Best Selling Science Fiction: Is there a generational bias?

IMG_9512I’m more than half through the Quantum Thief and the thought occurred to me that maybe there is a generational bias in science fiction. This book has been recommended several places and was put in my Goodreads science fiction reading group’s list. So, I started to read it.

Christmas chaos notwithstanding.

What I’m finding is that the quirky cyber punk style is irritating me. Stories at the beginning jump around and I have to stop and try to figure out what is going on more times than I like. And whether it’s reality or some sort of virtual game. Still there is a detective story involving the death of a chocolatier that is downright tasty. Gradually the stories are being woven together and hopefully soon I will make sense of it. I might even like it.Quantum Thief

So I put it down when my order for Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance came through. Lois Bujold has won more awards in science fiction than most writers and for good reason. I couldn’t put the book down and my Christmas duties took a dangerous set back. Family relationships were imperiled.

Captain Vorpatril's allianceBujold has a deft way of taking characters, putting them into impossible situations and watching them jump. In the story, the perennial bachelor, Ivan Vorpatril, cousin to Miles, is known for his late night carousing and commitment phobia. He’s the handsome, charming cousin, that doesn’t have the thinking power of Miles, even though he is Barrayer royalty. So when he’s off world, the local Dome police are breaking down his door to arrest him for kidnaping a young gorgeous female and blue female construct companion who are running for their lives. Along with the pounding police are off world enemies bound and determined to destroy her family and want to extradite her for nefarious purposes. All because he loyally did a favor for his cousin, Byerly Vorrutyer, secret spy and political manipulator, by asking a beautiful girl out for a date….

And ended up tasered and tied to a chair.

Not a positive response for a first date, but when assassins show up and he overcomes them, she accepts his stuttering invitation to hide out at his place.

Talk about pick up lines.

So what does he come up with as the door is cracking? And the girl is eyeing his high balcony, threatening to jump in order to avoid interrogation?

He asks her to marry him…temporarily.

Because on Barrayer, the custom for marriage consists of certain sworn words and dancing on oatmeal. So while the door is splintering, he talks her into a temporary marriage contract to protect her from her enemies and get him out of an abduction charge, and trouble back home with Gregor, the king.

Also family.

Little knowing that she is Akuti Tejaswini Jyoti ghem Estif Arqua, daughter to a ruling house at Jackson Whole that has just been attacked and usurped by a rival house.

Get the picture?

And that’s just the beginning. While these two keep telling each other it’s only temporary, we know better and watch the hysterical developments both romantic and political unfold.

I just love Bujold.

The story was clear, the action non stop and I couldn’t help laughing so loud that I almost fell out of bed at one in the evening. Or was it two?

Am I a generational reader who just likes a clear story with defined characters and a plot I can understand?

It’s old fashioned science fiction…And it’s wonderful.


Filed under Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Lois McMasters Bujold, Political science fictionLois McMasters Bujold, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science fiction world building

5 responses to “Best Selling Science Fiction: Is there a generational bias?

  1. I haven’t read any true cyber-punk novel, and even though I work in the software industry, I’m not particularly tempted to either. I think it’s a matter of taste, and—you may be right—of generation. Today’s teens are used to many tiny chunks of info in chaotic, tumultuous procession. I guess they can look past the writing style you described much better than us.
    Oh, and as writers we might be biased as well, since we’re trained to work with structure. But I’m guessing. I guess it can just as well be a poorly written book, an exception.


    • William Gibson has a few Cyber-punk novels that are interesting, especially considering when he wrote them. I do think that today’s teens are exposed to more and more in short frenetic bursts and the attention span must be shorter to keep up with everything. Text messaging and twitter are making conversations really short. But…we are more in touch with the outside world than ever before. Aren’t you outside the U.S? Awesome that.


  2. ahh, so that’s why I can’t seem to follow cyberpunk, or much of anything by Ian MacDonald that jumps around all over the place with very little focus. I’d rather read something that has a clear plot (surreal is fine. vague is fine. mysterious is fine. just tell me where to focus my attention!) with characters I care about.

    I’m only in my 30’s, but I’m old fashioned! 😀


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