Second review for today is The Sky People
by S. M. Stirling.
This introduces a new world. The immediate story is moderately well wrapped up but there is plenty of room in the world for more stories and some hint at the end that there might be more. OK, I'm (sort of) connected to the Internet, I got off my ass and looked it up; there is a second book in the series, In the Court of the Crimson Kings
, 2008, which I don't think I've even seen.
This is an alternate universe which diverges from our own as we start to actually learn stuff about Mars and Venus. The early days of the space race were already different, but the world really changed when the Soviets landed a probe on Venus in 1962 and got video of what appeared to be humans until these Venusians smashed the camera. The story actually takes place in 1988 on a Venus shared by dinosaurs, Pleistocene megafauna, and stone-age humans. The major premise is a little hard to swallow, but the world extrapolated from it makes sense, and the accommodations the humans make to establish an Earth presence on Venus without miracle technology (so it's possible to get there but extremely hard and expensive) are fairly clever. Next to that, my standard complaint with alternate history (that once the alternate world has diverged, it should have quickly become much more different; even though things have changed a lot, they haven't changed enough
), and some minor quibbles about the biology (if he's going to stress that the lower gravity and higher oxygen content allow bigger insects than earth, the insects should actually BE bigger than earth's -- but his dragonflies are only slightly bigger than what we have today, and a lot smaller than the ones we had back in the Carboniferous) are very minor. And, given how it touches me personally, I'm compelled to mention that adopting a baby predator from the wild only works that well in fiction, so please don't try it at home.
Every child of the 1970s wants to go play in a Land of the Lost
that's not quite so hokey. International intrigue, heroic derring-do with dinosaurs and smilodons, a touch of romance -- it would be great for a movie, except that Hollywood would probably have to add Sleestak. We do get into some kinda-weird bigger picture stuff, but mostly this is just a big fun adventure. Not one for the ages, but a solid, fun read. 8 out of 10.( plot summaryCollapse )