So my grumpy review of James Smythe’s The Echo is now online at Arcfinity.
I’m not normally bothered by the science being wrong in fantastic fiction if it makes the story better – that’s normally true when the author has made a deliberate choice to warp or twist reality. What bothered me by this book (and it’s prequel) is my feeling that the scientific stuff that was wrong didn’t add to the story – indeed that it distracted from it – and that the author was obviously capable of not making these mistakes.
I note that one paragraph from the review got edited out, that’s fair enough, it was too long, but it explains why I think the wrong science matters in this particular case.
Mira’s character, especially in the opening parts of this book, is primarily defined by his intellectual competence and these errors undermine this conceit. A genius scientist who does not understand Newtonian physics and cannot do simple trigonometry is not, I think, convincingly drawn.
I’m not scientist. The only science qualifications I have are scraped passes in “O” level physics and chemistry – so when even I can see a text has got things wrong, I expect most readers will spot the errors. And if the author has created a character who is supposed be a genius scientist and I can see them making mistakes then it is an issue of character, not of nerdish attachment to facts at all costs.
I also realised that I never mentioned on here that my (equally grumpy) review of Stephen Kiernan’s The Curiosity is also online at Arcfinity.
Unlike The Echo, which I think has many redeeming features – it’s well written and interestingly complex – The Curiosity is a genuinely poor book with very little to recommend it. It’s badly structured, improbably plotted and the characters are shallow and built on stereotypes and cliché.
I really didn’t like it very much.
Finally, and on a non-grumpy note, I am please to announce that I am officially one twentieth of an award nominee (sort of).
The Solaris Rising 2 anthology, edited by Ian Whates and featuring 18 very good stories (plus one by yours truly), has been nominated for the Philip K Dick Award for best new sf book published first in paperback.
It’s about as close as I’m ever likely to come to winning a major writing award, so I got quite excited. Here’s the design for the tee-shirt I plan never to take off.