Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Lockstep

Oddly enough, my review for Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep will be in lockstep with all the others.  This is a fascinating book.  It is the kind of novel that got me reading science fiction long ago, when you could pick up paperbacks at the drugstore for $1.95.  Not to say the book is dated.  Not at all.  The feel - the timbre and pace - of the novel are friendly.  This is not the kind of science fiction that is full of itself.  Although it could be.

The ideas seeded through the book are strong and plentiful, but it is the core idea that really infects you.  The Lockstep worlds of the title spend huge tracts of time in suspended animation.  One month awake for every 14 years asleep, for example.  During those 14 years, robots mine minerals, grow crops, re-glaze your windows, whatever, while you slumber away, unconcerned with the drudgery and more importantly, consuming only minimal resources.  You also get to sleep as you travel.  You can reach a fair number of other planets in 14 years, at half the speed of light.  You can reach even more in 28 years, which is only like being gone for two months, if all the worlds stay in synch.

I love playing with this idea.  Trying to understand its socio-economic perturbation better.  So does Karl.  He likes this world and it shows.  His adventure story that takes us through a world that is fresh and wondrous.  The result is thought-provoking fun.  You don’t see that phrase everyday.

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