One thing about being very reluctantly quarantined and sick: I can read. And, since I haven’t been up to writing yet (I have hopes. Two weeks of enforced confinement is a lot of time for writing) I have been reading. As I was reading yesterday, and tripping over what I was reading, I realized I have not reviewed a book in a long time. Now, what I was slogging through yesterday didn’t deserve the time and effort to review. But some of what I have been enjoying – enough that they transported me away from the pain and confinement of my physical body – do deserve the effort of recognition.
Such as JL Curtis’s Rimworld books. It had come to my attention recently that I thought I was all caught up on this series, but I was not. I had, in fact, missed an entire novel. So being sick was the perfect time to remedy that omission.
This series is set, as the name implies, on the planets at the rim of civilization. There is a vast central government that is at best indifferent to the colonies so far out, and at worst, obstructive to matters they don’t have any idea about, being detached from the concerns of those trying to build a life under difficult conditions. There are also inimical forces, the Dragoons, an alien lifeform that look vaguely dragonish, and Traders, a human race that simply doesn’t care about their race and are perfectly happy to ally with the ‘goons and to keep slaves.
Having set the scene, somewhat, enter the characters. This is where all of Curtis’s books shine, in my opinion. He writes the nitty-gritty of scouting and military operations well. Just enough to set the stage solidly in your mind, and to develop the limitations of the characters’ abilities to act or react, but he does not get bogged down in the details of, say, the firepower of a given ship.
Even when it’s a very special ship. One that has enough personality to become a character in it’s own right. Seriously. The characters are excellent, and they are people you can be sympathetic to, and want to meet in real life. I’d happily hang out with Diez, or Fargo, and, well, I have hung out with Boykin.
That’s what cued me into having missed a book. I was reading a snippet on his blog, and saw my name. I was like… wait a minute… and another commenter pointed out I’d showed up before. So, yes. I’m in Rimworld: Militia Up. As a very young child. Sigh. Well, better than a villain?
I’m rambling. I don’t want to spoiler these books, and I am not going to do a plot summary, I hate those in reviews. You should start with Rimworld: Stranded, which I may have reviewed on the blog before. I really loved it. Really – I am a huge fan, as readers may know, of competence porn. I’m married to an engineering tech, and when he starts kludging around to make a solution to the impossible? *fans self* Anyway, that resonates into Stranded, and, well, you have to read it.
I’d say follow up with Rimworld: JACE, although I think Rimworld: Into the Green was published before it. JACE introduces and sets the backgrounds for some characters that, IMO, bring more depth to Green when you read that one. Into the Green is a novel, the first two are novellas. Green is the story of a man broken who retires to his dream world to do some hunting and fishing… only it’s not that simple.
Finally, Rimworld: Militia Up is a tale that takes up where Green left Ethan Fargo, facing a threat to his chosen homeworld, and takes him and his new ‘family’ of warriors off planet to work as security on another world. It gets complicated. I really enjoyed it.
And then I realized he’s not done with the next book. Darn it! I have to wait!
But you don’t! If you haven’t already read all of these, hie thee to Amazon. They are on sale, because quarantine (not mine. We’re friends, but not that close!) so you can scoop them up for less than a single trad-pub title, and they are worth more than you’ll pay. If you already have them, and have read them, please leave a review on Amazon. I cannot. I’m doing this blog post, but I am interconnected enough that it’s difficult for me to leave reviews on Amazon any more. So for me… leave a review? It need not be this long. I think the limit is like 20 words, it’s not like a book review in school! Thanks!