Books - Review

Showing all books by: Bob Shaw

Orbitsville Judgement
The third Orbitsville book sees the giant shell splitting up into 500 million (or is it billion) Earth-type planets, but not before some strange portents send the weirdo religious nutters rushing round trying to dig out an old spaceship so they can escape from the (constructed-by-the-Devil) Orbitsville in search of some planet-based Eden or other. Unfortunately their ship's engines are repaired by a permanently drunk sort of physicist/engineer who doesn't like criticism so the ship doesn't fly very well. The air-con however works fine as the 'hero' is in charge of that.
Very dated style (have just entered date published - can't believe it's 1990!), and the characterisation was distinctly dodgy as the 'hero' (anti-hero?) spends a lot of his time being nasty to people on purpose, trying to deceive/destroy the woman he thinks took him a ride (to be fair she did persuade him to give all his belongings and cash to the silly cult and then abandoned him). But he sort of finds God at the end and gets the girl anyway! Would read the first two again if I could find them in the library
Score: 7
Published: 1990
Read: September 4th 2007

Vance Garamond is a Starflight captain about to set off on another probably fruitless mission to try and discover an alternative Earth to help absorb the ever-expanding human population. But he is left briefly and disastrously in charge of the Empress' son who has an unfortunate accident. Fleeing for his and his family's life he discovers Orbitsville, an alien artefact built around a distant sun that will provide humanity with all the living room it will ever need. But the Empress Helvetica (not really) pursues him even there and seeks revenge on him and his family, while the rest of humanity is setting out to explore the new world.
I read this years ago (in my early 20s I would guess, long before I knew one end of a database from the other) and in my memory it was a great long rolling saga of a science fiction journey... Seems a bit more simplistic today. But still a clever idea, and it wouldn't be proper 70's sci-fi if the characters weren't a bit 2-dimensional and clunky. And named after a popular font.
Score: 7
Published: 1975
Read: January 10th 2014

A Wreath of Stars
A planet made of neutrinos passes through the Earth, but with no effect. Until diamond miners in a Central African state start reporting sightings of ghosts deep in the mine. Lackadaisical engineer Gil Snook finds himself investigating along with some other random people, and discovers the bizarre truth.
Quite enjoyed this (A re-read from youth of course), but the characters were creaky, and the political plot a bit basic. Nice idea though.
Score: 6.5
Published: 1976
Read: August 2nd 2014

The Ragged Astronauts
Two planets orbit each other, Land and Overland, and share a common atmosphere. Humans live in a feudal kind of society and there are no metals. The ptertha are floating balloon-y animals that can kill if they get near enough, but are no more than a pest, until they get more aggressive, and the fatal illness they cause gets more contagious. So humans migrate to Overland in a fleet of hot air balloons.
Very good. Great set-up, plot, and the characters not bad at all for 80s sci-fi!
Score: 8
Published: 1986
Read: August 12th 2014

The Wooden Spaceships
A generation on from the Ragged Astronauts and the migrants to Overland come under attack from the ptertha-resistant strain of humans who were left behind. But a fleet of wooden spaceships with some primitive weapons is enough to destroy the attacking balloons. Then they organise a trip to Farland, to see what is there too.
Yep, another good one to continue the Bob Shaw re-read season. Might get the Fugitive Worlds next, but I think I'll have to buy it as the library does not seem to carry it.
Score: 8
Published: 1988
Read: August 20th 2014