Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Steph Reads Baened Books: Fortunes of the Imperium (View from the Imperium, Book 2)

For our last big review, we tackled a story that involved high-stakes intergalactic politics and an exploration of the human condition that was both well-written and genuinely insightful. As I noted then, such books are the true bread-and-butter of "literary" science fiction and the principle reason why the genre exists. Still -- don't you feel like turning your brain off every once in a while? I know I do -- and that's why I'm glad that Jody Lynn Nye's View from the Imperium and its recently published sequel, Fortunes of the Imperium, exist. Sometimes, I just want to read something totally ridiculous without having to worry too much about "meaning" or "logic" -- and books that are explicitly sold under the tagline "Jeeves and Wooster... IN SPAAAAAAACE" definitely fit that bill.

As revealed by the Amazon reviews, this series is very polarizing: People either like it or they hate it. I happen to fall in the "like" column, but I can definitely see the detractors' points. Yes -- the climax of Fortunes is over-the-top. Yes -- even I was rolling my eyes over how much time was spent describing everyone's outfits. But I tend to accept those features as intentional. Lord Thomas is essentially a science-fictional version of a Hollywood trust-fund baby; he is going to pay inordinate attention to other characters' sartorial choices because that's the world he knows.

The good news, though, is that Thomas is an intelligent fop. In Fortunes, he is preoccupied with tarot cards, crystals, and other trappings of the occult not because he actually believes in their power but because he's curious about the belief of others. He is also self-aware enough to admit when something goes beyond his limited areas of expertise -- and amiable enough to desire friendship with people outside his social class. Conceited? Actually, no -- and that's why I'm willing to roll with Thomas' silly fancies even though I couldn't care less about their real-world analogs.  

Final Verdict: Recommended... but Your Mileage May Vary.

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