07 January 2007

I Discover A "New" Military Science Fiction Author

Some time ago, like at least a year, I was browsing at my local Waldenbooks and I bought some paperbacks by an author named John Ringo. The titles I got were There Will Be Dragons (the first in a series) and A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, and When The Devil Dances (the first three in another series). I bought these because Ringo had co-written at least one book with another author whom I liked and I had liked that joint book.

I finally got around to reading There Will Be Dragons and decided I really did like the author. I'd say he's ex-military, a Southerner, and, like me, a baby-boomer, as well as a pretty good writer. So here I am on Wednesday, almost finished with the first book in a series and wanting more. I went to Amazon and found the next two books, as well as the other books in the second series, and ordered them. We'd joined the Amazon frequent-reader club, so we get 2nd-day delivery free. However, Monday, when they should have showed up, was New Year's Day and UPS was taking the day off. So I expected them on Tuesday, which was what Amazon promised me. I don't know what happened, but my eagerly-awaited books spent Tuesday down in the LA basin and didn't arrive at my house until late Wednesday afternoon. I was kind of grumpy about that.

However, I did have the first three books of the second series, so I started reading them. I caught the author in a glaring factual error, one that just leaped off the page at me, but otherwise the books seemed very well edited, without the ugly spell-checker errors that are so common these days. This series, set in what was the near future, has a certain resemblance to Tom Clancy's books, with lots of technical stuff and combat and somewhat shallow character development, but are, in my opinion, better written.

I like military science fiction, like David Weber's Honor Harrington series, because it's generally less fantastical than a lot of sf. In Weber's books, about all one has to suspend disbelief about is that faster-than-light space travel is possible. Human nature is still human nature, peculiar as it is. I also like some alternative fiction, like the 1632 series by Eric Flint and the Belisarius series by Flint and David Drake.

I don't know what's going on with all the collaborating in sf these days, but there seems to be a lot of it. On the one hand, it can make the quality somewhat uneven, particularly in series. On the other hand, we readers get a lot more books in the series. Plus, it makes it easier to find new authors, the way I found Ringo.

Now and then, not very often in the good collaborations, it's possible to tell which author wrote something. I don't particularly look for this (I'm a pretty uncritical reader) but now and then it's impossible to overlook. I know, with an absolute certainty, that David Weber wrote one paragraph in a collaboration, because of a quirk of his. To him, all chairs are comfortable. No doubt it's the Spanish Inquisition's influence (no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition), but he doesn't seem to be able to mention chairs without calling them comfortable.

So anyway, I've finished the first three books in the first series (and discovered that there's a fourth volume, which I ordered today) and the first two and a half books in the other series. The problem with good books is that they have to be read, no matter what else goes by the wayside. So I don't have those photos I promised and I've only got about four inches knitted on my first scarf for the Red Scarf Project and our laundry hamper is overflowing and I'm slipping behind in AFCA.

I've gone back to working on the red scarf, as it has to be done and shipped to VA this month. I ordered three colors of red Wool Of The Andes from KnitPicks for these scarves. I really like the yarn, which is Peruvian wool. It's not at all scratchy, but it has a very soft yet firm texture and it knits into a fabric with a very good hand. It's also very economical. That's not why I ordered it, though; I ordered it because there were so many good reds. Anyway, the pattern I'm using is the Open Basketweave Mesh from Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara A. Walker. In the Schoolhouse Press edition, it's the yellow volume and the pattern is on page 252. I'm using 21 stitches, but the two edge stitches are slipped purlwise at the beginning of each row and purled at the end, so the pattern is really worked on 19 stitches. On 6.0 mm (US 10) needles, this give me a scarf that's 5.5 in. wide.

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