by Allen Steele
Review by Jon Guenther
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765382153
Date: 01 March 2016
List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
I think about the only thing better than this being my introduction to Allen Steele's work is I can go on record saying Arkwright is one of the best science fiction novels I've read in years!
First, I have to admit as both a fan of the genre and a writer, the entire premise of a SF author writing during the Golden Age of the era who uses the fortune he's amassed to plan a future in interstellar travel is actually a witty idea. The bonus is that Mr. Steele doesn't do it in any corny way. This is a credible plot with great science at its roots, well-researched, and populated with a cast of utterly believable characters.
Another very enjoyable aspect is discovering the power in the author's narrative in this tale. I cannot speak to whether this a happy accident of just a style (since I've not read other books), but I don't recall having read anything else where page after page of exposition not only held my attention like this book did, but did so without coming off like a college text or travel book. Only travel is into space or interesting locales right here on good old Earth. In both cases it's done with style.
Finally, Arkwright is just plain fun! The author makes us care about these people and their lives; I felt their triumphs, tears, phobias, desires and a host of other emotions that while it can be achieved in SF these days, I find it's rare. Here we deal with great human themes, a mainstay of classic SF, and it's wholly satisfying.
I foresee Arkwright will land as a big hit among SF&F fans. It's an exciting story that's well told, filled with scientific gadgets and concepts galore, and peopled with utterly credible characters in equally believable circumstances. And the end? Well... big payoff here. Loved it! Read it!
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