E M Foner Union Station Series 1: Overview & KDP

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EM Foner Union Station Series & Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)


Preamble

EM Foner Union Station does not fit my normal Classic SciFi inclination. As you would know from my Classic SciFi series, ten to date, I am a fan of old-fashioned classic science fiction and also would like to remind or introduce people to some of the best books.

My series of Classic SciFi is 1. James Blish A Case of Conscience, 2. Daniel F Galouye Dark Universe, 3. Avram Davidson Rork! 4-7 William Gibson Trilogy 4. Neuromancer, 5. Prophecy, 6. Count Zero, 7. Mona Lisa Overdrive, 8 Ursula K. Le Guin The Word for World Is Forest, 9 Isaac Asimov I, Robot & Killer Robots, 10 Arkady & Boris Strugatsky Roadside Picnic. There are many more to get around to.

In the articles I try to do slightly more than a conventional book review by providing a deeper background and some analysis.

Roy Lewis The Evolution Man is also labelled by Penguin as Science Fiction. I would label it more as humour and not what I call Classic SciFi; though I’d highly recommend it as a must read.

E M Foner Union Station 4My preferred science fiction and use of the word classic are those books from the 1940s on that try to advance novel ideas and a theme that is plausible and pays lip service to scientific rigour whether from hard science or the social sciences and psychology.

Nevertheless, there are other genres and I have read works from many of them, including the occasional fantasy novel.

My liking of and slight addiction to EM Foner’s Union Station Series does not fit this model. It is unusual for me. Akin perhaps to an otherwise intelligent reader’s attraction to Mills & Boon or Westerns but this does not do justice to EM Foner. The categorisation with Mills & Boon and Westerns is also important. The story or the clothing of each type of writing falls within similar forms of ritualised convention. In EM Foner’s case this is quite clever, if somewhat unusual. The Union Station books are funny and subversively intelligent but quirky.


Union Station Series

There are 18 Union Station books to date published over the last six years. They are all of similar quality and their ratings average over 4 on Goodreads, which as a reader tends to be my preliminary criterion of excellence these days. When browsing books on secondhand shelves anything over 3.75 tends to be a reliable guide to my giving new authors a go.

I’ll cover the individual books in another article.

Genres

There are many so-called genres and sub-genres in science fiction. Though some books have to be shoe-horned uneasily into many of them. Examples are alien invasion, anthropological, social, cyberpunk, steampunk, space opera etc.

The Union Station Series doesn’t fit readily into any of them, as is made clear in the two interviews with EM Foner I’ve found (also dealt with in another article).E M Foner Union Station 2

Story Background

Kelly Frank is EarthCent’s ambassador on Union Station. A large portion of the universe is controlled by the Stryx — a race of AIs created millions of years ago by the Makers. They have a tunnel network of efficient transport through space. At each node is a huge artificial station hosting billions individuals. There is a vast array of alien species, some with similar atmospheres to humans and others with toxic atmospheres, on each Stryx station and many other species that are beyond Stryx space. Most of these species have had faster than light travel for millions of years.

Within Stryx space, the Stryx run things. They have a tight business model and strict rules about conflict and behaviour in other species. The Stryx are akin to a benign dictatorship, with a hands-off approach, up to a point.

Outside of Stryx space is free for all and can be dangerous.

The Stryx contacted Earth ahead of economic collapse and of a potential invasion by at least one other humanoid client species — the Vergallians. The Stryx seem to have a soft spot for humans and are helping them as a backward species that has not developed space travel on its own. Humanity is on probation. This leads to some jealousies with other species, but the Stryx at least pretend to remain objective and even-handed.

On Earth, governments around the world have become irrelevant as have many professions. Humans quickly left the planet to hire themselves out as contract labour off-world. The Stryx set up EarthCent, a small underfunded agency on Earth, as the only human authority recognised. The Stryx select the employees and those for the diplomatic corps, by a seemingly random process that only they understand.

Most of the action occurs on Union Station itself amongst a small group of humans in the circle of Kelly Frank. There is an occasional visit to a planet or other place.

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