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Rolling Thunder Mass Market Paperback – Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reissue edition (Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044101772X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441017720
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 556,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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ONCE UPON A time there was a Martian named Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Podkayne Strickland-Garcia-Redmond. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 44 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as his earlier works 2 July 2008
By James - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
NOTE: Closer to 3.5 stars.

I am really hoping that John Varley's best writing is not behind him, as he is by far my favorite author. There are only three or four writers who I will read more than once, and Varley tops that list (though not with this trilogy).

To be blunt, I thought the entire trilogy was "good." I liked it. The stories and characters - especially Jubal and Travis - are interesting.

That being said, it isn't nearly as good as his past works such as Demon, Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, The Ophiuchi (sp?) Hotline and Millenium. Those books were nothing short of amazing. Every line seemed carefully crafted to evoke and emotional response. The stories were deep and meaningful. The characters came alive. Frequently, he made me laugh my ass off.

This trilogy didn't do that nearly so much for me.

I had heard somewhere that he might do another story in the world of Steel Beach / Golden Globe. That would be awesome, if he can recapture that same style of writing again.

Regardless of what John writes, I will read it, because it is still very good.

So, John, if you are reading this, please know that I am still one of your biggest fans.
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