RogerBW's Blog

Torchship, Karl K Gallagher 13 April 2018

2015 science fiction, first of a trilogy. After the AI catastrophe, there are two sorts of colony world: the ones where computers are strictly regulated and monitored, and the ones where they aren't allowed at all. The "analog ship" Fives Full is navigated by slide-rule and sextant.

OK, the Heinleinian inspiration is fairly obvious here, and one feels that Gallagher got the idea of a ship without electronics first and set up the world round it. It does get a bit more interesting than that, but this is definitely a story where the rivets show, and the author can tell you just why each one was put where it is.

The characters are less convincing. Michigan Long (cough), the primary viewpoint, is revealed in the first chapter to be some sort of covert operative… but then spends most of the rest of the book lying about it, and since there's little or no internal monologue any character development we get could just as easily be part of her cover persona as anything real. Everyone else is much more of a background character, and gets one personality trait at most.

The plot is very bitty and repetitive: here's a job for the ship, they take it on, something goes wrong, they sort it out, repeat several more times. There are some hints at bigger things going on (particularly with occasional brief narrative cuts to a second viewpoint character), but this book taken individually doesn't end as much as it fades out.

It's OK, and I'll read the next one, but the author's heart is clearly very much in the technicalities and everything else suffers a bit as a result. Followed by Torchship Pilot.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Series: Torchship | Next in series: Torchship Pilot

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:52pm on 13 April 2018

    No computers is one thing. No electronics is much harder. Are they using a mechanical indicator between the bridge and the engine room? Speaking tubes for communications between rooms? All of which are entirely unecessary if what is being avoided is AI.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 02:31pm on 13 April 2018

    No electronics at all. The worlds they visit are just a little bit paranoid – a vignette shows someone executed on the spot for modding his game console – but it's somewhat understandable given the cultural history, and indeed ongoing attack by computer-infecting microprobes sent out by the AI worlds.

    (Yes, of course there are secret AI researchers. That's mentioned in the B plot, though it's clearly mostly being saved for future volumes.)

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1