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Very Hard Choices [Mass Market Paperback]

Spider Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

25 Aug 2009
The unlikely trio that stopped a serial killer are back, but now they're up against a ruthless government agency - and their loyalties are divided! First time in paperback for this suspenseful Science Fiction thriller from the award-winning author of The Callahan Novels.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books; Reprint edition (25 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439133034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439133033
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 10.6 x 17 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 815,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Award-winning author Spider Robinson is renowned for his "Callahan's Place" series of bestselling novels, the latest being "Callahan's Con "(Tor). With his wife, Jeanne, he has written the Hugo- and Nebula-winning "Stardance" series, which Baen recently published complete in one volume for the first time. He has been a favorite with readers from his earliest stories, which won him the John Campbell Award for best new writer. Since then he has garnered many other awards for his amusing, Heinlein-inspired SF, with the current total at three Hugos and a Nebula Award. He is frequently a guest at SF conventions across the US and Canada. His last book for Baen was the "The Lifehouse Trilogy."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars not really 26 Nov 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have read 'very bad deaths' you would want to check this out. It is a 'very' good story in its own right and has some interesting ideas in it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing Novel 7 Jun 2009
By C. Baker - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Spider Robinson. Anyone who admires the Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein as much as I do is a saint my book. Thus it pains to me to say that this novel is a disaster.

Very Hard Choices is a sequel to the pretty good novel Very Bad Deaths. There we meet Russell Walker, the aging hippie, who sets out to help his old college roommate Zudie, who happens to be a telepath, chase down a nasty killer. He has the help of Constable Nika Mandic, the rather hot female cop. All turns out, if not completely well, well enough.

Here, Nika shows up at Russell's doorstep with some news, while Russell is at home visiting with his estranged son Jesse. It turns out the CIA is still hunting for Zudie for purposes unknown, but probably not very good ones, or so everyone surmises. This sets off a chain of events where Nika, Russell, and Jesse try to protect Zudie (short for Zandor Zudenigo) from the CIA agent chasing him. Everything culminates to a final confrontation in the end, but to avoid spoilers I'll stop here with the plot summary.

Unfortunately this novel is more a political or philosophical polemic through the thoughts of Russell Walker than it is a real novel. Yes, a story is embedded here, but the story itself could have been told in a short novella. Instead the prose drags on and on with chase scenes and the musings of Russell, but not in a very smooth or compelling way. I'm not sure if Russell is supposed to be a caricature of Spider Robinson or not, but it sure seems like it. But overall the characters seem more quirky than real, which maybe is the point. But the novel is just not that entertaining.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying read 31 May 2008
By Gale Mead - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very Hard Choices revisits the characters introduced in Very Bad Deaths, and again presents them with difficult, painful, life-threatening circumstances that force them to consider both the ethics and the morality of the choices they face. To say much more might upset certain surprising turns in the storyline, but suffice it to say that the first reviewer of this book got it wrong. The story does not suggest the US is in danger of being turned into a "religious dictatorship," nor is the story's antagonist working towards that goal. The threat, rather, is framed as a takeover by a very small cabal of extremely wealthy, powerful, and conscience-less autocrats. Sounds more like real life than science fiction to me! If you're an ardent right-winger, you probably won't like some of this book's premises. Everyone else is in for an enjoyable, and thought-provoking ride.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now this is serious stuff.... 23 Jun 2008
By MixMeister - Published on
The sequel to Very Bad Deaths was something I had been waiting for with some trepidation: what story was there left to tell? The thrilling yet non-graphic horror that the former book had titillated me with should have warned me.

Although I had been prepared for some more of that insightful prose in that trademark way that Spider writes in, I did not expect that he would take the tale of the suffering telepath Zudie more than one step further. Everyone thinks that being a telepath may be a mild nuisance if you cannot turn the talent off at will. But this tale makes you feel what he feels and makes you understand why he had to retreat into obscurity... damn.. 't is difficult to not spoil the fun for would-be readers. Let me just wrap this up by stating "yes, he's done it again, he keeps evolving, and the stories keep getting more interesting and insightful each step of the way".

See if you can read the introductory chapters over there at the Baen Books website and then keep away from this one... even if you have not read the first book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Idealistic and compelling 29 Aug 2013
By Wayne Schlapkohl - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like several of the reviewers, I have read most of Spider Robinson's books. Very Hard Choices, the sequel to Very Bad Deaths, has all the strengths of Spider Robinson's science fiction. The characters are real people with strengths and weaknesses, strong convictions and doubts, failures and successes. I love science fiction, but not the "space westerns" where John Wayne heroes enter the stage without any fear, doubt or depth. Spider writes well about real people. He also writes about strong convictions. He has written something like 35 books now, and they very often speak of the value of relationships, optimism, and the importance of family (chosen and inhereted)and friends over material wealth and power. All of these can be found in Very Hard Choices and in this way Very Hard Choices is well worth a read.

I would typically, gladly, give a Spider Robinson book a 5/5. This is a very good book. But it is not as strong as Mindkiller or Melancholy Elephants. This book is a 4/5. There are two reasons for this. First, it is not as tight a book as his previous books. Much of the book is written first person from Russell Walker's point of view. Some of Russell's musings are tangential. At one point, Russell berates himself for woolgathering. Clearly, Mr. Robinson if you write the line "Damn it, Russell-no more woolgathering! Focus" (p.219), that should be a hint to edit. Second, and I know this is a personal opinion others might not share, but much of the ranting in this book related to marijuana use. I agree laws need to be liberalized, but does recreational drug use really deserve that much ink? Other reviewers have chastized Mr. Robinson for ranting in this book. OK. But much of his ranting about the distribution of power and the problems created by having a very rich class, about access to medicare, to embracing humanizing factors in society are well worth ranting about. We should all be ranting about these things. Recreational drug use is (in my humble opinion) worth a few lines, but it just isn't as important as the other issues he tackles in this and in his other books.

A very good book, by an author who has written great, fantastic, books: an author I have great affection for. Sure, pick up Very Hard Choices, you won't be disappointed...or better yet pick up Stardance, Antinomy, Night of Power, or Mindkiller. Those are great books that will have you forever looking for Spider Robinson on the bookshelves.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Another Excellent Spider Book 3 Aug 2013
By Gabriel Corrigan - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read everything the great Spider Robinson has ever written. Three or four times in some cases, at least twice in most. But even though he is, hands down, my favorite writer, I have to admit Very Hard Choices gets a bit preachy at the very end.

I agree with Spider's take about how this miserable planet is controlled by a handful of elitists with no morals, no conscience, and more money than Buddha herself, but I can't get past the fact that the author injects a bit too much of his own personal complaints, however valid, into the novel. The description of how this place is run rings eerily, sickeningly true, IMHO, but the writing itself is just not up to Spider's traditionally impeccable style, attention to the important little things, and the depth of humanity displayed by all his previous characters. The man at the end of the novel who delivers a long, political monologue seems merely like a vehicle through whom Spider vents. All the characters in each and every one of his other works, however, are people I wished to God were actual, fleshy humans so I could hang out with them, multiply their joy, and halve their pain. This guy doesn't quite live up to their standards. He ain't bad, but there's just a whiff of cardboard whenever he speaks.

And if you think I exaggerate about the splendor that is Spider, read his other books. Start with Jake Stonebender's buddies.

You're welcome.

That he had more than ample personal reasons for this minor, minor bobble in an otherwise brilliant career (he literally has changed lives, for the better, with his Callahan series) is undeniable. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please look it up for yourself. It makes me too sad to even think, much less write about what Spider has gone through in recent years, and I've never even met the guy.

Anyway, buy the book, and then do yourself and your loved ones an immense favor by purchasing every other book Spider has ever written. Most of his stuff is in Kindle/iTunes format and out of print (a shame; I still prefer paper to silicon), but it's worth throwing down a couple of hundred bucks for an electronic reader, if only to make yourself a better human by welcoming Spider Robinson into your life.
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