Yes, I'm still reading old sci-fi. Here are the latest!
After thoroughly enjoying Four Day Planet, I decided I needed another dose of H. Beam Piper. Omnilingual is more a novella or even long-ish short story. But it's simply great. The idea is that some archeologists are exploring the cities of the long-dead Martians, trying to decipher the culture. However, how do you ever figure out how to read Martian without even the possibility of some sort of Rosetta Stone? That question powers the storyline and the conclusion is satisfying. This one is a great read.
I should note that Piper is notable (heh) for having strong female characters for the time, such as the lead in this story.
Then I decided to switch tracks and try another author. I kinda wish I hadn't.
Well, okay, Space Platform isn't horrible. But it's not all that great, either. The first thing to keep in mind is that this isn't a tale set upon some space platform. It's about building a space platform. All the action takes place right here on Earth.
The plot is simply that the protagonists (basically the United States) want to build a space platform to orbit the Earth while the antagonists (other countries) want to stop that effort.
And for what are they going to use this space platform? As a place for experimentation and as a stepping stone to the stars, to be sure. But they also plan to load it up with nuclear weapons, pointed down at Earth, to make everyone else toe the line. Because this is how you achieve world peace.
No, seriously, the book makes this claim over and over. And over.
But, if you can get past the jingoism, the adventure itself horrible. It's not all that great, either. It was just good enough that I kept reading, but I was glad to finish. So, y'know, meh.
So, I ran back to the safe arms of H. Beam Piper! The Cosmic Computer is basically a story about economic development. It features the same sorts of hardy capable men as Four Day Planet did. It also includes a hardy capable woman. It's set in the same fictional galaxy, as well.
The adventure isn't quite as rollicking as in Four Day Planet. But nor is the tale quite as simple, either.
The reveals are decent. (One draws a bit from Asimov's Foundation.) The conclusion is okay, short-term, but isn't really a conclusion. But, hey, no one ever promised one, did they?
All in all, a fine read, just not as fun or satisfying as the other Piper works I've read.
Wait, what are you trying to say with that last paragraph? Is there more than one word missing, or am I more obtuse than normal?
It makes sense to me.
Although it should be "just neither as fun nor satisfying as..."
Me = dense