Arkwright by Allen Steele
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This SF was pretty much awesome, and more, it was awesome for entirely different reasons as the book progressed.
I've never read Allen Steele before now, but he's just made a fan of me. It's obvious he's well read and respectful of the entire genre from the get-go, and reading about the early days of SF was a huge treat. Nathaniel Arkwright was a fictional author, sliding into one of the Big Four Golden Age SF masters, ranking up there with Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Anderson, Pohl, Williamson and so many other great names that I, too, have read and loved, and we read about hob-nobbing and the sheer wonder and the excitement that they all felt about a singular dream of imagination, hope, and, in a few very specific cases, SPACE.
Is this all it's about, though? Of course not. I grew to love Arkwright's granddaughter as she discovered what her estranged grandfather was up to with his colleagues, how he wanted his legacy to continue after his death, and beyond all the damn cool nostalgia aspects, we then get into some very nice riffs with other classic SF tales, such as Sagan's Contact as a plot device, then Anderson's Boat of a Million Years, then Asimov's Robot series about not putting all our eggs in one basket, and then we're suddenly in space, for real, and it's all about Real Science, Real Hope, and then we've even got a taste of dystopia and a classic Big Save for the planet, and if that wasn't enough, we even get a full world-building plot and a classic Save From Ignorance plot, and I was absolutely delighted.
Why? Because the author not only made all my favorite Golden Age SF authors into walk-on characters involved in their own schemes of greatness, but we also changed the whole world into some of the greatest SF ideas and explored so many of the most wonderful plots and hard-science beauties to ever grace the page, as well.
What could make such an SF novel better? Good writing, clear characters, and the love of the genre that just oozes across the page, and here's the beauty... Allen Steele has it. :)
I am FANBOY! :) And this is even better if you're conversant with the old field, too. :)
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