John Varley February 11, 2009Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books.
John Varley is possibly my favorite science fiction writer thanks to two of his (many) amazing books, The Golden Globe and Steel Beach. Steel Beach is set in a future where humanity, expelled from the Earth by aliens who sympathize with whales and dolphins have kicked humanity off the planet, almost exterminating them in the process, lives in weirdly luxurious colonies on the Moon and the moons of other planets (and on Mars). Nobody needs to work since machines manage everything…so people look for things to do; people change their faces and/or gender with ease… But all is not well in this odd paradise. The protagonist, a celebrity-reporter for a tabloid (or is it reporter-celebrity), attempts suicide, and soon learns that he’s not the only one who has tried. The central computer has the blues, and is also in charge of the habitat…that’s not good.
The Golden Globe follows Steel Beach and shares Varley’s Eight Worlds universe. It follows the frantic efforts of an actor evading a murder charge by running around these colonies and not succeeding very well. It’s exhilarating.
It’s very difficult for me to put into words just what I liked about these books. The fact that a protagonist changes sexes halfway through the book whacked me in the side of the head, and the strangeness of the Eight Worlds universe is oddly appealing also. But mostly it’s the non-stop narration by clever protagonists threading their way through the weirdest mental landscape I have had the pleasure of reading in quite some time.
John Varley is mostly famous for his Gaia trilogy, and for the wretched abortion of his best book, Millenium, at the hands of Hollywood butchers.