John Varley, Rolling Thunder

Posted August 1, 2011 by Kathy Davie in

Rolling Thunder (Red Thunder, #3)Rolling Thunder by John Varley
Series: Red Thunder, 3
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Third in the Red Thunder young adult science fiction series set in an alternate Earth where Mars and its people have the upper hand and disaster has created havoc in America splitting it into several independent countries.

The Story
Lieutenant Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Podkayne Strickland-Garcia-Redmond is fulfilling her required military duty acting as Martian Consul on Earth when she’s recalled home. Granny Betty is dying and she wants to say good-bye to everyone. The trip is a blessing as Poddy hates being on Earth so when Uncle Admiral Bill Redmond pulls some strings and arranges for Podkayne to finish up her military duty as an entertainer for military bases on Europa, a moon in orbit around Jupiter, Poddy is ecstatic. Her passion is music. Singing. Playing. Now she just has to get a group pulled together so she has a better chance of finishing her tour as a military entertainer.

And so it begins as Varley extremely slowly creates the primary drama for Rolling Thunder which eventually leads to Podkayne’s fame, her falling in love, and the diaspora from Mars.

The Characters
Patricia Kelly Elizabeth Podkayne Strickland-Garcia-Redmond is the daughter of Ray Strickland-Garcia and Evangeline Redmond and the granddaughter of Manny and Kelly Strickland-Garcia. Her brother, Mike, and she have a very teasing relationship.

Jubal and Travis are still in the picture with Jubal still hibernating in the blackhole and Travis popping out every few years to see how things are going. Grandma Kelly was the first president of Mars.

My Take
I do like Podkayne’s remark about a “rolling stone”…so appropriate as they all go rolling along in Rolling Thunder.

It takes forever for Varley to get this story started. I enjoyed it and I am really hoping there will be a fourth in this series but don’t expect the same breathstealing drama in Rolling Thunder as there was in the previous two stories. Even the major disasters that strike Earth don’t provide that much fuss. As much as I enjoyed the depth to which Varley included music, its composition, construction, the dramas of its artists, its history, the tribulations of road trips, Varley did not do a great job of tying it together with Europa’s mountains invading and the need to abandon some hopes.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still an interesting story. It does advance the history of the Garcia-Strickland-Remonds and Travis and Jubal Broussard—you go, Jubal!!—with the promise of new adventures to come. The in-depth look into the behind-the-scenes action of creating music will also very much appeal to those of you interested in music.

The Cover
The cover is different from the previous two—all these buildings pointing inward into a Martian Naval Corps badge with Europa as the background. The title is very appropriate as you’ll discover toward the end!

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