A bit of non-pony fiction. Actually read this a while ago, and wrote this up right after, but there’s been so much pony fiction that I forgot about putting this up until now. Read below the break for the scifi book Red Rising by Pierce Brown
When I finished this book I found I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would when I was at the start of it. The story draws a lot on the current zeitgeist for most of its foundation. Ruling dictatorship built on fear and violence, class and economic disparity, our hero is a blue-collar working type who is going to fight against the rich elite. Fairly typical stuff for this day and age, at least in popular culture. It gets points for not being a Young Adult novel about a stereotypical dystopia. It has enough originality to avoid falling into cliche. Thought I’ve never been a huge fan of stories about economic or class inequality. Probably comes from being white, male, and growing up in comfortable middle-class suburbia. That sort of thing, by itself, just tends to bore me. So it’s a sign of good ideas that this one impressed me despite that handicap.
While on the subject of the story’s flaws, this also had the same problem as another story I read a while back (In Her Name: Empire) in that it felt closer to a fantasy story than science fiction. Luckily, this story isn’t nearly as bad in this regard as that one. Empire was a fantasy novel with some spaceships crampped into the first few chapters like the author had a quota or something. Red Rising is more just ambivalent about genre. Not mixing the genres, which I enjoy and do for most of my writing, but simply could be either. Swap out the tech for magic and nothing much changes. I wish more current science fiction authors would do more extrapolation type worldbuilding instead of simply treating advanced technology as just a different set of nouns to plug into their story. It’s like everybody learned how to worldbuild using fantasy rules and some of them decide to use it for scifi stories as well.
I did really like the main character. Especially why he got picked to be the hero and could compete against the enhanced people in the ruling class. He is a drill operator in a extremely harsh environment using a incredibly complicated drilling machine. Which gives his hands superhuman strength, speed, and precision. As well as his mind is fairly flexible and complex. Which, in a more general sense, is a concept that I enjoy playing around with in my stories. The idea that someone who does what is a simple job, but in a difficult environment, is superhuman compared to even soldiers or heroes in a more casual environment. It has always struck me that doing things that way is a much more realistic way to create better than the norm main characters, rather then falling back to destinty, some kind of elite training, or bloodline-based abilities of some kind. Pretty sure the first time my brain was exposed to this idea was the story Dune.
Recommended if you like soft scifi. Ebook is plenty cheap, though the sequel is way too expensive for a ebook. I didn’t like this one quite enough to make me way to pay ten bucks to read the next one.