• Reading,  Review

    Book Review: The World Inside

    by This is an odd little book, less a novel and more a series of interlinked shorts designed to present a strange thought-experiment society. This is a kind of social SF you don’t often see anymore, but the presentation is very “New Wave” which Silverberg drifted in and out of. (My favourite book of his, Across a Billion Years, doesn’t really qualify. I also haven’t read it in at least a couple of decades, so that favoritism may be coloured by nostalgia.) But it is an odd book, crowded with ideas and sex. Is it about over population? Sexual freedom? Privacy? Post-scarcity? Control? Yes, to all of those. 1000-story buildings…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: The Snow Queen

    by The world and universe being constructed here are interesting. We have clones, an immortality drug, a computer accessible directly by humans who possess the correct gene sequences, faster than light travel, and a galactic empire that fell a thousand years ago taking a lot of secrets with it. But we also have planetary monocultures, a variety of societal attitudes that are clearly from the 1970s and a pace that’s a little on the slow side with the various character lines taking too long to come together for me. The minor characters are actually more fun than the majors. Particularly Tor (and her robot sidekick Pollux) and Jerusha. Actually, Jerusha…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: Seveneves

    by Seveneves is actually two stories. The first is a sort of end of the world, death by raining moon fragments and saving of the human race by going into space kind of tale. Saving is relative, and by dint of a technology not quite indistinguishable from magic. The second picks up 5000 years later, when the human race has recovered, and very nearly speciated in several directions. It’s the second one I really wanted, the exploration of the cultures that resulted from such a difficult beginning. Unfortunately, that was the shorter of the two stories, and a little drier. Not that the first story was bad, but I would…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: Existence

    by I haven’t read much by David Brin in the past decade or so, which is weird. In my 20s, I loved the Uplift books and pretty much everything else of his I could get my hands on, at least until Earth which I needed two attempts to get through, but did enjoy the second. Existence is a different kind of book than the Uplift novels, or really anything else I’ve read of his. The idea of Uplift was mentioned in the book, so maybe it could be counted as an alternate future history to his previous work, but the notion of Uplift wasn’t pursued in this reality beyond initial…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: Sacred Cows

    by “Well into the 21st century, our species continues to participate in beliefs and customs that seem more suited to the Bronze Age than the Information Age,” direct from the blurb. This is sadly, unfortunately, disturbingly true. Even worse, there are some terribly frightening things presented in this book on how people, in the name of religion or belief or superstition or luck, treat their fellow creatures, and I don’t just mean human beings. I knew a number of the things Mr. Andrews presents in this short read already, but probably less than half. There are several (and I won’t spoil it for you) I didn’t that I found absolutely…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: Time Travel: A History

    by While I enjoyed the book overall, I finished it with an odd sense of disappointment. It’s filled with references that are aimed directly at me, everything from The Time Machine to Looper to Star Trek and Doctor Who to classical written SF. He references movies, television, novels, and short stories, the majority of which I’m at least passingly familiar with. Time travel is such a SF standard that you can’t blink at Schrodinger’s Cat without having a paradox fall to one side. But that’s most of the book. Much of the rest was how the language of time travel has slowly insinuated itself into our culture as a whole.…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: Gemina (Illuminae Files 2)

    by Like the first book in the series, I went for the audio version again, and for the same reason. The epistolary format of the book (most of the storytelling is done in terms of letters, reports, chat session transcriptions, and so on) doesn’t lend itself well to reading for me. Had I looked past the format of the printed book, beautiful as it is, I never would have gotten through this book by reading it. But as a full-cast audio production, it works, and, as it turns out, it works pretty well for me. This is a good spot to apologize in advance if this review turns out to…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: The Red Knight

    by So, I know I’m going against the overall grain on this one, but this was only okay. An alternate medieval Europe with an intrusive “wild” and variants on a lot of different European creatures and fey. Mix in some magic and religion that shows some similarities to what we have and most of whose adherents take seriously (although most of them are curiously dismissive of the almost casual blasphemy and dislike of god of the main protagonist), and you have the foundation of a well-built world. The writing is mostly solid, with just about the right amount of description for me, but occasionally a bit repetitious. “As he approached…

  • Reading

    The Goodreads Rating Scale And Why I Like It

    by The Goodreads rating scale puts things from one to five stars. Hover over the stars on a books page, and you’ll be shown simple comments from 5 down to 1: 5 – it was amazing 4 – really liked it 3 – liked it 2 – it was okay 1 – didn’t like it On the surface of things, this seems a bit limiting, especially when it seems to have four levels of positive feedback and only one level of negative. When writing reviews, I sometimes use half marks in between, but the basic scale works. To add a bit of detail in the way I look at things:…

  • Reading,  Review

    Book Review: Star Trek Movie Memories

    by Having read Star Trek Memories, I almost immediately moved to its sequel, published the following year, which I suddenly realized was more than twenty years in the past. Movie Memories, written just a couple of years after Star Trek VI finished production, would have covered a longer time period, at least calendrically if not in terms of actual production time, but most of it would certainly have been fresher in Shatner’s mind. I say almost because I decided I didn’t want to overdose, so I let a couple of months go by before picking up the sequel volume. A couple like nine or ten. This isn’t the same kind…