Saturday, 22 July 2017

Saturn Run review

Saturn Run
by John Sandford & Ctien
G.P. Putnam's Sons

In Saturn Run, we are taken to the Earth of fifty years from now.  One small aspect of this future is the advance in pharmaceuticals.  In moments of ultra stress, citizens are not hesitant to use a pill or shot to "smooth out".  There are still side effects, but nowhere near as harsh as we suffer today.  This sort of moment only appears a handful of times in the plot, but...the whole book feels like it has been "smoothed out".
What I mean is that the author(s) apparently were unable or unwilling to describe any messy emotions.  A few characters are possessed of hot tempers and become angry, but it is nothing but "telling" instead of "showing".  It's like a sock puppet show where the feature character declaims "Grr, I am mad".  Characters are mostly reasonable and pleasant thru out the story.  A sex fling starts to take root and becomes an actual relationship with tangled emotions.  Just as we're wondering how these characters will sort it all out, the author(s) use a deus ex machina to extricate themselves from this gooey mush stuff.  And in the aftershocks, where a well-written book would take us thru the heart ache and depression, the character reaches for that aforementioned drug and smooooths out.  The novel returns to blandsville.  Whew, that was close.  We couldn't have any undue excitement with our characters.  No arguments, no jealousies, no wild guffaws, no narrow-minded biases...just all pleasant and reasonable.

I have to stop now to reverse this negative stance.  The science adventure aspect of the book carried the weight of the plot well enough.  If semi-hard science fiction is your love, then you'll enjoy this aspect.  But, as with all too many modern books, Saturn Run needed to be 500 pages long like I need a couple of extra earlobes.  A couple-three decades ago, it would have been more like 200 pages and been an enjoyable afternoon's read.  I've read books like this in my life and felt my time well spent.  When I have to spend 500 page worth of time, I want a lot more bang for my investment.

In short, it is a good idea and well-thought out race across the solar system.  After 500 pages, though, I felt like I'd walked to Saturn and back.

I want to endorse Saturn Run, but I can't.  Despite what I've written so far, neither can I condemn it as a stinkburger.  If you have buckets of free time to spend, and space travel science is your passion, then go for it.  I'll have pretty much forgotten most of it by the end of the week.

Oh.  I consider myself, at best, only a reservist in the grammar army.  Still, I can't ignore the way the authors hosed the book down with colons and semi-colons.  They must have gotten a helluva bulk deal and then had to use them before they hit their expiration date.  I've never seen colons used in the spots these guys use them.  Ever.  It looked pretty stupid, most of the time.

So, a straight up the center not-good, not-bad for Saturn Run.

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