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Rolling Thunder (2008)
Fiction Review by The Gravedigger

Rolling Thunder (2008) author: John Varley

This is the third, and I think the best, of Varley's series, which had begun two generations ago with RED THUNDER. The story focuses on the newest member of the Strickland-Garcia clan, Podkayne, who is finishing her mandatory service in the Martian Navy by being stationed as Martian consul on Earth, a planet she hates.

She ends up on the moon Europa, where these giant, perhaps intelligent crystals have formed, and she's put into suspended animation for ten years. She awakens to a world in which the political strife between Mars and Earth has grown and that green planet is on the verge of collapse. One of those giant crystals had left the moon and landed on Earth, radically affecting its climate, flooding the land. Mankind determines that the last time these crystals did this was 65 million years ago, around the extinction of the dinosaurs. Coincidence?

Podkayne isn't so much a simpler character than those in the previous two books, it's just that her behavior reflects the growing culture of the Martians. They think about things differently, have different concerns. What I particularly liked about this book is that they have her hooking up with a character from the previous two books. It's unexpected, weird, but it totally works.

The book ends on a satisfying note, though it sets the course for a whole new series, which may be better than the Mars books. Varley is one damn good writer.

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