So, even though this was war scifi – which I traditionally loathe – I enjoyed it. This book had a deservedly happy ending that I was relieved to get to, and rewarded my suspicions as I read. Scientifically, it is very savvy. Given the relativity of time and space travel at times, your enemies can be from your future, or you can be from theirs.
I looked up the author’s website. He teaches science fiction writing at MIT. And in his book, which was
written in 1974, the love interest of William Mandella has the same name as his wife. That is totally cool. I also think Orson Scott Card borrowed from this book liberally for Ender’s Game.
Another thing that was very interesting about this book is that there were blocks and blocks of dialogue (something I have never found a reason to do,) as well as blocks and blocks of summary that worked really well. Usually, those things suck. Why did his work? Maybe because this story was about being far removed from things, and the writing reflected that? Maybe because it was filled with lots of science? I don’t know. So, I asked him.
He said: Nye, I guess the complete explanation is not very helpful: I write a book that I would enjoy reading. I do like books with "lore" in them, whether they're sf or not.
My niece, who is just starting to write sf, asked me a few months ago how to get around the problem of "infodumps" -- big blocks of information that the reader needs in order to understand the novel. I told her that if the information is presented in an entertaining way, the readers won't notice that they're getting their vitamins. To scramble a metaphor.
Joe H. (Thank you, Mr. Haldeman.)