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Attack of the inaccurate blurbs

I just finished reading the rather fun Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe, a respectable slice of post-cyberpunk rock-and-roll SF.

It's a good book, and one I'm happy to recommend to all and sundry. However, I'm not so sure about the cover quotes, which describe it as a book that displays the "bloodlines of Heinlein and Varley". Sure, there are aspects of the two in the work, and after all Heinlein did sort of invent the rock SF sub-genre with "The Green Hills Of Earth".

But there are much closer antecedents, and much better comparisons in the blue-collar Grateful Dead-tinged SF of Allen Steele's Clarke County books, or John Shirley's A Song Called Youth trilogy - or (and I worry that I seem to be one of the few that have read this) Bradley Denton's superb slice of musical alt-history Wrack and Roll.

It's easy to imagine Aqualung standing alongside the Bastard Child, building a lunar colony, and the Snake Vendors sharing a billing with Blunt Instrument.

Just not with Rhysling...

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
pigeonhed
Nov. 24th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, I have read and enjoyed Denton too. Both Wrack and Roll and Buddy Holly is Alive & Well are under-rated books.

Radio Freefall looks interesting, but I'm not sure about your comparisons. Denton and Shirley yes, Steele perhaps not. My problem with Allen Steele is not so much the Deadhead characters as the fact that nearly everyone is a Deadhead and there's no range. On the other hand Steel is very definitely working in Heinlein/Varley territory.
sbisson
Nov. 24th, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)
It's more the blue collar side of things that leads me to the Steele comparison. Heinlein and Varley are really very middle class at heart...
(Anonymous)
Nov. 25th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
Never sure when it's appropriate to comment on these things
OK, I'm the author. John Scalzi just had a blog post about how it freaks people out when he shows up uninvited. But I do have something unique to add to the discussion here.

I like Heinlein as much as the next guy, and he's a constant influence on all of science fiction. But saying the book is "in the tradition of Heinlein" doesn't add much. Everybody says that. He's the Iggy Pop of SF.

William Gibson had a much larger influence on my writing in general and on RADIO FREEFALL in particular. Varley, sure. I didn't discover Allen Steele until after I wrote the book, but he's one of my favorites. Another big influence that is no longer strictly PC and may not come across as clearly is Harlan Ellison. His words just come at you through a fire hose and when I'm feeling a little Harlan in me, that's when I write best.

I have as much influence over the cover quotes as I do over how many copies they print and where it sits in the books store (which is to say none at all). I think the fact that Heinlein's name appears 4 times on the cover and inside the paperback probably sold a few copies that otherwise wouldn't have sold. I haven't heard anyone being disappointed in the book who bought it because of those references. But if I had my way I'd have steered more towards Gibson.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked the book. Carry on, pretend I'm not here.

Matt Jarpe
sbisson
Nov. 25th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Never sure when it's appropriate to comment on these things
Thanks for the reply.

I know all about the blurb thing (I've had some of my reviews quoted in odd ways in the past), and you should hear Charlie Stross rant on the subject.

(Gibson's Steely Dan and Eno influences amused me a lot when I first read him... And yes, I did spot a touch of Ellison in there. Deathbird Stories still rocks...)

(Oh, and I picked up the book initially because of the cover art! But then I have John Harris' final colour sketch for the UK Schismatrix on my hall wall...)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )