physics or a Larry Niven short and suggests they use spacecraft as kinetic weapons.  Seriously, they've been losing a war for this long but the scientists chides the solider for thinking like military people and not like a scientist.  Honestly, the dialog is in there...

The story isn't good.  It isn't original. It's part of a series.  The characters are barely two dimensional - but hey, there's a woman as a staff sergeant, so, ummm, equality!  The science is bad (...the debris cloud accelerated at a quarter gee...) - frankly, this book has no right being on a Hugo list.

In Amazon it was compared to Old Man's War.  I didn't much like Old Man's War but I read it.  This is nothing like Old Mans War - in comparison, OMW is literature :(

I challenge ANYBODY who read this to come here and explain what they saw there that made them think that this was worthy of being on the Hugo list other than Marko is a good guy?

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