Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Rough Guide to Space Opera: Robert Reed - Blue Tyson

Robert Reed is a science fiction and fantasy author, but mostly the former. As a novelist, he is a really great short story writer. He made it to double figures in novels, with none of any particular note except for Sister Alice - which is a fixup of several longer stories. There have been some collections of his work with small presses. He is closing on two hundred pieces of short fiction. Am amazing effort at the high quality he maintains.

So we have what I will call The Loneliness of the Long Distance Reed. By his stories, he is a bit of a distance runner. By his writing, the shorter lengths suit him, and maybe middle distance as a specialty, with the novella or short novel. Reed's work is science fiction in the majority, and certainly what he is best at. Given this is the case, his work has suffered from some absolutely wretched titles :-


The Leeshore
The Hormone Jungle
Black Milk
The Remarkables
An Exaltation of Larks
Sister Alice


The Dragons of Springplace
The Cuckoo's Boys

Do those scream really cool science fiction to anyone? A beach, jungle, rotten beverage, comic, pretentious obscure avians, sibling, vegetable, dragons (ok, good fantasy title), and something nebulously birdy. Didn't think so. A couple of the others are passable. Which would you rather buy 'Marrow' or 'The Great Hyperdiamond Planet Ship'? What percentage of people even know what the bloody hell a marrow is? The collections are of the expensive collectible variety, too.

Further, not so long ago you could buy quite a quite small percentage of short stories at Fictionwise before they went to hell, but no sign of any at Amazon et al. Reed is fairly clearly an introverted solitary type that isn't that motivated by cash, but it is a crime against literature as they say that you can't buy his stories. A large amount of content for a digital publisher from just the one writer is to be found here, if he isn't interested it doing it himself. All those stories could be sliced, diced, collected, fixed-up, novelised (and retitled!). Maybe he really, really, really wants to be a highly successful novelist and puts all his energy into that. Got to get realistic sometime, though. He is very versatile, and although he does have some series, like Jay Lake I think he could probably write just about anything. Throw in a technothriller novella a la James Rollins (not to mention Greg Bear or Paul J. McAuley), or very low fantasy historical etc. to turn up in a different group of key word searches.

Hobbyhorse crying shames aside, you will find some of his stories online at various places. What is of great interest is his series of stories and novels set on a ship the size of a planet that has been touring the universe for great lengths of time.

Marrow and The Well of Stars are the Great Ship novels and are good enough. There are several other Great Ship stories other than the best listed below including one tttled Marrow, as well, and Waging Good is a Sister Alice related tale. A couple of these I have not read.

Lying to Dogs is a Fermi Paradox story, about a message from a dead race. The Sister Alice collection contains stories from a group of posthumans and custodians of a galaxy who have screwed up badly due to conflict, destroying star systems and killing huge numbers of people. They are not popular. Sister Alice and Brother Perfect are two of these, and the names of the culprit and an elder sibling of the protagonist of the stories who attempts to help him get to answers.
The Caldera of Good Fortune has bodyguarding under fire on The Great Ship and Camouflage is a multiple marriage murder mystery. Hoop Of Benzene is about a conflict between captains of the Great Ship over a nuclear option. In Alone, a solitary member of a race makes a friend over a long time. The Man With the Golden Balloon has the secret history of the Great Ship revealed to explorers of its hidden recesses by a strange denizen they find therein.

Lying To Dogs

Brother Perfect

Sister Alice

Sister Alice [short story]

The Caldera of Good Fortune


Hoop Of Benzene


The Man With the Golden Balloon

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