Friday, December 11, 2009

In the Stormy Red Sky: Horatio Style Space Opera


I'm signing up for another challenge, the Sci-Fi Reading Challenge (Syfy?) from Stage and Canvas. I'm fairly sure I read enough SF to fulfill this accidentally, but if not August is a good time to frantically catch up. The challenge is to read either 3.14 or 8 SF books by August 8, 2010, and I'm aiming for the 8. I'm not sure why 8, other than that cubes are always lovely. 9.86 is the square of pi, so that seems like a reasonable higher goal. Am I super qualified for this challenge or what? Speaking of which, in many ways Dec. 11th is the birthday of science fiction fandom, so this is a very appropriate day for me to start this challenge. Anyway, here is my first qualifying book:

David Drake writes military SF (mostly), usually basing his books on historical events but placing them in his space-faring navy. He even tells you which events he's cribbing for his story, so now I have a very rudimentary knowledge of what happened in the Mediterranean basin around 214 BC. Drake does different things, but In the Stormy Red Sky is part of his RCN stories, with spaceships that read like the line ships of Horatio Hornblower stories and a RCN with many of the trappings of the British navy as well. That is all in fun, and it means I don't even have to pretend to pay attention to the technical details and war tactics bits, just as I don't in the Hornblower stories.

I do find it a bit strange that I like military space fiction so much, given how uninterested I am in the details the authors are usually so proud of. I gather some readers actually worry about whether it makes sense. Wow. The space travel uses a multi-dimensional hyperspace kind of handwavium, with sail things to move from one universe to the next, so it's science fiction but also harks back to the great days of sail. Computer technology and weapons have also advanced a bit, but human nature stays the same.

Anyway, I'm just here to watch the characters jump about, and Drake's characters tend to do a lot of jumping. I think I skipped one or two books in the series, but the character arc here is slow; the characters are fairly static with enough hints of growth to keep me interested. Daniel is the amorous super captain, and Adele is the sterile super-librarian whose computer and pistol skills tend to save the day while the captain's plans save the world. This one seems to be more about Adele and her understanding that the ship crew is her family. Well, it's also about a lot of sailing about and shooting things, and tricking people, and that sort of good clean fun, but that is pretty standard for the genre. What is different between the start and end of the book is Adele's understanding of her emotional limits, which are a bit broader by the end. B

1 comment:

stageandcanvas said...

I'm unfamiliar with space operas, but have an anthology of them in the queue along with the rest of the Ender saga of which I've read the first two.

I opted for 8 because on its side it's the symbol for infinity and less imposing than pi's square. Thanks for joining the SF challenge. Cheers.