19 of 25 people found the following review helpful: Almost great stories, August 25, 2008
My name is legion is a collection of three stories by Roge 19 of 25 people found the following review helpful: Almost great stories, August 25, 2008
My name is legion is a collection of three stories by Roger Zelazny.
* The Eve of RUMOKO - three stars * Kjwalll'kje'koothai'lll'kje'k - four stars * Home Is the Hangman - five stars
The stories revolve around a mercenary secret agent that has erased his identity and makes a living doing dangerous investigative jobs using fake names. He can basically assume any identity (legion--many names).
The first story is set in the year 2007. The technology in 2007 is quite astounding with cities on the Ocean bottom, advanced space exploration, and the existence of truly intelligent super robots (the hang man). At the same time as the story is referring to tape drive and punch cards. Predicting the future is difficult. This is a little funny from a 2008 perspective. However, this is to expect. When people attempt to make predictions they typically extrapolate current technology and make the assumption that existing technology will be extremely advanced in the near future (in the 30's people said all cars would be flying by the 1970's). At the same time it is near impossible to predict entirely new technologies.
In the first story the agent is trying to solve a mystery regarding terrorist attempts against the project RUMOKO in which nuclear bombs are used to blast holes in the Moho layer below the Ocean bottom to create artificial volcanoes that will create new land (like Surtsey, Iceland) to mitigate earth's over population problem. Even though the story itself was not bad, I had a few problems with its context that I could not easily accept.
First, creating artificial land by having magma bubble up from the Ocean bottom is most likely counter productive since the magma below the Ocean surface is likely to push away enough water to reduce the coast line land area in excess of the tiny land you gain from the new Islands. To gain land the average depth of the Ocean must actually increase (because the Ocean water will not vanish). Let's make a calculation.
If we put 100 cones that are 5km tall and has a bottom radius of 50km in 4km deep water (crust is thin in deep water, like the Atlantic crust) then the amount of water pushed away is 100*(50^2*5*pi/3 - 10^2*pi/3) = 1,298,525 km3 of water. 50km radius at the bottom makes a steep slope (10%) so this is probably an under estimation. Reality would likely be worse. The Ocean surface is around 361 million km2 so we get that the Ocean rises 1,298,525/361,000,000 = 0.0036km = 3.6 meters. According to GIS statistics the World's coast line is around 900,000km. Since it is flat coast land that will be flooded, not the fjords of Norway, it is the flat coast land we should consider. If we assume 200 meters rise on 100 km for flat land (actually not very flat) we get 0.15 degrees. 3.6 meters (12 feet) divided by the sine of 0.15 yields 1.375km and assuming half of all coast line is flat land we get a land loss of 1.375 * 450,000 = 619 thousand km2 (size of Texas). If we use the formula for the lateral surface of a cone (the 100 volcanic cones we added) we get that we just added 100*315.7 km2 of land area to the world which is about 20 times less than what we lost on the coast line.
Secondly, exploding nuclear bombs on the Ocean floor and allowing massive amount magma to flow up into the Ocean cannot be good for the eco system of the Ocean, and the people living on the Ocean bottom (the Ocean bottom cities) are likely to complain.
Thirdly, you can much more easily create new land by building floating cities which will not push away lots of water, and you can irrigate the Sahara desert and other deserts. New volcanic islands have to be made fit for life anyway. Allowing this to happen naturally will take a very long time. These other approaches would be cheaper, quicker, safer, and not likely to be counter productive (in the sense described above). So why would anyone choose this silly and dangerous approach? I don't buy it. I say three stars.
The second story "Kjwalll'kje'koothai'lll'kje'k" was beautiful, thought provoking, and philosophical. This story revolved around the sentience of dolphins and whether they can compose ideas or music or have a concept of spirituality, and also whether they are capable of murder. If you love Dolphins you will love this charming story, but I found the story to be a little bit too "dreamy" and speculative for me. If you love Dolphin salad you will not like this story (since it humanizes Dolphins).
The third story "Home Is the Hangman" was my favorite story. The "Hangman" was a space robot possessing what seemed to be "real autonomous intelligence" and perhaps self awareness. Having worked in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence myself I had a few objections, but not anything that most readers would care about. The story was believable (if set in the year 2057 or 2107 instead of 2007), and very exciting. The story took a few unexpected turns that took me by surprise, and explained the story at a deeper level. I love that sudden moment of dawning comprehension that explains what is going on and makes the story better. It shows that the plot was very well thought through.
Overall this was a good book, but not good enough to go on my list of favorite classic Science Fiction, and the author does not match up to Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, and Robert Heinlein in my opinion. Well, I have only read one Zelazny book, so far, so that may be a hasty judgment. The book is recommended to hard core Science Fiction fans but not recommended to those looking for only the best of Classic Science Fiction. ...more
This gem of a book is not just another romantic story based on a real character. In fact I think it is the most powerful and touching novel that I havThis gem of a book is not just another romantic story based on a real character. In fact I think it is the most powerful and touching novel that I have ever read.
Billy Jean, a very beautiful and vivacious but slightly vain and naive young girl is shot by her husband Cal, in a fit of jealous anger. Cal is madly in love with Billy Jean but he carries deep emotional scars from his childhood that makes it difficult for him to control his anger. Billy Jean is deeply in love with Cal despite his abuse and his violent temper. Billy Jean's parents send her away to live with her aunt Tommie in an attempt to protect their daughter. Thus begins the drama filled adventures of Billy Jean.
Billy Jean's life will be filled with tragedy and yearning for a lost love, but also many moments of happiness. Billy Jean is widowed twice, divorced four times, almost dies in childbirth, is taken for a ride by the mafia, and that is just a very small sample of what she will experience. There are many heart wrenching moments in this novel, but also many heart warming moments.
The story is action packed and full of unexpected twists and turns, and still it is mostly about love, family, and 1106 Grand Boulevard, the home that Billy Jean departed from, but that never left her. 1106 Grand Boulevard was the place she would return to for healing and eventually wholeness.
The author uses descriptive phrases and words with such skill and precision that the story comes alive and grabs the reader. The tumultuous and gripping adventures of Billy Jean are described with such wisdom, and deep insight that it is clear that what is described must have been both self experienced and deeply contemplated.
I will always remember the time and the place where I was when I read Chapter 41. Chapter 41 is where everything in Billy Jean's life will come together with such beauty and power that it transcends our imagination and our dreams. If you can read Chapter 41 without being deeply touched then you can also swim without water and sail without wind.
This is a beautiful book that will leave you with something that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. The story of Billy Jean is not just a great story, but an ode to the beauty of life. How lucky we are that it is Betty Dravis who is telling us this story, because no one else could do it like her. I am expecting a Hollywood production based on this book sometime in the future. ...more
The Foundation trilogy (three first books) and the Foundation series (all seven) are often regarded as the greatest set of Science Fiction literatureThe Foundation trilogy (three first books) and the Foundation series (all seven) are often regarded as the greatest set of Science Fiction literature ever produced. The Foundation series won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. Isaac Asimov was among the world's best authors, an accomplished scientist, and he was also a genius with an IQ above 170, and it shows in the intelligently concocted but complex plots and narrative. There are already 331 reviews for this Science Fiction novel, however, I still believe I have something unqiue to contribute which is stated in my last paragraph.
This book and the rest in the series take place far in the future (allegedly 50,000 years) at a time when people live throughout the Galaxy. A mathematician Hari Seldon has developed a new branch of mathematics known as psychohistory. Using the law of mass action, it can roughly predict the future on a large scale. Hari Seldon predicts the demise of the Galactic Empire and creates a plan to save the knowledge of the human race in a huge encyclopedia and also to shorten the barbaric period expected to follow the demise from 30,000 years to 1,000 years. A select people are chosen to write the Encyclopedia and to unknowingly carry out the plan to re-create the Galactic Empire. What unfolds in this book and in the books that follow is the future history of the demise and re-emergence of a Galactic Empire, written as a series of adventures, in a similar fashion to the Star Wars series.
Even though this is arguably the greatest set of Science Fiction novels ever written, I do not recommend it to those who are only mildly interested in Science Fiction. Character development is not the focus of these novels and the large amount of technical/scientific details, schemes and plots can become both confusing and heavy for the unitiated Science Fiction reader. If you read this one you will feel the need to read the others which may take a long time. If you are new to Science Fiction start with something lighter and when you are hooked you can continue with this series. Also, in my opinion the second and third books were better than the first....more