Recentish Reading: House of Birds

So, some time ago, I copyedited a book for Steven Popkes called House of Birds. This has just been released, and, as I had a mental note to mention it, I’m glad I happened to notice that it has come out.

House of Birds by Steven Popkes

This may be a hard sell, because I think a lot of us are still kind of leaning toward low-stress books. (At least, I am.) During the first third or whatever of this book, most life on Earth gets destroyed, including basically all humans. This is not exactly a scenario that would generally count as “low-stress,” I realize.

Even so, I do recommend it. This is the case even though I don’t particularly like many of the characters. (I told you it might be a hard sell.) I mean, the main protagonist, Ian, is fine. Plenty of the characters are okay. I can’t really even put my finger on why I didn’t find them especially emotionally engaging — maybe just because this is a quite cerebral story overall, focused far (far!) more on the worldbuilding than on the characters. That worked well for me in this case, because less emotional engagement meant that I wasn’t bothered by the destruction of the world.

But all of that is about stuff that is just okay or just tolerable or whatever. None of that is why I actually loved this book and zoomed through the back half of it doublequick.

What this book has in spades is the best dinosaurs ever.

After Earth is basically destroyed, Popkes creates a whole new ecology, based on dinosaurs but with many unique features, on Venus. There is a frame story that explains all this, but I don’t really care that much. I just loved the dinosaurs and the ecosystem, and the founding of a new quasi-human population, and all that part of the story.

So, despite destroying the world in the first part of the book, Popkes rebuilds a different world in the back part of the story, and that is enormously fun for anybody who loves dinosaurs or ecology or founding a new world or anything like that. I definitely recommend you check it out if any of that sounds like something you’d enjoy. I’m going to pick it up partly to see what’s changed since the draft I read. That’s always interesting.

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6 thoughts on “Recentish Reading: House of Birds”

  1. I can’t recommend the Phoenix feather series enough, for comfort reading . It’s like A Stranger to Command in that I could read it a million times and still be happy with it. The last book is finished (I read it on Patreon) and should be out in the next month or two.

  2. I do have the first one on my Kindle, Alison, but really, I’m barely reading anything right now, so … eventually, probably.

  3. I just read the first three books of the Phoenix feather series by Sherwood Smith, and liked them a lot – I lost sleep over not wanting to put them down at bedtime.
    I was thinking I should recommend them to people here, and am very glad Alison is doing so already!

    Its Empire of a Thousand Islands worldbuilding is strongly influenced by the Far East; Sherwood said she was inspired by the braided tales in Japanese manga/anime and some Chinese histories.
    I had the sense that this series could keep on going for quite a few more books, with the different story-braids intertwining and taking separate paths for a while, then coming together, and maybe splitting off again for a bit.
    She did say she wanted to bring the story to a neat and satisfying end for all the parts of the braid, not leave some threads dangling too badly as is apparently common in these manga/anime stories that formed a part of her inspiration.
    I wonder how she’ll manage that in just one more book?

  4. So glad to hear you guys liked the Phoenix Feather series! I had forgotten that was coming out. (I’ve had a number of misses with her more recent stuff, but I will still buy everything she writes. I’m delighted this one is up there with Stranger to Command (which I might just reread now, just ’cause!)

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