Friday, October 16, 2009

The other impediment to my blogging time...

...this week has been in book format.

While I enjoyed John Ringo's Mack-Bolan-For-The-21st-Century Kildar series, I've never been one for his SF; I jumped into the Posleen books with both feet, but only hung on about as far as halfway through the second book.

I've also enjoyed Dave Weber's books, although the Honor Harrington series has reached a point where it can only progress if they invent new super-dreadnoughts that cost infinity dollars to build, launch entire stars at each other, and Honor herself inevitably gets promoted to God, j.g..

So when folks recommended the series co-authored by the duo that begins with the book March Upcountry, I was skeptical. But any book by two military SF authors with a Xenophon reference right in the title can't be all bad, right?

As it turns out, no. It's not bad at all. In fact, I'm about a chapter away from finishing the sequel, March to the Sea, and March to the Stars is in the on-deck circle and, barring a major cockup or totally unexpected shark-jumping somewhere in the final volume, I'll have considered this to be money and time well spent. Two powered armor thumbs up.

42 comments:

Ed Foster said...

Damn straight. There's still room for another book, and I hope they do it.

Earl said...

Except to finish the series, I recommend you not get the fourth book, it doesn't do the first three justice, it had potential.

Peter said...

Yes, it's a great series. As Earl says, the fourth ("We Few") isn't (IMHO) as good as the first three (I thought 'March To The Sea' was the best of the first four).

John Ringo has noted online that there are planned to be seven books in the series. He gets plot outlines, etc. from Weber, and develops the stories from there. Hopefully we'll have a few more years of reading pleasure from this series.

WV: saeozoo - very fitting, considering the third volume in the series! :-)

Nathan said...

Concur. The first three were pretty damn good, the fourth was not so hotso, but not bad enough to put me off reading more.

Bram said...

The series ends (maybe) very satisfactorily.

I am shocked, however, that you dislike his SF. The Posleen series certainly has highs and lows. After “A Hymn Before Battle,” the highs are “Yellow Eyes,” “Eye of the Storm,” and my favorite “Watch on the Rhine.” How can you not love a rejuvenated Waffen SS – including the Divisions Charlemagne and Judas Maccabeus committing genocide against alien invaders whike liberal politicans dither? Or a WWII cruiser that becomes self-aware with the personality of southern busty blonde bomb shell cartoon character?

The “Looking Glass” series is also cool with lots of “hard” science fiction – helps that he co-wrote them with a Physicist.

Caleb said...

Man, I hope you bought those when they were the Feature Product on Gun Nuts Radio.

I'm reading March to the Stars right now, and quite frankly I've bogged down a bit - not for lack of enjoyment, but rather lack of friggin' time.

Anonymous said...

I found his Posleen series to be somewhat enjoyable(though, I won't be re-reading it) but otherwise hopelessely contrived. And ridiculous.

(as to Tom Kratman.. we have a saying here.. "there are lots of kinds of people, and then there are different people". Doesn't sound as nice, but I bet that If I cut out a hole in his cranium and looked inside, his brain would surely be OG 107 colored... )

Any non-contrived alien species capable of getting from there to here would kick all USAF's teeth out in about 6.35 minutes. A ground army could then stand their ground and die heroically... and that wouldn't make a good book for the markets, as Americans are hopelessely in love with happy endings.

Another thing is, any species capable of getting here would have no fucking use for Earth or us meatbags either. They'd be right at home in space, dead matter is everywhere and they'd probably just want to study us.
--
You liked his Kildar series ? The one which spawned the "Oh John Ringo no" cry? Makes me wonder, as most people found the books ludicruous and somewhat icky(most people aren't into the S&M thing)..

Orc

Ian Argent said...

In re: The honorverse,
Essentially true - which is why the last 3-ish books (ever since the one with Battle of Manticore) haven't revolved around Adm Harrington.

But there's a new mainline book coming - I'm getting the jitters.

We Few is a change in tone and direction; I think it would be better received if the sequel wasn't seen over an event horizon...

(Also, snerk to PAladin of Shadows being described as Mack Bolan - so true...)

Tam said...

"You liked his Kildar series ? The one which spawned the "Oh John Ringo no" cry? Makes me wonder, as most people found the books ludicruous and somewhat icky(most people aren't into the S&M thing).."

I mostly skipped the kinky bits and read it for the cartoony, over-the-top, ultraviolence. C'mon, any book that has OBL decapitated in chapter one and just keeps going from there has cathartic value, if nothing else. It's like playing DOOM, only in dead tree format.

Ian Argent said...

Besides, the ratio of sex-boom-pr0n to plastique/NBC-boom-pr0n is changing in favor of the explosives, esp in the last book.

Tangalor said...

He's got another series out, as yet unfinished, but 4 books so far. Council Wars is the series name.. kinda neat, it's in the future when lifespans are 200+ years because of nano tech.. then it all comes crashing down, so except for a select few (the council) everyone has to revert back to pre-industrial times and re-invent old technologies like forges and swords and whathaveyou.

While it is very SciFi, I like it because of the ideas implied about reversion to older techs, and has some good ideas, although vague at times.

Another thing about the storyline that's quite weird, but puts a twist on it, is that nanotech has given people the ability to become other creatures, like whales and dragons and such, and when the power gets turned off, they have to learn how to cope (like the dragons need TONS of food (no one had to eat before, nano took care of that) to stay alive, so they mostly turn into mercs to make ends meat (ha))

Worth glancing at.

Gar Nelson said...

Kildar as Mack Bolan. I hadn't connected those particular dots, but yeah, that works. :)

Have you tried any of the 1632 books? The first is in the Baen free library, so you don't need to part with money or dead trees unless you want to.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1632_series

Tam said...

I liked 1632 enough to buy the sequel in hardcover. Whoops. The series dropped off fast, in my estimation.

I think the masterpiece of that tiny genre is still S.M. Stirling's Nantucket series; he doesn't even get too carried away with Wiccan lesbian bondage ninjas (a peculiar recurring feature of Stirling's books...)

Tam said...

"Kildar as Mack Bolan. I hadn't connected those particular dots, but yeah, that works. :)"

Oh, and I totally boosted that analogy from PDB. It's so spot on. :D

Ian Argent said...

1632-verse suffers from being a shared 'verse.

Speaking of S&M Stirling (Blame, IIRC, TVTropes); I hope you've checked out the Raj Whitehall series. Belisarius in SPACE with what would appear to be a Martini or Martini-medford knockoff, a better ending, and quite a lot of kipling.

(Should, again, be at least partially available in the Free Lib)

Anonymous said...

The sad part is I recognize the Raj Whitehall name but have absolutely no idea which of the cookie cutter series spawned him.

Jon

Ian Argent said...

"Cookie-cutter series"? From a certain point of view; like a number of other of David drake's works, once you figure out what the histroy is you can guess the outlines of the story. Still doesn't make them cookie-cutter.

Anyway, the General series is what Baen calls them. (You might want to skip The Chosen if you don't like Stirling's Draka - a thinly-disguised clone society are the villains of that piece)

ravenshrike said...

If I'm reading the Harrington series right, you're looking at a new drive, making all their current ships obsolete against Mesa, as well as a massive nano-bio-weapon attack on the Manticore home system. Not to mention the whole Solarian League schtick. Buck up, she might die in the next book.

Ian Argent said...

Too late - she survived her Trafalgar (AKA Battle of Manticore); and the series is moving away from the Napoleonic Wars.

Apparently, it's all Eric Flint's fault for kicking over Mesa too soon...

I suppose she could get killed off, but I don't see it as likely.

BTW, Trafalgar comment not hypothetical - based on a conversation I had with DWeber some years back about his views of where the series was going to end up. Things have changed since then. I've seen other people comment on same based on their own convo's with him

Tam said...

Ironically, from a technological standpoint, Weber's Honorverse went from Napoleonic ships-o'-the-line to modern DDG's about four books in...

"Eggshells armed with sledgehammers", as modern warships have been described...

Kevin said...

I freaking LOVE the Raj Whitehall series, but it's currently out of print (again).

I can't read the Honor Harrington books - any of 'em. For some reason they just leave me cold. The Posleen series has been very much hit-and-miss. I fully concur with your assessment of Stirling's Nantucket series, and he left the door open for continuing it. I wish he would.

I very much enjoyed the March series, though I will agree that book 4 was the weakest of the lot. (It was still better than a lot of the dreck out there.)

"Oh John Ringo, NO!" is about the most hilariously apt description of the Ghost series. That doesn't mean I didn't read every one of them. And I can't read a Mack Bolan novel without breaking out in hives.

I've recently begun reading David Weber's Safehold series, and it's been pretty good. Religious war at its best, but I'll be waiting for the latest edition to come out in paperback before I pick it up.

Finally, I love Stirling's flip-side of the Nantucket trilogy, the Emberverse series. I've read all six, and I'll keep reading 'em as they come out.

Ian Argent said...

Enh - I'd say you don't get that until SD(P)s. The external ordnance pods were more analogous to the maxim of wooden men and iron ships of the first broadside being the most effective. /geek

It does remind me of someone who complained that the tech-ups in the series were happening far too fast. I wanted to beat him over the head with some histories of the Great War and The Great War, part 2

Ian Argent said...

The General series was reprinted in 2 omnibus editions recently; Warlord and Conqueror.

Never out of print in ebook, of course.

Oddly, the Emberverse gives me the crawling heebie-jeebies every time I read the teaser stuff on it. I just can't get into it.

Nathan said...

Has anybody read David Drake's RCN series?

I got into that right after I'd read through Patrick O'Brian's oeuvre for about the fourth time. Pretty obvious where Drake got the idea :)

Ian Argent said...

Some more quality SF IMHO. And somewhat lighter-hearted than, say, the Slammers series.

Bram said...

By the way - the library hardcover edition of "Eye of the Storm" I read had a CD in the sleeve. Among many other things, it contained the entire "March" series.

Ian Argent said...

baencd.thefifthimperium.com

All the CDs, including ones that weren't generally available. Free, legal. Links to torrents of same (again, free, legal).

Thank you Jim Baen and Eric Flint

Tam said...

"Has anybody read David Drake's RCN series?"

Fickin' awesome!

I've been buying 'em in hardback as soon as they're released for years now.

Up Cinnabar! Up Leary! Hurrah!

George said...

For the non-SciFi types, read The Brotherhood of Arms series by W.E.B. Griffin. Actually, read any of his series ... especially if you have a WW II bent in your interests.

Regards.

Darrell said...

Tam, ever read Gene Wolfe? Try Soldier of the Mist if he's new to you. His Book of the New Sun is a classic.

Brad K. said...

I think Weber let Harrington get too senior. That bogged down the series since the return from Cerberus.

But - there are a couple of side-stories that I enjoyed a lot, several times. Shadow of Saganomi, Crown of Slaves, Storm from the Shadows - they get back to what make On Basilisk Station great.

Elizabeth Moon seems to be wonderful at starting a series. After the first couple, though, she often gets weaker in her storytelling. Deed of Paksennarion was awesome fantasy. The follow on books varied from pedestrian to pretty good. Hunting Colors was very good, the following stories were pretty good.

Once a Hero is awesome. Then Moon holds a pretty good line for the next three or four in the Families Regnant saga.

Vatta's War followed the cliff-hanger, short novel format that irritates the crap out of me, churns up shelf space for relatively few pages, and the story line doesn't hold consistently high value. But it is readable and enjoyable, and I have read the series a few times.

For favorites I come back to Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe, and C. J. Cherryh's Pride of Chanur books. semi-miliatary trade shipping. Liaden gems include Conflict of Honors, Balance of Trade, Plan B, and Scout's Progress.

Then I got seduced by urban noir. Kelley Armstrong, Patricial Briggs. Werewolves trying to earn an honest living among ordinary fold. Armstrong's council includes civic-minded witches, half-demons, organized-crime sorcerers, vampires (unless they get too old) - her Ladies of the Underworld books are very good reading. Briggs has one friendly vampire - Stefan painted his microbus to look like Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine - amongst a dark seethe of vampires, a hero that was raised by werewolves but isn't one herself, a community of fey, witches that hire out to clean up blood and occult residues. Moon Called is good. Her novella in On The Prowl starts a very rich line, including Cry Wolf in the Alpha and Omega story line. Really good reading.

And there is Leo Frankowski's Cross Time Engineer - reinventing modern technology in 13th century, back country poland.

If a book is worth reading, it is worth re-reading. The sign of a good book is how many times it has been re-read. Which places the silly McLendon's Syndrome high on my list. Also Hawkmistress by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Wild Magic and the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce, Susan R. Matthew's dark Jurisdiction series starting with Exchange of Hostages. John Hemry's Universal law - sort of JAG set in space, with near-current ship technology and a junior ensign ship's legal officer.

And, yes, With the Lightnings, Lt. Leary Commanding, and the other RCN books from David Drake are excellent.

Nathan said...

Years ago, a bunch of us went to watch Star Crash, and we were all dead certain that during Christopher Plummer's cameo at the end, there were people behind the camera waving big wads of hundreds at him.

I think Frankowski had a similar situation during the writing of the last couple of Crosstime Engineer books -- particularly Conrad's Search for Rubber. They're enjoyable enough but the last time I read through them I kept looking for an excuse to put them down.

Kevin said...

Another vote for the RCN series! And if you like that, then I strongly recommend Lois McMaster Bujold's entire Vorkosigan saga, beginning with Cordelia's Honor for the backstory. And if you like fantasy, (not normally my cuppa, though I enjoyed The Deed of Paksennarion) I can recommend Bujold's Sharing Knife series

Verity Kindle said...

I gave up on Honor Harrington a while back. The last one was another episode of "Everybody Loves Honor" and I quit buying them. Sad that I can't even remember the name- the first five books had me obsessed- I bought them in hardcover and I never buy books in hardcover!! Darn it, David Weber! Where did we go wrong, sweetie? When it did all become a Mary Sue mess? "Shadow of Saganami" just stank! Sigh.

Ian Argent said...

The last few books have had the unenviable task of wrapping up the Haven Wars and prepping for the next story arc. This had led to some terribly unfocused books and some real dense infodumps. And, to tell the truth, I don't think that either the Shadows series or Crown/Torch are up to the quality of the main series either.

Waiting on the next main sequence book: Title apparently Mission of Honor. Mission is such nicely ambiguous word...

Tam said...

"And if you like that, then I strongly recommend Lois McMaster Bujold's entire Vorkosigan saga, beginning with Cordelia's Honor for the backstory."

Loved it.

Deed of Paksennarion was one and a half good books and went downhill from there. I forced myself to read the Gird books, too, but the thrill was gone.

"And, to tell the truth, I don't think that either the Shadows series or Crown/Torch are up to the quality of the main series either."

Eric Flint got lucky with 1632, and since then he's been writing the sequels: "AFL/CIO In The Past", "AFL/CIO In Space", and the ongoing storyline "The Virtue Of The Poor/Why Rich People Suck". SciFi is full of preachy sociopolitics, but I'd rather read preachy sociopolitics with which I agree.

Weber never should have let him through the wormhole into the Honorverse.

Kevin said...

The Deed of Paksennarion was one and a half good book ...

Actually, I thought it was two. The first book, in which Moon did her world-building, was excellent. The middle book was just a Dungeons and Dragons "my Tenth-level Mage defeats your Fourth-level Assassin," but for me the ending saved it.

Yes, Eric Flint is a pro-union commie, but I still enjoy the 1632 'verse. YMMV.

Kevin said...

Oh, one other thing: xkcd notwithstanding, Orson Scott Card's Enderverse is damned good reading with some significant exceptions. Ender's Game and the entire Shadow series are very good. The immediate sequels to Ender's Game - Xenocide and the rest, not so much.

Ian Argent said...

Oh, I like Victor Cachat. I don't know if you ever read Flint's debut novel (Mother of Demons - availabe via free library) was pretty good as well. And I don't think you can blame Shadows on Flint either.

Storm from tje shadows had a big problem in bthat it was one-third recapping the previous mainline honor book and THEN had to cram a huge infodump in. So damn little room for story.

Next book needs to be decent, or I may start waiting for paperback.

The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit said...

The very last of the March series was a bit disappointing - it felt rushed, as though he wanted to get the series over with. And I say this as a devoted David Weber fan...

And yet another vote for the RCN series...or go grab the Whitehall/Center series. Eric Flint's Belisarius series is also decent...

Ian Argent said...

For libertarian goodness, try James Schmidt - in particular the Federation of the Hub. The Federation is close to a libertarian dream (with a side order of utoianism, admittedly).

Short list of things I'd liek to be made into a movie WITHOUT f'ing it up include Lion Game and Lion Loose (no particular relation other than being in the same universe). Demon Breed would be pretty awesome as well.

WV: refen - returning to being fen?

mdmnm said...

+ 5 or 6 on the let down in the fourth book of the March series by Ringo. The Looking Glass series, particularly the first three, are lots of fun.

I'd say Drake's "The General" series (co-authored with Stirling) is as good, if quite different, than the RCN series.

A good Stirling standalone is "The Peshawer Lancers"