…SF addict …

Friday, December 27, 2013

A new ebook reader and an Asimov story

In October WHSmith were offering the 6 inch Kobo Touch for £40, half the normal price, so while we had the money one was bought as a Christmas present for me.
Been using it a couple of days now and it's great! Has wifi, a micro SD card slot and a built-in browser, so I'm able to go to Gutenberg.com and get free books from there ( and other sites)
It has one button on the front but is touch screen so everything is covered!

Also I've had this Asimov story (Youth) on my other reader for ages. I put it on the SD card and read it on the new reader.  ( my old reader lacks an SD card slot)

The story is a first contact story, with a twist, and the only Asimov story in the public domain.
Very good!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Tar Aiym Krang by Alan Dean Foster

This is Alan Dean Foster's first novel and chronologically the second Pip and Flinx book. I found it ok, not as compelling as For Love of Mother Not which was written in the 80s (that book is an introduction to the character Flinx and his minidrag Pip.) This book, though having its good adventure parts, often drags in technobabble and is less prosaic than later works, more stiff in parts. Still its an entertaining read and I will read others in the series. Basically Flinx is a young man living on the planet Moth under the care if his foster mother called Mother Mastiff and he has psi-powers. He also has a pet mini dragon called Pip, a ferocious and loyal fighter. Flinx is approached by 2 strangers who request his services as a guide around the city. Really they are trying to find the mysterious artifact called the Krang, which was left behind by the belligerent race The Tar Aiym. Thus begins an adventure in space to find and decipher the mystery of the Krang.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New Clarke bio out by brother Fred!

Arthur C. Clarke's brother Fred died recently, but he left us with this:

A Life Remembered

Cheers Fred!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Analog 2 ed. by John W Campbell

A so so collection from the great magazine, published in 1965.
 I'd never heard of any of the authors previously.

Here's a break down:

#1 The Weather Man by Theodore L.Thomas
The Weather Bureau are able to control the weather on any part of the planet, but an aging Councillor has one very daring challenge... 3.5/5

#2 Good Indian by Mack Reynolds
Very short comical story about attempt by last Indians to get a treaty with the US 100 years after ethnic repatriation.Funny 4/5

#3 Blind Man's Lantern by Allen Kim Lang.
30+ page story about an Amish couple who relocate to a planet populated by pagans.. 3.5/5

#4 Junior Achievement by William Lee.
A so so story about a bunch of junior inventors cum entrepreneurs. 2.5/5

#5 Novice by James H. Schmitz
A tale of a young girl on an alien planet and her strange cat-like pet,a bit reminiscent of Foster's Pip and Flinx books. 3.5/5

#6 The Ethical Quotient by John T Philliphent
Psionics and ethics in a long galactic federation story somewhat like Asimov's Foundation stories. A man wakes aboard a space ferry and is thrust into a world where people use psi powers on a daily basis. Unbeknown to them our man also has these powers but keeps it quiet. 3/5

#7 Philosopher's Stone by Christopher Anvil
An interstellar courier is carrying a vital piece of information, but due to space travel time is distorted, so a year passes in 6 weeks, enabling him and his crew to witness socio-economic changes, and formulate a plan to prevent them from being left behind on a global scale. 3.5/5

#8 The Circuit Riders by R.C. Fitzpatrick
A story of big brother where emotions are monitored by the police. Once a person's level of anger reaches a certain level on the circuit the police home. A lot less exciting than the title led me to think it was! Good writing tho. 3.5/5

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ian M Banks-Sad sad news

I got told today that the author of the Culture novels is dying of cancer!
See:   Ian M Banks, cancer
 I was just shocked! I've only read one of his SF books but I know how highly he is regarded in SF circles. Thoughts go to his family at this awful time. Not even 60 and many who have met him have said what a genuinely nice guy he is! First we lose James Herbert, a favourite horror writer of mine, now this!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear

This is the sequel to Bear's Forge of God though its quite feasible to read each as a standalone-they bear very little relation to each other!
Basically this is a space opera kind of story, where the descendants of the first book are set on a long voyage to-well I can't give the details without giving spoilers to the first book! At times it was tedious, longwinded and the characters I found really annoying. Imagine being stuck on a ship filled with teenagers! Think Lord of the Flies set in space!
But I plodded through the near-500 page tome and in the end I found I was glad I persisted-it had a satisfying conclusion. In the middle of the book Bear suddenly gets his Hard SF head on, dealing with time/space dilation and quantum mechanics, BUT its not intrusive or hard to read-it doesnt spoil the flow of the book if you were enjoying the voyage.

Not as immediately enjoyable as Forge but by no means bad!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2012 Nebula Award Nominations list

Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13)
Ironskin, Tina Connolly (Tor)
The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

All apart from Kim Stanley Robinson are new to me-though I've yet to read any Robinson. (His Mars trilogy is highly rated).
2312 sounds promising- 300 years hence Mercury is colonised, people setting up colonies on the terminator, which is later threatened. There are also colonies on mars too.
See here: http://iansales.com/2012/08/17/300-years-from-now-is-2312/

On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
“The Stars Do Not Lie,” Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)
“All the Flavors,” Ken Liu (GigaNotoSaurus 2/1/12)
“Katabasis,” Robert Reed (F&SF 11-12/12)
“Barry’s Tale,” Lawrence M. Schoen (Buffalito Buffet)

I've read one or two stories by a couple of these authors in Asimov's magazine, mainly Kress. Promising future big names!

“The Pyre of New Day,” Catherine Asaro (The Mammoth Books of SF Wars)
“Close Encounters,” Andy Duncan (The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories)
“The Waves,” Ken Liu (Asimov’s 12/12)
“The Finite Canvas,” Brit Mandelo (Tor.com 12/5/12)
“Swift, Brutal Retaliation,” Meghan McCarron (Tor.com 1/4/12)
“Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia,” Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com 8/22/12)
“Fade to White,” Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 8/12)

Never quite grasped the difference between novella and novellete...

Short Story
“Robot,” Helena Bell (Clarkesworld 9/12)
“Immersion,” Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
“Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 4/12)
“Nanny’s Day,” Leah Cypess (Asimov’s 3/12)
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed 7/12)
“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species,” Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/12)
“Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” Cat Rambo (Near + Far)

I get the impression that Aliette de Bodard is a name to watch out for!

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
The Avengers, Joss Whedon (director) and Joss Whedon and Zak Penn (writers), (Marvel/Disney)
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin (director), Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Abilar (writers), (Journeyman/Cinereach/Court 13/Fox Searchlight )
The Cabin in the Woods, Drew Goddard (director), Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (writers) (Mutant Enemy/Lionsgate)
The Hunger Games, Gary Ross (director), Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray writers), (Lionsgate)
John Carter, Andrew Stanton (director), Michael Chabon, Mark Andrews, and Andrew Stanton (writers), (Disney)
Looper, Rian Johnson (director), Rian Johnson (writer), (FilmDistrict/TriStar)

I enjoyed The Hunger Games, based on 3 books by Suzanne Collins.
Looper was also pretty enjoyable, a time travel story with a twist.
John Carter was...ok, fun, but it takes itself too seriously and there it falls down, because some of the scenes are downright silly! But then its a Disney film so....

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Iron Hearted Violet, Kelly Barnhill (Little, Brown)
Black Heart, Holly Black (S&S/McElderry; Gollancz)
Above, Leah Bobet (Levine)
The Diviners, Libba Bray (Little, Brown; Atom)
Vessel, Sarah Beth Durst (S&S/McElderry)
Seraphina, Rachel Hartman (Random House; Doubleday UK)
Enchanted, Alethea Kontis (Harcourt)
Every Day, David Levithan (Alice A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Summer of the Mariposas, Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books)
Railsea, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Fair Coin, E.C. Myers (Pyr)
Above World, Jenn Reese (Candlewick)

My daughter might be reading these in a few years....:()

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of  SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Voting opens to SFWA Active members on March 1 and closes on March 30.
More information  http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/how-to-vote/.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Forge of God by Greg Bear

I've read many post-apocalyptic stories, but this is the first pre-apocalyptic book I've encountered!  And its a good un.
Written in 1987 and set in the mid 90s, after Jupiter's moon Europa  disappears a strange object appears in the American desert resembling a cinder cone, and next to it is found a strange dying alien, The alien speaks English and has a message for Earth: "I'm afraid I have bad news".
Later a second cone is found in Australia but this time mechanical beings, robots, appear around it but these seem to be benevolent. While in the US the scientists are getting worried, those in Australia believe the aliens are our allies. Later, people encounter strange small robots;  at first they fear them but it seems these 'spiders' are recruiting certain people on Earth for some purpose. These 'possessed' people receive messages from a network direct to their consciousness- a kind of direct internet.
Meanwhile a cult of 'Forge of Godders' springs up, setting up vigils next to the cinder cones, rather like druids attending Stonehenge.
No-one is really sure of the aliens intent until it is too late...

This is hard SF but its very reader friendly; there's no scientific preaching or technobabble, and despite being over 450 pages the story flows really well. So much so I'd have to say this is the best Greg Bear book I've read so far!

From Fantastic Fiction:
"A gripping panorama of a world in peril" (Chicago Sun-Times) from the author of Anvil of Stars. June 26, 1996: One of Jupiter's moons disappears. September 28, 1996: A mysterious cinder cone is found in Death Valley. October 1, 1996: An enormous granite mountain is discovered in Australia. It wasn't there six months ago. . . . "Bear's best novel".--San Diego Union.

There is a sequel written in 1992 called Anvil of Stars which I'm reading next...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kraken by China Mieville

Well this is a strange one!

I had this book for Christmas one year as I thought it might be interesting. It certainly started well and at one point it was hard to put down, but Mieville appears to have a weird writing style, inventing words and phrases out of nowhere, and using ' big clever words' to describe a situation or object unnecessarily. This gets old very quickly, and its not exactly a small book!

Basically a squid goes missing from a museum and our hero, Billy Harrow, museum curator, gets drawn into a world of weird god worship, strange rituals, and magic, with a potential end-of-world scenario.
Still sounds interesting and the story is, but the writing style I found awful, heavy and meandering. Not a keeper!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year one and all!

After a disastrous christmas night where I got beat up by some drug fed thug and ended up in hospital for two hours, here's hoping 2013 brings peace and happiness to everyone. Well, we live in hope....

Anyway,last night I finished Reach for Tomorrow, an early collection of stories by Clarke including Time's Arrow in which an archealogical dig turns into something else....

Also I just started a very strange book by China Mieville, details to follow....