Monday, August 01, 2005

What is in a NAME?

Blood Music by Greg Bear
Human Error by Paul Preuss

By NAME I mean the reputation an author has earned. Occasionally you get two novels that come out at about the same time, by different authors, on the same basic underling idea or theme. This seems paticularily true in the arena of hard SF where events, discoveries or ideas are widely disseminated and can spark two authors to start off from the same point. It is always interesting when this happens because you get the opportunity to recognize the common starting point and to see just how different the novels that sprang from the seed grew into very different books. I have always remembered this pair of books in this regard because the came out (as fate would have it) at the same time. As a fan of both authors I purchased both books and quickly read them. I was then surprised that Greg Bears' novel got all the press. I cannot recall reading any reviews or comments about "Human Error". I am not trying to say that Blood Music was a bad book. I quite enjoyed the read. It is just that having read them both together I felt that the Preuss novel was the more interesting of the two. It was just that they were both (kind of) on the same theme and that Mr. Bear was the bigger "name" so it was his novel that got the reviews.

As I mentioned the point of the review is not about which is the better novel, it is to keep your eyes open so that I did not miss an interesting novel because it did not get any ink. (It was lucky from my point of view that I liked Mr. Preuss's writhing so that I picked up both novels.) This lesson also served me well when I was living in locations lacking a SF bookstore. Only so many novels by one publisher were ordered in a month to be put on the shelf of the local chain store. If to many "name" authors were out that month, some of the lesser name authors I enjoyed would not make it onto the bookshelves. I needed to be aware of what was being published and when in order to not miss a book I wanted to read. So be sure you do not let what is in a name cause you to miss a good read. so belatedly I have made sure to give "Human Error" by Paul Preuss the good written review I thought it deserved. And you might want to read both of the above books yourself to form your own opinion on their contents and "What is in a NAME?"


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