Sean Williams


posted on 5 Aug 2005 at 11:26 pm

Sarah Meador at Rambles.NET got everything I was trying to do with this novel (even if she did get the title slightly awry a couple of times):


“Showing uncommon honesty, Heirs of the Earth [sic] provides no complete, certain answers to the central mystery of the series. Who the Starfish and Spinners are, where they come from, why they behave as they do — all are left essentially unanswered. Clues to the answers are uncovered throughout the novel, and every character ends the experience with his or her own theory. But ultimately the last echoes of humanity are left with no certainties except the outcome before their own eyes. …

“Desperate and tightly paced, Heirs of the Earth [sic] is a disturbing end to a discomforting series.

“Sean Williams and Shane Dix turn away from the often comforting rules of fiction, forcing the real and sometimes intolerable uncertainty of survival on their heroes and their readers. It’s not an easy book to read but it’s much harder to ignore.”

It was a hard one to write, but I’m glad it’s struck a chord with some reviewers. Paul D Filippo also liked it, saying at SciFi.com that: “The impulses behind Williams and Dix’s awe-inspiring trilogy are as old as the science fiction genre. From the first days of Doc Smith’s Skylark series-initially conceived in 1915, but appearing in magazine form in 1928-writers have lusted to depict cosmic vistas, baffling aliens, super-science technology and mankind’s role amidst such wonders. As real-world science advances, as ethics evolve, as new metaphysical and cosmological theories crop up, the previous generation’s space opera becomes outdated and insufficient, requiring a new generation of writers to update the core values of the subgenre, to clothe them in shiny new chromalloy armor. Dix and Williams do so in exceptional fashion.

“Their willingness to drive mankind to an evolutionary bottleneck is typical of their hard-nosed, revisionist approach. Space opera can be a very comforting, cozy mode, with its interstellar empires and royalty and guilds. But when dramatic Darwinian forces are brought into play, as here, space opera can become a kind of bracing, near-apocalyptic tale. Gregs Bear and Benford are fond of this approach, and Williams and Dix can stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”

He concludes:

“The series ends with more questions than answers, but that outcome might very well reflect both the true nature of the close-mouthed universe and a postmodern outlook where certainty is less attainable and less valued than in the olden days of Doc Smith’s glory. Rating: A”

Somewhere in there was a line about Williams & Dix becoming “the new Niven & Pournelle for the 21st century”. You couldn’t pay for a byline like that. 🙂