Geoffrey A. Landis. The Sultan of the Clouds. (Asimovs September 2010).

An intriguing political background, and an imaginative setting amongst the clouds of Venus, to which the story doesn’t quite live up.

Humanity had spread outwards across the Solar System, thanks to private rather than governmental initiative, and as a result wealth beyond imagination rests in the hands of the small group of commercial enterprises who know effectively own the transport and the infrastructure on which travel relies.

There’s a feel of the Golden Age about it, a touch of the Brave New Worlds/Metropolis, and the occasional bit of anachronistic language (‘darn’ is the oath of choice), and a tad of teenage wish fulfilment – a teenager is the titular Sultant of the Clouds, and he has not only massive wealth but the opportunity to have a bride – an older woman wise in the ways of the marital bed.

At heart there’s a scientific conundrum to be de-conundrumised, wrapped around some derring-do, with the help of ‘Pirates’ who oppose the current regime. David Tinkerman has to solve the conundrum, whilst protecting the beautiful female scientist who is aloof throughout (and who remains an enigma). So, a bit on the retro side, but the story skips along nicely enough.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply