Saturday 2010-10-02

The Armies of Memory by John Barnes

Barnes should write a high school physics textbook. It'd have great descriptions of what was happening, be laid out in a logical order, with narrative monotony staved off with jabs at humor and kinky sex.

His MotherOfStorms has a tighter action/sci-fi setup and delivery; this is like that only fused with Kathe Koja-like observations.

The springer had changed everything. Historians intended no hyperbole in saying it was the biggest innovationn since fire or the pointed stick. If there was a springer anywhere you wanted to go, you could cross many light-years in a single step...
Within human space, you could anywhere by radioing directions and waiting for the people on the other end to receive the message and build a springer; once they did, everywhere was as close as the next room (assuming you could afford the astonishing amount of energy required).
Beyond human space, you first had to send a springer there on a rocket -- but a springship was a radically different rocket from the huge, half-light-speed behemoths, stacked with suspended animation tanks and equipped like hospitals, that had planted the first colonies.
A rocket always gets the most acceleration from the very last drop of fuel in the tank, because the engine pushes with constant force, but the mass of fuel you're pushing decreases as the fuel is expelled. But on a springship, every drop is the very last; you need not even send a reaction chamber, just a nozzle with a springer at the back, through which you spring a jet from as big a stationary chamber as you like.
-- Part 1, Chapter 4
A bureaucrat who puts principles and values ahead of taking care of friends doesn't have any principles or values worth holding.
-- Part 1, Chapter 11
Laprada and Raimbaut do a very nice quarrel, if you need one of those. They can pitch it anywhere between a barely-detectable minor snippy tiff all the way up to her throwing plates at him...
That time when Raimbaut plunged her head into the punch bowl?
-- Part 1, Chapter 11
There's an old saying in negotiations: after the deal is on the table, the first one to talk loses.
-- Part 2, Chapter 1
there are a lot of old sayings about negotiations, most of them false.
if you spend any length of time with any artist, you know they live on coffee. That's the real secret of the Dark Ages in the Euro culture. We think we lost all these ancient works for which we only have title or fragments. The fact is they didn't have coffee, so nobody got around to making most of them. Sophocles really meant to write a hundred plays, which is why we have a list of them, but he only got seven done, because he didn't have coffee...
-- Part 2, Chapter 4
Real art, if it is ever to come at all, comes from the festering place where you harbor the memory of "you just don't understand what this is all about, and until you do, there is no point in this for you." as one of my teachers had said to me, dumping me into the street with a lesson half-over.
-- Part 2, Chapter 5

It would be entertaining, in a depressing sort of way, to watch what happens when you try to put kinky sex in a high school textbook.