It was sort of refreshing to read a collection of short stories where each story resolved itself within 50 or so pages. The author, Ted Chiang, is oneIt was sort of refreshing to read a collection of short stories where each story resolved itself within 50 or so pages. The author, Ted Chiang, is one of the most talented thinkers/authors I've ever read. I'm not exaggerating when I say this. Not only is he brilliant, he knows how to write well, has great style. He has won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story several years in a row. I'd classify his stories as social sci-fi, but very different than anything else I've read, one story being more magic realism. The story halfway through the book, "The Story of Your Life", is hands down once of the best short stories I've ever read. "Hell is the Absence of God" was another favorite. Highly recommend. ...more
This has to be one of the most bizarre, yet intriguing and insightful sci-fi novels I've read in a while. I'm a big fan of Heinlein's other novels, buThis has to be one of the most bizarre, yet intriguing and insightful sci-fi novels I've read in a while. I'm a big fan of Heinlein's other novels, but this was a lot different. He started writing this in the 50s, released it in the 60s with the intent to take on Western cultural mores by examining them through the lens of a human who was raised on Mars by Martians only to return as an adult and try and makes sense of his new world. This isn't a book for everyone, he presents some pretty far out ideas (many which would offend readers and most definitely did his conservative audience in the 60s) -- but in my opinion was ahead of his time regarding a few of them. Martians make for interest examples of how humans could improve their natures -- they are deeply peaceful, calculated, have deep social bonds. Because they live for thousands of years they are slow to make decisions, spends years "grokking" (Martian for "drinking", understanding, becoming one with) others and their existence. On the other hand the humans presented are often rash and always in a hurry often acting mindlessly. In the end you see that Martian culture has its shortcomings as well and Heinlein even said he never meant for their way and that eventually taught to be a right way -- he mostly enjoy taking a wrecking ball to some long held traditions/ideas, encouraging his audience to think for themselves. Overall an impressive novel, by some considered to be the best sci-fi novel ever written. I gave it 4 stars become many parts seemed overly long and unnecessary....more
It was ok, entertaining story in a sci-fi setting, which is what I was going for during my drive to work. I liked the first book, Old Man's War, betteIt was ok, entertaining story in a sci-fi setting, which is what I was going for during my drive to work. I liked the first book, Old Man's War, better and might continue with the series. ...more
In the future the Moon has become a penal colony and after several generations the citizens decide to revolt against the governing authority. It's theIn the future the Moon has become a penal colony and after several generations the citizens decide to revolt against the governing authority. It's the story of a revolution, libertarian ideals, free market economics, and a self-aware supercomputer named Mike. Overall, great story, thinking man's sci-fi at it's best. Similar in many ways to his novel Starship Troopers, which is one of my all-time favorites....more
Overall really liked this book and look forward to eventually reading the sequel. While it didn't blow me away (it was last year's Hugo Award Winner),Overall really liked this book and look forward to eventually reading the sequel. While it didn't blow me away (it was last year's Hugo Award Winner), it had a lot of neat ideas and falls into the social science fiction category in that the Radch Empire has own customs and a unique religious and political system, which I always appreciate in sci-fi. There is some action but mostly centers around a rogue AIs quest for revenge and political intrigue involved in the empire.
Also thought it was cool that the protagonists name was Breq, which in the audio narration sounded exactly like my name. Which reminds me, if you like to read and listen to audio Kindle Whispersync is awesome technology. Basically, you buy the e-book then pay a few more dollars for the narration and you can switch between the two at any time, keeping your place. This is really the only way I can finish a book in a timely manner. ...more
This book falls in the science fiction category but is more akin to Apollo 13 on Mars, falls into the hard sci-fi genre in that it it is very technicaThis book falls in the science fiction category but is more akin to Apollo 13 on Mars, falls into the hard sci-fi genre in that it it is very technical and could be true in the near future. The protagonist is hilarious and a genius, recording daily logs after he is accidentally left behind by his crew and has to survive on what materials he has until a way is discovered to rescue him. I learned a lot about botany, chemistry, and what is required for humans to survive off planet. When the protagonist isn't narrating it gets a bit slow, but always picks up again as you look forward to discovering the next way he discovers how to re-engineer what few materials he has to survive. Also, was excited to learn it's being made into a movie later this year....more
If you're into military sci-fi, sci-fi with depth (Ender's Game, Starship Troopers) I can't recommend this book enough. The overarching theme is the pIf you're into military sci-fi, sci-fi with depth (Ender's Game, Starship Troopers) I can't recommend this book enough. The overarching theme is the psychological effects of war, the story and characters are excellent. Loved the ending. Highly recommend.
The GoodReads description: "Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth's most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man's mind.
This is a remarkable novel of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat-and how the strength of the human spirit can be the greatest armor of all."...more
The story begins during the Cold War on the eve of a nuclear war between U.S. and Russia. Alien ships appear in the sky, ushering in a millenium of peThe story begins during the Cold War on the eve of a nuclear war between U.S. and Russia. Alien ships appear in the sky, ushering in a millenium of peace and prosperity for mankind. But who are the Overlords? Why have they come to earth? What are their intentions and what does the future of mankind hold? Without doubt, Arthur Clarke is classic sci-fi (and social commentary) at its best. Recommend. ...more
This was surprisingly well-written science fiction. I'm glad to see people behind the franchise recruiting talented authors to further develop the uniThis was surprisingly well-written science fiction. I'm glad to see people behind the franchise recruiting talented authors to further develop the universe (several other novels in the series are supposed to be very good). Greg Bear has been writing hard sci-fi for quite sometime and is a gifted at what he does (seeking out his other novls now). This is the story of the Forerunners, ancient architects whose sacred duty it was to nurture life throughout the galaxy and had the means to engineer entire planets. The author fleshes out their governments, classes, processes for creating worlds and protecting life. The story was fascinating from the get go, yet tended to lag through the middle with a fairly lackluster finale. Overall interesting premise, but could have made a more engaging story through the second half. ...more
I found out about this book after watching a trailer for the film of the same name adapted and directed by the brothers who did the Matrix Trilogy. ThI found out about this book after watching a trailer for the film of the same name adapted and directed by the brothers who did the Matrix Trilogy. The trailer looked interesting enough and read a lot of good reviews -- decided to give it a go and wasn't dissapointed. Cloud Atlas isn't a perfect novel, the first half being better than the second, but it was very good and overall enjoyed it. The novel is comprised of six stories, the first half of the book being the first half of the six stories, and the second half of the book the second half of the six stories. Each of the stories are separated by a hundred years starting in 1830 Chatham Isles, ending in post-apocalyptic 2200 AD? Hawaii.
Each story is a first-person narrative, a journal, letters, a pulp novel, a film, an oral history -- and all were interesting/entertaining in and of themselves. Some were hilarious, other action packed (an elderly man trying to escape a rest home, an itinerant musician on the run), one is sci-fi (dystopian, corporatist South Korea run by subservient clones), another a travelogue. All stories are linked by common themes about life being connected, will to power, the power of good works, the predatory nature of humanity, eternal recurrence, ideas typical of a "big idea" novel -- which tend to be my favorites anyway.
I think the biggest drawback was the second half of the book -- the second halves of the stories. In the first half the character and plot are introduced, the story reaches a climax and then it stops. Then for some reason by the time I reached the second half of the stories they either felt contrived or fell flat. Now I'm wondering if it had something to do with them being split -- or maybe just case of the author having to wrap them up. And I would have expected the connections between stories to be a little stronger, but ended up more thematic than physical. Overall, the author is very talented, his style was fun to read, very engaging at times, the insights on human nature priceless.
“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
“...there ain't no journey what don't change you some.”
“The better organized the state, the duller its humanity.”
“One fine day a predatory world shall consume itself.”
“Peace, though beloved of our Lord, is a cardinal virtue only if your neighbors share your conscience.”
“As many truths as men. Occasionally, I glimpse a truer Truth, hiding in imperfect simulacrums of itself, but as I approach, it bestirs itself & moves deeper into the thorny swamp of dissent.” ...more
Vernor Vinge is hard sci-fi at its best. The story takes some time to get into, he spends considerable time explaining the worlds and ET life in the uVernor Vinge is hard sci-fi at its best. The story takes some time to get into, he spends considerable time explaining the worlds and ET life in the universe, interesting once it gets going, but can lag at times. Love the Zones of Thought concept -- forms of life are progressively higher moving out from the center of the galaxy. Would like to read more of his books in the future. ...more
Probably some of the most enjoyable fiction I've read in a while. The "magic" in the book is interesting, because the author bases it in scientific prProbably some of the most enjoyable fiction I've read in a while. The "magic" in the book is interesting, because the author bases it in scientific principles, so it turns out to be more sci-fi than fantasy. For example, the lead character is a "heavy" who can alter gravity, then there are "movers" who have telekinetic powers, "cogs" who are highly intelligent.
The story is about a "heavy" named Jake Sullivan, and a secret society of "good magics" called Grimnoir who battle the "bad magics." It takes place in the 30's, is an alternate history where some people are born with magical abilities -- for instance, Einstein and Tesla were "cogs."
I'll steal a paragraph from a review I read on Amazon which convinced me to read it and with which I wholeheartedly agree: "Hard Magic can be summed up as epic-urban fantasy-steampunk-noir-detective thriller-alternative historical-fiction. Correia juggles so many genres and "Big Ideas" that a lesser author would fumble in an instant and mangle into some Frankenstein monster of failed literature. Not only does Correia manage to keep the story uncluttered but he does it with some serious style." ...more
Admittedly, video game novelizations are one of my guilty pleasures. While many (if not most) of the ones out there are pretty bad (I read the first pAdmittedly, video game novelizations are one of my guilty pleasures. While many (if not most) of the ones out there are pretty bad (I read the first page of one the other day that was horrible), over the last few years some of them are surprisingly good. As more money flows into the VG industry, so does the in-game writing (and novelizations) improve. (An recent example was Orson Scott Card being hired to help write dialog and story for a new game called "Firefall.") The author of Deus Ex, James Swallow, was also a writer on the game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and does an excellent job setting up the world and characters.
The year is 2027 and with rapid advances in technology, humans have begun to "augment" themselves with cybernetic limbs, eyes, brain-chips and a myriad of other enhancements. As humanity heads toward an age of "transhumanism" the divide between "augs" and "naturals" grows. Anti-augs riot in the streets, government threatens to pass limitations to augmentation technology, the wealthy grow more powerful due to their access to improved cybernetics, and corporations who engineer the "augments" wage war over who will rule the market. Deus Ex is also a story of conspiracy, Illuminati, with a cyberpunk air about it -- small players struggling to cut through the layers of secrecy to survive the all-powerful cabal who seek to "guide"/rule the world.
I think the other reason I enjoy this book (and game) are because the subject of transhumanism and it's moral implications have always fascinated me. I wrote a book called "The Ghost Within" a few years ago on a similar theme. The book does have it shortcomings...the Illuminati are a little overused (at least change their name for crying out loud)...but otherwise the main characters were well-developed and the action scenes were expertly written. Swallow obviously has a gift for that. Overall, an enjoyable read and would recommend to anyone who enjoys similar themes and is looking for something fun to read. ...more
It was neat to hear experience Bean, Petra and Peter's story following Ender's Game. It was a bit slow in parts, more geo-political strategy and lessIt was neat to hear experience Bean, Petra and Peter's story following Ender's Game. It was a bit slow in parts, more geo-political strategy and less action than I'd like, but like always he focuses on character development and Achilles makes a great villain from Bean's past. Definitely recommend if you liked Ender's Game and want to know what happens to Ender's friends next. ...more
This is Neal Stephenson insanity/genius at its best. The main character is a samurai-wielding, pizza delivery guy named Hiro Protagonist -- need I sayThis is Neal Stephenson insanity/genius at its best. The main character is a samurai-wielding, pizza delivery guy named Hiro Protagonist -- need I say more? ...more
Overall I thought the comic was well-done. It was a nice review of the first half of Ender's Game and I loved the art. The story started off strong thOverall I thought the comic was well-done. It was a nice review of the first half of Ender's Game and I loved the art. The story started off strong then bounced around a lot and would have only made sense to someone who read the book, but mostly impressed by the illustrations. My favorite pages were the early scenes when Ender was in school and his struggle with Peter, and later the action that takes place in the Battle Room.
Robotech was a great animated series back in the 80s and I remember reading a few of the novels in elementary school. I thought I'd give them a try agRobotech was a great animated series back in the 80s and I remember reading a few of the novels in elementary school. I thought I'd give them a try again and this first one was surprisingly good (good Amazon reviews as well). The dialog is a little cheesy but the author really brings to life the battle sequences and knows how to write action. All in all it was entertaining and the Robotech universe is interesting. I may have a go at a few of the others in the series.
In regards to the plot--one day a gigantic ship suddenly bursts through Earth's atmosphere and crash lands on the fictional Macross Island in the South Pacific. After the ship is discovered and its advanced alien technology investigated a coalition of governments repair the ship and prepare to put it into operation. On the day the ship is set to launch alien invaders appear in the sky determined to retake the lost ship...the fun begins. ...more
I found this book per a recommendation by Orson Scott Card who called this series "some of the best science fiction ever written". It happens 100+ yeaI found this book per a recommendation by Orson Scott Card who called this series "some of the best science fiction ever written". It happens 100+ years in the future and so far it has played out like a detective novel/murder mystery with two officers investigating an alien kidnapping and grisly murder on a habitat on the Moon. Since humans and aliens have to respect each others laws aliens can kidnap or perform "vengeance killings" on humans who have violated their laws. Humans are supposed to respect this fact and this results in all sorts of confusion over whether it is right to let aliens carry out their retribution. While I wasn't as impressed as OSC it was an interesting read and I liked it alright. Would recommend it to anyone who likes detective novels.
I haven't read anything by Stephenson I didn't enjoy. The Diamond Age is really my kind of book--futuristic tech, adventure, philosophy, big ideas. ItI haven't read anything by Stephenson I didn't enjoy. The Diamond Age is really my kind of book--futuristic tech, adventure, philosophy, big ideas. It happens 100 or so years in the future where nanotech is the norm--meaning objects are designed by machines called "matter compilers" that do just that--take designs by nanotech engineers and build/compile them into objects. In this future the world is divided up into different clans ("philes"), the predominant "philes" being the New Victorians and the Chinese. The story revolves around a nanotech engineer, John Hackworth, who builds a "primer"/book meant to educate young Vitorian women, and a poor girl, Nell, who happens upon the book. I can't really say any more without giving the plot away, but an original and exciting read. Like all of Stephenson's books there are bizarre moments and slow moments, so it's not without it's flaws but all in all a great read.
Also, as I found out later, it won the Hugo Award (sci-fi book of the year) in 1996. ...more
Ender's Shadow is Orson Scott Card at his best. This is the story of Bean, Ender's right hand man--his struggle for survival as an street urchin in RoEnder's Shadow is Orson Scott Card at his best. This is the story of Bean, Ender's right hand man--his struggle for survival as an street urchin in Rotterdam and his progress through battle school with Ender and the other child geniuses. Shadow wasn't just more Ender's Game, but Ender's Game from another angle, an angle that gives the original story greater depth and meaning. If you've read Ender's Game (and if you haven't you should!) I highly recommend Shadow.
The novel was followed by an updated Afterward where Card talks about the struggle of bringing Ender's Game to film and it's recent developments. Apparently, the favorite scripts he's written bring Ender's Game and Shadow into a single film, so if they go that route it will be interesting to see how it pans out. Currently, Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, NeverEnding Story, In The Line of Fire) is set to direct....more
2001 was an enjoyable read. What I didn't know before reading the book is that the book/film were a joint project between Clarke and Kubrick, after Ku2001 was an enjoyable read. What I didn't know before reading the book is that the book/film were a joint project between Clarke and Kubrick, after Kubrick came to Clarke and asked him to write a novel that could also work as a screenplay for his film. The book and film are mostly the same with a few slight differences. Reading the book provided background to the film that was somewhat confusing the first time around. I think the film and book complement each other. While overall I enjoyed the book more, the film with its expansive space-scapes and minimalist style deftly brought the scenes to life.
What I enjoyed most about Clarke's book was his attention to scientific fact (more science than fiction). In many scenes it reads more like a book (or documentary) by Hawking or Sagan--an epic journey through the solar system. At one point in the book the best way I can describe the journey (in Mormon lingo) is "If You Could To Kolob" in a space probe. Overall an enjoyable read and would definitely recommend if you are interested in learning more about the solar system and space travel.
Interesting side note: In the preface Arthur Clarke mentioned a letter from an astronaut who said his book (and Kubrick's film) inspired him to become an astronaut. Interesting to see how sci-fi has in turn influenced scientific exploration. ...more
Not completely sure why but it wasn't until a hundred or so pages into the book that I really started to enjoy it. I don't know if it had to do with gNot completely sure why but it wasn't until a hundred or so pages into the book that I really started to enjoy it. I don't know if it had to do with getting used to Douglas Adams' off-the-wall humor or the fact that I was listening to it while driving. Part of the problem is my mind wanders and I miss some of the details and, in the case of this book, the humor (makes me realize I really should start it again). So a hundred or so pages in I made a point to focus on the material and ended up laughing at the hilarious circumstances Arthur Dent finds themselves in and the creatures they meet--Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin the Depressed Robot (Paranoid Android), Slartibartfast the designer of planets to name a few.
If you want to get a taste of Adams' humor this is the video and transcript of a speech he gave titled "Parrots, the Universe and Everything Else": http://navarroj.com/parrots/
A couple favorite quotes: "...on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons."
"The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. "For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?"...more
Mortal Engines ended up being a pretty great book. Admittedly, the first half was a little slow and uninteresting, but the last half and ending was awMortal Engines ended up being a pretty great book. Admittedly, the first half was a little slow and uninteresting, but the last half and ending was awesome. I noticed this was the authors first book in the series, so I could almost see his style develop through it. By the second half the writing and pacing was incredible. Now I now why the book has received such great reviews and is currently under development for film by Peter Jackson and WETA: http://www.cinematical.com/2009/12/22...
Another highlight is the original premise: cities built on tracks that only survive/grow by consuming each other--"municipal darwinism" as it is called in the book. Very cool....more
This was actually a pretty great book considering it is a prequel to a video game. What drew me into the video game into the first place was the storyThis was actually a pretty great book considering it is a prequel to a video game. What drew me into the video game into the first place was the story, and noticed the writer of the game had written this book along with others in the series. It's been interesting to see how much focus on the story, music, art, etc. is being invested into games lately. The music, for example, includes huge orchestral pieces. The link below shows a touring orchestra that plays video game music. This link is to said game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2shX3s...
Interesting side note, I read the other day that a recent popular video game had as much invested in it as Avatar (roughly 500 million), and the returns had been nearly as big (a little under 2 billion).
The idea of the game/book is in year 2100-ish humans discover a piece of ancient alien technology on Mars which enables them to build ships that take them to other parts of the galaxy. Other alien species have discovered similar technology and formed a galactic empire which humans are new comers to and trying to find their place in. Much of the story revolves around discovering what became of the extinct species (Protheans) who supposedly left this mass civilization and technology behind. ...more