Excellent review of The Sunless Countries
Russ Allbery provides another well-balanced assessment of my work
Russ Allbery has reviewed most of my novels on his site, and he's always provided an extremely good litmus test of how well I'm doing. (Except of course for his giddy and utterly approving review of Lady of Mazes, which if not entirely objective was at least a great piece of ego-boo for me.) As well as praising the strengths, he finds the weaknesses in my work with unerring precision and for this reason I always await his reviews with great anticipation.
What he has to say about The Sunless Countries is extremely positive, and his criticisms are fair. I can learn from a reviewer like this:
The Eternists are a bit over the top, though. Schroeder paints the politicians as manipulative, self-serving slime, and since the protagonist is an academic, the conflict follows stock fault lines and seems pat and cliched. He makes it work within the book, but the obvious analogies outside the book are too easy and a bit distracting.
Yeah, okay. I'll try to do better. On the other hand, this is his overall assessment:
The Virga series still falls a bit short of Schroeder's other work for me, but this is the most intellectually interesting entry. He moves away from steampunk set pieces and into more analysis of the nature of government and the perils and alliances of high technology. It's one of the better books in the series, although it still trails Queen of Candesce.
Fair enough, and thanks once again for a well-measured review.
In the USA, we have certain political groups that (A) wield considerable political power, and (B) promote willful ignorance as a virtue. The leaders are anything but stupid or ignorant, but they gleefully steer their support base towards positions that are not in the base's best interests.
So if anything, the Eternists are far too realistic and rooted in present day politics. Some of the scenes in the book, like the students arguing with the professors, also remind me of the Cultural Revolution in China.