RogerBW's Blog

Anywhere but Here, Jerry Oltion 02 May 2015

2005 SF, sequel to The Getaway Special. With cheap hyperdrive available to the world, things are falling apart; two people try to work out their options.

A strange book, this one. It deals with Trent and Donna Stinson, minor characters from the first book, as they lament the state of Earth and go out exploring the stars in their off-road truck. They visit the first colony world, move on to a French colony (the US has gone to war with France, for reasons never clearly specified), and continue to unexplored worlds.

The politics continue to be surprisingly subtle: yes, it's bad when government interferes with people's lives without benefiting them, but the author's preferred answer seems to be not joining a new colony, getting a bigger government to interfere, or even setting up on one's own planet, but rather trying to get involved in politics at home. Very Heinleinian (yes, I have read possibly his most obscure book, Take Back Your Government) even if it does make for a somewhat weak ending.

In fact there's clearly a great deal of Heinlein's influence here: lots of practical detail about how to turn a pickup truck into a survivable space vehicle (it needs to hold air and survive a parachute landing), and when our heroes are isolated on a world there's an extended sequence involving their defence against the local wildlife and their working-up of a practical power source. (Though I'm glad to say nothing on the scale of Spacehounds of IPC.) Rather less attention is paid to characterisation: Trent is pretty much a blank except for his relative inability to do maths (though this doesn't prevent him from being a practical shade-tree engineer); Donna can hack the maths, but the only actual problem we see her tackle seems like a relatively simple one that shouldn't take the time it does. (Mind you, I'm a software person, and I can tell that Oltion's experience of software is as black boxes that do stuff rather than as things you can plug together and modify. So perhaps I'm being unfair.)

Pretty light and undemanding, but as fluff goes it's good fluff.

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See also:
The Getaway Special, Jerry Oltion

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