Monday, February 11, 2013

sky so big and black

The Sky So Big and Black, is, as far as I can recall, my first John Barnes, SciFi story. I'm not sure I get John Barnes completely, but the premise in this one is interesting. I may skitter around spoilers here, if you're worried. Barnes has taken a look at what life might be like on mars during a potential terraforming process. The story takes place just about 2097, and pretty well into the terraforming process, so there are lots of people living there, and many of them are making their living as terraformers; ecospectors, is what Barnes calls them.

Barnes isn't fooling around with the made-up words, either. The book is chock full of them. My copy comes from the library book sale, and is actually a discarded library book. Someone has kindly written in one of Barnes's many made-up terms, along with its definition, on the first page of the text, just to be helpful. That word is 'roo', a verb, as in 'lets roo!' or 'man, that was some great rooing!' I can't really tell you how long it would have taken to figure out what it meant; I knew before I started. Another one (which didn't have the definition spelled out by John Q. Public, who borrowed this book in the past) is 'limward.' Adjective, or adverb, and used all over. This book is lousy with 'limward' and I'm not completely sure what it means. As in 'that was some limward rooing we were doing' or, 'I limward wanted to go rooing, posreal. Contract.' Yeah, so, I think you see what I mean. A quick flip to the backmatter revealed no help. Mars dialect? No thank you.

Whining aside, was it good? It was okay. The story seemed pretty well researched, and while I would say it was full-on, Hard SciFi, is was pretty technical. That lent a real-ness to the story that I enjoyed. There was also a cool little sub-plot brewing along in the background that I thought was interesting, if not completely worked out. And, I got a kick out of the old school cover art too. click it, you know you want to

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