Two Bulletins

by wjw on November 1, 2020

Fleet-Elements-by-Walter-Jon-Williams-ReviewTwo bit of good news arrived on the same day!  First, a review of Fleet Elements from Booklist.

Fleet Elements.

By Walter Jon Williams

Dec. 2020. 512p. Harper Voyager, paper, $16.99 (9780062467041); e-book (9780062467065)

This follow-up to The Accidental War (2018) fulfills the promise of the first book, which seemed to be more about opera than space, by delivering two exciting fleet battles. Terrans have been declared outlaws by the Convocation of the Praxis and are gathering their battered forces at Harzapid. Gareth Martinez leads a rescue mission to gather up a fleet being chased by the Praxis. Lady Sula, meanwhile, is on Harzapid, overseeing the restoration of ships to fighting fitness and dealing with saboteurs. Once they have mustered what ships they can, they are still outnumbered by more than two-to-one when Praxis forces approach. Martinez, with Sula as his tactical officer, is counting on Lord Tork, Supreme Commander of the Fleet, to follow his arrogant, outmoded tactics. The opera elements are as tight as the fleet elements, making readers care about those inside the starships desperately evading missiles and proton blasts. A satisfying setup for the final showdown at Zanshaa promised in the next book.

—Don Vicha


And second, a starred PW review of the Best Of collection.

Best-known for space operas, Williams (Fleet Elements) showcases his versatility in this impressive collection of 12 stories, whose wide-ranging subjects include a superhero-supervillain battle in the Old West (“The Golden Age”) and a moving account of a child who learns that his world isn’t want he believed it to be (“Daddy’s World”). In perhaps the most ambitious and memorable entry, “The Green Leopard Plague,” Williams concocts a gripping plot involving an ape turned mermaid, a mystery surrounding an influential academic, copyright police, Sovietism after the fall of the Soviet Union, and ethnic cleansing. Fans of Williams’s Praxis series will also welcome “Margaux,” a taut prequel that provides the complex backstory of a major character in those books, and which maintains suspense even for those who already know how it will end. Across every entry, Williams displays his superior prose, an ability to craft well-rounded worlds, and a facility for creating engagement and empathy in readers, whether for a recognizable human character or an alien intelligence. This stellar volume should grow Williams’s devoted fan base. (Feb.)

Am I really best known for space opera? Who knew?

John Appel November 2, 2020 at 6:34 am

Those are indeed excellent reviews! Looking forward to both of these.

-dsr- November 2, 2020 at 9:20 am

As I am married to a former PW reviewer, I can say that at least in the past, PW reviews were usually offered to a reviewer who has previously reviewed that author, or failing that, is comfortable with the genre. This review has two major elements: one, the reviewer likes the Praxis series. Two, they really like this collection — there’s nothing negative at all.

When a reviewer thinks a book stinks, they go to some effort to make sure that they can’t be quoted with ellipses to make a better blurb.

mearsk November 4, 2020 at 10:56 am

I started with your Praxis books. I have since read some of your other works, but still, I always go back to your space opera.

pecooper November 6, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Space Opera? For many people, it will always be your Base. That’s the Tenor of your work.

(And why do I have a vision of Elmer Fudd, in horned helmet, and Marvin Martian doing a duet of “Kill the Wabbit?”)

Jim Janney November 7, 2020 at 4:43 pm

In Aristoi the protagonist, when not busy saving civilization, finds time to write and produce an opera (it annoys me that I’ll never get to hear it). But it’s probably the naval battles that everyone likes best.

Scott Jenks November 7, 2020 at 7:29 pm

pecooper Not that I’m not eagerly awaiting Fleet Elements but Hardwired will always be my base for WJW

wjw November 8, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Jim, Gabriel had some advantages over the rest of us. He could assign one of himself to write the opera, while the rest of himselves saved civilization.

Susan B November 14, 2020 at 3:53 pm

I just finished a re-read of all the Praxis books and am really looking forward to Fleet Elements showing up in my Kindle app. I wanted to go into the new book with all that had happened in this series fresh in my mind after reading Accidental War as a stand alone so I could review it for people who hadn’t read the first 3 books.

Great to see the good reviews you are getting; I’ve been a fan for many years. I think I may have run across the Praxis books at my local library, but I also read Days of Atonement and The Rift at about the same time and loved them too.

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