I should probably rearrange my shelf slightly, and put Tripoint before Finity’s End. How’d they end up in what is probably reverse order? Who knows. Could’ve been moving, could’ve been order of acquisition, whatever. Doesn’t really matter now. It’s very difficult to date a lot of the post-Company Wars books because they focus on ships, and ships only use dates when in port. The brand of FTL travel in Alliance-Union is jump. That is to say that ships can enter hyperspace at one jump point and transit to another. This generally takes about a month realtime, ages the spacers about two weeks, and they trank down for it, rendering themselves unconscious (and keeping themselves sane). In the end, shiptime is a fair bit different from realtime, but the difference only matters when in port.
There’s other reasons to prefer reading Tripoint before Finity’s End if I’m going through chronologically. Finity’s End has a more satisfying ending overall, and it is a definite end to the era. Not necessarily the set of books, but it clearly ends an era of smuggling and distrust.
If I were to continue in this series, I’d probably be looking at 40,000 in Gehenna or Cyteen and Regenesis next. However, I think I’m done for the moment with Alliance-Union. I’ve already reread Cyteen and Regenesis this year, when I reread Downbelow Station. And 40,000 in Gehenna is one of the weirder entries in the series, which I don’t feel a need to reread very often. Point of fact, I’ve only read it once so far. That happens sometimes, that there’s just a book or two in a series that I dont’ care for. In most series you don’t have much of a choice – if you forgo the slog, you might not refresh your memory of key plot points for later down the road. Because so few books in Alliance-Union follow each other directly, I’m not punishing myself by choosing to skip one or more. I’d be in serious trouble for rereading Regenesis without going through Cyteen first, but 40,000 in Gehenna stands on its own. It’s mentioned in at least one other book, but that’s it.
As you might guess, I’m thinking of going in a different direction next. I’ll probably be sticking to science-fiction still, and not flipping back to fantasy quite yet. I managed to pick up the last Bolo book I didn’t already own, and given that it’s been a year at least since I started looking, I thnk that’s a good enough reason to go fo it next. Not to mention that it is coming off The Pile. Having a stack of fouteen books sitting next to me feels a bit odd, even though the thing was almost 30 tall at the beginning of the year, and I had the standard size paperbacks sitting on the floor in two additional stacks so that I wouldn’t knock them all over. (Fun fact: I still knocked the ones on the floor over. A lot.)
It’s probably also worth noting that, until mere weeks ago, The Pile was down to two books. Of course, anyone who’s noticed how rapidly I post on this blog, implying how quickly I finish books, will probably not be surprised by that. My Pile is not usually over twenty books though. Usually it’s 5-10, so it’s a bit high right now. But I won’t be going and reading everything in it right in a row. New books take more attention than old friends, and a lot of times I just want a comfort read, retreading old and familiar ground. Not to mention that a single new book in a string of rereads makes the new book stand out more, in my mind at least.
Idle thought, back on Tripoint and Alliance-Union. We’ve had a couple protagonists mention shaving two weeks’ beard growth off after jump. Nobody’s mentioned anything about the length of hair on peoples’ heads. Nor how long spacers’ hair tends to be. Haircuts are mentioned once or twice, but that’s it. I can figure that spacers probably don’t dye their hair because one assumes the roots will just grow out during jump. I wondered because we’ve had some mentions of tattoos, including ones that glow and such, because future. I’m assuming hair dye is still a thing in the future if tattoos and piercings are. Of course, it’s also possible that there is a brief sentence in one of these books that does address this question, and I’ve either forgotten it or overlooked it. Who knows? If it does exist, I’ll find it. One day.