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September Books 16) Epic

16) Epic, by Conor Kostick

I know the author a little and I know the publisher rather better; but what really flagged it up to me was fjm's review, a year and a half ago. It's a YA novel set on a resource-poor future colony world where participation in a WoW-type game is practically mandatory, and your success in battle determines who gets access to what resources. We've seen games used as the centre of sf stories before; on the spectrum that has Jack Chick's take and Catherine Asaro's typically dismal "A Roll of the Dice" at one end, and Iain Banks' The Player of Games at the other, with Poul Anderson's Hugo-and-Nebula-winning "The Saturn Game" somewhere in the middle, I reckon that Epic is well up in the top half, say about level with Sherri S Tepper's True Game trilogy. (This classification will be of no help at all to you if you hate banks, like Asaro and find Tepper incomprehensible. But at least I tried.)

Knowing Conor's politics I was wondering if or how he would manage to bring in the revolutionary overthrow of the system, and he does it through a combination of a young hero and his friends teaming up with older mentors (one the central character's father, the other the ideological guide for the revolution). However he manages to keep the suspension of disbelief and (I would have thought) in a style attractive to the target readership. If you don't want your teenagers exposed to insidious lefty propaganda, don't let them read this book. On the other hand if you want them to be intellectually stimulated as well as entertained, you could do a heck of a lot worse.

See also Sherwood Smith's glowing review on the SF Site.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2006 07:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, I really enjoyed that book as well.
Sep. 22nd, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
I did enjoy it. I felt that I had to read it before meeting up again with Conor at Worldcon last year, as we had not met for so many years. I scandalised him by confessing tor eading the ends of books first. Apparently he was briefly flirting with a very bizarre ending for the sequel to Epic (Saga) just to throw readers like me off the scent but finally relented and went for one that would actually make more sense.
Sep. 22nd, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
Good for an older teen? Benni's eighteen and just started college. He games and there's reasons where revolution would, I think, be something he'd like. Kids get wiser to systems younger than I remember.
Sep. 22nd, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'd have thought so. And if he doesn't enjoy it, you probably will!
Sep. 22nd, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC)
smiling, snaffled I am.
Chances of me not reading this first: O


(I am pretty pleet, finishing Tim Powers newest tonight, and just having Scholars of Night arrive this week, a first read for me, and then the amazing amount of reading since I've gone back to school. (Many exclamation points and hugely fun) but it never hurts to plan ahead, and if I read it first we can _talk_ about it later. Bonus with purchase, as Cordelia might say.)
Sep. 23rd, 2006 08:12 am (UTC)
I am very glad you liked it! I actually work for Conor's publishers (I don't know him though, as I'm not his editor) and I really, really enjoy his books. I was never that into sci-fi before I started working in this job, but we have a few teen sci-fi / fantasy authors whose work I really like.
Oct. 6th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
Do you have Oisin McGann? I loved Small Minded Giants.

Actually, what I'm asking is if you are with The O'Brien Press?
Oct. 7th, 2006 09:35 am (UTC)
Yes, I am. We didn't publish Small Minded Giants though. I have read it though and I really liked it too.
Oct. 7th, 2006 09:37 am (UTC)
Oooh. Can I tempt you to set up a stall at the Science Fiction Research Association conference in June 2008? It will be in Dublin.
Oct. 7th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
Sadly, it wouldn't be me you'd have to tempt -- I'm an editor, so I don't have anything to do with the sales of books and so on. Sorry!
Oct. 7th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
metaphorical stall, ie can I persuade you to come along?
Oct. 14th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
Ideology in fiction
It strikes me that NHW has provided us with a great sentence for reviewing the majority of newly published books. With a little tweaking that is.
'If you don't want your teenagers exposed to insidious market values that unconsciously reconcile them to the status quo, don't let them read this book.'
Oct. 14th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Ideology in fiction
I think my version will sell more books than yours!!!
Oct. 14th, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Ideology in fiction

By the way, I'm interested in what you make of Saga, which is out now.
Oct. 14th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Ideology in fiction
I am easily bribed with review copies!

(Note for anyone who didn't realise - that was a joke.)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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