Monday, May 4, 2015

Dark Lightning by John Varley

Looking over Varley's bibliography, I believe I have owned over 80% of what he has written and read all but two of his novels over the years. Surprising that I only have a couple of reviews up, but most of my reading took place long before I started this blog. Titan, of course, was a HUGE novel, back in 1979, and when he followed it up with Wizard and Demon in the same story line, I followed right along. So many great books.

Like many other authors, however, Varley is getting a bit long in the tooth, and doesn't seem to have anything truly groundbreaking to share these days. Dark Lightning is mostly more of the same in the Thunder and Lightning series, written in a definite homage to Heinlein - the twin girls' mother's name is Podkayne, for Pete's sake, and their father is Jubal. I mean, really?  The whole thing has the flavor of a Heinlein juvenile from the Golden Age (more or less), but it builds very very slowly before it finally gets interesting and adventurous, at which time the twins, Cassie and Polly (Cassandra and Pollyanna - which is a wonderful word play based on their predominant attitudes about life), display the usual hyper-skilled capabilities that Heinlein's female characters always used to, and double-handedly put down a mutiny on the spaceship headed off to colonize a New Earth.

Plenty of interesting speculations on the field of physics and the nature of dark matter create the "science" basis for this fiction. An amusing read, but definitely wait for the paperback.

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