October 12, 2014

Review Corner

It is customary that Review Corner, reviewing a work of fiction, considers both style and underlying philosophy. Is it good art? Does it speak to the values we cherish 'round these parts?

It is also customary that those distinct considerations might be blurred in general rankings. Today's will be distinct. I heartily recommend Steinbeck, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut and a host of authors who create great art but whose philosophical values are orthogonal to mine.

I use the word "orthogonal" a lot to describe contrary views. I did not totally understand it until I took MIT's free MOOC Linear Algebra course. But I stole that phrase, years before, from the author in today's Review Corner. Michael Glaviano is an off-the-charts brilliant Physicist, an incredible guitar player, a gifted author, and I am proud to call him a friend. He was finishing his PhD when I stumbled into New Mexico Tech as a freshman, making him quite a bit mentor.

We went many moons without contact, and when I did find him, he told me he had written a novel, The Locust Queen's Feast which I enjoyed immensely. It is a great story and I was not too surprised at its elegant prose, knowing the intelligence and artistic breadth of the author.

But his latest, Edge Station, blew me away.

Edge Station is a great work of science fiction. It adjusts reality enough to explore complex interpersonal concepts, but the characters are realistic and engaging. The AI systems, starships, and medical augmentations described may not match our daily experience, but the people navigating life in the trans-galactic corporation are instantly recognizable.

It's a great story with rich, descriptive prose -- but I was most attracted to the pacing of the novel. Though cerebral in parts, it moves with a summer-blockbuster pace and tightness. Try to not read "one more chapter" before you set it down to pursue quotidian tasks -- it's impossible. I am an old grouch who is reading less fiction these days and very little of this genre, but I was instantly hooked.

As soon as you finish the last page, you wonder "when does the movie come out?" It begs for a screenplay because it already has an ensemble-cast feel with several endearing and interesting characters. The pages move more with intrigue than shoot-'em-up action, but there is a lot going on, much to be resolved.

It's a fun and interesting read which I gladly give five stars.

The last four paragraphs comprise my Amazon review. Five stars well earned for artistic merit. No slack for friendship. I think all ThreeSourcers would enjoy it (and you can snag a Kindle copy for $2.99). But . . . my buddy is from California and has an academic beckground -- poor guy cannot help it! It's rather Firefly-ish in that the "Edge Station" is on the boundary of explored space and slightly outside the reach of -- not a governmental entity like the Alliance -- but a mean old corporation (sigh). The ending might be a little unfulfilling to some who hold humanity at Randian esteem levels.

But it's a rockin' good story. On that, I am not lyin'.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at October 12, 2014 10:01 AM
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