Fearful Symmetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Space Opera

Hourglass – John Morressy’s ‘Del Whitby’ trilogy

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(Originally published in Vector, Jul 2001)

Some books you read and forget them the next day. Some books you read and they never leave you. The ‘Del Whitby’ trilogy by John Morressy are three books that, for me, definitely fall into the latter category.

The 'Del Whitby' trilogy by John Morressy

The 'Del Whitby' trilogy by John Morressy

The series is set in a future universe where mankind has expanded in a series of waves to conquer the stars. On the way they have encountered a number of humanoid aliens, some of which are, or almost are, indistinguishable to humans and with some of these they have interbred. The events of the novels themselves take place in a post-expansion phase, when space travel has become a much rarer event than previously. What little there is in ships up to two centuries old as new ones are no longer being constructed; the technology having been lost. Space travel is also somewhat dangerous, not from mechanical failure of the old ships which were crafted to last, but from the slavers, pirates and the ultra-mysterious ultra-alien Rinn that lurk out in space. The books centre about several very different examples of some of the few rare starfarers of this time.

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Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 17, 2009 at 11:01 am

Matter by Iain M. Banks

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Mind over matter

Mind over matter

Matter is big; big on length, big on scope, big on plot and, for the most part, the action takes place on really big Big Dumb Objects. Heavily anticipated, it was the first Culture novel for a long while. If you are previously unaware of Banks’ work, he alternates between science-fiction and non-sf fiction as Iain M. and just Iain, and within his science-fiction work he just about alternates Culture novels – set in a the same post-scarcity/anarchic society – and other novels with different backgrounds. The Culture is a utopia and narrative conflict is provided where it rubs up against other less or just differently-enlightened societies.

Although definitely science-fiction, Matter’s plot begins in a setting with many fantasy tropes. A standard-model fantasy king is killed during battle. Only prince Ferbin sees that his father has in fact been murdered and he flees for his life with only a loyal servant for company, whilst his brother Oramen is set up as a puppet ruler by his father’s murderers.

However these events do not take place on a faux fantasy alternate Earth but are in fact happening on just a single layer of a very much science-fictional ‘Shell world’, Sursamen – a vast mega-structure consisting of world’s nested within worlds, like a Russian doll of planets. Naturally there’s a sleeping god at the very center. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

Poetic Licence – Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

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I’ve now moved this to my new blog

Written by Fearful Symmetry

June 30, 2009 at 11:59 am