Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Reviews 15 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg - A Few Good Men by Sarah A. Hoyt

Reviews 15
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
A Few Good Men by Sarah A. Hoyt

I have pointed you to other works by Sarah A. Hoyt.  Here's my review of a novel she wrote, and here's one about whether you as a writer need to make up a pen name.



Sarah A. Hoyt is one of the most versatile and accomplished writers you will find working in any field.

Her Feb 2014 title from Baen Books titled A Few Good Men had to have been written in 2012 or 2013, based on 2011 science.

At the beginning of 2015, a scientist made news by talking about the ambition of doing whole-head transplants, and immediately the scientific establishment jumped on him saying it can't be done.

The "jumping on him" just fueled the publicity of an idea that would have been ignored, but it highlighted a wonderful science fiction novel that you just have to read to appreciate. 

Here's the discussion from FORBES
Read the article here:

The neuroscientist Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy thinks the time has come to start transplanting heads. Canavero plans to announce his noggin exchange program at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in Annapolis, Maryland, this June. His ambitions have gotten plenty of attention this week. They should. It is both rotten scientifically and lousy ethically.

Dr. Canavero is not trying to perfect an approach that is cosmetic. He does not seek to find a way to give you the body that you always dreamed of without the burden of diet or exercise. He wants to use head transplantation surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles, bodily organs and immune systems have degenerated or wasted away.

Scientifically what Canavero wants to do cannot yet be done. It may never be doable.

To move a head on to someone else’s body requires the rewiring of the spinal cord. We don’t know how to do that. If we did there would be far fewer paralyzed people who have spinal cord injuries. Nor, despite Canavero’s assertions to the contrary, is medicine anywhere close to knowing how to use stem cells or growth factors to make this happen.

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But the principle in science fiction is, "if we can dream it, we can do it." 

You may note that this attitude is the key attitude behind the whole Romance Genre, the driving fuel behind the pursuit of the Happily Ever After ending (the HEA) that is so scorned.

That "scorned" regard is something that Romance and Science Fiction have in common, a pivot point around which to build SFR, Science Fiction Romance. 

Every science fiction novel depicting something that hasn't been done has been derided as ridiculous because the story assumes humanity can do the impossible.

And then we do it, and ho-hum-yawn "we knew that all the time." 

Today, online dating sites and match-making computer algorithms are trying to duplicate the success rate of the Match Makers as depicted in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.  In the tiny, closed communities where everyone knew everyone for generations and generations -- that worked.  It even works today in tight-knit communities that are spread geographically but closely connected by technology. 

So science, fiction, and romance are really just one subject, and go together naturally. 

Remember Jules Verne's space-ship concept was considered silly fantasy? 

Right now, we're ranting about "climate change" -- and some people are talking crazy about controlling the climate by putting certain kinds of objects in orbit to inject more (or less) solar energy into the atmosphere.

Crazy, right?

Well, the best science fiction writers pick up the notions floating around among the 'craziest' scientists, put that together with bits and pieces of technology, some notions mechanics are playing with, and notice how the age-old arguments about politics and government are cycling at the moment. 

Heinlein did this. 

Asimov did this. 

Now Sarah A. Hoyt has done it -- and it's not the first time for her.

Her Darkship series from Baen Books starts with a novel titled Darkship Renegades,

and continues with Darkship Thieves

And you will enjoy a future history work titled Ganymede

All of these embroider creatively on various "impossible" premises toyed with by scientists for years, and just now being presented in the general media with a somewhat serious tone -- ideas about living on asteroids, about various satellites of Earth, about things we are only now discovering in our solar system.

A Few Good Men is Book 3 in the Darkship series, and the subject of this blog entry:

The title, A Few Good Men,  is a play on words.  In this far future Earth, climate and politics and science, and genetics, have changed everything.  I'm not sure I'd term it progress.

A Good Man is a little King, an owner-proprietor-boss-chief-executive of a section of Earth where people live.  There are about 80 such sections, and these Good Men are anything but good. 

There's a feudal element involved.  If there is no heir to the title, those who worked for that Good Man may be subject to a purge when another Good Man takes over the territory - it's all about loyalty.  Loyalty is keeping secrets.  Loyalty is not-noticing there's a secret that needs keeping. 

Each Good Man rules with his own personality, shaping the forms and cultural norms of the area he governs. 

The heir is supposed to take over with a seamless continuation of policy and style.  The secret is the reason for the seamlessness.  And it has everything to do with extrapolating the science developing behind that claim of being close to doing whole head transplants -- or body-transplants, depending on how you look at it.  Hoyt has taken a grand leap into an all-too-plausible direction.

In this Book 3 in the Darkship series, we learn the secret the Good Men have been keeping for centuries. 

We follow a younger son of a Good Man whose father and older brother have been assassinated, leaving him unexpectedly heir.

The Good Man's retainers don't even know that this heir is still alive when he shows up on the palace's doorstep.

The story of how he takes over, and what he learns both in his official briefings and unofficially -- the infiltration of the household and office staff by opponents of the Good Man rule - why they oppose and what they do when an unexpected heir shows up creates a page-turner of a story.

Really, this is a "can't put it down" read. 

I was delighted to learn from Sarah A. Hoyt (who gave me a copy of A Few Good Men) that there will be more of these delicious books to come. 

As with last week's discussion of Charles Gannon's Trial By Fire, this is not strictly speaking a genre Romance, but in Sarah's novel the love story is integral to the plot, to the story, and to the world-views that clash. 

Doing a contrast/compare of these two series will give you a broad platform for displaying a genuine Science Fiction Romance where the Science and the Fiction are not weaker components than the Romance.

Here's what Sarah told me about the future of this Darkship series:

-----------Quote from Sarah A. Hoyt-------------
The series is a series of revolutions against the Good Men, as the revolt fans out over the Earth. I was going to make it one book, and then realized not all revolts would be the same or end the same.

Some of them end badly indeed. The next book, Through Fire, is the revolution in Liberte Seacity, the domain of Simon St. Cyr.

I'm disgracefully late with it, because Lucius' voice STUCK in my head, and I thought I'd need the services of an exorcist to write a book from another POV ever.

The series doesn't have other books in his voice, but it will have a book (probably fourth. I'm a pantser so there's wiggle room) Blood Brothers which is the story of Luce and Nat's twin sons.

(It's the future. Yes, they're assembled in a lab.)

And the last book in the series will be from the point of view of their much younger (than her brothers) daughter, Abigail Keeva Remy.
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There you see the genetic engineering of the future -- not-so-far-future either -- as two guys have children together. 


Times chance so fast, science fiction writers can't keep up -- Sarah A. Hoyt is leading the pack here. 

And Sarah gave me a glimpse of the opening of the next book in the revolts against the Good Men, When Worlds Collide:

When Worlds Collide

A spaceship mechanic has no place in a fairytale, not even when she’s dressed in a flowing gown and being courted by one of Earth’s most powerful men.

I was designed to be able to repair spaceships and to navigate them home safely. I had calluses on my hands from working with heavy tools on delicate machinery. I was strong enough to kill a grown man with a casual blow. And I had burner strapped to my ankle under my ball-gown.

The man courting me was a scoundrel, a dictator, and likely a murderer. And we were dancing at a spun-sugar palace, atop a fairytale island. It was his ballroom, his palace and his island. He was my only protector on Earth and my host for the last six months. He wanted me. He had been gentle and caring and solicitous of me. I wanted to escape the happy-ever-after fairytale ending.

You should be careful what you wish for. It was a relief when the palace exploded.

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You want to read this book. 

Go to this page and on the left, under her picture, click the "follow" button to be notified when new books are released.


Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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