Rather than tell you how far I’m behind on NaNoWriMo, I’ll try to catch up a tiny bit on my book reviews.
I picked up Firestar by Michael Flynn because I’d enjoyed The Wreck of The River of Stars so much. I was correspondingly disappointed in this earlier novel.
Our Heroine is a rich woman with a fear of asteroid strikes who decides to start her own space program. The subplots involve a shallow test pilot and his ambitious friends testing her experimental spacecraft, a bunch of schoolkids and their favorite teacher who’ve been bought out by her educational branch, and the general corporate goings-on of her extensive holdings. Although there’s plenty of plot and action, plus some teen angst, I didn’t feel like there was enough conflict or reader cookies to hold my attention. It’s a long novel that sprawls; I had the feeling, from some repetitive backstory references in the second half of the book, that it had been composed as several shorter stories.
City is a classic short-story series by Clifford D. Simak with a bonus short at the end. It reminded me a bit of When Late the Sweet Birds Sang, but it covers a longer time-frame in short out-takes. I thought “Huddling Place” had the most impact of the stories, and the last one the least, but they were all worth reading.
Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt reminded me, in terms of genre, of Sims by F. Paul Wilson—a novel I picked up for its sci-fi content but enjoyed for the modern-day, non-skiffy characters, plot, and writing. In Ancient Shores, a farmer digs up a yacht on his property in North Dakota; it’s ancient but perfectly preserved and composed of a strange, occasionally glowing, substance. His friend begins to investigate and gets involved with a woman chemist and a Sioux lawyer.
In the end, the main character doesn’t change much and the resolution is a deus ex machina—but an interesting one that makes real-world sense even though as a novel conclusion it was disappointing. The language was straightforward and the glimpses into the world of the title few and far between, but the novel still managed to convey a certain numinous feel. I recommend it, and I’ll be looking for more of his books.