I last read most of the The Grand Tour in high school or earlier, jumping about from book to book in no particular order. I don’t even know if I read The Grand Tour, especially given that it might not have been out yet. It’s a bit of a strange book, set first chronologically but written decades after others in the series. I was looking for an audiobook series to listen to next and this seemed worth a try.
Plotwise, it’s near future science fiction, with a world similar enough to the modern world that nothing seems impossible but exploring what could be / could have been. It’s not the sort of science fiction I generally read, but so it goes. The idea of the powersat and the spaceplanes is neat and the idea of NASA transferring responsibilities to private companies seems increasingly prescient every year (the last space shuttle flight was 6 years after this book was published). The ending in particular has just the right push of scifi action and adventure to keep me reading by itself.
Characterwise, I really don’t like Dan Randolph. He’s the worst sort of ‘alpha male’ personality, absolutely sure he’s right at all times and uses and discards all those around him, women in particular. Having a main character you don’t care for can work, but it certainly makes things harder. On top of that, there are a pile of other stereotypes. Women are described physically first and are all different variations on beautiful, and while they’re often intelligent or successful of their own right, it always feels like an afterthought.
Perhaps it’s a product of the point of view, the story purposely colored by Randolph’s point of view. Perhaps it comes from a story that was started in the 80s. Perhaps an author born in the 30s. Perhaps it’s how the world still is. In any case, it’s not a world I’d generally choose to read about.
In any case, not my favorite story. But it’s good enough to give the rest a try. I’m especially looking forward to the books post-Dan Randolph. :D