4 March 2013

March Madness: The Liaden Universe

As the doldrums of slushy-iced filled February moves into slushier snow days of March, I realize I am in need of a mission.  A reading mission that is, not a cold war John Le Carre type.  I take that back, my desperation is critical enough that I would consider flying off to Berlin, trench-coat in hand in pursuit of plans stolen by the Commies.  Cabin fever sits firmly on my brain.  

My first attempt in developing a reading adventure quest was a big fail.  Last spring I was struck by the desire to expand my Star Wars book knowledge.  Unfortunately, this grand pursuit came to a lurching halt having subsequently read and disliked The Thrawn Trilogy. Devastated (exaggerate much?) by not discovering a hidden, creative, vast world of prose all wrapped tightly up in The Force, I swore off missions.  Obviously, I haven't learnt my lesson as here I am again developing a reading pursuit that is not only interesting but achievable.  The question is what to read.  The most adventurous quest I have been able to find is the guy who is reading in order of star date, every Star Trek book published.   Blink. This is no mere idea, this is a life pursuit or more simply expressed a nut job geek glorifying in what he loves best.  While I jest, I read his blog, even linking to it on Thank the Maker. From one geek to another, I salute you.  

No sharp corners in Steampunk
Fine and dandy, but honestly, what should I read?   Steampunk? Images of punk rock bands of teens rolling through apocalyptic 25th century sub-burbs pop into my brain. (too much cyberpunk in my past)  While the Apocalypse is not far off, Wikepedia informs me that  Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western Civilization during the 19th century.  Therefore, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.   

What the crap?
Finding myself at a decision crossroad, I ponder, do I want to venture down this steam-inspired fantasy world or find something, how shall I express this, less weird.  Rather rich coming from the one who has recommended books with a homicidal vampiric crew member, and cyborg, time travelling immortals.  In my own defence, we all have our own built in weirdness scale, mine happens to freak out at Victorian alternative history with too many gears, gas masks and goggles lying about.  

And suddenly, (it so happens it was very sudden) I arrived at the answer:  The Liaden Universe.  A year ago I spent a lovely month being introduced to this series and then was thoroughly distracted by teen angst.  My neglect has turned fortuitous as now I have my mission and you have months of prose regarding this series ahead of you.  Lucky bastards.   The Liaden Universe, written by Sharron Lee and Steve Miller is, you guessed, space opera.  Do you take comfort in my predictability? The universe is complex, spanning eons with three major divisions of the human race represented:  Liadens, Terrans and Yxtrangs.  Rammed with every type of emotion and plot development, these books will be taking me on a mission of pure kick-ass reading fun.