Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter, imho, is the science fiction master of big-and-little, and a master of vivid world-building. His characters are mostly interesting, sometimes fascinating, and his plots are wonderful--'Riding...superstrings to the edge of the Universe!' Cities less than a centimeter tall, in the heart of burned-out suns! Life on Titan!

I'm used to grabbing everything he writes (and he writes quickly, good juicy long books that often turn into a series), so when he came out with Stone Spring, Book 1 of 3 about England's Mesolithic Period (~10,000 B.C.), I immediately ordered it from England, since it's not yet available in the U.S.

I should have saved myself the trouble.

The premise of Stone Spring is simple: global warming is melting the northern ice, which results in tsunamis inundating England's old coastlines. A former slave from Jericho (where, according to the Bible, there was a battle that brought Jericho's walls down), who knows how to build bricks, builds a big wall to keep out floodwaters.

End of story. Big deal

I got to page 200 and quit. The plot was snoringly easy to figure out, and I had 300 pages to go. I didn't like any of the characters, who mostly grunted, stank of fish, and raped or got raped. Let them all drown, I thought. Who cares?

I'm not going to buy Books two and three unless the reviews say that Baxter drops aliens out of the sky or sends a giant comet full of viruses down onto his little group of boring savages. Maybe I'll just find another Killer B in the science fiction section...(so far, I include Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Baxter and David Brin...)

Or I'll leap to the C's.

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