Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Eating your Pie With a Fork: James P. Hogan, Outward Bound (New York: Tor, 1999).

Outward Bound is an awful lot like Charles Sheffield's High Society. with a touch of Card's Ender's Game. Bright kid from the slums gets into trouble with the law and is offered a second chance, but isn't told precisely what that chance will be. He ends up at a reform school that you *can* opt out of (although the alternatives aren't exactly an incentive) where he learns to be co-operative, to manage his temper and his desire for vengeance, and finds he's both well co-ordinated and with a bent for engineering design. Eventually he ends up in High Orbit on the way out to the Outerzone, anarcho-communitarian colonies which know that Earth will start taking an interest as soon as they make money. Linc fails his final exams, but later we learn that an enemy substituted false exam samples. It all ends up with them kissing and making up, and also with Linc beginning to think about marriage--homosexuality never even gets a mention in this novel.

I sound disparaging but I actually enjoyed it thoroughly. It's a classic pedagogic sf novel which considers what it is we bring our children up to believe. In this book, the training is intended to break the habit of individualistic libertarianism and instead to inculate the idea of independence as an extension of duty. Linc is believable, not perfect, not a superman--he reminds of Matt in Heinlein's Space Cadet. Part of the philosophy of the Outerzone in fact is to take anyone who wants it badly enough--even if their skills are only in filing or in carpentry (which actually turns out to be the equivalent of diamond carving in the new world). The idea is to build a society and engineer the behaviour, not select individuals as supermen. This is not utopia, just a different place, a different way of life.

We mostly stay in Linc's head in this book, which means Hogan uses Linc to make the reader think. Again this is a classic manipulative technique, but Hogan doesn't make it obtrusive. Linc's friends are different enough from him that we see a range of ways to make decisions acceptable to the new society.


Blogger Simon Bisson said...

Like the Sheffield, this was part of an experiment in reworking the Heinlein juvenile for the 21st century. The Jupiter list was short-lived, but contained some pretty good reading.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

make money fast
is easy. make money fast

3:45 PM  
Blogger Mr.Kay said...

Hi, I was just blog surfing and found you! If you are interested, go see my money making ideas related site. It isnt anything special but you may still find something of interest.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Technology Benefits Life said...

The blog is interesting and keeps me pondering on several aspects of society. I know a organization in India which carries out Free Heart Surgery of Kids. There are several other such organisations. Internet has become a way of life for many. Everything can be found on Internet nowdays from free classifieds to real estate and rentals , from jobs to dating.and from religion to health.Google adsense is providing a lot of opportunity for internet publishers to earn over net. Everyday new inventions are taking place, like one of my friend showed me this site which allows to shorten url. And many such free tools are available on the net today. Even Internet domains are a very sought after thing today.

3:56 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home