Boneshaker, Cherie Priest
This book, Boneshaker, was chosen for the February meeting of the SF club. One thing I have noticed is a resurgence of mythical beasties in SF. Vampires are wildly popular, this book has zombies, and I’m reading a juvenile about dragons amongst us. Come to think of it, Jerry has just finished reading a series of dragon books set in the Napoleonic era.
Boneshaker was a story of a young son looking for adventure in a dangerous part of the world, and of his mother going to rescue him and the adventures each has. The plague that had destroyed and divided the world had left behind some Undead and that was really a mess. I’m so over vampires, and now I am so over zombies as well.
The boy’s father had made the boneshaker of the title–a machine made to drill into the earth for its riches, but instead unleashed a noxious cloud of poisonous gas. We don’t know if his scientist father is a Mad Scientist, the villain of the piece, or if he is a good guy trapped by circumstances. The gas released either kills one outright, which is the way to go, or it doesn’t and you become a rotting, walking undead with an appetite for human flesh. Something has to be done. Mad Scientist concentrates on building ever more complex machines to battle the undead. Careful they don’t break your skin, you, too, could become one of Them.
Aside from the story of the mother and son who each try to save and protect the other, it was pretty much a waste of time. The father has always been absent, but that doesn’t keep the son from wanting to know from whence he came. I won’t tell you who he was and what became of him in case you want to find out for yourself. The human story was interesting as the boy meets people along his journey, people who seem to be helping him along his way, but are they trustworthy?
In our world poison gas fills coal mines, and noxious fumes emanate from mud volcanoes, and lava pours forth from cracks in the earth’s crust. But if I am going to read Science Fiction, I like the one big “What if?” and let’s get on with it.
Like for instance, lets improve living conditions and fuel efficiency, and the hydroponics plant so that long voyages will be more fun, and instructive for the next generation growing up to fly the ship back to earth. Or how about a modern day First Contact story? Those used to be real popular. Some good old fashioned Space Opera is just what I need.
Connie Willis has a real good handle on time travel, though it is usually jinxed by red tape. Doomsday is her best book, in my opinion. Time Travel works, although rules apply, and it’s run by bureaucrats, manned by technicians and used by historians. Paradoxes are had and scholars are endangered, tension runs high while Christmas bells ring merrily in Merry Olde England, and youth will have its way and save the day. Good, old-fashioned Science Fiction. Just give me that old science fiction, it’s good enough for me.