I’ve had limited exposure to the writings of Asimov but my encounters with many older science fiction works have shown me that in many cases their strengths lay in ideas over characters. As a reader whose attention is drawn to vivid characters this often poses a problem. Niven and Porenelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye had similar problems and I’m not sure I can name a specific character from Rendezvous with Rama. Each of those novels were in one way or another a struggle for me typically since engaging with the novel leaned almost exclusively on the intellectual rather than the emotional. Foundation opens up with a fascinating concept: a psychohistorian, Hari Seldon, has used mathematics to determine that the current Galactic Empire will fall into ruin. Needless to say this sends the current leadership of the Galactic Empire into a bit of an uproar and sees Seldon and his compatriots exiled to the far end of the universe where they can continue their work without upset the current order. What follows is a march through time as Seldon’s work echoes through the ages as he and his descendants seek to limit the impact of the “dark age” that follows the empire’s fall.
The Ginger Star
Paizo Publishing, 2008 (orig. 1974)
The Ginger Star is my first exposure to Eric John Stark, Brackett’s hero from Mercury (where he was raised by a primitive race after his parents were killed) and apparently takes place after the earlier adventures The Secret of Sinharat and Talisman of the People (I believe both are in this volume). The Ginger Star begins an arc of stories taking placing on the world Skaith, a distant planet orbiting a dying sun and ruled by a cruel cabal of wizards known as Wandsmen. The Ginger Star opens with Stark arriving on Skaith looking for Simon Ashton the man who essentially taught him to be human. Along the way he gets wrapped up in the planet’s internal struggles and is caught between a faction that wants to leave the planet and the Wandsmen who wish to maintain their iron control over the populace.
The Stars My Destination
Vintage Books, 1996 (orig. 1956)
While something of a genre classic my introduction to The Stars My Destination was somewhat roundabout since I first heard the book mentioned on the video game/humor-centric podcast from the guys at Mega64. Co-founder of Mega64 Derrick “Derek” Acosta seemed pretty impressed with the title and his description of the plot sounded interesting. I circled the title for almost a year before finally breaking down and buying a copy, and man am I glad I did.
The Stars My Destination begins with that uneducated, potentially intelligent though unmotivated Gulliver “Gully” Foyle stranded and struggling to survive amongst the wreckage of a spaceship. Hope is briefly kindled as he flags down a passing ship, the Vorga, but is brutally extinguished as the ship passes him by. Vowing revenge on the ship and its crew the suddenly motivated Gully Foyle springs into action and embarks upon a bloody course of revenge with more than a little amount of colattoral damage.