I’m going to be honest. When I pulled Antediluvian out of my to-be-read pile, I was expecting (despite the cover art) a biblical-era fantasy adventure, or maybe something with dinosaurs. Basically, a fun adventure book.
Instead, this one is a lot more involved than that, combining a science fiction framing story with viable theories about distant prehistory. Yes, the adventures are entertaining, but this one is more fascinating than plain fun, the kind of book that both teaches you stuff you didn’t know and leaves you wondering whether it might just have happened as described (the book makes no pretense to being nonfiction; it’s purely speculative).
I like this kind of thing, so I enjoyed it, and if you like historical fiction (or in this case, prehistorical fiction), I definitely recommend it.
Apart from the book itself, reading this one also gave me some more insight into that big box of Baen books. While most of the books (look back over the past few months of this blog for review of a whole bunch of them) focus on entertaining adventure plots with excellent writing (and quite a few bestsellers in the list), there were a pair of notable exceptions.
These exceptions lodged in my mind as hard science fiction with an emphasis on the science, meaning that the authors made a huge effort to extrapolate directly from the current state of human knowledge. This book is one (as expressed by the short essays at the end) and another, which I also enjoyed, was Stellaris.
The difference between these science-based books and the normal run of science fiction is that the science is directly responsible for the action, and is explained in essays nearby. It’s a very interesting style of book. One classic that shares the philosophy, if not the essays, is Mission of Gravity.
Anyway, this isn’t something I’ve seen from other publishers, and I really love that someone is doing it.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest book is a comic fantasy set in Heroic Greece, entitled The Malakiad. Utterly irreverent and replete with pink sea serpents (okay, there’s just one, but it’s huge), it can be found here.