- Series: Red Thunder (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Ace Hardcover; 1 edition (April 4, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780441013647
- ISBN-13: 978-0441013647
- ASIN: 0441013643
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,371,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red Lightning (Red Thunder) Hardcover – April 4, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Ray Garcia-Strickland is just another Martian teenager. Sure, his parents are two of the ultra-famous original Mars colonists (as detailed in Varley's rollicking Red Thunder), but who cares when he's got school, girls and airboard tricks to think about? Then an object traveling at the speed of light slams into Earth, causing a massive tsunami that swamps Atlantic islands and coasts, including Ray's grandmother's Florida home. When the Garcia-Stricklands return from wading through the horrifying aftermath in search of survivors, they find that Ray's eccentric uncle, Jubal, has developed a gizmo that stops time and used it to mail himself to Mars. Drawing unabashedly on current events from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, the author mixes space opera–esque adventure and merriment with uncensored images of disaster areas and teenage sex. At his Heinlein-channeling best, Varley preaches the gospel of individual responsibility with all the fervor of a space-age libertarian revival preacher. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mars sucks, but it has all the comforts of home for Ray Garcia-Strickland, son of Martian explorer and hotel owner Manny Garcia. The family still has connections to Earth, though, and when an unidentified object strikes the Atlantic, destroying a huge percentage of the U.S. East Coast and several Caribbean islands, they head for Florida to get Grandmother, who owns a hotel on the coast, out of the disaster zone. Then there's mad genius Uncle Jubal, singlehandedly responsible for the incomprehensible Squeezers technology that creates incredibly cheap energy and makes space travel possible, who lives surrounded by a web of "security" in the Falklands. Just as the family thinks the worst is over, Jubal vanishes, and there are earthly powers that will stop at nothing to find him. The epic disaster has caused a whole stewpot of political unrest and power plays to come to a head, and Mars is a major pawn in the game, with Ray smack dab in the middle of an epic battle for truth and sovereignty. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I also like how the books are set in OUR time or just a few years from our time. Because of this you can really think "how would the world be if something like this occurs?" rather than imagining an entire new world set in the far future. I do like books set in the future but Varley's setting this in current times adds a terrific extra dimension.
Definitely worth picking up and reading!
The rest of the book could stand alone as a novelette; I wonder what happened to Varley's plot outline?
In fact, the three books in Varley's series contain many obvious nods to Heinlein, so it's clear he was influenced by those stories too.
I liked Red Thunder and Red Lightning a lot. I'll be buying more John Varley books.
[* Heinlein's books were very culturally diverse, actually, but his stories for teens less obviously so, and for some readers his books suffer from having been written in the context of the 1950s, '60s, etc.]
Written as it was between two real disasters -- 9/11 and the Indonesian tsunami -- perhaps Varley's mind was too occupied by disasters to be light, optimistic and cheery.
I thought the first few chapters were marvelous writing, and the quality of the writing didn't really dip as the story went on. Just the subject matter got sad, then barbaric, then inhuman, and finally appalling. That's something I associate more with Heinlein than Varley.
Jubal is great. I'm a big fan of Heinlein and Varley use some of the same character names in what I assume is a tribute
Red Lightning is the sequel to Red Thunder. The earlier novel dealt with a group of young adults who build their own spaceship despite government intervention (similar to The Astronaut Farmer (which came later), but also plotted rather differently). Red Lightning takes place a couple decades later and is narrated by Ray Garcia-Strickland, son of one of the Red Thunder heroes. In the intervening years between the two books, humanity has successfully colonized Mars and established based throughout the solar system. Earth, however, remains the center of the human universe.
A mysterious object hits the Atlantic at near-light velocity, creating a massive tsunami that devastates the Caribbean and the east coast of the U.S., leading to economic and political crises. The first part of the book deals with Ray and his family going from Mars to Earth to explore the damage and rescue some relatives; the second portion, taking place on Mars, has Earth invading the colony and inadvertently sparking calls for independence.
When reading this book, you'd think that the Katrina disaster would have been an influence, but a look at the copyright shows it was published too soon after that hurricane to really have an impact on the novel (though Varley does refer to it in an afterword); it was the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 that had more influence. Literarily, there is an obvious Heinlein effect, especially Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Though dealing with heavy issues, Varley writes with a light touch (though not so light as to trivialize what's going on). This helps make Red Lightning another fun Varley novel. If you want to read good (or great) old-fashioned style science fiction, Varley delivers the goods with Red Lightning.