Saturday, March 29, 2008

Canuck Book 9 - Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer

Sometimes my reading tastes get a little too precious. Determined to only read "important" or "serious" books, I wind up wading through some stuff that is just not that much fun. It's as if I'm worried that at the end of my life, when I head to the big library in the sky, some heavenly librarian will be standing there with my life's reading list in hand. With too much pop fiction and too many national enquirers on the list, I fear she will judge me wanting, deny me a card and point me down the road to the big walmart in the sky where I will spend eternity pushing a shopping cart train up a move-ator or some such suitable penance.

So I miss some of the fun stuff. I even miss whole genres. While I won't apologize for taking a pass on romance novels or pulpy westerns, I do regret not reading more sci-fi. Especially after reading Robert Sawyer's Golden Fleece.

The story centres on a ship travelling to a far off planet to complete a planetary survey. The catch is that the 10 000 or so people on board know that, through the intricacies of relativity and near light speed travel, by the time they return to earth everyone they know will be long dead.

The book starts with a death, a murder disguised as a suicide committed by JASON (the Greek theme runs through a lot of the naming - the ship is called the Argo, for example), the ship's computer. In fact, the whole story is told from Jason's perspective, which is a pretty novel twist on what becomes a murder mystery.

I don't really want to say much more because I don't want to ruin it for the reader. What I will say is that the book is smart, at times funny and even a little thought-provoking. Sometimes, the technical side of things does get in the way of the story - there are some long stretches that feel more like a lecture than a story - but it is never a big issue. By the end of the novel, I found myself wishing it was longer and hoping for a sequel. I will be looking for more of his books in the future.

Next up is Ibi Kaslik's The Angel Riots.

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