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Rolling Thunder [Mass Market Paperback]

John Varley

RRP: 5.30
Price: 5.26 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reissue edition (Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044101772X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441017720
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 10.8 x 16.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 748,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
ONCE UPON A time there was a Martian named Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Podkayne Strickland-Garcia-Redmond. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, lazy crafting. 15 April 2008
By T. A. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Good:

The writing style is terrific. It feels human, it adds to characters, and is brilliant in its direction of the point of view.

The Bad:

Lazy story craft and characterization. It's a major turn off in a science fiction series to be presented with characters in the future that continually refer to present day themes and seem to identify with an age far before when the story takes place.

It's a character driven novel, and Varley handles characters very well; I just found the continual references to anything and everything 20th century to be distracting to the point of pulling me out of the story. Takes a bit too much pleasure in its references to 20th century popular culture and other works of that time period to be a serious piece of science fiction, and suffers mightily for it.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Distant Thunder 6 May 2008
By James D. DeWitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Varley continues to channel Robert Heinlein, explore the implications of the "bubble" technology introduced in "Red Thunder," and follow the adventures of succeeding generations of the Garcia-Strickland clan.

Channel Heinlein: the heroine is named Podkayne, at one point she travels on the spaceship Rodger Young, and there's enough sex and nudity to kick this off any kids' reading list. Podkayne read "Podkayne," and vows not to read any more books by the author. Cute. Big government is diabolical. And the ending is another classic Heinlein event.

"Bubble" technology: there's a bit of revisionism about the device's invention and some suggestions that the technology is at least partly created by a mental effort. New uses and weaknesses are found.

And the third generation of the Garcia-Strickland family is in the thick of it all. Along with the Broussards. Especially Podkayne, who is a singer, a member of the Martian space navy's entertainment troupe. But on a trip to Europa, a Galilean moon of Jupiter, everything changes.

Alien life is a long-standing trope in science fiction. Will we recognize that lien life if we meet it? If that alien life lives in geologic time, and not human time, will we even be able to communicate? What will happen if we can't? There's a flavor, a hint, of Varley's Gaia Trilogy here.

Some of Varley's premises are a bit of a reach. And poor old planet earth, ravaged by the tsunami in "Red Lightning" and by global warming, gets whumped again. But it's a fun novel, if a bit slow in spots, and there is room for a couple more sequels, likely involving twin girls. I hope those hypothetical sequels can recapture the charm of the first book.

Recommended for science fiction fans.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice try, but not very good. 23 Nov 2009
By Nordeaster71 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I used to be a big John Varley fan, but am now pretty disappointed. Some of the older books are very good, and it's obvious he greatly amires Heinlein. Personally, I don't understand the infatuation with RH, as the guy writes the same stories over and over, but what the heck, I'm sure there are some good reasons, and the guy is practically a god in the sci-fi pantheon.

The protagnist is an 18 year old cadet in the Martian Navy. Only she's 18 going on about 40 in her understanding of the world. Seriously, if human 18 year olds were this worldly and understanding that would be truly amzing. So while this is hard sci-fi, and that by definition stretches the bounds of practicality, it seems that only the Garcia-Strickland and Broussard clans are born of such stock, and the remainder of humanity is much more average (or worse - there are some good parts like when Poddy discourages a vapid "Earthie" from emmigrating to Mars).

There are also some parts, especially towards the end of the book where it looks like Varley just got tired of writing or something. There are several plot lines or story arcs that end more or less abruptly, and he just sums up what happened. This is the kind of stuff I expect in excessively complicated stories (Robert Jordan), or very long movies. But an average length paperback? What happened there? Did he run into some kind of deadline from an advance or contract?

Varley's books are definitely written for adults, complete with adult language, themes, sex, violence, and all the details you can imagine. For the most part I regards this as a good thing because so much of life and civilization is not rated PG-13.

I wouldn't call this the worst ever or even a waste of money, but John Varley has written some *much* better novels and short stories than Rolling Thunder.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Little roll, less thunder 15 April 2008
By David Kveragas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was looking forward to reading this title after having enjoyed the previous two titles in the series so much.
Unfortunately I was somewhat disapointed with the whole book.
I found it difficult to get into the viewpoint of a young woman telling the story and basically whining and complaining through the first half.
The book undulates, rather than rolls and there is very little thunder. Maybe in the crash scene but that is about it.
So many great ideas, from the black spheres, to compressors, even the creatures on the Jovian moon are not fleshed out.
There are too many long passages giving mind numbing details about minor aspects of Jovian moons and other solar bodies.
The action and adventure that made the first two such a rollicking ride are missing. The new character is far less interesting and even the original ones are played down.
It's obvious that there is a fourth book planned but I will probably not be along for the ride.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reinterpretation 13 Oct 2008
By John-henri Holmberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Quire a few others have noted that in his "Thunder" series John Varley is continuously referring to Robert Heinlein's novels. But what I haven't seen so far is the notion, which struck me after the second book of the series and seems still more pertinent after the third, that what Varley is doing here is reimagining Heinlein's entire sequence of juveniles for another age.

From 1947 through 1962, Heinlein wrote a total of 14 juveniles. The first dozen were published by Scribner's; they rejected STARSHIP TROOPERS as too adult and this effectively ended the series, although a final junvenile, PODKAYNE OF MARS, was published tree years later.

The Heinlein novels. although all stand alone, in fact describe a sequence of future events. The first of them, ROCKET SHIP 'GALILEO', gives an account of the first trip to the Moon; later ones introduce Mars, Venus, Jupiter's moon Ganymede and the Asteroid belt; after that, the novels make the leap to the stars, initially in early explorations, later on in the series into a galaxy largely explored by mankind. In this respect, PODKAYNE OF MARS is a throwback to the earlier part of the sequence.

What strikes me is that Varley is more or less writing the same sequence of stories, beginning on Earth, going on to Mars and, in the newest book, envisioning future trips to the stars. I hope he continues there. These novels are very close in feel to the Heinlien stories, but firmly placed in the context of a future bleivable in the present. Heinlein was never able to let his characters actually have sex, as Scribner's editors wouldn't allow it; instead he made fun of their prejudices by making his main characters so naive that even early 1950s teenagers must have gotten the point (in TUNNEL THROUGH THE SKY, the hero lives for a month in a cave on an alien planet with a girl without realizing that she isn't a boy; when another boy happens along, he knows it within minutes). I note that someone else commenting on these books feels that their sexual openness should bar them from any child's reading list; this to me seems pure idiocy. Kids today grow up watching ads, TV shows and movies depicting sex openly and continuously; Varley's novels accept it as part of life. I find that commendable and if anything adding to their merit as superior juvenile science fiction.

The Heinlein project was in a sense unique. Almost no other major sf author made a similar effort to write at the top of his or her form for young readers, possibly with the exception of Andre Norton and Ted White. Varleys novels are in my view the best sf juveniles to be published over the last at least three decades; if there is anyt writing around today more prone to make younger readers advance from Harry Potter to science fiction, I've yet to find out about it.
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