1636: The Devil’s Opera involves the use of music as propaganda. (This is actually more interesting than the first line would indicate.) With Emperor Gustavus Adolphus non compos mentis and with Chancellor Oxenstierna attempting to take over the government, it suddenly becomes very important to make sure Magdeburg, the capitol city of the USE remains prominent in the minds of the populace. It’s decided that the best way to do this is with an opera showing support for the emperor. Various people are assembled to make this happen, including Marla Linder and her company of downtime musical partners. (Marla also decides to sing a song from Les Miserables which has some dangerous political sentiments guaranteed to ruffle the feathers of the nobility.) Continue reading
The events of The Kremlin Games actually stretches between 1631 (the arrival of Grantville in Germany) and 1636. Our main protagonist is Bernie Zeppi, a former auto mechanic who is not quite sure what to do with himself in the strange new world that is the 17th Century. He gets hired as a technology consultant by a Russian noble who has been sent by the czar to investigate Grantville. Russia of the 17th Century is about two centuries behind the rest of Europe, and Bernie is kind of the bargain basement version of a consultant but is the best Russian rubles can buy. Continue reading
It would be interesting to know what Butler meant by Survivor being her “Star Trek novel.” (Mostly because there are many Star Trek writers whose non-Star Trek work is really good.) Does it mean simplistic themes or worldbuilding? I can see traces of both in the story, in the way that Alanna has an almost suspicious ability to adapt to other communities and the way the Kohn are able to hide due to the natural camouflage of their fur. (This is followed by Alanna realizing that she is more comfortable with the Tehkohn than she had been among the Missionaries.) There’s also the white/black morality of the Missionaries versus Alanna’s more pragmatic feral upbringing. (And how it compares with the way the Tehkohn assimilate her into their community.) This juxtaposition of similar situations does have the feeling of a Star Trek type morality tale–too simple, too neat, and maybe too obvious.
This speculation is not meant to be a judgment on whether Butler was right to disown the book. This is just an example of one of the questions I’d like to ask her, if I could. Continue reading
I’m not sorry. I could not resist putting in a reference to the fan work “Dead Red Virgo” in this title.)
We are switched to a vague teaser of the last unseen troll! We see a cuttlefish, which is being prodded by a trident held in the hands of another troll. We don’t see very much of this last troll, but she wears a lot of bling and a Pisces sign.
She is also kind of cute. Continue reading
One thing I’ve noticed about Octavia Butler’s writing is that she tended to write protagonists who end up with a self-imposed mission of saving people who might not actually want to be saved. Lilith from the Xenogenesis series is one such character, the protagonist of Parable of the Sower is another.
Alanna’s self-appointed mission is to free the Missionaries from Garkohn influence, though it might be better said that she wants to free her foster parents from Garkohn influence. It’s pretty clear that Alanna has very little attachment to the other Missionaries. Her primary focus is for her foster parents who “civilized” her and treated her with compassion. Continue reading
The Given Sacrifice brings the Rudi Mackenzie arc of the series to a close as Rudi and his allies close in on the Church Universal and Triumphant. The narrative covers the last battles with the Cutters, skating over the eventual defeat, and introduces characters that may become important in later books. The last few chapters cover the early years of Rudi’s daughter Orlaith and Rudi’s final battle. (I am not sure this counts as a spoiler since it has been pretty heavily implied that Rudi has a relatively short shelf life.) Continue reading
Survivor is technically a part of Butler’s Patternist sequence, except Butler disowned it. She also referred to it as her “Star Trek novel” for reasons which may soon become clear. I acquired Survivor via slightly sneaky means, in this case a pdf. file that I downloaded. The copy has a lot of typos and in general is kind of cruddy but still readable. Continue reading