My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It is with novels like The Dragon’s Eye my antipathy toward hard SF becomes evident. Or does it? Certainly authors like Kim Stanley Robinson are capable of writing hard SF, introducing fascinating concepts and situations which are completely and utterly foreign to present-world understanding. Robinson unhinges the reader with the brilliance of his vision.
Perhaps it is there the difference between Champetier’s novel, translated by Trudel, and Robinson’s work becomes most evident: vision.
Champetier creates a science premise which in itself is fascinating: a binary system in which Earth colonists from China attempt to create a purist vision of their homeland and culture. However, instead of focusing on the challenges of living in an environment made hostile by a star pumping out deadly levels of radiation, Champetier instead creates what essentially boils down to Bond in Space, replete with lady-killer protagonist, helpless female waif, and Mandarin-style espionage and subterfuge. Truly the entire plot ended up so sadly predictable.
And I did so want to like this novel. It came highly recommended by a colleague whose tastes I trust. Champetier himself is not unknown to me in the circles in which I orbit. Yet hard as I tried I could find little in the plot to snare my attention and fill me with a sense of wonder.
Which, in the end, is what good SF should engender: wonder, whether that wonder is horrific or beatific doesn’t matter. That sense of Wow needs to be there.
So, with apologies to Champetier, and my trusted colleague, I will simply have to put this negative review down to differing tastes and expectations.