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A man needs to know his limitations

It seems very clear to me after finishing Empire that Orson Scott Card knows his. In the hands of another author (say, Tom Clancy or Larry Bond) this could have been a fat technothriller running to 700 pages with a lot of high-tech combat scenes, but Card doesn't do those things well. Even his famous space opera Ender's Game, which depicted the clash of massive space armadas, was told from the perspective of the handful of children commanding the human fleets; the sequels that showed Ender's jeesh coping with the wars that erupted after the ending of the Bugger War also concentrated on the young commanders and not the armies in the field.

So it's not too surprising that Empire doesn't read like the novelization of the craptacular Shattered Union console game; instead, it reminded me of Shadow of the Hegemon and its sequels with its focus on a handful of individuals close to the reins of power. Unlike those novels, though, Empire lets you know that any of the major characters can die at any time, and doesn't have a neat ending with all the loose ends tied off. If anything, you could make a persuasive case that the main characters have failed in their most important task, even though their actions preserve the Union and lead to the destruction of the rebel headquarters. I didn't find it a very satisfying book, myself, and probably won't re-read it, but Card does manage to make some important points without being excessively didactic or indulging in polemic. If you don't want to trudge through the novel, you can skip to the afterword without even picking up the book, since it's online here; whether you're on the Left or the Right politically, you should really take a look at it. Unfortunately, I think the people that most need to read it won't, or will think it doesn't apply to them. *shrug*


In other news, my new Kensington Orbit trackball arived today. God almighty, it is shiny, both literally and in the Firefly sense. It reminds me of a Caldari cruiser.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
danae
Mar. 15th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
I'm a little past the half way point of the book
Not quite sure what I think concerning the book mostly because it's not science fiction or fantasy or religious like his other books that I've read.
It's a little scary though because I can see this scenario played out in real life.
wombat_socho
Mar. 16th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
It's in that awkward group of books that aren't really far enough in the future to be SF, but are different enough not to be mainstream. Technothrillers make up a lot of this group, but there's also that whole chain of Allen Drury books starting with Advise and Consent</i>. And yes, it is a little too close to home in a lot of ways. We both know people who fit all too well into some of the roles in that book.
materia_indigo
Mar. 15th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
I've read the Ender series (at least the books that take place on Earth). Is Empire a sequel to something, or a stand-alone?
wombat_socho
Mar. 16th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
Stand-alone.
materia_indigo
Mar. 15th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, and since we're talking about books ... I just read Greg Bear's Darwin's Children (sequel to Darwin's Radio). I liked it. It was a fast read, and I appreciate how he really tries to get into the actual science.
wombat_socho
Mar. 16th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
I should probably try both of those out - I haven't read anything of his since Blood Music, which seriously creeped me out.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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