Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seeds of Earth

Seeds of Earth by Michael Colby

By the numbers space opera. The type of story where everything is driven by political intrigue and the level of politics show themselves to be pretty rigidly defined in the end. There's some ambivalence among squabbling but well-intentioned factions in the 'good polity', but the evil polities lack any such nuance and it becomes distressingly clear which argument is serving the greater good far too early and forcefully.

Beyond that we have the list of modern space opera points to checklist off in a matter similar to Wheel of Time running through a checklist on post-Tolkien fantasy---gesture at huge scales involved in interstellar war, make a small group of heroes feature decisively in this conflict, have those characters have pencil-thin personalities, make the first book of the trilogy push through big revelations for a sequel hook, show advanced tech for weapons but have little substantive change in daily human life.

It's been done a lot before and it's been done better, and there seems little point to even work up much disappointment over it. To be fair, the ultimate plot did turn out to better I was expecting from the initial setup and on a page by page level it's quite readable. Still, it's not great or even good fiction and it provides compelling demonstration that science fiction can be just as stale, unambitious and over-familiar as fantasy can.

Better than: Titan by Stephen Baxter

Worse than: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

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