Oct 24, 2010

The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce

This is the second series that Tamora Pierce wrote about the world of Tortall, the first being The Song of the Lioness. Once again, we are introduced to a female protagonist who is exceptional, this time because of her wild magic, which allows her to communicate with animals. Daine is 13, an orphan with a past she is extremely unwilling to speak of, but with amazing abilities even she is unaware she has. In true Pierce fashion, Daine is stubborn, intelligent, and competent, but also untrusting and vulnerable. Soon after her arrival in Tortall, she is noticed by Numair, a mage of incredible power, who takes her under his wing as his student. As we go through the series, Daine's powers grow, as does her relationship with the extraordinary people who become her friends. Once again, high literature though it may not be, the books are extremely enjoyable, quick reads. I read each book in the series in about two days, and though it was my third or fourth time reading them, I loved them all the same.

Oct 2, 2010

Rainbow Mars, by Larry Niven

Rainbow Mars is a novelization of a series of short stories by Niven about time travel. The main character, Svetz, is charged by the government to go back in time to retrieve long-extinct animals for the infantile Secretary-General. But when Waldemar Ten is replaced by Waldemar Eleven, who wants planets and stars, Svetz must team up with Miya, a cosmonaut, to bring back Martians. What they find when they land on Mars is a world whose water is slowly being sucked up by the Hangtree, a tree so large its end lays in geosynchronous orbit with the planet. War has broken out, and the Martians are trying to survive. Svetz's and Miya's actions lead to the tree's implantation on Earth, and it is up to them to save their planet's future from the depths of its past.

Niven is my favorite science fiction writer, easily. A math professor, all his writing is based in science and is all physically possible, grounding the stories. Additionally, Niven has a great sense of humor, and it is manifested in each of his main characters. Beowulf Shaeffer is another great example, a man who, like Svetz, is unwillingly made into an explorer due to his inherent virtues. In Rainbow Mars, character development is a little thin, possibly due to the previously written short stories. All in all, though, another great read from Larry Niven.