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Author:  Blackhawk [ Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Wildside

I came across a book recently, Wildside by Steven Gould, that was described as "a suspenseful example of an emerging subgenre, the homage to Heinlein's young adult fiction." I was not aware that there was such an emerging subgenre, though I have certainly seen a few authors publicized as the "next Heinlein" (never actually the case, of course). I think what may make Gould's book actually like Heinlein's books is that instead of the dystopian world of most YA science fiction that is published currently, where the heroine (usually) is the secret princess, sorry, I mean savior, Wildside is a SF book that is realistic with decently grounded science. The main difference, however, is that the young characters are just teenagers, though very competent and intelligent teenagers. The book was published in 1997 so there are a few dated elements to it, but nothing that bothered an old geezer like me who can read books originally published in the 1940s and not have a problem with dated technology. The book is also unlike most current YA books in that it does not have a whole series of sequels, though I enjoyed it enough that I wouldn't have minded a sequel.

Just wondering if anyone else has come across this emerging subgenre of homages to Heinlein's young adult fiction.

Author:  BillMullins [ Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wildside

I don't know if I've read enough of it to consider it a subgenre, but I do like most of what I've read of Gould's. His Jumper books (Jumper, Reflex, Impulse and the just-released Exo, and the almost-sequel Jumper: Griffin's Story) are all quite good, and 7th Sigma has some similarities to Citizen of the Galaxy. Exo has more spacesuit engineering than Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. I didn't care as much for Blind Waves, and haven't read Greenwar or Helm.

If this really is a subgenre, I suppose I'd put John Varley's Red Thunder books into it.

Author:  Blackhawk [ Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wildside

I'm certainly interested in reading more of Gould's work. I liked Wildside and have seen the Jumper books recommended. I appreciate your thoughts on them, Bill.

And I have Varley's Red Thunder books because I'd seen them compared to Heinlein's juveniles (maybe on this forum, I don't remember where) but haven't read them yet.

Author:  BillMullins [ Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wildside

You work at Redstone Arsenal, don't you? PM me your contact info and I'll bring you copies of the books.

And here is a short story set in the Jumper universe.

Author:  beamjockey [ Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wildside

BillMullins wrote:
Exo has more spacesuit engineering than Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.
Bill Mullins, knowing of my interest in space suits, recommended Exo to me. As I have written elsewhere:
The latest book in Steven Gould's Jumper series, Exo, explores the question: "Can members of the teleporting family jaunt into low Earth orbit?"

I hope little will be spoiled when I tell you that the answer is Yes only if the jumper wears a space suit.

So "How does a modern teenager acquire a space suit?" drives the story.

Readers who liked chapter 3 of Have Space Suit—Will Travel will enjoy more space suit engineering in early chapters of Exo. Then more plot happens. Then there is more engineering. A boatload.

Most of the technical problems are solved by applying conventional technology, though a few are solved by exploiting teleportation.

As the plot unfolds, the reader is invited to consider about as much astronautical engineering as is found in Weir's The Martian, which is a lot. Gould's discussion of skin-tight "mechanical counterpressure suits" is more thorough than I have seen in any SF story, indeed more thorough than most nonfiction accounts. Recommended.

It's considerably hard SF, once the reader grants the author teleportation. To suspend disbelief, one must bid goodbye to the Law of Conservation of Momentum, which Jumpers do not fully obey, but as the author has pointed out online, this is built into the premise of his series from Book One.
(The ending does bother me. The heroine saves the day by doing something I was pretty sure the bad guys had prevented her from doing. Perhaps some other reader can explain to me, in a spoiler-protected way, how the author is not cheating. Or maybe if I read the ending over again, slowly, comprehension will dawn.)

It's interesting to note that MIT's Prof. Dava Newman, whose work is obviously the model for Exo's space suit and who is mentioned in the novel, is the new appointee for NASA Deputy Administrator, succeeding Lori Garver.

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