Buffer Overflow

Apologies for the near-total silence around these parts; work on the survey is eating up most of the brainpower not allocated to the day job, and I don’t really have anything left for the blog posts I know I want to write (such as the one about Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge). I keep meaning to at least pull together a links post, but (a) I don’t really have the time to do that, either, and (b) my personal fatigue seems to be translating into a more general exhaustion with the sf blogosphere, where so many discussions seem to just be re-runs.

What does still pique my interest, as ever, is discussion of specific work, so don’t fear that the short story club will fall by the wayside. (Even if, er, I failed to post my own thoughts on last week’s story. Must get round to that.) And io9 has started a book club, for which the first subject is The Quiet War. I’ve never actually tried to read a comment thread on io9 before, and hadn’t realised how ludicrous the comment-ordering system there is, but it’s interesting to see how much antipathy there is for the novel, more than you might expect from the general critical response when the book was published last year. There are many sentiments along these lines:

i agree with what so many others have said – this book was a challenge. when i saw the author’s former career listed on the inside back jacket (of course when i was finished) it all made sense – the book really reads like it was written by a research biologist.

Which is similar to the problem some had with that passage about Europa I posted the other day; though I would tend to give McAuley rather more credit for deliberateness than io9’s commenters do, I think.

Bonus fact: one of my friends recently read The Quiet War and strongly disliked it in part because she is a research biologist, and felt that McAuley’s science wasn’t up to scratch; that is, she objected to detail of lab techniques that she wouldn’t use now because cheaper and better options are available, without any explanation as to why those options might not be available in the future.

2 Responses to “Buffer Overflow”

  1. Rich Horton Says:

    I just finished THE QUIET WAR and liked it a great deal, for the most part.

    I am not competent, mind you, to criticize McAuley’s depiction of lab techniques in research biology!

  2. Liviu Says:

    Recently I finished a 5 day reading spree in the QW universe, starting with the snippets of Gardens of the Sun on the author’s website, then my 3rd read of QW, then 2 reads of Gardens of the Sun which concludes very nicely the series and then a re-read of the associated shorts – I have 7, not sure if there are more, stories which are used partly in the novels though with things tweaked somewhat so they are not part of the actual novel milieu, more of a “preparation”…

    I am still very impressed by the duology – a huge novel split in two if you want since Gardens picks up seamlessly where QW ends, follows the 6 main characters (Avernus, Sri, Cash, “Dave”, Macy and Loc) over some 10 years, an epilogue some 20 more years later with snippets of in-between.

    Whatever its flaws, I cannot think of a recent hard sf panoramic novel (I mean both QW+GS regarded as one novel) that is better (and Anathem or Spirit are *not* hard sf); the io9 comments are a bit disheartening though because they show essentially how relatively unpopular hard sf has become….


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