In the Mail: The Desert and the Blade.

The Change series is lots of fun, if you like post-apocalyptic fiction where technology above a certain level abruptly no longer works and the return of magic really doesn’t make up for it at all.  Which, yeah, led to billions of people dying.  But the survivors are having plenty of adventures! …Which, as S.M. Stirling himself noted elsewhere, means ‘somebody else in deep trouble, far away.’

Ahem. The Desert and the Blade: A Novel of the Change (Change Series) is a fun read so far; I’m enjoying it.  But you definitely should start with Dies the Fire, which is the first book in this series. Or maybe Island in the Sea of Time, which is kind of in the same universe but is a good deal more chipper. Assuming you haven’t read any of these before

12 thoughts on “In the Mail: The Desert and the Blade.”

  1. .. I started with “Dies the fire” years ago .. after a while it got weird. Need to pick it up for a re-read now that it gets a bit further.

  2. Emberverse, book 11? Wow. I’ve read the first 3, and wasn’t particularly interested in reading more. Any specific suggestions?

  3. Well “Island in the Sea of Time” series has a really unsatisfactory ending. I heard “The Peshawar Lancers” was readable and probably his best ASB althistory (but his real howlers I’d start with the Drakaverse’s “Marching through Georgia”;-). Honestly, as far as althistory goes, offhand a number of the Ring of Fire series books are decent (Eric Flint’s 1632).

    1. No althistory discussion is complete without mentioning Harry Turtledove. In the Presence of Mine Enemies is my favorite, but opinions vary.
      And of course, there’s Tim Powers… If you don’t love The Anubis Gates, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

      1. The Anubis Gates is great, and I like a lot of Tim Powers’ stuff. Never can get into Declare though, I think all the spy stuff just isn’t to my taste.

    2. Always thought there was at least one and probably 2+ books in Islands. The daughter and her followers. The crew crashed in the mountains. The Traders nephew adopted by the capt & Deerdancer. And I am not even trying hard to come up with plots.

  4. I’m well-acquainted with the idea that one shouldn’t be quick to conflate a book’s characters’ ideologies or ideals with the author’s. But I’ve read a half-dozenish Stirling novels and a bunch of his short stories, and he has a fascination with putting the warriors in charge of everything that I find…unseemly, as an American (an American with 15 years and counting in the Army, let it be noted). His feminism is less worrisome but just as tedious after multiple exposures (yeah, Steve, we get it–women can be just as badass as dudes; hot lesbians are, well, hot; can we move on now?)

    1. Your last sentence made me think of a scene from “Chasing Amy”, where Affleck’s buddy tries to prove to Affleck that there is no such thing as a cute, hot lesbians:
      There is the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, a Cute-Hot Lesbian, and an Ugly Man-Hating Agenda-Having Lesbian all standing in an intesection. In the middle of the intersection lies a $100 bill. Who would be first to get the $100? The Man-Hating Lesbian of course, because the other three are imaginary. 🙂
      Maybe Kevin Smith and SM Sterling are related…?

  5. Moe:
    Your abstract of the Change series sounds very similar to the premise behind the “Rifts” RPG. Or maybe Palladium took it from the Change series. ???
    Either way, and setting aside the whole SDC/MDC conversion confusion of the Palladium RPG rule set, I really liked the Rifts backstory and how seemlessly the Tech and Magic worked in that Universe.
    I may just have to look into starting the Change series.

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