Dare

Jan. 13th, 2007 09:36 pm
threemonkeys: (Waxlion)
I have this picture in my head. A bunch of hard SF authors are sitting around chewing the fat - maybe at a con. There are some big names there - Bear, Benford, Brin, McDevitt, Niven, Resnick, Sawyer and more. They are discussing some of the ideas that go into books. Especially some of the ones that don't work so well or have descended into cliché. You know the ideas that I mean - intelligent dinosaurs, spaceships going back in time which crash and kill the dinosaurs, closed time-like causality curves, moving the sun, moving the earth, huge walls around the earth, merging humans and computers to create a god-like composite, intelligence arising out of the global computer network, intelligence guiding the evolution of intelligence, aliens collecting species in a huge zoo and so on. So many ideas. Then some clever clogs says "I wonder if you could put them all into one story". Everybody laughs. Then Robert A Metzger says "I'll do it". Everybody laughs again. Then they realise that he is serious and they chip in with ideas. Thus Cusp is written.

Cusp is not a comedy pastiche. It is a real story with all those elements in and it does more or less work. More or less. It creaks at the seams with concepts and ideas. So much so that things like character depth go out the window after the first few chapters. But when you think about it, that is a few chapters more than many hard sf authors ever manage. The plot is, of course, hugely contrived but it does hold together. You really do have to admire the skill of somebody who can pull all this together. "Admire" rather than "enjoy" being the distinction to make here. Not that there aren't some fun bits here and there - especially near the start as the scenes are being set. In the end though, I was just wishing he had picked one concept and gone with that. Given the skill on display I am sure it would have been much better.

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