Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August CSFFBT: Offworld, by Robin Parrish (II)

This is the second of three posts (in keeping with the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour guidelines) about Offworld. Previously, I focused on technical details, story-crafting, and characterization; here, I intend to talk about the science and science-fiction aspects of the work and (hopefully) tomorrow finish up with a post on the Christian elements.


- I was fairly happy with the level of science included in the novel - especially in the first half. Actually, I should modify that - I was fairly happy with the advanced tech use in the novel - and that included the different sort of problem solving tricks that the crew used during their journey to Houston.

- The insistence that "we're going to figure this out!" - in the face of both opposition and uncertainty - was one of the things that kept me interested in the book. (This is as much a characterization thing as it is a plot thing - I love characters that keep on keeping on.)

- As noted, there was less inventing new things/discovering new things than there was adapting tools left lying about by other people. Granted, this is what nearly every immediate post-apoc novel does - follow the heroes as they wander about looking for a can opener. This trend continues even after the crew gets to Houston - they're just fighting with the Men In Black SUVs for the can opener. I would not have minded more *investigating* as they went - if it could have been done without sacrificing the pacing of the plot.

- I did like the electric cars and a couple of other notes that showed the difference between now and the future of the novel. It's a hard line to draw - how to make it enough different to keep up with the visible rate of change (*cough*Star Trek's clunky handhelds*cough*) and yet not overwhelm the reader with culture shock. I would have voted for *more* change in 35 years, but that's just me.

- That a portion of the internets was still up, much less GPS - I'm on the fence about that. On the one hand, it was only a couple months. On the other hand, it was a couple months!

- I'm afraid I wouldn't have bought the safe landing of the crew at Canaveral at all in a secular novel. In CSFF, I can say 'Oh, hand-of-God, okay' and ::handwave:: it that way.

Science Fiction

- I was also pretty pleased by the science fiction aspects of the novel - which, frankly, got a big boost from the absolute 'we're not in Kansas anymore' factor: I'm about as likely to ride in a space ship to Mars as I am to wander about a deserted Earth at this point.

- Of the many different sorts of SF, I thought this novel fell closer to being 'hard'-SF (physics, space, startravel), rather than the 'softer' SF that makes up psychology and social sciences, etc. I had this concept in my mind that most Christian or faith-driven SF was going to be 'soft' SF, and I'm not unhappy to be wrong.

- Extra-dimensional devices are also v. cool - even if they are, in part, driven by ancient glowy boxes of uncertain provenances. I particularly like how the incident on Mars was worked back into the main plot. (more about how the incident on Mars was handled from a faith angle in the next post.)

- Some sources that reminded me of this book/that this book reminded me of: Life After People - the history channel tv series, and World Without Us, a book by Alan Weisman. Of course, post-apoc books are as old as the bomb (ed: *cough*Revaluation*cough*) - or older! - and journeys through deserted lands are a stock part of SF, I think. Part of World War Z was strongly evoked for me, as was Left Hand of Darkness.

- For the space & Mars parts - Mars, by Ben Bova. I'm trying to remember something other than Space: 2001 that actually featured free-fall space travel.


Again, fairly shallow. (Doesn't help that I'm on the road, again.)


Fine print:

Find Offworld at Amazon.

Robin Parrish’s Web site - http://www.robinparrish.com/
Robin Parrish’s blog - http://twitter.com/robinparrish

Other CSFFBT participants:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Elizabeth Williams

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