…SF addict …

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A big idea Elevated

It is the 22nd century,and high profile engineer Vannemar Morgan's latest project is a 24,000-mile-high space elevator to link Earth to the stars. But first he must solve a million technical, political, and economic problems... while allaying the wrath of God. For the only possible site on the planet for Morgan's Orbital Tower is the monastery atop the Sacred Mountain of Sri Kanda, home to buddhist monks for 500 years....

Clarke describes the location perfectly, but then we would expect that seeing as he based the location on his home Sri Lanka! The elevator itself is made possible by a technological breakthrough involving exotic materials based on carbon atoms arranged in a special lattice, rendering mere threads stronger than steel. And so over many years his project takes shape...

The interesting thing is, although this was penned in the 70s (based on a russian idea from the 60s) this is perfectly feasible due to the discovery of such a compound known as Buckminster-Fullerine, named after its discoverer, and there are scientists hoping to perfect this idea in the future!
The story evolves from a tale of monks and scientists and moves along smoothly into a kind of techo thriller,all the while providing snippets of ancient history- after all part of the story is based on real events!

The book itself I bought many years ago for £5 from a second hand book market somewhere, and is a first edition Gollancz with dust wrapper.

 Hope everyone has a merry christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur C. Clarke!

It was my birthday yesterday, and today the man who woke me up to SF and the glories of space travel would be 95 ! May you continue to rest in peace Sir Arthur! I shall pick something of his to read today...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

RIP Sir Patrick Moore!

I just found out he has  died aged 89, peacefully  in his own home.

I've been watching The Sky At Night for as long as I can remember-he inspired me to go out even with just  binoculars, no matter how cold it was. Its like losing an old friend!
He will be sadly missed!

RIP Sir Patrick
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS (4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012)

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Enemy Stars, Poul Anderson (1959)

4 men  are signed up for a mission aboard a ship destined for Alpha Crucis. The ship is already in deep space but there is a device to transport them instantly to wherever the ship is, kind of like Star Trek's Teleporters. There is an error in the ship's computer sending it to a dead star, long since gone nova, and so it becomes a tale of survival. In some ways this book, previously serialised in Astoundning magazine as 'We Have Fed Our Seas' (a line from a Kipling poem) is similar to his later Tau Zero, which I enjoyed.
Once again Anderson fails to disappoint with a gripping, if short piece of Hard SF!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds

This is a book containing two novellas by this author, set in his Revelation Space universe.
For those unfamiliar with Mr Reynolds he is a British former scientist, once part of the European Space Agency, who gave up scientific research to write SF full time.

In the first story, Diamond Dogs, we have two main characters, Richard and his lifelong friend Roland Childe. The two have enjoyed presenting each other with challenges all their life but Roland was assumed dead years age, but one day  Roland approaches Richard with a new challenge. At first Richard isnt interested, he's grown past all that but as Roland fills him in about this latest endeavour he finds it hard to resist and so accepts the challenge.
 The object of Roland's strange desire is an alien artifact called The Blood Spire, a vast tower floating about the surface of a planet they travel to from Chasm City. The tower consists of a series of rooms, each requiring a test to complete before allowing access. Roland assembles a team including Richard's former wife, chosen for her innate logical ability, who was also believed dead.
The puzzles get more and more difficult, each wrong move punishing the team harder and harder, until blood is spilt, and limbs are lost. One member of the team is Doctor Trintignant, an expert doctor and cyberneticist, infamous for conducting horrific medical experiments on allegedly unconsenting subjects, and he helps patch the team up as they are injured. Not only do the tests become harder but the doorways become narrower, forcing the team to remove their armour....

This is a kind of maze-of-death story but also very much cutting edge hard SF, somewhat akin to Iain M Banks or Neal Asher, but heavier on the science, and is my favourite of the two.

Turquoise Days is a different kettle of fish. Basically Naqi and her sister are part of a team conducting research on the Pattern Jugglers, strange etheral beings that live in the sea of the planet Turquoise in places called Nodes. Naqi loses her sister near the start as she swims with and is absorbed by them, and Naqi must continue without her. 2 years later a ship arrives bringing deligates from another world who have an interest in a moat that Naqi and her team are building around a Node. Naqi has not swam with the Pattern Jugglers since her sister's death but is suddenly forced to once more, to communicate with her absorbed sister...

An interesting story with a science fantasy feel, Naqi travelling about the world in dirigibles rather than rocket ships-it has a more 'earthy' feel about it, while still being very much future SF.