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Very Hard Choices Hardcover – June 3, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; First Edition edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416555560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416555568
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,008,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Award-winning author Spider Robinson is renowned for his “Callahan’s Place” series of bestselling novels, the latest being Callahan’s Con (Tor). With his wife, Jeanne, he has written the Hugo- and Nebula-winning “Stardance” series, which Baen recently published complete in one volume for the first time. He has been a favorite with readers from his earliest stories, which won him the John Campbell Award for best new writer. Since then he has garnered many other awards for his amusing, Heinlein-inspired SF, with the current total at three Hugos and a Nebula Award. He is frequently a guest at SF conventions across the US and Canada. His last book for Baen was the The Lifehouse Trilogy

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
I've read everything the great Spider Robinson has ever written.
Gabriel Corrigan
They all live and breathe vibrantly providing an interesting and well composed symphony for the mind.
Texas Ed
His plots are far fetched. wonder if he likes pot as much as many of his characters.
Victor Nettle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Baker VINE VOICE on June 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Spider Robinson. Anyone who admires the Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein as much as I do is a saint my book. Thus it pains to me to say that this novel is a disaster.

Very Hard Choices is a sequel to the pretty good novel Very Bad Deaths. There we meet Russell Walker, the aging hippie, who sets out to help his old college roommate Zudie, who happens to be a telepath, chase down a nasty killer. He has the help of Constable Nika Mandic, the rather hot female cop. All turns out, if not completely well, well enough.

Here, Nika shows up at Russell's doorstep with some news, while Russell is at home visiting with his estranged son Jesse. It turns out the CIA is still hunting for Zudie for purposes unknown, but probably not very good ones, or so everyone surmises. This sets off a chain of events where Nika, Russell, and Jesse try to protect Zudie (short for Zandor Zudenigo) from the CIA agent chasing him. Everything culminates to a final confrontation in the end, but to avoid spoilers I'll stop here with the plot summary.

Unfortunately this novel is more a political or philosophical polemic through the thoughts of Russell Walker than it is a real novel. Yes, a story is embedded here, but the story itself could have been told in a short novella. Instead the prose drags on and on with chase scenes and the musings of Russell, but not in a very smooth or compelling way. I'm not sure if Russell is supposed to be a caricature of Spider Robinson or not, but it sure seems like it. But overall the characters seem more quirky than real, which maybe is the point. But the novel is just not that entertaining.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gale Mead on May 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very Hard Choices revisits the characters introduced in Very Bad Deaths, and again presents them with difficult, painful, life-threatening circumstances that force them to consider both the ethics and the morality of the choices they face. To say much more might upset certain surprising turns in the storyline, but suffice it to say that the first reviewer of this book got it wrong. The story does not suggest the US is in danger of being turned into a "religious dictatorship," nor is the story's antagonist working towards that goal. The threat, rather, is framed as a takeover by a very small cabal of extremely wealthy, powerful, and conscience-less autocrats. Sounds more like real life than science fiction to me! If you're an ardent right-winger, you probably won't like some of this book's premises. Everyone else is in for an enjoyable, and thought-provoking ride.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By MixMeister on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The sequel to Very Bad Deaths was something I had been waiting for with some trepidation: what story was there left to tell? The thrilling yet non-graphic horror that the former book had titillated me with should have warned me.

Although I had been prepared for some more of that insightful prose in that trademark way that Spider writes in, I did not expect that he would take the tale of the suffering telepath Zudie more than one step further. Everyone thinks that being a telepath may be a mild nuisance if you cannot turn the talent off at will. But this tale makes you feel what he feels and makes you understand why he had to retreat into obscurity... damn.. 't is difficult to not spoil the fun for would-be readers. Let me just wrap this up by stating "yes, he's done it again, he keeps evolving, and the stories keep getting more interesting and insightful each step of the way".

See if you can read the introductory chapters over there at the Baen Books website and then keep away from this one... even if you have not read the first book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Schlapkohl on August 28, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like several of the reviewers, I have read most of Spider Robinson's books. Very Hard Choices, the sequel to Very Bad Deaths, has all the strengths of Spider Robinson's science fiction. The characters are real people with strengths and weaknesses, strong convictions and doubts, failures and successes. I love science fiction, but not the "space westerns" where John Wayne heroes enter the stage without any fear, doubt or depth. Spider writes well about real people. He also writes about strong convictions. He has written something like 35 books now, and they very often speak of the value of relationships, optimism, and the importance of family (chosen and inhereted)and friends over material wealth and power. All of these can be found in Very Hard Choices and in this way Very Hard Choices is well worth a read.

I would typically, gladly, give a Spider Robinson book a 5/5. This is a very good book. But it is not as strong as Mindkiller or Melancholy Elephants. This book is a 4/5. There are two reasons for this. First, it is not as tight a book as his previous books. Much of the book is written first person from Russell Walker's point of view. Some of Russell's musings are tangential. At one point, Russell berates himself for woolgathering. Clearly, Mr. Robinson if you write the line "Damn it, Russell-no more woolgathering! Focus" (p.219), that should be a hint to edit. Second, and I know this is a personal opinion others might not share, but much of the ranting in this book related to marijuana use. I agree laws need to be liberalized, but does recreational drug use really deserve that much ink? Other reviewers have chastized Mr. Robinson for ranting in this book. OK.
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