Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Microreview [book]: Serengeti, by J.B. Rockwell

Since you all hang on each and every word I say, you surely remember when I said that I wanted something better than the standard six or seven, something outstanding.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Serengeti.

Because it is outstanding. The main character is not a human, or alien, but the ship itself. If that doesn't send you scrambling to buy it, I don't know what to tell you. I suppose I would say that the execution is essentially flawless, because while the main character is a spaceship is the surest way to get my money, it is not a terribly easy thing to pull off.

And that is where Rockwell and Serengeti succeed, and splendidly. AI is an awfully easy thing to execute poorly- too human and it is boring and lazily written, too cold and it is we can't relate to it. Serengeti pulls it off in a way that few have. Throughout, I was reminded of some of the things that drew me to SciFi in the first place- I, Robot and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Blade Runner, if you want to go there, but I read the book waaaaay before I saw the movie), in print, and Enemy Mine in film.

All of these have a common thread which, to me, is what SciFi is all about- looking at our humanity through a lens not human. Serengeti makes for an excellent lens. I recommend you take a look through it.

The Math:

Baseline assessment: 9/10: very high quality/standout in its category

Penalty: -1 The editing could have been a little better. I am nitpicking, there was nothing major, but a few things slipped through.

Bonus: +1 for being worthy of the comparisons above. I like to talk in these reviews- sorry if that's annoying, but reviews are opinions, and I want y'all to know why I hold them. I had this at an 8 up there, at first, with these same penalties. But my gut said nine, and I went back and re-read the first two chapters- and those first two chapters alone are that good. Maybe in 50 years, we're not talking about Serengeti the way we are those books, or maybe we are, but with where we are at, in the stream of time, in SciFi, it is outstanding, thus:

Nerd Coefficient:: 9/10: very high quality/standout in its category

[Scoring explained here]

Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories. You can read his other ramblings and musings on a variety of topics (mostly writing) on his blog. When not holed up in his office
tweeting obnoxiouslywriting, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore.