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Re: Robert L. Forward (The Flight of the Dragonfly) [message #114221] Tue, 17 September 2013 15:20
Originally posted by: @RUTGERS.ARPA:milne@uci-icse
Message-ID: <326@topaz.ARPA>
Date: Sat, 19-Jan-85 22:40:57 EST
Article-I.D.: topaz.326
Posted: Sat Jan 19 22:40:57 1985
Date-Received: Wed, 23-Jan-85 07:46:45 EST
Sender: daemon@topaz.ARPA
Organization: Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
Lines: 57

From: Alastair Milne 

>    > I discovered another new (to me) author on that same trip ...
>    > Robert L. Forward.  His first novel, DRAGON's EGG, was published
>    > five years ago and is a real treat.

>    Forward's latest book, "The Flight of the Dragonfly" has been
>    released in a trade edition. Like "Dragon's Egg", the science is
>    absolutely first rate (as you would expect); very solidly based and
>    yet imaginative in the style of Hal Clement's planets. The
>    engineering of the spacecraft and especially the Christmas Bush
>    robot(s) is unique.

   Thank you.  Having read and enormously enjoyed Dragon's Egg, I take that as
a strong recommendation.  I'll have to try to find "... Dragonfly".

   I agree completely about Forward's science.  After the disappointments,
gaps, and need for massive suspension of disbelieve so common with most 
sf, the solidity and excitement of Forward's ideas is a great relief.

>    The characterizations of the scientists in Dragonfly is, like his
>    first book, very stilted. To a man (and woman), the characters are
>    *absolutely* dedicated to their arts-science (all are multiply
>    talented), and are extremely well-adjusted to each other and their
>    fates (they cannot have children, will never return from their
>    voyage, and experience relativistic alienation).  They have no
>    faults. The story would be very boring if it had to depend only on
>    the characters and their interactions.

   I have to contend with you about the characterisations on 2 
points: 1 - the explorer type is often like that -- witness Thor
Heyerdahl, or the people who are not content until they've walked to
the South Pole or dog-paddled the Pacific (I am *not* mocking; I am
using hyperbole to emphasise a point):  without that kind of oneness of
purpose, they couldn't do it.  2 - I think you're only talking about
the human characters.  What about the various characters throughout the
history of the Egg (just now I can't remember what they called
themselves)?  Quite a variety of range and colour there -- recall the
"messiah" who was the first to feel the probe laser on his topsides.
And of course, that was the focus of the story: the evolution of the
neutron creatures and their society, and the most notable characters in
their history.

>    Buy it to read a world-class scientist speculate on inter-stellar
>    travel.  The plot, in this case, is not the thing, nor the style.
>    I've certainly paid a lot more (than the trade price) for books that
>    taught less without half of the interest.
>    Lyle McElhaney
>    ...denelcor!lmc
>    {hao, stcvax, brl-bmd, nbires, csu-cs} !denelcor!lmc

   Agreed on all counts.

                            Alastair Milne
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