This is not your average sci-fi book.
Looking for space opera? Starship battles accentuated with (or accentuating) bizarre hereditary and/or political drama? Not Scaling the Rim.
Instead, you get something much more original. Scaling the Rim is a tale of survival, relationships, and conspiracy. We join Annika and her un-modified human science team, along with a military team of modified human Rus, to set up a new weather station above the titular rim of the crater the population lives in. This planet, long ago colonized and terraformed with paradise in mind, is slowly freezing over, with winters (perpetually) that make Westeros’ look cute.
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Robin McKinley will likely make an appearance here again. Her novels have not only influenced me, but also have provided some ideas—debatably to the point of plagiarism—to Disney Animation Studios.
For now, I’m reviewing a pair of her books that have not yet been used by Disney: the Damar novels, The Hero and The Crown and The Blue Sword. The Hero and the Crown occurs a long, long time chronologically before The Blue Sword, but the books are one of those rare sets that does not need to be read in any order.
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Ocean’s Eleven set in a fantasy world.
Well, that oversimplifies it, but that is definitely the feeling of this series. Every book hinges around what I guess you might call a white-color crime, a con that should result in a big take if it gets executed right. It goes wrong, of course, as it is going right, which you should know if you know the genre.
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To sum up: you should read the Divine Cities Trilogy if you’re looking for something different.
Very, very different. The burgeoning empire of the Saypuri Republic, once slaves of the gods-blessed Continental imperium, slew the gods, causing whole miraculous cities to collapse, and essentially took their place. We start several generations after this war, a time when the teachings, artifacts, and magic of the dead gods are banned. As you might expect from this setup, things are more complex than anyone thought.
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Vernor Vinge (pronounced ‘winge’, though the double v sound is much more fun) is one of the old school of science fiction writers that knows science. He was a computer science professor at San Diego State University and is known for his theories on the Technological Singularity.
Not surprisingly, all three of his works that I read and recommend deal quite heavily with said Technological Singularity in one form or another, though not on Earth and not necessarily as a positive or negative thing. That’s hardly the only thing his Zones of Thought books are about, however, and they have some very different elements from most space operas I’ve read.
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First of all, aren’t those just beautiful covers? Lovely artwork.
The Magic in Ithkar books hit a certain sort of sweet spot for me. The setting pulls off something you rarely see anymore: coexistence of magic and technology. Well, really the muddling of the two, as the old saw of “any sufficiently developed technology is indistinguishable from magic” seems to be heavily in play.
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Starfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston is my favorite book. Oh, I know, your favorite book is supposed to be something profound, touching, and preferably literary, but nah. My favorite is a Star Wars (Legends…I save that for another time) book.
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