I've been reading cheap science fiction ebooks for months, looking for good writers. It hasn't been easy - the Amazon rating system is practically useless. I read a lot of classic science fiction in my younger years, and I came to take certain things for granted - the writer understood the English language, understood how to drive a plot, could build a character, understood that a really good book should present some kind of moral or philosophical problem that would cause thought to happen in the reader, whether he knew it or not, etc. Restricting my reading pretty much to 4 and 5-star books, I have not found a single new writer who could do more than one of these things.
That's changed. Infinity Hold is a book that would have taken its place along with the classic writers of 50 years ago, had it been written then. Barry Longyear - if Infinity Hold is a fair sample - is a better writer than China Mieville. He's a better writer than Neal Stephenson. He makes S.M.Stirling seem barely literate (of course I thought that before I read Infinity Hold, but now I know I don't have to settle).
So, excellent book. Known Universe decides to dump its prison population on one terrible planet to fend for themselves. One bunch of losers somehow manages to stay together, survive, and reinvent law, justice, and personal responsibility. Nicely done. Five stars - not because it's on par with the best books I've ever read, but because it's damn good and four stars would put it on the level of some writers who aren't worth a minute of your time.