One of the things that I’m grateful to my parents for is that they made sure I knew the value of media from by gone decades. I grew up watching Arsenic and Old Lace, Charade, and North by Northwest. When I watched This Island Earth it was with wonder and without the ironic overlay of MST3K. And as much as I enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown and Choose Your Own Adventure books, I spent way more time reading things like Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and Andre Norton’s Star Rangers. I say all this because I want you to understand that when I say Rod Walker’s Mutiny in Space is the product of a by-gone age, I’m giving it the highest praise I can.
I’m not sure that Mutiny in Space would be considered a
juvenile, but it’s clearly got that adventure in its DNA and an
old-timey vibe. Even though Nikolai’s world has things I never remember
seeing in the juveniles– video games, artificial gravity, quantum
entanglement– there’s plenty in it that conjures up the memories of all
those old adventures I used to read. The heroes are bold and heroic, the
villains villainous and craven. And looking at that sentence, it seems
ridiculous that I’d have to type “the heroes are heroes and the villains
are villains,” but I think we all know the world well enough to
understand why that’s refreshing. I mean, heck. I intentionally
use a grey morality in my own writing, and I’m part of a group or
writers that are theoretically not fond of those things.
If you enjoy old school Blue SF and you haven’t picked this one up yet, you really should. I mean, I’m the editor and I can’t wait to see what Mr. Walker has up his sleeve next.
On the fantasy side, the Hugo-nominated Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson demonstrated the superlative nature of John C. Wright’s excellent Iron Chamber of Memory by selecting a series of choice quotes from the book.
The book that all of these passages are taken from is Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright. And while you’ll see contemporary authors ranging from Saladin Ahmad to Terry Brooks, N. K. Jemisin, George R. R. Martin, and Patrick Rothfuss incorporated into the latest iteration of D&D’s “inspirational reading list”, I’m doubt any of those additions are going to be anything like this. Fantasy role-playing and the genre of fantasy in general have just changed too much over the years.
Speaking for myself, reading this book… it was as if someone had read everything I liked about Appendix N books and everything I disliked about post-1977 science fiction and fantasy… and then made a novel that addressed every single point I’d made about them. It’s astonishing, really, but this is the book that has forced me to retire my “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” spiel. Today’s fandom may be divorced from its roots for the most part, but I think it’s fair to say that the depth and breadth of classic science fiction and fantasy informs nearly every paragraph of Wright’s stories.
Speaking of book reviews, I just finished reading Roosh’s new book, Free Speech Isn’t Free. I’ll write a full review soon, but suffice it to say that it is very detailed, very good, and very useful in the manner of SJWAL. I think I must have highlighted 12 or 15 quotes for future reference.