LockstepLockstep by Karl Schroeder




Here is another interesting take on the old 'How can we have a space faring civilisation without Faster than Light travel?'. The author's solution is to make all the people populating those orphan planets he assumes there to be in the space between the sun and Proxima Centauri have a synchronised hibernation. They all go to sleep at the same time and sleep for 360 months for each one they're awake, while in the meantime their robots exploit and grow their resources and their ships take them while asleep on those journeys that take years in real time but only weeks to them. It's a good plot idea and although there are possible flaws it mostly works. The story, however, is a little weak and seems to be very much aimed at a teenage audience, complete with cute sentient pets and daring rescues. The characters also follow this trend and are a bit difficult to believe, in particular Toby's 'younger' (now much older) siblings. It is still a good read, however and I enjoyed it.

This was the set book for the Bibliogoth meeting for September 2017.



View all my reviews
Re-watching Season 3 of Babylon 5 because, well, outlandish and improbable Sci-Fi where the President is a crook and a nutjob and is in alliance with dark evil forces, could never happen... oh, wait...
WalkawayWalkaway by Cory Doctorow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It took me a little bit to get into the world of the book, but once it grabbed me I couldn’t let go until I finished it. The high-tech near-future world of the book is in the hands of a few mega-rich and the rest struggle to survive. Four young people decide to join the ‘walk-aways’, people who leave mainstream society and set out on their own. The strife that follows, as well as the main cause of that strife (which you only find out half-way through the book) defines the plot of the book. Some of it really stretches your suspension of disbelief to almost breaking point but it all is quite well done and holds together. The main characters are well drawn, believable for the most part. I enjoyed this book a lot.



View all my reviews
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Stephenson goes back to the many worlds theory with a rather different take on it. The world is now devoid of magic because... ah, wait, that might be a spoiler. Quite short by Stephenson's standards at 'only' 700 pages, which might be the influence of the co-author, Nicole Galland. Who I had not heard about but looks interesting and whose work I will be checking out. The usual Stephenson slow build up -but not as slow as in some of his other books. Again, maybe Galland rather than Stephenson. Quite believable characters, for the most part, as well as plot (once you accept the basic premise of the book); the account of the ballooning bureaucracy surrounding the project and the way it operates is quite funny and rings, alas, very true.

I read the whole of this in six days or so, in one go, pretty much. 'Anathem' is still my Stephenson favourite (as is its world), in which I know I am alone but I enjoyed this a lot and will probably read it again at some point.



View all my reviews
The Holy MachineThe Holy Machine by Chris Beckett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this one a lot, even though I prefer his Dark Eden series. A bit closer to allegory than I normally like but a very good story in a dystopian near-future which is different to other imaginings of it I've recently seen but one that is only just a little bit hyperbolic. It is not so much science-fiction as politics-fiction and society-fiction but then the best SF is.



View all my reviews
Trying not to look at the news... ah, watched Interstellar. Only three years late. I be only a little musician so wouldn't really know but there might have been a few flaws in the physics there but it doesn't matter, it was a lovely story. Might watch it again tonight, to avoid watching the news. I have this sense of dread impending..

Also reading 'The Book of Phoenix' by Nnedi Okorafor. Quite good although it felt like it could have done with some more proof reading and sub-editing. Trying to think who it was that recommended me the author either here or in FB -if it was here, many thanks; it is a good story with just that proviso.
Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Another apocalyptic story told in two different time frames? This one works, though, at least for me. I could relate to these post-apocalyptic musicians wandering from town to town.

Things I didn't like: at first the strands of the story, told in two different time frames, feel like one is given the story as a shuffled deck of cards that one has to put in order. This is a device that looked clever and innovative when Cortázar was using it in the '60s but today perhaps not so much.

Things I liked: There was a lot that I did like. The characters and the situation felt 'real'. It makes you think, inevitably, on the ways our civilisation is fragile -a pandemic as described in the book is perhaps not very likely (or is it), but so many things could.

I enjoyed this book which a friend described as 'a most Canadian apocalypse story'. Will be seeking other work by the author.



View all my reviews
Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the second time I read this, this time for the February meeting of Bibliogoth. Had forgotten quite a bit about it; I've learnt since that it was to have been a graphic novel, which makes sense -some of the characters, the action and the settings are almost in primary colours, low res comic book style. It works though. The main characters I find engaging and credible (if some of the action scenes a little less so and the names I found slightly annoying at first -Hirohito Protagonist?), the depiction of the internet as a virtual world wasn't that off the mark -and this was written in 1992, before the internet as we know it today became widespread, still in the time of connecting to BBSs using dial-up modems. I may have enjoyed it more this time round. I still prefer Anathem but I suspect I'm quite alone in this.



View all my reviews
SuperextragrandeSuperextragrande by Yoss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I read this book in the original Spanish language edition. I really wanted to like this book. A short science-fiction novel by a Cuban author -a novel perspective on the genre, at least for me. I didn't dislike it but I often found my suspension of disbelief ... suspended. I didn't quite get the author's sense of humour -but that's me, so YMMV. The basic premise is a sort of galactic vet who specialises in gigantic creatures of the cosmos, and his various adventures involving them -and the females of several pan-human species -the former, an excellent idea. The former rather bored me and made ,e think of 1950's pulp sci-fi comics. Worth a read, although it didn't quite do it for me. Again, YMMV and the author and book have received quite a few awards.



View all my reviews
Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Had just belatedly watched the TV series -which parts company with the book pretty soon, although the general outline of the story is similar. I do have to say that, at least at first, the series resolves some issues slightly better than the book -but soon becomes a parade of sci-fi, horror and mystery tropes, from Battlestar Galactica to the Matrix. The book does hint at that ('wow, this is like being in that movie, 'The Mist'') but is a different thing entirely. In a way it _is_ kind of a retelling of The Mist, a community that becomes isolated and simmers in their own juices of weakness, desire for power or a reassuring authority to lead them through the crisis. Weirdly, I found Big Jim more convincing in the movie -the character in the book is irredeemably, relentlessly loathsome without any complexity or saving graces. The book is not perfect, at times it does stretch your suspension of disbelief and, as I mentioned, some characters are drawn in rather thick black and white strokes and the basic premise of the existence of Dome is one such moment in which you think 'nah, you've gone too far', but it is a very good read nonetheless. I enjoyed it.



View all my reviews
In trying to avoid reading 'Infinite Jest' by David Foster Walace, which is the book marked for discussion on the next [livejournal.com profile] bibliogoth meeting -book which I'm finding extremely tiresome to read, I have been reading or re-reading a few other books, including a couple of the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch, the whole Merchant Prince series by Charlie Stross, re-reading 'Matter' by Iain M Banks, which was the first Culture book I read and finding that I had missed so much detail and reference the first time round, and also now 'Starship Troopers' by Heinlein. Have enjoyed all of these in different ways; Aaronovitch books present bits of London that are part of my life in a different light; the Stross series is yet another Parallel Worlds story but a very well told one -and although it is a bit late it is nice to see G W Bush and Cheney dispatched like that, at least in prose. 'Troopers' is a slightly different case. I'm enjoying reading it but I can see I wouldn't be able to see eye to eye with Mr Heinlein on practically any social or political issue, I find him profoundly reactionary, the society he depicts borderline fascist. It is a good read, though.
Just finished reading, maybe for the third time in my life, 'Foundation' by Isaac Asimov. , which is the set reading for the next meeting of Bibliogoth How times change (even though admittedly they need to change a lot more). Apart from the rather quaint galaxy the story takes place in, where everything is 'atomic' (but of course he was writing this at the end of the 1940's so nuclear energy was a promise rather than a threat), the first thing that strikes me is the fact that all the characters of any consequence are men and the only woman that has a voice at all in the book, although fierce, is still just somebody's wife and somebody's daughter.

The book is also an hymn to unbridled capitalism, which Asimov clearly believes to be a force for good...well, what we're dealing with in the world, with the consequences of greed on the part of corporations and banks may have put paid to any such beliefs.

Having said all this, though, I enjoyed the book enormously again. It cannot help being a product of its time and has all the corresponding flaws but it's a very good story and a good example of what I feel science-fiction should be, entertaining and thought provoking, a mirror held at us from a distance
Just finished reading, maybe for the third time in my life, 'Foundation' by Isaac Asimov. , which is the set reading for the next meeting of [livejournal.com profile] bibliogoth How times change (even though admittedly they need to change a lot more). Apart from the rather quaint galaxy the story takes place in, where everything is 'atomic' (but of course he was writing this at the end of the 1940's so nuclear energy was a promise rather than a threat), the first thing that strikes me is the fact that all the characters of any consequence are men and the only woman that has a voice at all in the book, although fierce, is still just somebody's wife and somebody's daughter.

The book is also an hymn to unbridled capitalism, which Asimov clearly believes to be a force for good...well, what we're dealing with in the world, with the consequences of greed on the part of corporations and banks may have put paid to any such beliefs.

Having said all this, though, I enjoyed the book enormously again. It cannot help being a product of its time and has all the corresponding flaws but it's a very good story and a good example of what I feel science-fiction should be, entertaining and thought provoking, a mirror held at us from a distance.
flaviomatani: (zcylon)
( Dec. 22nd, 2013 10:46 pm)
Beginning to watch 'Falling Skies' (yes, it takes me a while to catch up with these things). So far it's ok but feels rather a lot like a cross between BSG's New Caprica (with much uglier Cylons borrowed from District 9) and Walking Dead. Maybe, like Neal Stephenson, I'm getting a little tired of apocalyptic fiction at this point. Science-fiction used to look forward to better. Iain M Banks still did and Charlie Stross still does.. (and I'm still looking forward to the sequel of Chris Beckett's 'Dark Eden..')

Still watching bits of 'Blakes 7'. And, mostly and mostly in the background while I do other things, bits of BBC4 where cute little critters struggle for three quarters of an hour to end up getting eaten by something large and horrible, while Attenborough narrates the whole thing with that soothing voice of his.
flaviomatani: (Default)
( Dec. 14th, 2013 11:27 am)
Still slowly making my way through Blakes 7 (Shouldn't there be an apostrophe there?). Still haven't made up my mind whether I like it or not. You get used to the dated graphics, effects and sets and the rather cardboard-y acting but even after that I'm still not sure.
Liking Tor books more and more. First discovered Elizabeth Bear's fantastic science-fiction stories through a compilation of theirs (and she's on LJ, as [livejournal.com profile] matociquala, now Michael Swanwick's baroque stories of a Europe that never was, in the Mongolian Wizard short story series . In contrast to Charlie Stross's 'Laundry' world (which I also quite like), in these demonology is superstition which doesn't work but wizardry does. This.. doesn't sound so good, perhaps like minor harrypottery but here it does work -at least for me, as one should perhaps always say. This is making my coughing and sneezing that bit more bearable tonight.

This made me wonder, when the next instalment of 's 'Dark Eden' story may be coming out..
Finally, after only thirty odd years, got round to starting watching Blake's 7. My first impression was not good -almost switched off at the opening graphics. This is 1979? The Atari VCS had games with better graphics than this. The acting also rather cardboard-y, the sets and costumes... also. Will persevere as the story has possibilities (yes, I already know more or less how it goes, but the devil,as always, is in the detail) and so many people I know heap praise on it, but as I said, my first impression wasn't fantastically positive.
I have been reading a few of the Tor collections of Science Fiction, some bought at Amazon for something like 50p a shot, others, like their 5 year compendium, from Tor.com themselves -for free, the latter one. I had already mentioned Elizabeth Bear's story, 'The Faster Gun', a cowboy gunfighter story with historic Far West characters and wrecked starships -which is a very good one, pulling that unlikely combination very successfully, in my opinion.

In another one, more recently, there is another story by Bear which I found compelling, 'The Horrid Glory of its Wings', about a harpy and a disabled orphan girl, which can be read here. She turns out to have a livejournal at [livejournal.com profile] matociquala, in which, I'm discovering, apart from pumping her own work (I need to learn to do that..) she has interesting things to say and reviews other people's work, which hopefully may lead me to discover more worlds inside other people's heads.

So far I've liked what I've read of her work, quite a lot. I know pretty much nothing about her, but that is not important. Her work is for me an interesting discovery, like that of Charlie Stross and Chris Beckett, whose 'Dark Eden was one of the best books I read last year.

I'd written a post in my livejournal in Spanish, [livejournal.com profile] flavio_matani, about science-fiction and why it resonates in me and I find it important (to me, to me), in response to a discussion with a Venezuelan friend. It is of course in Spanish and I'll have to translate it and elaborate on it (as it is very unfinished) but, just in case, it is here if you want to have a look.
flaviomatani: (theycamefromouterspace)
( Jul. 3rd, 2013 09:48 am)
Half-way through 'Hydrogen Sonata' by the late Iain M Banks. All I may have said before still applies: unlike in his non-M books, the character development may perhaps be made with cookie cutters, in a sense, but, oh, that world, I so would love to live in that pan-galactic, post-scarcity socialist (or perhaps anarchist) society. It is such, such a shame that there'll never be another Culture novel.

IO, related N, saw on Twitter by the man himself that Charlie Stross new novel, 'Neptune's Brood' was out. So of course I went and bought it (on Amazon, as an ebook, but if I like it I'll probably buy it on paper and probably from a local bookshop). And funnily with Stross, as with Banks and N Stephenson, it was the case that I discovered him through two things: a friend mentioned him, in real life or in the virtual world, and I got hold of a copy of the alluded ebook, in the former cases from their being mislaid somewhere in the bowels of the internet, in the latter because Stross (who gains extra points by having a goth wife, I'm told by common friends) makes his novel 'Accelerando' free to download on his site . And coincidentally I run into a foreword by Cory Doctorow to his book "Little Brother' in which he touches on precisely this subject: the mad fact that on the whole people who download music or books for free don't buy less music or fewer books, but more -and it leads to people discovering authors that they perhaps would not have if they had only the option to spend their money on somebody whose name or work they'd never heard of. Having nicked a copy of 'Anathem' has led me to buy the book twice, first as an ebook and then on paper; same with many others. In that sense the whole DRM policy by record and book publishers is so, so shortsighted.
flaviomatani: (guitar)
( May. 22nd, 2013 10:15 am)
This, I suspect, is mostly for [livejournal.com profile] scifi_mel -just that I came upon a reference to the Canticle for Leibowitz by W Miller (wikipedia entry about the book here) and that rang a bell in my rapidly rusting brain. That may have been where JMS got tat bleak idea about a distant future in B5 where monks preserve the scientific and cultural legacy of humankind, not knowing what they have but keeping it for a moment when the outside world may again be ready for it. Had read that as a young person and forgotten about it but clearly made an impression..
.

Profile

flaviomatani: (Default)
flaviomatani

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags