Discussion:
Praxis trilogy
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m***@sky.com
2019-11-02 12:33:25 UTC
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I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).

I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Chris Buckley
2019-11-02 14:47:51 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed. I can't think of any other SF author who has written so well
in so many different SF genres and styles (humor, space opera,
cyberpunk, pure sf, mystery, disaster). He has the ability to present
worlds in which the reader can immerse themself because they are so
complete and well thought out.

It's a shame he hasn't been able to break through in reputation with a
top classic after writing so many merely excellent books.

Chris
Kevrob
2019-11-02 16:46:43 UTC
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Post by Chris Buckley
Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed. I can't think of any other SF author who has written so well
in so many different SF genres and styles (humor, space opera,
cyberpunk, pure sf, mystery, disaster). He has the ability to present
worlds in which the reader can immerse themself because they are so
complete and well thought out.
WJW was also in on the creation of the WILD CARDS shared umiverse
and created several fun characters. See interview:

https://www.wildcardsworld.com/qa/walter-john-willams/
Post by Chris Buckley
It's a shame he hasn't been able to break through in reputation with a
top classic after writing so many merely excellent books.
Bestsellerdom and quality are oftem only linked,
by co-incidence.

Kevin R
s
t***@gmail.com
2019-11-07 13:33:33 UTC
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Post by Chris Buckley
Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed. I can't think of any other SF author who has written so well
in so many different SF genres and styles (humor, space opera,
cyberpunk, pure sf, mystery, disaster). He has the ability to present
worlds in which the reader can immerse themself because they are so
complete and well thought out.
It's a shame he hasn't been able to break through in reputation with a
top classic after writing so many merely excellent books.
Agreed - at one point, I thought Aristoi[1] was growing a reputation that
might lead that way, but it seems to have stalled.

Tony
[1] I thought Aristoi was excellent.
-dsr-
2019-11-07 17:35:03 UTC
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Post by t***@gmail.com
Post by Chris Buckley
Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed. I can't think of any other SF author who has written so well
in so many different SF genres and styles (humor, space opera,
cyberpunk, pure sf, mystery, disaster). He has the ability to present
worlds in which the reader can immerse themself because they are so
complete and well thought out.
It's a shame he hasn't been able to break through in reputation with a
top classic after writing so many merely excellent books.
Agreed - at one point, I thought Aristoi[1] was growing a reputation that
might lead that way, but it seems to have stalled.
Tony
[1] I thought Aristoi was excellent.
For what it's worth, when I got my first edition signed, WJW said that it
was his favorite. Maybe he says that about all his books, but I doubt it.

-dsr-
William Hyde
2019-11-02 18:54:50 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed on all counts. I've read these more than once, which is rare these days.

Admittedly, you have to turn your science filters to "Off", but that's standard for space opera.

A bloody good read.

William Hyde
t***@gmail.com
2019-11-07 13:34:37 UTC
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Post by William Hyde
Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed on all counts. I've read these more than once, which is rare these days.
Admittedly, you have to turn your science filters to "Off", but that's standard for space opera.
A bloody good read.
Seconded - very well written, lots of layers, etc. I really enjoyed all three in this trilogy.
- Tony
Titus G
2020-01-13 02:01:55 UTC
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Post by t***@gmail.com
Post by William Hyde
Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed on all counts. I've read these more than once, which is rare these days.
Admittedly, you have to turn your science filters to "Off", but that's standard for space opera.
A bloody good read.
Seconded - very well written, lots of layers, etc. I really enjoyed all three in this trilogy.
- Tony
I have now finished "Conventions of War" published 2005, and agree with
the comments of the previous posters in this thread. A bloody good read.
In addition to previous comments I think that the initial setup, the
death of the last Shaa and consequent turmoil and intrigue were
amplified by the social structure created by the Shaa which produced
characters such as Tork and that this was as much a factor causing an
enjoyable read as the variety of ingredients.
I was surprised by the conclusion to the trilogy but quickly decided
that it was a pleasant change not to have all loose ends tidied up in a
lived happily ever after ending. Out of curiosity, I skimmed the opening
pages of "The Accidental War", the other Walter Jon Williams book I have
and was pleased to see in the Dramatis Personnae that the characters are
those from the "trilogy" so took to the web. At Fantastic Fiction this
book is described as the fourth book in the Dread Empire's Fall series,
(which may have begun as a trilogy) and I was pleased to see that there
are also another two books after Conventions of War and before The
Accidental War, "Investments" published 2012, which continues the story
of Martinez, and "Impersonations" published 2016, that of Sula.

As no-one commented on the term trilogy, I wonder if anyone here is
aware of these later books or if they have been read. I am looking
forward to reading these but think I will read Investments and
Impersonations before the "fourth book in the series".
Anthony Frost
2020-01-13 10:40:47 UTC
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Post by Titus G
another two books after Conventions of War and before The
Accidental War, "Investments" published 2012, which continues the story
of Martinez, and "Impersonations" published 2016, that of Sula.
As no-one commented on the term trilogy, I wonder if anyone here is
aware of these later books or if they have been read. I am looking
forward to reading these but think I will read Investments and
Impersonations before the "fourth book in the series".
They're novella length and stand-alones rather than being an integral
part of a longer sequence like the first three. Although having said
stand-alones, you'd probably need to read the first trilogy for the
background.

Anthony
-dsr-
2020-01-14 00:14:48 UTC
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Post by Titus G
I was surprised by the conclusion to the trilogy but quickly decided
that it was a pleasant change not to have all loose ends tidied up in a
lived happily ever after ending. Out of curiosity, I skimmed the opening
pages of "The Accidental War", the other Walter Jon Williams book I have
and was pleased to see in the Dramatis Personnae that the characters are
those from the "trilogy" so took to the web. At Fantastic Fiction this
book is described as the fourth book in the Dread Empire's Fall series,
(which may have begun as a trilogy) and I was pleased to see that there
are also another two books after Conventions of War and before The
Accidental War, "Investments" published 2012, which continues the story
of Martinez, and "Impersonations" published 2016, that of Sula.
As no-one commented on the term trilogy, I wonder if anyone here is
aware of these later books or if they have been read. I am looking
forward to reading these but think I will read Investments and
Impersonations before the "fourth book in the series".
Investments and Impersonations are novella-length interstitials;
The Accidental War seems to be beginning a new trilogy, which he
will presumably write interspersed with Quillifer novels.

-dsr-
Titus G
2020-01-14 20:16:15 UTC
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Post by -dsr-
Investments and Impersonations are novella-length interstitials;
The Accidental War seems to be beginning a new trilogy, which he
will presumably write interspersed with Quillifer novels.
The Praxis trilogy was the first of his I have read apart from two
attempts at the first page of Aristoi where I was overwhelmed by the
complicated foreign names, the first time late at night when tired and
the second with strong memories of the first. I will start this again.
Is the Praxis universe his best work?
-dsr-
2020-01-14 22:54:00 UTC
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Post by Titus G
Post by -dsr-
Investments and Impersonations are novella-length interstitials;
The Accidental War seems to be beginning a new trilogy, which he
will presumably write interspersed with Quillifer novels.
The Praxis trilogy was the first of his I have read apart from two
attempts at the first page of Aristoi where I was overwhelmed by the
complicated foreign names, the first time late at night when tired and
the second with strong memories of the first. I will start this again.
Is the Praxis universe his best work?
No, Metropolitan is.
No, Aristoi is. But I laugh more at The Crown Jewels.

-dsr-
t***@gmail.com
2020-01-14 12:08:49 UTC
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Post by Titus G
Post by t***@gmail.com
Post by William Hyde
Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Agreed on all counts. I've read these more than once, which is rare these days.
Admittedly, you have to turn your science filters to "Off", but that's standard for space opera.
A bloody good read.
Seconded - very well written, lots of layers, etc. I really enjoyed all three in this trilogy.
- Tony
I have now finished "Conventions of War" published 2005, and agree with
the comments of the previous posters in this thread. A bloody good read.
In addition to previous comments I think that the initial setup, the
death of the last Shaa and consequent turmoil and intrigue were
amplified by the social structure created by the Shaa which produced
characters such as Tork and that this was as much a factor causing an
enjoyable read as the variety of ingredients.
I was surprised by the conclusion to the trilogy but quickly decided
that it was a pleasant change not to have all loose ends tidied up in a
lived happily ever after ending. Out of curiosity, I skimmed the opening
pages of "The Accidental War", the other Walter Jon Williams book I have
and was pleased to see in the Dramatis Personnae that the characters are
those from the "trilogy" so took to the web. At Fantastic Fiction this
book is described as the fourth book in the Dread Empire's Fall series,
(which may have begun as a trilogy) and I was pleased to see that there
are also another two books after Conventions of War and before The
Accidental War, "Investments" published 2012, which continues the story
of Martinez, and "Impersonations" published 2016, that of Sula.
As no-one commented on the term trilogy, I wonder if anyone here is
aware of these later books or if they have been read. I am looking
forward to reading these but think I will read Investments and
Impersonations before the "fourth book in the series".
Just fyi, someone elsewhere[1] commented that WJW is starting to write
a second trilogy in the Praxis universe. I'd be happy to see that come to
fruition.
- Tony
[1] This was a comment to one of James' articles on Tor.com - almost
surely the "sff needs more incompetent autocrats" article.
Titus G
2020-02-03 03:19:23 UTC
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Investments. Walter Jon Williams.

This 135 page book is a tale of Martinez after his great luck in the
Dread Empires Fall series in the Praxis universe. His luck continues
with a convenient coincidence, a once in 149,000 years or something similar.
It was an OK read but too short so felt too contrived. I did not enjoy
the complicated situations when anti-matter projectiles could be blah,
blah, blah for page after page but it was very pleasant to be back in
his worlds. "... antimatter was remarkably stable— flakes of
antihydrogen suspended by static electricity inside incredibly small
etched silicon shells, all so tiny they flowed like a thick fluid—"

Impersonations. Walter Jon Williams.
At 188 pages, there was more room for plot but the action adventure
sequence in the latter part interfered with it but that is a minor
irritant in this continuing tale of Sula now in banishment to the trash
bin of Earth where she is soon knee deep in intrigue, fraud and worse
with tension, plot twists and of course, more luck. I was surprised to
discover Te Reo (the Maori language) had lasted thousands of years and
that Yoshimitsu had become a Maori name. There is no record of the
largest city in our South Island being called Christchurch as both words
are in antithesis to the Praxis ideology, what fun.

If you enjoyed the Dread Empires Fall, then you can't not read
Investments but you will enjoy Impersonations.

Titus G
2019-12-29 22:23:41 UTC
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Post by m***@sky.com
I have just finished re-reading the three original books of "Dread Empire's Fall" by Walter Jon Williams, starting with "The Praxis". The last part of the blurb on the back of this describes it as "Space Opera at its finest". I always thought of WJW as slumming it a bit in writing anything that could be described as Space Opera. Speaking as a lover of Space Opera in the tradition of E E Smith, I was entertained and held in suspense, especially in the final book "Conventions of War" (it's been long enough since I read them that I couldn't remember the details of the plot).
I do feel that there is a bit more mixed in here than pure Space Opera - there is a murder mystery, the love lives of two people, and a tour through the criminal underworld of two planets (probably the most sustained bit of world-building in the series, since the spaceships and missiles are nicely thought out but not otherwise very surprising). The technology and the extent of known space is static throughout the story ("all that is important is known"), but we see scope for innovations in tactics. If this is a sausage dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, I don't think the difference in the standard product is so much in the quality of the meat as in the variety and quantity of the other ingredients.
Thank you. I have read The Praxis and am currently enjoying The
Sundering. Great stuff.

The approach to space battles appears to be contradicted by the cover of
The Accidental Wars, A Novel of the Praxis, where many small ships are
attacking a large ship like a swarm of bees. (I haven't read this, just
surprised by the cover.)
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