Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Stories from The Quiet War" by Paul McAuley (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official Paul J. McAuley Website
Official Paul J. McAuley Blog
Order Stories from the Quiet War HERE
Read FBC Review of "The Quiet War"
Read FBC Review of "Gardens of the Sun"
Read FBC Review of "In the Mouth of the Whale"

INTRODUCTION: I read this collection after the wonderful In the Mouth of the Whale - my top 2012 book so far and while it's very early, I am quite sure the novel will remain a top 10 as the year goes by - as I did not want to leave the superb universe of the author.

For some of the stories here, it was the 4th or 5th time I read them, some third, some second time and only Karyl's War which is newly published (hint: contains an Arab Spring reference) was for the first time; notable Quiet War milieu stories missing are Dead Men Walking and The Gardens of Saturn which are also awesome and there are 2 or 3 others excellent ones missing also (The Passenger, Assassination of Faustino Malarte...). Still for a very low price, these 5 stories offer a very good reading experience and I highly recommend them.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Stories from the Quiet War opens with a new introduction by the author explaining a bit the genesis of the milieu and of the novels, while also making the transition from the Solar System of their action, to the future and away of In the Mouth of the Whale.

Making History is the first QW story I have read in the awesome PS anthology "Futures" of 2000 and it hooked me on the milieu; this was my 4th or 5th read of this story and the first person narration of an aging history professor who is commissioned by the winning powers to write a biography of the most hated (or most heroic) leader of the Outers, the immediate post war desolation where the winners make the rules and the vanquished endure and a beautiful girl and a love stricken police commander/chief torturer were as fresh as on the first read.

Incomers is a more recent story and is set after the war in a habitat less touched by it, though its reverberations and suspicions still go on; good stuff too but less memorable than most of the rest.

Second Skin - one of several stories about the spies and saboteurs, the Earth Powers had sent in the first wave of the war before the conquest and while Dead Men Walking is the best such, this one is excellent too.

Reef - Outers science and tech on display and sense of wonder and speculations about the future; this story fits best with In the Mouth of the Whale and is another excellent one

Karyl's War - the odyssey of an Outer outsider who wants only to be left in peace to live his nomadic life, but as those memorable words say: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you". More great world building and action as well as a cautionary tale for all seasons so to speak. When history is in the making, the individual becomes a statistic...

Overall - if you have not read the author's wonderful series that starts with The Quiet War, try these stories and see if they hook you as Making History did it 11 or so years ago for me...

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