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Throwing in the towel on one of my favorite authors’ novels

December 13, 2011 20 comments

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, and it pains me to do so, but…I just threw in the towel on a novel by one of my favorite science fiction authors, maybe even THE favorite: David Weber.

I picked up the latest in the Honor Harrington series, Mission of Honor, a few weeks back and finally had the chance to dig into it around the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (you know, with all of my free time…) And just last night, reading in bed, I closed it, and I don’t think I can go back. Why? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was reading the minutes of a political meeting, or maybe a House floor filibuster transcript.

Weber has always had a knack for incorporating political maneuvering into his works very well, and I’ve found that my writing picked up some of that. (A friend remarked to me about my first book, Gabriel’s Redemption, having more politics that they thought I was in to – my reply was yes, but they’re all bad guys). And the Honor Harrington series is one of my all time faves because of the excellent action, technology, and characters. But after hitting page 310 last night (of 880), absolutely nothing had happened. The only battle that took place was before the book started, told in a past tense report. The other 298 pages were so terribly mind-numbing I had to stop – which kills me.

I really love Weber’s writing, and this might just be me as I age (not very gracefully, as my wife would say), but his last few books have really bogged down with narrative, and all of the action has almost completely disappeared. The first book in the Safehold series, which was a big departure for him away from the space settings, blew me away. The next two? Glacial pace. I have the fourth one (A Mighty Fortress) but I don’t know if I’m going to start it any time soon.

In any case, I jumped into Michael Hicks’s In Her Name: Confederation, the second in his INH series. I loved the first one (Empire), some of the best scifi I’ve read, and book 2 starts off with the same great style and action. So Mr. Weber, if you’re listening, please get back to towed missile pods, hyperspace bands, and planetary invasions…

I can’t figure it out. Is this just me? Anyone else finding the same thing with Weber, or others? I took a look at some online reviews and I don’t think I’m alone, but I’m also hoping I’m not picking up some late-blooming ADHD!

Any favorite authors of yours that caused you to pick up the towel and consider tossing?

 

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Review: In Her Name Empire by Michael Hicks

August 27, 2011 2 comments

REVIEW: 

I have to admit, before I even get into this review, that I’m a fussy reader when it comes to genres. I like a very specific, narrow type of science fiction. I certainly read all types – Hamilton, Clarke, Heinlein, Baxter, etc. – and enjoy them, but there’s a type of scifi, I suppose what I call near-future military, that I really get into (as evidenced by the type of scifi I write). So I really dig David Weber, Tobias Buckell, Charles Sheffield, John Scalzi, et al. My problem is it’s difficult, in my opinion, to find such a specific type of scifi from a self-published author, or at least one that’s up to the standards of Weber and the others. That all changed when I picked up Michael Hicks’s In Her Name: Empire.

From chapter one, the introduction to the very young Reza Gard in a captivating scene where he loses his parents as they try to defend him, to subsequent chapters where he moves to an orphanage/near-slave labor planet, his capture by the invading aliens (a blue-skinned humanoid that may bring to mind Avatar, but these are much more…cold, yet fascinating), and Reza’s maturation with the aliens, Hicks grabbed a hold of my attention and never let go.

The characters are fully developed, the settings are beautifully described without going overboard, the creatures encountered, the battles fought, the technology, and finally even a dash of romance, are all told in clear, concise style that made me want to continue turning pages. And the best part? There are two more in the series, then Hicks goes back to before this story to add three more.

The spelling & grammar, formatting, punctuation, and sentence structure (I’ve got an OCD for these errors) are flawless – better than many traditionally published works. No really, flawless. Hats off to Mr. Hicks’s editor; some of the big publishers should look into hiring him/her. Those issues really stand out to me, pull me out of the story, but I found none.

All in all, one of the best science fiction (with a smidgen of fantasy) novels I’ve read in a long time – mainstream or self-published. And easily the best self-published scifi I’ve had the opportunity to lay my hands (and e-reader) on. Congrats, Mr. Hicks – you’ve got a winner, and a customer for the next five books in the series. You actually pushed David Weber’s 4th Safehold novel down my list.

Find In Her Name: Empire, here:

Amazon (Kindle only $.99) • Barnes & Noble (Nook) • Author’s Site (6 other books as well!)