Adrift on the Sea of Rains

Today’s placeholder while I’m off working on new stuff is a retro review from November 12, 2012.

It should come as no surprise that, while I enjoyed the opening installment of the Apollo Quartet, I haven’t read any of the three remaining books. That should in no wayThey form a thematic series and not one based on plot or setting.

Mr. Sales is the writer behind the It Doesn’t Have to Be Right entry on the blog role, and I got a review copy of this via LibraryThing.

Review: Adrift on the Sea of Rains, Ian Sales, 2012.Adrift on the Sea of Rains

Apart from Stephen Baxter’s NASA trilogy, I’m not aware of any alternate histories of the American space program. Of course, given the disappointment of manned American lunar exploration just stopping, such an alternate history would be expected to postulate the effort continuing beyond Apollo 17.

And that is exactly what Sales gives us, a program that goes to Apollo 25 and beyond, specifically to Falcon Base, a lunar base permanently manned by American military personnel.

I recommend this book for any “space nut” or fan of alternate histories or those bemoaning a lack of science fiction tales about realistic space exploration. But it’s a recommendation with reservation and not a recommendation exclusive to those three groups.

The plot? One of simple desolation and desperation. World War III has finally broken out, and the conflict of the United States and the USSR has stranded those at Falcon Base, and their supplies are running out. Continue reading

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress; or, Adventures in Reader Parallax

This is in response to Megan’s, over at From Couch to Moon, completely different reactions to this novel. Don’t think of it as an argument. Think of it as illuminating perspectives on a famous work — or the reviewer equivalent of a matter-antimatter explosion, the gamma rays of perspicacity boiling off literary acclaim and sterilizing reputations.

It’s Adventures in Reader Parallax because I didn’t do a proper review.

I wouldn’t defend every claim of my 1991 self, but I stand by the gist of it.

Ian Sales is not a fan of the novel either.

Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Raw Feed (1991): The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein, 1966.

I always have trouble getting enthused about reading any author personally, rabidly recommended to me.  I read this after reading Roger Penrose’s artificial intelligence book The Emperor’s New Mind and part of a series of sf books dealing with computers including Alfred Bester’s The Computer Connection.

I expected a combination of interesting story and preachy pronouncements and got it.  But I was surprised how good this novel was.  It’s story is quite explicitly based on the American Revolution.  (Heinlein rightly points out that no revolution can succeed without the dominant power being distracted by outside matters.)  Most of this book’s “lectures” are on how to conduct a revolution (propaganda, subversion, agitation, diplomacy, military strategy, election rigging) and what the government post revolution should be. Continue reading

They Don’t Nuke’em Like They Used To

Reading I. F. Clarke’s Voices Prophesying War got me thinking. Does anyone write nuclear war stories now?

The bottom seemed to have fallen out of that particular literary market when the USSR’s flag was lowered for the last time on December 25, 1991. No more USSR, no more nuclear war seemed to be the popular thought.

It’s not that nukes went away. Continue reading