Sunday, August 23, 2015

American Author: Did You Know?

James Fenimore Cooper is one of America's first novelists. In his first series, The Littlepage Manuscripts, Corny Littlepage is the hero of the Satanstoe. Other books in the series, (written in two years) are The Chainbearer and The Redskins (today this title would be decried by many). All these novels deal with the anti-rent controversy (Helderberg War) of the 1840s. Cooper's strong political feelings in favor of the landed gentry progressively colored each book until the last is considered more of a diatribe than a novel.

Since he favored the "landed gentry" they obviously favored him, by publishing his books that espoused their needs with no care to the essence of a good novel. (Even in 1840, it paid for a writer to have connections).

Cooper's best known and hallmark Leatherstocking Series wasn't named for a character. The five books tell the career of "natural man" Natty Bumppo from his youth (Deerslayer) to his death (The Prairie). The Leatherstocking series also includes The Pioneers (1823), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), and The Pathfinder (1840).

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Derelict: Halcyone Space - REVIEW

Reviewed by Kae Cheatham

LJ Cohen
August 2012
ISBN 978-0-9847870-7-4

Hard science fiction is not a genre I usual select, but this came with a strong recommendation. Dueling spaceships is not the focus. Rather, LJ Cohen has written a human conflict of will and emotion amplified by the circumstances of the derelict freighter, Halcyone, suddenly re-energizing and carrying four young people on a wild ride through space. Various unexpected events kept me reading. Here's the publisher overview:
"When Rosalen [Ro] Maldonado tinkers with the derelict freighter, she's just hoping to prove she deserves a scholarship to University. She certainly doesn't count on waking the ship's damaged AI or having three stowaways, Micah Rotherwood and brothers Jem and Barre Durbin, along for the ride. They all have their private reasons for hiding aboard and lives they are seeking to escape, but if the accidental crew can't work together and learn to trust each other, they'll die together, victims of a computer that doesn't realize the war ended decades before any of them were even born."

Programming and artificial intelligence are big parts of this story. The information of what is being done is well described, and I (programming novice) had no trouble following the ins and outs of the many problems Ro has in her attempt to fix Halcyon. I appreciated the speculative elements of what future programming and AI communication might well become. I’ve read several articles that hint at what Cohen has build into her story.

Most compelling was the excellent construction of the different characters. Cohen has developed each with a strong personality and well-explained skill sets. Each felt hard done by their circumstances, but reacted in different ways: Barre, an exceptional musician, turns to drugs; Ro becomes an engineering workaholic; Micah lets revenge be motivation, while Jem, the youngest, is super eager to do what he most loves—programming. All of their unique abilities are vital to extricating them from dangerous plans of smugglers and pursuit by their own government.

This is the first book of a series, and I already have the second book on my e-reader. Looking forward to it.