Books Science Fiction

Festival of Relativistic Narrative


Quite by accident, the last three books I read are all stories of people getting screwed over by good old-fashioned Einsteinian relativity.

I’m currently trying out some new sci-fi authors (now that Richard Morgan has renewed my faith in contemporary hard science fiction), and I’m filling in my collection of British “Sci-Fi Masterworks” novels (which are cheaper and easier for me to get here in Singapore). So, I happened to pick up Tau Zero, Pushing Ice and a new copy of The Forever War recently at a big book sale.

I started with Alastair Reynolds’ Pushing Ice which featured a crew of comet miners pulled away from our solar system by an alien artifact at very near the speed of light. Poor them. As their subjective time contines to pass as normal to them, the centuries are clicking over back home. Bummer.

Next up was Tau Zero by Poul Anderson. This time the crew of colonists headed to a nearby star with a (hopefully) Earth-like planet find that they have no brakes! Not only can they not stop at the planet they hoped to call home, they can’t stop at all…and they keep accelerating ever closer to the speed of light. Um, they wind up about as far wasy as you can get from the here and now. Again, sucks to be them.

Finally, I just finished re-reading Forever War, Joe Haldeman’s Vietnam allegory in which it travelling to and from each battle takes so long and time dialation is so severe that the when vets get home, everything is completely different than when they left hundreds of years before. The nice part about The Forever War that I had forgotten was the love story that sits at the core of the book.

I think I’m done with speed-induced time travel stories for a while. But I do have this related reccomendation for you: if you haven’t read Starship Troopers or The Forever War, read the Heinlein novel first and then proceed directly to Haldeman for an amazing look at space warfare told by masterful servicemen/writers from two different eras. Plus, both books feature robotic fighting suits!

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3 comments on “Festival of Relativistic Narrative

  1. I've seen the Starship Troopers flick a bajillion times and yet somehow never noticed it was an adaptation of a Heinlein novel. I'm so reading that! And then the Haldeman. Thanks for the recommendations.Have you read the Strugatskys' "Roadside Picnic"? It's the only SF Masterworks I've read and I loved it — it's the book the Tarkovsky flick Stalker is (loosely) based upon. And um if you happen to see it real cheap, can you pick me up a copy and have Beca send it the next time she sends me her BPAL cast-offs? I unwisely lent my copy to a friend… in New Zealand! And it's out of print in the US. Bah!

  2. I'll be on the lookout for two copies of "Roadside Picnic" 🙂

  3. Thanks for the reviews, Tad! I've been enjoying Greg Egan (per hard sci fi) and Robert Chas Wilson (hard sci fi w/a smidgeon of space opera) of late — and YES to Starship Troopers! Written by Heinlein before he got infuriating. I can only read his juvenilia these days.

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