Posted tagged ‘science fiction’

Another Quotable Quote

July 20, 2009

“… death is the only god who comes when you call.” Roger Zelazny, “24 views of Mt Fuji, by Hokusai”


more progressive than a young, latino, progressive, liberal democrat, Obama voting female (woohoo!)

March 12, 2009

My score: 323. Not sure when I became such a pinko. I definitely had libertarian leanings in high school, mostly due to R.A. Heinlein’s influence. Apparently reading actual political commentary instead of exclusively SF, and expanding my worldview beyond the Upper East side, swayed me.

I’ve labeled myself as a fairly moderate democrat in recent years, but I guess my idea of the middle is way off.

I Evoke Brow 32: A full set of teeth

December 13, 2007

Marooned in Realtime, Vernor Vinge

Much too sore to do a full review, but I enjoyed this one too much to let it slip past (like so many books have since I started these reviews.) I almost quit initially–the plot seemed to be be headed down a very campy road. The possibly far fetched scenario is handled very thoughtfully, though, and the book conveys a surprising degree of emotion. It kept me up nights and the death of one of the characters, even told via a millennia old diary, actually got to me. The very end is a bit much as well as somewhat rushed, which knocks it down to a 8/10

Side thought: I claim I’m not interested in Mysteries, but how many great SF books are really mysteries?

I Evoke Brow XXX: No Sermons or Mounts, just a review; on the other hand, no one gets crucified

October 16, 2007

Spook Country134, William Gibson135

Asimov136 and Heinlein137 were and are fodder for space dorks; Gibson’s novels are book-porn for technophiles, gadget freaks, and engadget138 obsessed compugeeks, vicariously lifehacking via the new Old Man of SciFi’s cutting edge fiction. Obviously, I’m a fan of his novels. You can’t help but see the move within SciFi from rockets to gadgets as reflective of contemporaneous geek and (perhaps) pop culture–we have left behind stargazing and focused our gaze on ourselves and our beloved computers. No one that I’ve read pulls this off nearly as well as Gibson. As I noted in my review of Pattern Recognition139 (which loosely prequels this novel, with a shared world and secondary character), Gibson’s latest works are startlingly contemporary.

In my not-so-humble opinion, Spook Country is good but falls short of Pattern Recognition’s greatness. It’s a fascinating read and as reflective and prescient as Gibson’s other works, but somehow less filling. The “big mystery” that supposedly drives the plot forward is just too secondary to the interesting bits of the book, namely the characters and the mashup of technologies. The intertwined stories seem to be a bit too far flung, less than cohesive. I think I’ll read it again in a few years (hopefully a sequel will appear around then) and see if it strikes me differently, as it’s predecessor did.

7/ 10

I Evoke Brow XXIX: As many reviews as Robert Johnson has tracks

September 26, 2007

The Ghost Brigades, John Scalzi

As alluded to in the last post, much better than the first book. This one is follows the Special Forces, which are of course more exciting than the GIs, but it’s also more introspective and developed. Still, I wish it had taken its time with some of the moral issues the characters touch on at times–it moves at a fairly breakneck pace, especially as the book goes on. The setup for the inevitable sequel is a bit campy, but not distractingly so. And alluding to the love story of the first book while basically setting it aside until the final chapter was a peculiar choice. But all these negatives are occurring to me now, upon reflection–while reading it I was merrily engrossed. Scalzi blends well thought out future technology with other convenient devices (like spacewarps, though they are not so named) that he doesn’t seem interested in rationalizing. The result is a a novel that retains much of the feel of Hard SciFi, but really is more of a futuristic technothriller. Not necessarily a bad thing but I would have gone in with different expectations, especially for Old Man’s War, if I had known that.


I Evoke Brow XXVII: Book Review Man’s Peak Season!

September 22, 2007

Three books sitting on my desk, awaiting reviews so I can return them, so let’s knock them out:

A Devil’s Chaplain, Richard Dawkins

Marvelous. Fascinating. I absolutely love the letter to his daughter concerning religion and science that ends the collection. Simple, concise, and impossible to refute. 8/10.

. . .

Death by Black Hole, Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Every bit as interesting as Dawkins and probably a bit better of a writer. Has an amazing ability to explain mindbogglingly complex phenomena in layman’s terms, aided by a knack for analogy. This clip explains the difference between the two scientists very well. I side with Dawkins in rejecting Stephen Jay Gould’s separate magisteria, but I must say I find Tyson’s methods to be better: persuasion vs. refutation and disengagement. 9/10.

. . .

Pattern Recognition, William Gibson.

Startlingly contemporary science fiction. Actually, there’s not anything about it that places it in the realm of SF other than the author’s previous works. Much like Neal Stephenson, Gibson transcends genre with his flawless style. While I like Gibson’s earlier works well enough, this book really stands out to me. It reminds me very much of Stephenson’s writing, though I wasn’t exactly sure why, at first. Now it occurs to me that in the same way Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle completely immerses you in its time and place, Pattern Recognition embodies the here and now, more than anything else I’ve ever read. PoMo, cybercommunity, otaku, marketing: Gibson captures it all. And the treatment of 9/11 is superbly done, with levels of depth. I happened to read it in the days surrounding the anniversary of the attacks and I often had to set it down to collect my thoughts. The novel falls short of perfection only in its ending–while not terrible, it didn’t feel as integral as the rest of the story–somehow it breaks the spell. Still, an easy 9/10.

On Science Fiction vs. Fantasy

July 14, 2006

It’s has always irked me when Science Fiction books are lumped together with Fantasy, either in libraries or bookstores. But my blood particularly boils when I see the “Left Behind” books labeled Science Fiction at my branch. Maybe it’s just because we’re in a midst of a campaign to relabel the rank superstition of Creationism as psuedo-scientific “Intelligent Design,” but I’m very bothered that a series concerned with the Earth post-Christian-Ascension (good riddance, by the way) can masquerade under the label of Science Fiction.