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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
The Ninth Circle - R.M. Meluch In the not-so-distant future, a hidden conspiracy stretching thousands of years reveals itself. Romans have been hiding in sleeper cells, and when they awaken they nearly take over the Earth. They lose the war and retreat to form their own galaxy-spanning empire. The new Roman Empire and the US are in the midst of a cold war at the beginning of the series. Sometimes they team up against alien invasions, and other times their cold war gets particularly hot. It's all rather exciting, like a hoo-rah version of Star Trek. Since the last book, Captain John Alexander Farragut has been promoted to Admiral, and Calista Carmel has become captain of the Merrimack. I like Carmel a lot, but I do miss Captain Farragut--he and Augustus were the characters I read the books for, and now they're both out of the series. When an old shipmate (Glenn "Hamster" Hamilton) finds evidence of a new alien race, Farragut sends the Merrimack to investigate. Meanwhile, a band of Roman men is cast out of the empire and become pirates on a collision course with the Merrimack.

On the one hand, once I started this book I didn't stop reading till I was done. On the other hand, my main impetus for finishing was in hopes of reading what hideous & ignominious end the incredibly annoying Knox came to, because holy shit balls I hate that character. He's the Haulden Caulfield of serial killers.

Even if I didn't think Knox was the stupidest, most blindingly self-absorbed twit to ever stain a page (and making it all the worse, he's clearly a favorite of Meluch's), I still couldn't quite stomach this book. It's just too clearly biased: the UN-analogues are foolish and ridiculously naive, continually creating obstacles for Our Heroes and being unfairly vituperative about the Noble Sacrifices Our Heroes have made throughout the series. The scientists are absurdly, unbelievably unworldly. Meluch also has a lot of affection for the new Roman Empire, for no reason I can determine. The new Romans are basically fascist Spartans, so there is nothing I admire about their society, while Meluch seems to think there are so many things to admire that she needn't provide any reasons to the reader. I don't get her priorities or her values--I don't like any of her fave characters (Steel, Kerry Blue, Knox) and I love all the side characters she's bored by. Plus, Meluch's writing style has gotten almost unreadably terse, and her long spiels of pseudo-science infodumping are less charming than ever.

I'll probably keep reading this series, because I love ship battles, but I'm no longer enthralled by it.