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Just bought my first Greg Bear book. War Dogs

Posted October 3, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

Fans of Bear's books have always seemed a little gimlet eyed to me. "The science is so hard," they whisper through clenched teeth. "Oh soooo hard."

Which puts a fellow off.

But I like the look of his latest, War Dogs, even though it's an idea I wanted to write myself at some point. A sci fi story about aliens arriving, giving us all their most advanced and SPLODEY kit, and then confessing they need us to fight some much nastier aliens for them.

I always imagined this as being a function of the Great Filter. Any race sufficiently advanced to harness the energies required for inter-solar travel stand a good chance of wiping themselves out with those energies. So the benevolent aliens are like really smart space wimps who build our star drives and powered armour for us but can't possibly do any of the fighting because they're all so effete and concerned with the survival of their species.

Still, now I don't have to write it. Bear beat me to the power glove punch. I'm hoping it wont be too depressing and that those space lizards get what's coming.

There's a Kirkus review here.

40 Responses to ‘Just bought my first Greg Bear book. War Dogs’

Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2014
Just remember that the Space Lizard Empire smashed the FKN filter - and then didn't go and FKN talk to the United Nations about "send us your best" - but instead went down to the pub at Bacchus Marsh and said "who wants to break some space sloth sculptures and shit with singularity weapons"

HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2014
Oi you ya muppet,from orbit gecko! and biminghum, it says in the beat up: VERY FKN LOITTLE ACTON and death and zapping and splitting marshian up and shit!, I then ask: WTF why read the fkn if its got no action or have ya gone soft in the head too!

Bangar puts forth...

Posted October 3, 2014
H you need to post more often ... spelling requires practice ;)

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2014
I am interested in the current speculation that we have already passed 'the great filter' that is the reason proposed to explain Fermi's paradox, though Its a bit depressing to think we are the only ones out here. I do wonder however if that is not better than the alternative which sees us destroyed by a great filter ahead of us.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted October 4, 2014
Not sure I'd agree that we've "passed", unless "passed" means we didn't destroy ourselves immediately upon developing the capability to do so. I suspect "passed" will mean something like Musk's project, where some of us are beyond the reach of the guys with the doomsday weapons. And I don't think the "out of reach" bit is long-term stable...

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted October 3, 2014
Off topic, but good off topic.

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damian mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2014
Haven't read any Greg Bear, though funnily enough was looking at starting into his stuff just a few days ago.

Greg Egan is very cool, hard sf albeit without the military theme

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 3, 2014
Greg Egan? OMFG!!! I meant to buy the new Greg Egan book, not the new Greg BEAR. Oh Nooooooo.

damian asserts...

Posted October 3, 2014
Well Egan's that geeky WA astrophysics sf author guy. Has a personal website with java applets that provide visualisations of some of the maths concepts in his sf. I mentioned that I really enjoyed Schild's Ladder and think that others here would, too?

Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted October 3, 2014
I like both Gregs. The Way books are a good read (an Asteroid turns up in earth orbit. When people go up to it, it turns out it *was* inhabited by people from the near future of a parallel reality - and they've managed to open a sort of dimensional "Way" that allows them to travel to parallel realities - so the reason it is abandoned is that they've all gone off a few light years down this rabbit hole). This one sounds a little similar to "The Forge Of God" where two groups of Aliens turn up, one who said "hey, we bring gifts" and the others who say "actually, those guys just fucked up your planet, come with us if you want to live"

Greg Egan is kinda like the Thomas Pynchon of SF.

damian puts forth...

Posted October 3, 2014
Well I really liked The Crying of Lot 49. I think many people here would too. Never got very far with V though.

Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 3, 2014
I meant more along the lines of "not a lot of photographs and a bit literary"

damian has opinions thus...

Posted October 3, 2014
I didn't think of Egan as literary, though he does write pretty well.

pi is gonna tell you...

Posted October 4, 2014
I too, like both Greg's. But Egan is the adamantium hard-sf, not bear.

My fave duo-book of Bear is the Forge Of God/Anvil Of Stars books. If you can't get your 'splodey fix from that, you're not getting the breadth of the story.

Fave Egan book is Diaspora, followed by Permutation City. Real thinky stuff.

tqft reckons...

Posted October 4, 2014
One thing you may not know about Egan is he does a lot of interesting math (and visualises it as alluded to above).
not all of it surfaces on his blog which i don't get too enough.
However John Baez
https://plus.google.com/117663015413546257905/posts
, who has forgotten more maths and physics than I will know exists, surfaces a lot of Greg Egan stuff in context.
I have the first 2 Orthogonal Books on my pile of shame

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2014
Is this one on Audible yet? I had to wait for ages for Leviathan Wakes. I loved that. The science was hardish and the story was tops.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 3, 2014
There is an audio book, somewhere.

damian mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2014
My most recent reading has been the expanse series. Came up abruptly to the end of Cibola Burn just now, and reading non-fiction till I work out what next (actually reading Debt: the first 5000 years at the moment... has nice ideas and a few good bits of evidence, but not overall as solid as I hoped).

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2014
srsly, I should do an audio book, they would love me doing the reading I reckon. We gunna set that up or fkn what!?

Blarkon asserts...

Posted October 3, 2014
I keep telling people to read Lexicon by Max Barry. Everyone who listens to me and actually reads it farking loves it.

Also - the new Peter F Hamilton book is now out.

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2014
I think I read it, Lexicon by Max Barry on my Kindle. Yes I'm sure I read it.
Did I read it?
Maybe I bought it after reading a really a through review and it highlighted everything I read in the wikipedia entry on it. ARGGGG, if I start reading it again I am going to constantly be feeling Deja Vu the whole time Dammit.

Blarkon would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2014
Are you a dog person or a cat person?

damian reckons...

Posted October 3, 2014
Got Lexicon to start reading tonight. Will grab War Dogs too, I guess.

damian asserts...

Posted October 3, 2014
Okay, Kindle edition War Dogs is embargoed till October 23, for my present arrangement at least. So Lexicon it is.

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sibeen mutters...

Posted October 3, 2014
Another thumbs up for Lexicon. I really enjoyed that.

Anyone got any idea when Flinthart is going produce #2 of his Night Beast series?

TheWah asserts...

Posted October 5, 2014
Lexicon was very good. Recommended to me by a Burger and I really enjoyed it

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 6, 2014
Finished Lexicon last night and it is indeed very good. Who is this Max Barry person and why haven't we noticed him before?

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TheWah is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2014
If you like stories about humans fighting for wimpy aliens there is always John Ringo's A Hymn before Battle.

Warning - You will have to wade through right wing craziness and every description of a female character (2) in the book as having "high firm breasts".

.. now I think of it, don't read this book, it's just awful pro-military, hawks are better than doves, anti climate change silliness.

Why did I read the whole damn thing?!?!

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted October 5, 2014
did you lose a bet?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted October 5, 2014
How odd. I seem to recall loving that book.

Bunyip asserts...

Posted October 5, 2014
Are we talking about the same series that has the behemoth known as Bun Bun?

TheWah asserts...

Posted October 6, 2014
There is a moment in the book when the veteran soldiers point out that if every available fighting man is brought back into service and rejuvenated then the whole economy of earth will collapse because only ex-soldiers make good corporate leaders... seriously...

It has power armour and anti-matter grenades and men having meaningful relationships with an AI called Michelle (but not gay relationships because its ok to have feelings for a computer program if you call it a girl but its weird and icky if two male soldiers love each other) and much splodey but the underlying philosophy is just awful.

damian reckons...

Posted October 6, 2014
I'm with the Wah here - this stuff makes me lose patience with an author very quickly. Sure you make allowances for authors being creatures of their time and place, but that only really works where it works. You could make the argument here, after all everyone is an outcome of the water they swim in, but that would be saying something unpleasant and probably unfair about the time and place and some people really are just arses.

So with moderns you end up, perhaps, forced to the conclusion such an author is just a waste of skin. Nothing wrong with this conclusion, it doesn't really hurt anyone.

HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted October 6, 2014
still trying to get passed HFB

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Trashman swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2014
Alan Dean Foster did a trilogy called 'The Damned' on this very premise back in the early 90's. Not bad as I remember.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted October 6, 2014
Steve Stirling beat everyone to it.

http://smstirling.com/samples/ice-iron-and-gold-three-walls-32nd-campaign/

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Boscolamb puts forth...

Posted October 10, 2014
As much as I hate to admit it, I did read one of the sequels to A Hymn Before Dying. It was the Posleen War series #7, Watch on the Rhine. It featured the German government taking its geriatric WW2 veterans (including Waffen SS) and rejuvenating them with the alien technology to fight the Posleen. It's been several years since I read it, but I recall really enjoying the story.

The authors right-wing political views were not that prominent and didn't distract from the story. Ringo's book series on the zombie apocalypse (Black Tide Rising) has the authors personal political views more visible.

I think I like Ringo's writing partner, Tom Kratman better.

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Surtac asserts...

Posted October 10, 2014
Late to this thread, but so it goes ...

I read Bear earlier (Queen of Angels and so forth) but none of his more recent stuff. I recall being quite happy with it.

But I had to jump in here to comment on Ringo. For some reason I've mentally conflated Ringo with David Weber.

I read the first of Weber's Honor Harrington books some years ago (it was pre-Kindle days and it was the only physical book I had with me on a trans-Pacific flight.)

It was ok up to a point - the point where the major space battle took place in two dimensions only. It was just like that execrable Wing Commander movie that had the same motif - let's pretend to be ships of the line at Trafalgar. Honestly. I've never been back to the Harrington series since. But to be fair, Weer has written a YA book I enjoyed, A Beautiful Friendship, where the treecat's intelligence is discovered.

I will probably continue to avoid Ringo.

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