I don't have any gaming posts right now. I have been posting a large amount at the Ruins of Murkhill forums lately. I have read several books in the last month. Here's a quick look at what I have read and some quick impressions upon completing the books.
1. Dune Messiash by Frank Herbert
2. Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter
3. Foundation by Isaac Aasimov
4. Foundation & Empire by Isaac Aasimov (currently reading)
Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
I began reading Dune Messiah after seeing the new DUNE movie. I read the original DUNE novel before seeing the new film, so I was a little late to the party. The original novel was amazing and so was the film. I'm really looking forward to seeing the sequel. This novel is set 12 years after the first novel. The first thing I noticed was that this novel was much slimmer than the first. I still thought it was an excellent follow up. I hear some people don't enjoy it as a sequel compared to the first book, but I did. Yes, it is different from DUNE. That's good. I don't want a carbon copy of the first book. DUNE MESSIAH was still a grand epic, but everything was on a more personal scale. Maybe that makes sense, maybe it doesn't? Focused might be the right word. The bigger scale is implied but not on full display like DUNE.
Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter
[3 - 3.5 stars]
Two things made me want to read this book. First, it is a sequel to the classic The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I'm intrigued by the thought of another writer picking up a story and continuing on with it. I know it's been done before with The Second War of the Worlds and other novels. Second, this book has been described as the first steampunk novel. The visuals of cogs, gears, top hats, and steam-powered technology replacing real world developments grabs my attention. I decided to go ahead with this book so I could mix up my reading a bit. The momentum is easier to keep moving if I mix up genres. I will most likely read a fantasy novel next and then return to the Dune series. Enough with the background remarks and on to my thoughts upon completing this book.
Morlock Night was a really quick and easy read. The print is larger than the typical novel printed today so the page count of 322 may be deceptive. That's definitely not a knock against it. There is nothing wrong with having print large enough to be easily read or having a distinct lack of diarrhea of the word processor. The novel reads like it was written in a modern take on the classic science fiction adventure tales more concerned with moving the story forward rather than giving finely detailed scientific explanations for things. It is not hard sci-fi at all. The story is easy to follow but it also lacking.
I believe the biggest omission in Morlock Night is further details about the story. From reading we learn that the Morlocks have the Time Machine and have used it to not only invade but conquer the future Earth. We're only shown one glimpse of that future under Morlock rule. There are a few hints and suggestions scattered throughout but why not show the Morlocks going through time with the machine? Did they go straight to the future? Did they try several stops along the way like the traveler in the original novel? How fruitful were their efforts? I would have preferred a longer, more detailed book (or two) in that manner.
As to the claims about it being the first steampunk novel? I wouldn't consider it as such. There is minimal meat on this bone. "Victorian Adventure" or another label might be much more accurate, but I wouldn't call it steampunk at all. I just really don't get that kind of vibe in the least.
It's not a bad book but it isn't great either. I found the premise more interesting than the story upon completion.
Foundation by Isaac Aasimov
I know I'm probably going to have people wondering why I would give a sci-fi classic like Foundation only 4 stars so I will try to explain. I enjoyed Foundation. I thought it was an easy read and the chapters were not overly long. Foundation seems to check many boxes for my impression of the game Traveller as well. So, why did I give it only a 4? Simply put, Foundation was really good, but I went in expecting something a little bit different. For instance, Foundation is actually 5 short stories in a novel length book. The story does not follow the path of one or a small set of characters from start to finish. Basically, you get a peek at the characters, but you don't follow a character arc from the beginning of the book until the end. I prefer following a cast of characters from beginning to end in a longer story. It feels like to me that Dune could have been written as a response to Foundation since it basically does the opposite of Foundation in those respects. Now, on to Foundation & Empire.