Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Great Armada

Novella by Brian Stableford

Francis Bacon and a bunch of other Sixteenth Century personages save the world from an armada of ether-ships sent by the insect civilization of the moon. This is apparently the conclusion to a series of 3 other stories, none of which I've read. I get the impression this was the weakest of them. It took me 15 of the 40 pages to engage with the story at all, the Preface summarizing the first 3 stories was probably necessary, but between that and all the allusions to prior events, there was a large hurdle to get over before having a clue what was going on.
When I finally did get into the story, it was very interesting, although Bacon seemed just along for the ride up until the last 1/4 of the story. And besides the heavy amount of background required, I guess that is my major complaint: none of the main characters had much to do with the events or resolution of the story. Technically Bacon did, but the ending he brought about, although satisfying, smelled a bit of deus ex machina. And still, I absolutely loved it. A bit of meta-humor certainly helps.
"It was a comedy," Francis said. "For which we should all be truly thankful. Had it been a tragedy, as it might so easily have become, it would not be a suitable subject for drama for at least five hundred years."

The technology, descriptions, and religious overtones really made this feel like this came from the Sixteenth Century, and that pays off big for me. Much of it was a simple adventure ride, proceeding along the tracks from scene to scene regardless of the efforts of the protagonist, but still enjoyable. Although I can only give this a 2.5 out of 5, I suspect the others in the series would fare better, and I'll be tracking them down sooner or later.

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