Archive for February, 2014
Roberts’s latest, Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea, is a return to such an eye-popping and mind-blowing extrapolative technique, and our author outdoes himself, by creating a book that is so allusive and multivalent in its clean-limbed premise that the reader hardly knows how to parse it.
The Bread We Eat in Dreams proved challenging to review. Though the contents range from offbeat poetry to an award-winning novella, in a multitude of styles and voices, this isn’t just a random gathering of her shorter stuff. The more I read, the more these pieces seemed to resonate both intellectually and emotionally like the interplay of themes and movements in a symphony for a final impact greater than the sum of its parts.
The central conceit of The Violent Century is that a German quantum physicist named Vomacht created a machine in 1932 which propagated a kind of probability wave around the world, affecting everyone in minute ways but transforming a select few into ready-made Marvel franchises, complete with Stan Lee-like monikers: Tigerman, Whirlwind, the Electric Twins, the Green Gunman, Surfer Girl, Frogman.
With awesome, meticulous attention to scientific details, engineering protocols, bureaucratic procedures, and international politics (though the larger war is just background noise), Steele walks us through what it would have taken to build a space plane rather than an A-bomb.
We should get this established right up front: Stephen Baxter’s Proxima is just the first part of a longer narrative, the precise nature and destination of which is only hinted at by the passage that prefaces the main body of the story: In the heart of a hundred billion worlds – Across a trillion dying […]