zahraa: (Default)
[personal profile] zahraa
How can you plug an author without making it sound like an advertisement? I wish I knew better. But I'm really excited about a particular, relatively unknown author, and I wanted to get the word out about her stuff. Her name is Syne Mitchell, and she has written four books: Murphy's Gambit, Technogenesis, The Changeling Plague, and End in Fire. What she writes is the hard SF stuff that I'm such a great fan of, but she writes it with a lot more soul than most hard SF authors. SF writers have often been accused of writing plot at the expense of character. But, while Syne writes incredibly suspenseful plots full of non-stop action, she also writes amazing characters. These are not the simplistic, unidimensional characters so common to SF. She writes morally ambiguous characters with deep internal struggles.

I met Syne Mitchell at a party at Westercon 2001. She told me she had just published a book, which she described as a coming of age novel. She seemed like a nice person, so I wrote down the name of her book, Murphy's Gambit, and promised her I'd read it someday. I went into it with very low expectations; I'm always meeting people at cons who tell me they've written a book, and a lot of them aren't very good. And "coming of age novel" sounded like a young adult book to me. But I loved Murphy's Gambit! It was an enthralling story featuring characters who had permanently adapted to a low-gravity lifestyle. I told as many people as possible to read it, but I didn't have an LJ back then.

A year or so later, I found Technogenesis on a bookstore shelf. I picked it up and read it, and was disappointed by it. It did not live up to the excitement of Murphy's Gambit. This is the only one of Syne's books I would recommend skipping.

Again, a while later, I saw more of Syne's books on the shelf: The Changeling Plague and End in Fire. I bought them, but was hesitant because I had been so disappointed by Technogenesis. However, I was thrilled by them both. The Changeling Plague, about the battle against an evolving virus, is, in my opinion, the better of the two. It is both more imaginative and more morally complex. However, fans of space travel stories may prefer End in Fire, much of which is set in earth orbit. Astronauts in space watch a nuclear war unfolding on earth. The book is so action-packed that within the first few pages, there are astronauts in EVA and nuclear bombs detonating on earth. And the action never lets up for a moment. There were some elements of the ending that I found implausible, and others I found morally troubling. But I still very much enjoyed the book even with its flaws.

So, after my recent excitement about her two most recent books, I just wanted to get the word out about this fine author. I don't really recommend Technogenesis, but the other three are well worth a read.
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