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Red Thunder
By John Varley

Discussed September 2004

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Questions

  1. How does Red Thunder compare to other John Varley books you have read (such as Steel Beach, one of the previous Book Discussion subjects or the Gaean Trilogy: Titan, Wizard, Demon)? If this was the first John Varley novel you'd ever read, would you want to read more? Is there any GLBT content?
  2. Red Thunder has often been compared with Rocket Ship Galileo, one of Heinlein's first juvenile novels. How do you think it compares with Rocket Ship Galileo or any of the other the Heinlein juveniles? How does it compare to the semi-fictionalized storyline in the film October Sky?
  3. What do you think of the science: building a spaceship out of (essentially) junkyard parts vs. the "Squeezer bubbles"?
  4. If you have read any of the "indies in space" stories listed below, how does Red Thunder compare/contrast? What does Varley (or, indeed, any of the "indies in space" stories) seem to be saying about Government-backed space programs (in general) and NASA (in particular)?

Books/stories with similar themes:

Fiction:
Flynn, Michael. Firestar (1996) - first novel in the "Star" series
Graham, Daniel, Jr. The Gatekeepers (1995)
Heinlein, Robert A. Rocket Ship Galileo (1947)
Ligon, Tom. "Amateurs" (*Analog*, July1996)
Koman, Victor. Kings of the High Frontier (1998)
Niven, Larry, Jerry Pournelle, & Michael Flynn. Fallen Angels (1991)
October Sky (Universal, 1999; dir. Joe Johnston)
Verne, Jules. From the Earth to the Moon (1865)

Non-Fiction:
Ligon, Tom. "Prospectus" (*Analog*, July 1996)
Stine, G. Harry. Halfway to Anywhere: Achieving America's Destiny in Space (1996)

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