Ringworld

As mentioned, I’ve been trying to catch up on old, classic science fiction, and after Rendezvous with Rama, I set my sites on Ringworld by Larry Niven, a book I have also been hearing about since I was a kid. Like Rama, Ringworld involves an alien artifact and a crew that visits it. But unlike Rama, I kind of hated it.

Ringworld centers on Louis Wu, a roughly 200 year old human who seizes upon the opportunity to visit the mysterious Ringworld along with a crew consisting of two aliens and a human woman. The journey uncovers secrets about the Ringworld and about each other, culminating in a massive revelation about one of the crew members in particular.

To be fair, the Ringworld concept is cool, a variation on a Dyson sphere, and I wish the novel had spent even more time there, but it takes far too long to get there. The novel felt bloated and meandering and far too obsessed with unimportant personal interactions.

But far more egregious, I thought, was the way the novel treats women. There are two of note — one is an actual space whore (once they find out that she was on a space ship, it seems like the only profession she could be) and the other one is a literal plot device. In fact much of what Louis Wu does is mansplain to his companion, Teela. Of course Louis also has lots of sex with both women. Both women felt underdeveloped to me, whereas Louis, and the similarly male Speaker-to-Animals, have perhaps the most fully realized relationship in the whole novel.

I had other problems with the book — it feels overly sentimental without earning it, its sexism almost seems to border on misogyny in parts, and don’t get me started on the idea of evolved luck. I questioned Niven’s understanding of biology and evolution after reading Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, and there seems to be more of that suspect thinking here.

Ringworld won the Hugo, the Nebula and the Locus Awards, which puts it in a very small group. To be honest, I don’t see its appeal. Disappointing, but at least I can move on to the next book.

If you read Ringworld, though, and liked it, please let me know why in the comments. I’d love to hear from people with different viewpoints than mine.

Rendezvous with Rama

Elisabeth’s been delving into science fiction lately and that got me keen to start picking up some old science fiction classics that I had somehow never gotten around to reading.

The first of these was Rendezvous with Rama, a book I feel like I’ve been hearing about since the early 80s. And yet, I never picked it up. So recently, on my commute, I listened to the audiobook.

I really enjoyed it. In fact, I think it’s fair to say I loved it. Firmly in that old school hard sci-fi realm, and yet still very relevant if you ignore some of the outdated science (though that was remarkably minimal). It didn’t even bother me that Clarke’s characterization is minimal. I was pretty much riveted throughout. It helps that it’s a SF mystery. But honestly, I’m just a sucker for alien artifact stories.

I also saw how it could be adapted (pretty easily, I think) into a film, which is apparently something Morgan Freeman has been trying to do. You’d just have to consolidate some characters. But the structure is there. And I think it would be relatable (Hollywood, call me).

I’m definitely up for reading more Clarke. Obviously 2001 and its sequels are some of the best known, but let me know if you recommend any others in the comments.

 

King of Shards Trailer

I wanted to get a post up today but I just finished writing a post about Rising Tide that will appear on LitReactor later this week. So rather than talk more about it here, I thought I would instead help spread the word about King of Shards, the debut novel by my friend and very talented writer, Matt Kressel. I read the novel back when it was just a draft and I was impressed with the fantasy that Matt put together, drawing heavily on Jewish mythology. This is one to look out for. King of Shards comes out October 13, the week after Rising Tide. Check out the book trailer below and then preorder it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, indiebound, or the store of your choice.

 

The Brewery Connection

Anyone who knows me at all probably knows that I’m enthusiastic about beer. In fact my enthusiasm made it into Falling Sky in one chapter that’s essentially an ode to beer.

What I didn’t realize until after the book was out, was that there is a Falling Sky Brewery in Eugene, Oregon. I briefly thought about setting up a reading there when I was supposed to be heading out west.

While working on Rising Tide, I discovered that there’s also a Rising Tide Brewery in Portland, Maine. It’s a common phrase, I know, but I thought that was cool as well.

The weird thing, though, is that the tentative title for the last book, known only to me at this point, also shares a name with a brewery, something that I only discovered when I googled for it. Feels like it might need to be the title.

At some point I hope to be able to visit all three breweries, a copy of the namesake book in hand.

I suppose it’s too much to expect that all of my books will share names with breweries. Unless I’m very careful…

Oh, and if you happen to guess the title of the third book, confirmed by the presence of the brewery, by all means let me know. I’ll send you something if you guess correctly.

 

World Fantasy Convention

I will be attending the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego from October 27-30. For those interested, I have a solo reading scheduled on Saturday, October 29 at 11:30 AM. I will also be participating in a group reading for The Way of the Wizard at 2:00 PM on the same day. If you’re at the convention, I’d love it if you would come by. Either way, it would be nice to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.

 

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Rising Tide -Out now!


Rising Tide, the sequel to Falling Sky, was released on October 6, 2015. Publisher's Weekly said, "Khanna crafts a terrifyingly dismal picture of the future, raising the stakes by gradually stripping Ben of friends and support while throwing him into increasingly dire situations. His worldbuilding remains solid and unsettling, and he never loses sight of the human element. The cliffhanger ending is sure to leave readers on the edges of their seats, panting for resolution."

Falling Sky – Out now!


Falling Sky, my first novel, came out October 7, 2014 from Pyr. It's an adventure story set in a post-apocalyptic future with airships. Publisher's Weekly called it a "solid and memorable debut" while Library Journal gave it a starred review and named it Debut of the Month. For more information, please click here.

Upcoming Events

October 27-30: World Fantasy Convention, Columbus OH

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    08/16/2016 — As mentioned, I’ve been trying to catch up on old, classic science fiction, and after Rendezvous with Rama, I set my sites on Ringworld by Larry Niven, a book I have also been hearing about since I was a kid.…Read more »
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