Finished The Well of Stars, Robert Reed's sequel to the astonishing Marrow. Very good hard SF, nearly up to the standards of the original. Both books are traditional hard SF in a modern style, featuring a classic BDO of the Great Ship. A while back on K5 we debated the feasibility of even fast slower-than-light travel: people pointing out the difficulty of the interstellar medium hitting the hull. Even tiny particles of dust have a tremendous kinetic energy.
The Great Ship solves this partly through sheer size: big as a planet, its mass is roughly twenty times that of Earth. It's armoured with kilometres-thick incredibly strong "hyperfibre", and its leading face is covered with telescopes and lasers blasting away any troublesome comets, asteroids or motes in its path.
"Marrow" set the scene, but then took us deep inside the Great Ship itself. "The Well of Stars" deals with the ship itself. After a close encounter with a black hole at the end of Marrow, the ship's course is diverted through a dark nebula known as the Inkwell; in which lurk things than can challenge the Great Ship itself.
The tone is more external than Marrow as well; with less attention paid to the relations between the characters. On the plus side, you get classic hard SF set pieces, with scale and scenery harking back to the climax of the Lensman series. The ending strongly hints at at least one more book, too.
If you liked Marrow, definitely read this. If you like hard SF and haven't read either; start with Marrow as this gives away the plot.
"The Well of Stars" makes me think about writing a possible sequel to Greg Egan and Stephen Baxter: SF's New Hard Men. Possible candidates for this one: Robert Reed, Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds and maybe Linda Nagata. Have set up a contents table on ko4ting as Science Fiction: Bigger, Harder and Uncut.
Any takers? The Stephen R. Donaldson didn't really work on the Wiki because of people pulling in different directions, but this is more like POSD in that it could have sections that work semi-independently.
This time let's be clear and have a Creative Commons licence from the start though. And please no ASCII art unless you can make it work in multiple browsers in Wiki-markup and the Scoop HTML subset...
Annoyances. The boiler in the flat has always had occasional glitches, usually when it's cold, but it didn't work at all for several hours Thursday evening, or in the morning when I tried to have a shower. I got a guy to look at it last year and he couldn't find the problem. Not sure whether to get the landlady to try to call someone else out, or wait for it to get worse. Wish it would just either work or fail consistently.
Also, looks like work may well be banning HuSi: they keep bringing the web restrictions up and down. Looks like HuSi has been categorized as "Personal Web Sites" by WebSense which they're banning. They also keep trying to ban "Uncategorized Web Sites" (i.e. the Internet) but that blocks various internal sites too.
Computer tax proposed to replace TV licence.
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