I am closing in on the end of The Orphaned Worlds by Michael Cobley (a couple dozen pages remain). As if the first book in the Humanity’s Fire trilogy didn’t scream EPIC!!, the second one raises the stakes still further with some new species/factions jumping into the fray and one very surprising development within the status quo of the original antagonists.
It had been a few months since I’d read Seeds of Earth, the first book in the series—I seldom read all the books in a series straight through as there are a lot of books piling up in my backlog of reading material—and I was amused that The Orphaned Worlds had, essentially, a “Previously on…” recap; this is a great feature we’re used to seeing on television these days, and I’ve often wondered why serialized books—that is books in a series that have cliffhanger endings or are not a complete story in and of themselves—don’t utilize this framework. Boy was I glad Cobley did—if only because my memory is about as reliable and retentive as a retread tire bought off Craigslist. But beyond that recap, the style in the second book is much like the first: Cobley gives you information only as it becomes necessary, so if you want to know what’s going on in an extremely chaotic universe, you have to pay attention.
The other big draw for me—and what kept me interested through Seeds of Earth when the story quickly seemed to grow out of control—is that Humanity’s Fire is a space opera that seems so unconcerned with humanity. Many of the main players in the story are human—and the circumstances in which those humans begin the story forms the underpinning for the adventure—but humanity as a whole is, at this point, almost uninvolved in an interstellar conflict that is rooted in the near-prehistoric. Not too much space opera tends toward that choice—and understandably so since humans are the ones buying the books and we do like our delusions of supremacy—but given the stakes Cobley has built into his story, it makes perfect sense here.
In short, I enjoyed The Orphaned Worlds and am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy. But, because I’m easily distracted, book three is not next up on my reading list.
I’m looking forward to starting Amy S. Greenburg’s book, A Wick War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 Invasion of Mexico. It’s only been recently that I’ve expanded my own amateur study of the Civil War period to include the expansion decades leading up to the war. That the Mexican War was, at best, dubiously justified I knew. I’m looking forward to what Greenburg has to say on the matter.