Karel Čapek’s 1936 satire War with the Newts was published towards the end of Czechoslovakia’s inter-war golden age, a time when the writing was already on the wall for unfortunate Czechoslovakia. One can sense from the novel’s wry, often bitter, humour that Čapek had pretty clear views about what people were really like and those views were not positive ones. Čapek is often funny but it’s a dark funny.
Second in the Elemental Logic series, 2004’s Earth Logic answers the question “Was Fire Logic a fluke or can Marks write that well consistently?” Answer: “Marks can write that well consistently.” So yay, one more review for 2015 without hitting a dud.
2014’s The Way In to Chaos had the working title Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts. That’s a goal ambitious enough to make this the first new book that I have read in 2015. The sunniness of my outlook and the degree of malice I will bear toward the hundreds of books by hundreds of authors I will read over the next twelve months may well be affected by my reaction to this book. But no pressure!
1974’s Mote in God’s Eye was the first collaboration between Niven, by then a winner of multiple Hugo Awards, and Pournelle, the winner of the 1973 Campbell for Best New Writer. Readers could be excused for expecting a lot from this novel given who wrote it. They must have liked what they found, because this earned nominations for both the Best Novel Hugo (losing to Le Guin’s The Dispossessed) and the Best Novel Nebula (losing to Haldeman’s The Forever War). Forty-one years later, does it still stand up?
1955’s Star Guard is a prequel to Star Rangers. Although this book is set thousands of years before Star Rangers, Star Guard’s galaxy is ruled by the same Central Control that is in the process of falling apart in Star Rangers. The difference is that Star Guard’s Central Control is dominated by the galaxy’s elder races and humans are an ill-regarded junior race. Humans struggling for freedom in a galaxy set against them is a familiar story, but Norton provides a fascinating, if very dark, twist by placing this in the same universe as Star Rangers.