Saturday, February 23, 2008

Red Lightning -- John Varley

I enjoyed Varley's Red Thunder, to which this is a sequel, but people to whom I recommended it didn't seem to find it as much fun as I did. Let that be a warning to you.

Red Thunder, Red Lightning harks back to Robert A. Heinlein's SF juveniles of happy memory, but with a lot more sex, drugs, and cussing then RAH could put into his books. Come to think of it, there's more of those things than in Red Thunder, which takes place a generation after the earlier book.

An object strikes the Atlantic Ocean and causes a horrific tsunami that wipes out millions.
Ray Garcia-Strickland, son of Manny, the guy who made the first Mars flight in the previous book, is the narrator. He and his family leave Mars and go to Florida to look for Ray's grandmother. Things are terrible, and about half the book is set there. The U. S. is far down the road to totalitarianism, and things become even worse when Mars is invaded (three times) in the second half of the novel. You'll either think it couldn't happen here, or you'll believe it could.

Uncle Jubal is a major player, as he was in the first novel. His brain works in wondrous ways, and his latest invention is . . . I'm not telling. If you read the first book, you'll remember the "Squeezer," another major player in this one, and his new invention almost tops it.

I'm no expert, but I see Heinlein's fingerprints all over this book. For me, that's not a bad thing. But before you rush out and buy it, you might want to re-read that first paragraph up above.


Randy Johnson said...

Thoroughly enjoyed both. As a long time Heinlein fan(my first SF was Tunnel In The Sky), I, too, caught those influences. For me, that's not a bad thing.

Bill Crider said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who liked it.

Todd Mason said...

John Varley and Spider Robinson are the primary hippy-generation Heinlein literary-children. However, Robinson managed to absorb even more traditional rightwing prejudices than RAH himself did...thus, I tend to find Varley more fun to read, though the Gaia sequence put me off his novels.

Randy Johnson said...

One of the new generation of writers who admit to being influenced by Heinlein is John Scalzi.You've mentioned him before. If you haven't read Old Man's War and the succeeding volumes yet, I would highly recommend them. They're fun and we're both closer to enlistment age than we'd probably like to admit.

Bill Crider said...

I like Scalzi's work, Randy. And like Todd, I found Varley's Gaia sequence off-putting. In fact, I never finished the first book.

jjs said...

i dont know whats inside but the cover sure kicks butt.

Howard said...

Loved both of these books by Varley, and the third (Rolling Thunder) is due out in march.

Varley's Steel Beach also has a big Heinlein influence in it.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the heads up on the new one.