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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Expendable", James Alan Gardner

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKXPNDBL.RVW 991016 Expendable , James Alan Gardner, 1997, 0-380-79439-X, U$5.99/C$7.99 %A James Alan Gardner %C 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 14, 1999
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      BKXPNDBL.RVW 991016

      "Expendable", James Alan Gardner, 1997, 0-380-79439-X, U$5.99/C$7.99
      %A James Alan Gardner
      %C 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
      %D 1997
      %G 0-380-79439-X
      %I Avon Books/The Hearst Corporation
      %O U$5.99/C$7.99 +1-800-238-0658 avonweb@...
      %P 337 p.
      %T "Expendable"

      Good book. Interesting sociology. Very nice plot twists, extremely
      creative, but, in retrospect, perfectly fair and logical. Upbeat,
      positive tone. Strong central character.

      Oh, sure, we have stun guns, and hyperspace, and artificial gravity
      (that never gets mentioned) and other space opera type stuff. But
      Gardner has a lot of very realistic technology.

      Such as pressure pots. Now mountain climbers would recognize this
      instantly: water boils at a lower temperature when the air pressure is
      lower. So it makes perfect sense that you have to cook coffee in a
      pressure cooker in a space ship. You can, of course, make coffee with
      "boiling" water at whatever temperature that happens to be. But it's
      going to be pretty weak coffee.

      Then we have the "transporter," powered by air pressure. Not as
      dignified as Star Trek, perhaps, but there is nothing wrong with the

      And that doomsday device is quite believable.

      I do have a bit of a problem with the "Eloi." Transparent people bred
      from (originally) human stock. Not that I don't think it could be
      done: that comes under the heading of really far out technology, and,
      as such, isn't really subject to criticism. However, if you did make
      such people, and they really were transparent, but visible in the same
      way that glass is, you should be able to see the internal bones, at
      least, due to the difference in density, and therefore index of
      refraction. Also, given that the base model is human, there is no
      reason to assume that the transparent descendants would be any more
      glasslike (save in appearance) than any other form of life based on
      the same general chemistry. There is also the provision of some form
      of photosynthesis in these organisms. A transparent body would
      definitely have the advantage of allowing light to penetrate deeply
      and "feed" all tissues, but it has the enormous disadvantage of not
      being able to trap or use light.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKXPNDBL.RVW 991016

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      When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple.
      Take it and copy it. - Anatole France
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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