The Three Musketeers meets the Odyssey in the third Virga book
Ernest Lilley of SFRevu described Pirate Sun this way:
In the third, but by no means final, book in Karl Schroeder's Virga saga set in a zero gee bubble of gas and heated by an artificial sun, Admiral Chaison Fanning, imprisoned by the country he attacked to stop a strike against his own, breaks out and takes it on the lam with a girl straight out of anime. Schroeder mixes action, character, and political thought with creativity and aplomb.
The third Virga book is probably the most-action packed story I've ever written. It's pure adventure from start to finish.
Read the Excerpt
Want to give it a try? Read the entire prologue to the book here.
Reviews and Reactions
I'd actually been really worried about my choices in crafting the Virga series, because everybody seemed to have opinions about where the story should go next, and their ideas never seemed to jibe with my own. "Hayden Griffin has to come back in book three!" "The third book needs to go outside Virga and look at Artificial Nature!" And on and on. I had this terrible feeling as I was writing Pirate Sun that I was crafting a book that would please no one, and I let it go to Tor's production department with something of a feeling of dread.
And then the novel came out, and Ernest Lilley, over at SFRevu.com, had this to say:
In the Virga saga, Schroeder demonstrates that he is capable of rich characters, exciting action, compelling plot, and very solid science. ...It's fun in the same league as the best SF ever has had to offer, fully as exciting and full of cool science as work from the golden age of SF, but with characterization and plot layering equal to the scrutiny of critical appraisers.
Britain's Sci Fi UK website fielded a smashing review of Pirate Sun. It's worth quoting at length:
This series by Schroeder succeeds remarkably on two distinct levels. Actually, three levels if you count the hybrid fusion of its two modes as a separate success itself.
On the one hand, the series exemplifies all the many wonders inherent in the Big Dumb Object-or "extremely alien environment"-mode of SF. ...Schroeder has conjured up a mind-croggling "steel beach" to add to the genre's rich roster of such places, worked out its mechanics and cultures with masterful ingenuity, and then figured out what kind of adventure such a place would best support...
But on top of this, he has found a way to legitimately recreate the melodramatic thrills found most prominently in the literature from what editor and critic David Pringle calls "the Age of the Storytellers." The exploits of Chaison and Venera, and the gleeful yet bloody-minded pellmell tone and pace of the telling, hark back to Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Dumas and, of course, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Publisher's weekly was more cool and collected, but they clearly enjoyed it as well:
This fast-paced virtuoso exercise in world-building is the third novel (after 2007’s Queen of Candesce) set in Virga, a 5,000-mile wide balloon with a central artificial “sun” and many nations clustered around their own smaller suns. ... Virga is wonderfully imagined, with itinerant gravity sellers, floating farms in nets of dirt, and battles in which one town invades another as buildings smash together and people gather at windows with homemade weapons. The intrigue surrounding a brewing revolution and the threat of invading forces carry readers quickly through this adventure and on to the next installment.
Locus magazine called my world Virga "one of the most intriguing and enjoyable story-spaces of recent devising."
I always eagerly await my reviews in Locus, but luckily they've been reviewing my Virga series well in advance of the books' arrival. Pirate Sun was published in August, but in the June, 2008 issue of Locus Russell Letson revealed all. Though there's no easy pull-quotes from his review, it's clear that he really enjoyed the book.
Actually, reading this review made me realize just how byzantine a storyline I'd crafted:
Chaison (Fanning) wants to get back to Slipstream, but first he has to hide out in Falcon Formation, which turns out to be threatened with invasion by the neighboring nation of Gretels and to be harboring a resistance movement against its own authoritarian government. Elsewhere, the defeated nation of Aerie... has developed another underground... if that weren't complicated enough, Chaison is being hunted by agents of his own government... an action that has caused turmoil in Slipstream and a crisis in the rule of the Pilot. Oh, and...
Well, it goes on. All I can say is, it seemed pretty simple to me as I was writing it.
As Letson pointed out (with some glee), Pirate Sun wraps up the main plotlines introduced in Sun of Suns, but doesn't answer all questions. As he puts it, "even three volumes seems much too short a ride for the possibilities offered by Virga"--and I agree. I'm currently putting the finishing touches on Ashes of Candesce and (bonus!) I'm writing some Virga short stories and novellas.