Saturday, November 25, 2017

Richard Baker

A former United States Navy officer and a well-known game designer, Richard Baker is the author of over a dozen novels, including the New York Times best seller Condemnation (2003) and the highly acclaimed The Last Mythal trilogy (2004–2006). He is a lifelong devotee of science fiction and fantasy, a history enthusiast (particularly military history), and an avid fan of games of all kinds.

Baker's new novel is Valiant Dust.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
Like a lot of people, I’m usually working on a couple of books at a time. The two that are currently competing for my attention are Harry Turtledove’s Fallout and Peter Cawdron’s Retrograde.

Fallout is the second book in Turtledove’s new alternate history series The Hot War (following up on Bombs Away, the start of the series). The premise is dark and simple: What would have happened if Douglas Macarthur got his way in 1951 and the U.S. responded to China’s intervention in the Korean War by dropping the Bomb? The answer is that things get horrible in a hurry. I’m a longtime Turtledove fan and enough of a history buff to really enjoy the what-if game; it’s amazing how great events sometimes turn on very small hinges, and Turtledove is of course the master at exploring the repercussions. I’m actually having a tough time in Fallout; the world is becoming so grim and miserable that I find my despair is bleeding over into real-world anxiety. It’s a powerful story, and I think there are some lessons in Turtledove’s speculation that pertain the world today.

The other book I’m reading is Retrograde, by Peter Cawdron. This is the first Cawdron book I’ve ever read, and I have to admit I didn’t really pick it out—I found it in the bag at a bookseller association trade show, and decided that it could be worth a try. This is a near-future, hard-science look at a fledgling Mars outpost established as a joint effort by the US, Russia, China, and the EU. When disastrous news from Earth reaches the colony, the four crews face the horrible possibility that they’ll be on their own indefinitely and that one of their countries might be responsible for an unthinkable atrocity. Again, I found the beginning grim and depressing; I was just waiting for the author to reveal that characters I liked were The Bad Guys, and I wasn’t looking forward to that. But then Cawdron threw in an unexpected twist that really changed the complexion of the story, hooking me all over again. So, good on you, Mr. Cawdron—I didn’t see that coming, and I’m liking Retrograde more than I initially thought I would.
Visit Richard Baker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue