Life in the Colonies in the 26th Century: Guerra (2)

Second of three posts describing life on the colony-planet of Guerra (in the same setting as my earlier posts about life on Venus). The first part can be found here.


Men, their Wives, and their Mistresses

Middle-class men and their wives do not typically live together on Guerra. Men live in cities – that’s where the work is, where other men are, where business occurs. Wives live in the countryside – that’s where the men aren’t. Guerran men are protective of their wives, and the thought of them living in the city appals them – there are just so many dangers. Crime; boredom; unsavoury friends; the temptations of adultery. Men have to save their wives from these things, and in truth most wives are reasonably happy with this arrangement. Marriage is mostly for love on Guerra (though of course family connections and economics are important considerations too!), but everyone knows that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Continue reading

Life in the Colonies in the 26th Century: Guerra (1)

This will be a short series of (probably three?) posts about a human colony in the 26th century. It’s set in the same setting as my series about life on Venus, from a couple of years ago. This time, we leave the decadent cloud-cities of old Venus for the quiet, respectable colony-world of Guerra.

Memories of the Past

Guerra is a world born in tragedy. Most of its population are descended from settlers who came to the planet during the Exodus – the decades-long process of mass emigration that followed the Liberation of Earth 130 years ago. Most of those settlers came fleeing famine, and scarred by memories of the Occupation. In truth, their situation on Guerra was at first little better: the limited agriculture possible on the infant world was rapidly outpaced by ship after ship of refugees. A sizeable fraction of the settlers, particularly in the later years, were criminals transported and indentured in exchange for clemency. The fledgeling Protectorate did its best to prevent mass starvation, but life was tough at best and for many impossible. Famine struck again two decades later, when Levellers besieged the planet for three years, cutting off energy supplies and interplanetary trade, and yet again under the four-year siege impossed by the vnaorn during the Fourth War. On both occasions, the planet refused to capitulate despite starvation. Continue reading

The Spirit Thief, by Rachel Aaron

As part of a recent resolution to try to catch up with some popular modern fantasy novels, I’ve just read Rachel Aaron’s 2010 novel, The Spirit Thief. How has the genre changed, I wondered, since the 1990s? Since, if we’re honest, the 1980s? (I wasn’t reading fantasy in the eighties, but many of the books I read in the 90s and early 00s were written in the late eighties or early nineties).

If this is representative, the answer is: surprisingly little. Continue reading

Reduplication in Rawàng Ata

Apologies for the seemingly random formatting that WordPress insists on adding and subtracting…

Rawàng Ata is a language that employs several forms of reduplication, and for several purposes. Several parts of speech can feature reduplications. Continue reading

Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett

The 29th installment of my ongoing complete Discworld re-read.

Permit me a slightly fanciful new classification of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. There are novels that, it feels, he wrote because he needed to write a new book: books like The Last Continent, for example. There are novels that, it feels, he wrote because he had what he thought was a cool idea for a book, like Feet of Clay or Maskerade. There are novels that it feels as though he wrote because there was something he wanted to write about – Soul Music, for example, or Jingo. And then there are a small number of novels that, I can’t help but feel, he wrote because he was born to write them. The Colour of Magic, oddly, is one of those books – it may not be one of his best novels, but it’s one I can’t possibly imagine anybody else (or even the same author at any other time in his life) writing. Another is Small Gods, his widely-acknowledged magnum opus.

And a third is Night Watch. Continue reading

Beyond the Moons (Cloakmaster Cycle vol. 1), by David Cook

The great pulp fantasy era of the late 1980s and early 1990s produced some great novels. OK, no, it probably didn’t. But it did produce a few surprisingly good novels.

This is not one of them.

Then again, maybe that’s not the point. After all, this is Spelljammer. Being good is not the point. The point is being batshit insane…

Continue reading

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett

My complete re-read of the Discworld novels continues…

So, you’re a successful novelist, twenty four volumes into a series that has been hugely popular for over a decade. The main character arcs that have been driving the last ten or so novels seem to have come to their natural conclusions. So what do you do? Well, you take a sudden turn, introduce new characters and a new, more realistic atmosphere, kicking off a new era of your career. Hence The Truth. Surprising at the time, perhaps, but it makes sense in hindsight. Then what? Well naturally you decide to link together several parts of your world… in an illustrated novella? Bold choice: The Last Hero. Is now the time for something predictable, something safe?

No, now you go and write a children’s book.

It’s fashionable to call things like this “young adult” novels, but let’s not beat about the bush: this is Discworld for children, and it’s not ashamed to admit it. Continue reading