It is somehow appropriate that this week I will be recording my experiences with some of the worst science fiction that I’ve come across in a long time. I bought most of these at a flea market a couple of weeks ago and I’ve spent the time since cursing at the cassette player.
1) Conquerors’ Heritage by Timothy Zahn, Bookcassette; Multitrack edition (September 1, 1995). This is an awful, awful book. It reads like it was is written for a 9 year old by a 12 year old. I listened to the whole thing because I was midly interested in how the hero escaped from the Conquerors, but when it happened, it was an impossibly sophomoric solution. The book just stopped at the end of the last tape and I realized that the slow pacing and boring filler material was only there to stretch this out to a trilogy, and I was listening to book 1.
I will never buy a book by Timothy Zahn again.
2) Death Dream by Ben Bova. Nova Audio Books; Abridged edition (September 1, 1994). This book is hopeless outdated and has a retarded sense of VR and human-machine interface technology. On top of everything, the abridged edition is hard to follow. I only listened to the first tape before giving it to Erica to recycle on eBay. I am a fan of Ben Bova’s. I liked some of the Peacekeeper books and I’d like to listen to the Grand Tour series. Death Dream, however, should be avoided.
3) STAR TREK FEDERATION (Audio Cassette) by Judith Reeves-Stevens. I should have known better. I have liked only one Trek cassette, ever. I have only enjoyed one Trek book. I keep trying, knowing in advance that I will be disappointed. I listened to the first 10 minutes and rewound this one.
In my own defense, I bought these at a dollar per book. I thought it was a good deal at the time. Erica has all of these on eBay by now. I hope I get my $3 back.
On the print book front, Arthur Sanchez loaned me Dan Brown’s book, Digital Fortress, in paperback. It is another computer based book that is outdated and shows a deep misunderstanding of how computers work. Some of it, like massively parallel computer systems, is appropriate to the plot and Brown got some good information about NSA and this type of computer. The McGuffin, however, is a well used chestnut about an unbreakable cipher. There is a disconnect between the art of code busting and the technology of cryptology that just doesn’t work.
Dan Brown, on the other hand, is a master of plot pacing and the subtitle Thriller is an adequate description. If you forget all that you know about computers, at least all that you have learned in the last 15 years, the story will be interesting.