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Guest Post by Sarah A. Hoyt: Holding Daddy’s Hand

February 19, 2013 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Awesomesauce, Not Exactly Random, Plot, Setting, The Craft  1 Comment

smallsarahThe wise owner of this blog said recently that The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress needs no reboot, and I’m not stupid enough to argue.

In a way he’s absolutely right. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is perfect of itself, vying with The Puppet Masters for my most favorite Heinlein ever, which is to say, vying with Puppet Masters for my favorite book of all time.

Which happened to be to our purpose, nothing. Meaning what Heinlein wrote was perfect for Heinlein and for his Universe, but when I finished Darkship Thieves, both my publisher and I decided it was time to open a can of whoop… er… behind on the Self-Satisfied Good Men of Earth.

Partly this was born of logic. After all, well, once you have that complete control, you are certainly going to be hurting the society that hosts you. Any parasite that grows to large is going to do that and government is always a parasite, in the sense that it creates nothing, and can’t live without its host. (Whether it benefits the host on the other hand, is something we might discuss. I mean, I hear these days that intestinal worms are good for you, they decrease auto-immune disorders. Maybe a small, controlled government decreases incidences of tyranny. I don’t know. Maybe we should have a small government and try it.)

Partly this was born of the fact that my publisher and I are both blood-thirsty broads with a nasty disposition. The Good Men annoyed us, and therefore, the Good Men must come down.

So… I was left to plot revolution. When in this type of situation, I go to Heinlein whose writing can be defined as “teaching young people how to plot revolution.”

Well, I can’t say I’m young, but yes. So I did read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. And I thought “Okay, then, now let’s try it without a supercomputer.” “Let’s try it without a closed system like the moon” and “Let’s try it without the people we’re fighting against being at the bottom of the gravity well.”

The result was, of course, an unholy mess. In fact, it was such a messy mess, I couldn’t contain it under the Darkship Thieves series except very loosely.

The revolution starts with the escape from Never-Never at the end of Darkship Thieves of the disowned son of a Good Man. It starts not because he has high ideals, but because he would like to stay alive. (The high ideals come later.) It will end – because it’s across the whole Earth – twenty some years later, in a battle royale. In between there are many revolutions. The one in A Few Good Men is in the seacity of Olympus and its land-dependencies. The one in Liberte seacity – the next book, Through Fire – goes SERIOUSLY wrong.

And meanwhile Eden, the center of Darkship Thieves and Darkship Renegades is finding the limitations of a society with no written law (which is relevant considering we’ve decided to ignore our written law. Er… I mean, it’s complete science fiction, never mind.)

Darkship Renegades came out in December. A Few Good Men comes out in March. I have contracts in my hands for Through Fire and what might turn into Darkship Vengeance.

A friend told me I was writing Heinlein homage, but I don’t think I am. I’m also not writing Heinlein reboot, because when it comes to writing science fiction, compared to him I am but an egg.

It is just that I grew up IN Heinlein’s books, and as such it’s difficult to escape certain assumptions about how the world works, and how the future will go. Not ALL assumptions, of course, because we’re not the same people. But in general, we seem to be in accord about what matters: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I’m no more doing Heinlein homage than your kid does you homage when his walk is a lot like yours. It’s not that he sat out to imitate you. It’s that he learned to walk while holding your hand.

And in a way that’s what I’m doing – writing space opera, holding daddy’s hand.

There are worse things I could do.

(And because I promised Anthony I’d mention it – I’ve corrupted my entire family with Portuguese Kale soup. This is difficult since we are, of course, on a low carb diet, so the potato base to thicken the water is right out. BUT I make broth from spicy sausage. Then I boil and mash some cauliflower. And then I drop in the julienned Kale. Particularly good on a cold, cold night in Colorado.)

[Admin: Thanks Sarah for stopping by! Links to Sarah’s awesome  latest and upcoming books are here: The Sporadic, Spasmodic, Self Promo Post]

A Few Good Men

Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt

January 04, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Awesomesauce, Characterization, Plot, Setting, The Craft  0 Comments

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For anyone new popping up on the scene, I target my book reviews towards novelists (you can find my prior reviews here).

Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt was my holiday me me me book, but it turned into much more than that. For the novelist interested in speculative fiction, Darkship Thieves is a course of science fiction om nom nom nom with a major serving of romp and romance.

Here’s the book blurb:

Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips. You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help. But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime—if she managed to survive . . . .

You can always count on the publisher, Baen, to deliver some classic sci-fi with a bit of the libertarian thematic, but Darkship Thieves is a not-so-subtle homage to Robert Heinlein, and that is one reason it is worthy of study. Once a reader gets into that, the book comes into its own in a major, major way, and how Hoyt does this is a bit of the ‘ole awesomesauce.

Essentially it goes like this: any Heinlein fan is going to read this book and start grinning like a dork about a quarter of a way through it. Halfway through the book the little science fiction libertarian in you will go “this is soooooo good,” but then, like the dogs of war unleashed, the novel takes off on its own and doesn’t end until the reader is breathless.

And Hoyt does this with an exploration of love and honesty, two great libertarian themes so worthy of needing exploration in science fiction.

Heinlein was the master of the libertarian thematic but he also dabbled on the edges of libertarianism beyond the personal affirmation and the economic delivery from tyranny. The core of libertarian philosophy centers around peaceful interactions between people in a “trust, but verify” relationship. A person has to believe in the overall good of mankind, yet expect the odd duck to cause problems and thus plan accordingly.

Thena finds herself as the obligatory fish-out-of-water in a libertarian society after being rescued by Kit, a genetically modified pilot who makes a living stealing power from the terrans. Kit brings her to Eden, a large asteroid with refugees from a nasty war back on Earth. Eden is, for the most part, an anarcho-capitalism society.

Oh, but Kit. Kit is so nakedly honest, so honorable (not to mention a bit of a studmuffin), Thena falls in love with him. She falls hard. She’s a product of a declining civilization, a civilization kept together through understated oppression and slight of hand. When encountering pure goodness, it drives her a little crazy, and she is drawn to Kit not so much because he can get inside her head (literally) but because Kit is simply Kit and no one else. Hoyt brings out the craziness in Thena as she realizes the core of her beliefs are a lie, and then, like a master novelist, Hoyt dials it up to eleven when Thena finds out her life has been a lie.

Thena, my fellow writers, kicks-ass throughout the entire novel despite all of the setbacks a cruel universe throws at her. And yet, when faced with the prospect of losing the first real taste of love she has ever known, she goes on an unholy libertarian rampage that is both epic and intensely personal at the same time.

I could prattle on and on about how Darkship Thieves is a marvelous science fiction book in a classical sense, with wonderful uses of technology and some truly clever settings. At its heart, however, it is a romantic love story wrapped up in a personal coming-of-age yarn about good triumphing over evil.

For a novelist in any type of speculative fiction, I give the novel five slices of bacon up out of five.