…SF addict …

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Veils of Azlaroc by Fred Saberhagen (1976)

This is a strange one!
 Basically it is about a strange artificial world that appears desert like, but with a low sky and strange geometric forms on the landscape. But the strangest thing about the place are the veils. Each year a temporal veil falls about the planet, sealing everyone inside it on the planet permanently,  to live forever, unchanged. Every year tourists visit the world to view its odd charms, but they must be certain to leave before Veilfall or they will be trapped there.
One man is determined to escape the planet, through the heart of a neutron star. Another is sent on a mission to retrieve an object from a sealed tomb, while another man comes to Azlaroc to search for a lost love who was trapped there many veils ago. And amidst all this is a man who knows that this year the veil will fall early, and he sets about to warn everyone,  and in order to do that he needs to find a way to send the message through the veils past, to send a message across a barrier of time.

I've had this book a long time; I came across it at a second hand book stall in Wales in the 90's and have read it twice already.
Saberhagen is known for his Berserker series of books but I have yet to come across one and know little about them, and I believe they are more like fantasy.
Veils is most definitely SF and a bit odd, but a good read nonetheless.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Star Trek Log One

Talking of Star Trek...I decided to read this book that belongs to my partner.  We're both Trek fans and she's had a couple of these logs on her shelf for years. Theyre written by Alan Dean Foster and based on the animated series from the 70's.( Some of those episodes were penned by Larry Niven no less...)

There are 3 stories in the book:
1 Beyond the Furthest Star in which the Enterprise is captured by an ancient being.
2 Yesteryear in which Spock must travel to his past and meets himself as a young boy. Very good that one!
3 One of our Planets is Missing. A giant enitity is consuming matter in space and heads towards an inhabited planet-the crew of the Enterprise intervene.
Despite the fact that these are based on an animated series they are definitely not kids' stories-the science in them is sound and the author manages to capture the crew's characters very well.
Good fun!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Couple of Star Trek books

I'm going through a bit of a Star Trek phase at the moment, watching reruns of The Next Generation series (we have the series set on DVD)
To be honest I think I'm more of a trek fan than Star Wars. I love both franchises of course but Trek seems more like pure SF to me, whereas Star Wars is more science fantasy.
Anyway my partner bought these two books home-we both enjoy reading,  and both like Trek.
The first is set in the time frame of Kirk and Spock while the second features Riker on board the SS Titan alongside Tuvok from Deep Space Nine-a series I'm less familiar with.
Both are by authors unknown to me, but they sound good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Empire of the Sun by J G . Ballard (1984)

This is a story of survival during World War 2 through the eyes of a young boy. Young Jim is living in China during the outbreak of the war with Japan and he becomes seperated from his parents. Aged 11 he makes his way to and from Shanghai, encountering Japanese pilots and American airmen.Eventually he is interred in a prison camp where life becomes really hard and he encounters death, both of his allies and the Japanese.  Young Jim is confused, not sure what the war is all about and who the enemy is. Time passes, friends die or move away and Jim becomes dissilusioned by the varying reports on the war in the copies of Time and Reader's Digest that he treasures.  Jim moves from camp to camp surviving on meagre offerings of sweet potato and rice, constantly asking those around him if the war is over, and if a new one will start. He identifies with the Japanese soldiers,  there is something about him that he admires which stays with him even after seeing their rough treatment of his inmates.

I had seen the film years ago and really enjoyed it, and although I've had the book on my shelf for years, it's only now that I got round to reading it.
The boy in the story is a representation of Ballard himself-it is almost an autobiography while reading like a great war story.
Reading this book it was easy for me to see how these experiences as a young boy would inform the author's later dystopian novels that would make him famous.  The dank and dreary paddy fields of war torn China are somewhat similar to the rampant boggy jungles of England in his  'The Drowned World' from the 60s.
In both stories groups of people are struggling to survive in a changed world.
Good one!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I thought I'd give this a go as I love the art deco period, the flappers, the jazz age, the free spirits.
I've not seen the film but my copy was a new film tie-in edition.
The book itself is labelled as a novella but its still 230 odd pages.
Gatsby is supposedly this mysterious character with money and a big house, always holding parties.
The narrator Nick Carraway tells his story,  how he met him etc, but nothing of note happens. I persevered but enough was enough.  I quit. Bored.
The characters such as they are are thin and vapid, typical upper class bored twits. And there was little feel of the jazz age, it didn't feel like 1920s even though it was penned in 1922.
It is described as Fitzgerald's magnum opus but reading it was like watching a soap. And I dont do soaps.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bloodhype by Alan Dean Foster

I picked this one up to because it's supposed to be the next in the series, but its unrelated with no mention of Pip and Flinx till near the end. I didn't get that far before I got bored and gave up.
Dull and lifeless.

Reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald instead!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The End of the Matter by Alan Dean Foster

And so onto the next Pip and Flinx novel in which our young telepath and his pernicious pet seek out Flinx's father. Also they hear of the discovery of a rogue black hole that threatens a sector of space. Flinx journeys to Alaspin which is the home of Pip who goes off on a sabbatical for a while... This time Flinx is joined by a strange blue alien called Ab who seems to speak gibberish yet may hold a clue to stopping the rogue star. If he can be understood. While on Alaspin Flinx encounters a large friendly giant and his female companion. This giant is none other than Skua September, one of the main characters in the Icerigger trilogy of books! He also bumps into Truzenzuzex and Bran Tse-Mallory, first seen in The Tar Aiym Krang, Foster's first novel! Another fun romp across space-

Foster never fails to deliver!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Orphan Star by Alan Dean Foster

In this, chronologically the 3rd story featuring Pip and Flinx, our young red-headed vagabond, accompanied by his tenacious and deadly mini dragon, sets out in a journey to discover his roots. Pip, unsure of his parental origins, seeks to discover who and where his real parents are. His official full name is Philip Lynx but it is really his adopted name. He was raised by Mother Mastiff as described in For Love of Mother-Not and is not really sure of his origins. He travels from place to place, in pursuit of the belligerent Conda Challis who wants to use Flinx's psi powers to unwrap the mystery of some rare and expensive crystals that have a hidden secret. These crystals affect the behaviour of anyone who possesses them, and Challis wants to exploit these properties without being affected himself. Also Flinx travels to Earth in the hope of finding information about his history in the records there. He then travels to a planet held under special Edict, and discovers strange bear like natives that have been partially domesticated by a bitter and twisted woman, using them to serve her corrupted ends. Flinx is caught up in the middle of all this political wrangling and brings his own solution to the situation. This is another engaging story by Foster, with less technical blabber than The Tar Aiym Krang and is thus more accessible. It makes for a fun and captivating read