Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From Alderaan to Mars - Disappointing Journeys (#bookreview)

Something of a theme today, with two books from which I expected so much more, but which ultimately proved to be disappointing.

With a title like Mars, Inc. and the name Ben Bova attached to it, you would think you'd know what to expect. Personally, I was excited to get my hands on an ARC,and went into this with high hopes. As much as I tried to hold onto those hopes, though, the 'real' story I expected to find beginning in the next chapter never materialized.

This was so very much not what I was expecting from a master like Ben Bova. It felt like a throwback to 60s and 70s pulp sci-fi, but not in a good way. It was cheap, sexist, and almost as lazy in respect to its business and it politics as it was smart in respect to its science - and we don't get nearly enough of that. What's more, there's no payoff, no grand spectacle, just the fact of a launch to end the book that we don't even get to see, much less experience.

Disappointing in just about every respect. I do wonder if there's a sequel to come, but I have neither the patience nor the interest for that.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2013 by Baen



Okay, so we all know that stories within the Star Wars expanded universe can be hit or miss. In fact, Timothy Zahn is about the only author I've found to be consistently entertaining, which is why I was excited to see some big name authors stepping in to explore the universe.

First up for the Empire and Rebellion saga is Martha Wells, with her Princess Leia focused novel, Razor's Edge. As a vehicle for exploring Leia's character, it works rather well. We really get to see her as a leader, as a political force to be reckoned with, and as somebody suffering under a lot of pressure. Wells bravely tackles the guilt that comes with the death of Alderaan, and even more bravely wades into the awkward quagmire that is her romance with Han Solo.

Beyond that, though, I didn't feel the book really offered anything new or significant. As nice as it is to revisit old friends, there are only so many stories to be told in the gaps between movies, especially since its hard to generate any real drama when you know everybody makes through the next move alive. There are some great action scenes, and some fun moments, but it felt like Wells tried too hard to maintain the frantic pacing of the movies. It's just one climax on top of another, until you're numb to it all.

This was by no means the worst Star Wars adventure I've ever read - there's a flair to Wells' writing not commonly found in tie-ins, and I am still eager to read more of her work. I can certainly appreciate Leia getting her chance in the spotlight, but if Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman taught us anything, it's that Star Wars needs move beyond the story we already know, and start contributing to a new one.

Hardcover, 251 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by LucasBooks

2 comments:

  1. Re: Mailbox Monday - could you please read my post, the comments, and don't forget to check in on the MM blog and look for the poll.

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  2. Just popped by and commented - I'm more than happy to continue filling the back-up shoes

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