Monday, October 16, 2006

Jay Lake's "Rocket Science"

Last time I checked, the list of people who had it in for me included Nazis, Commies, the Kansas City Mob, the United States Army, the Augusta Police and the Butler County Sheriff's Department. Not to mention Mr. Bellamy's gang, Doc Milliken and Lois. I was sure I'd left someone off the list, but I figured they'd let me know in due time.

Rocket Science by Jay Lake.

I seldom read non-fiction, on the grounds that the Universe has a ≅14 billion year head start on me, and that leaves me with a lot to learn and not a lot of time to do it. But I've always had a soft spot for science fiction, and, months back, when an old friend, Jay Lake, sent me a link to a press release announcing that he'd just signed a contract for his second and third novels, my immediate reaction was "when did you have a first novel?" Let your friends move out of town, and little details like that start getting lost, apparently. He filled in the blanks for me, and I ordered a copy of Rocket Science immediately. I must admit, however, that I don't always enjoy Jay's writing. The skill and intelligence he brings to his craft are always evident, but the style and subject don't always appeal to me. Just a personal thing.

Jay and I met in 1986, working jobs that eventually payed about a buck over minimum wage. We were both in on the ground floor of the desktop publishing revolution, not that that meant a lot at the time. I was developing Mac software in my spare time and periodically interviewing for jobs in the Microcomputer Support Group in UT Austin's Computation Center. Jay was writing sporadically, and I can't remember what else. One thing about the kind of guy Jay was: with both of us basically living paycheck to paycheck, he was the sort of fellow who'd find our boss working herself up to firing me over one or another of my pointed critiques about the way our operation was run, and he'd tell her that I had a point, and if I was fired, he'd quit. Probably saved my job a couple of times that way. And I always had to hear about it from somebody else. You've got to respect a guy like that. And he was amazingly smart, had already lived a very odd life which gave him a fascinating perspective on things, and was a thoroughly nice guy. It's easy to end-up friends with a fellow like that.

So, an old friend like that gets his first novel published, and I think you pretty much have to go buy a copy and read it. And I'm glad I did. It was a hoot - the quickest read I've had in a long time. It's sci-fi set in post-World War II Kansas and centers around a mild-mannered fellow who quite unexpectedly crosses paths with a super-secret aircraft stolen from the Nazis right under the noses of Army Intelligence. Mayhem ensues. It's fun. Recommended.

Other recent-ish page-turners: The Soviet Space Race with Apollo, A World Lit Only By Fire, and Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I'm more than touched. Thank you.