Of Time and Third Avenue, Alfred Bester: 3/5 The short-story format has always been important and held in high regard in sciMini-reviews of each story:
Of Time and Third Avenue, Alfred Bester: 3/5 The short-story format has always been important and held in high regard in science fiction. This classic twist-in-time mystery story is a good example of why. The short format allows a simple idea and plot twist to be explored without the need to build elaborate sets, plot, and side characters. Bester serves us with an enjoyable, if straightforward and somewhat predictable story, effectively setting a scene and executing a plot twist around one central idea in a few pages.
All Summer in a Day, Ray Bradbury: 2/5 What would it be like to live on a planet where the climate was one of constant rain, where a glimpse of the sun is as rare and remarkable an event as a solar eclipse is to us? The premise for Bradbury's story is an interesting one, especially in light of all the science fiction that assumes living on another planet is essentially like living on earth, either because planets are assumed to have the same general climate characteristics, or because of terraforming. However, while the setting is interesting, the story rather isn't. What we get is a very predictable little sob story, that is ultimately forgettable.
Mini review: The Discworld has no definitive starting point, what with being round and all, but you could certainly find worse places to begin your exMini review: The Discworld has no definitive starting point, what with being round and all, but you could certainly find worse places to begin your exploration than Guards! Guards! Here we are introduced to the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, a motley crew of ragged characters whose success in making sense of their world is severely limited by said world's unwillingness to cooperate – but by god they try! With the introduction of the City Watch subseries of books, a deeper social satire is beginning to stir under the sit-com surface. Where earlier books have painted sometimes entertaining caricatures of fantasy tropes and folklore, here Pratchett holds up a fun-house mirror to ourselves....more
Mini-review: Ted Chiang is probably one of, if not the, most interesting writers in contemporary speculative fiction. Yes, speculative fiction. That iMini-review: Ted Chiang is probably one of, if not the, most interesting writers in contemporary speculative fiction. Yes, speculative fiction. That is really the only term that does any justice to Chiang's stories, which take cues from, but ultimately transcend both science fiction and fantasy. He is anything but prolific, but he replaces quantity with an astonishing quality. His stories are carefully crafted in all respects: each story revolves around a well though-out philosophical idea, which Chiang presents with characters, plots and use of language crafted to the purpose. There are many writers who can piece together an engaging story, some who can present an interesting idea, and a few who can turn language into art and shape it to their purpose, but there are very few indeed who consistently succeed in doing all three at once. Ted Chiang is one of them....more
Mini-review: A classic of the fantasy genre as it was before Tolkien (The Broken Sword was released the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring), andMini-review: A classic of the fantasy genre as it was before Tolkien (The Broken Sword was released the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring), and certainly a must-read for any fan of the genre, and a good romp over all. Throw in one part Shakespearean tragedy, one part Greek ditto, one part Norse saga, two parts mixed folklore and a generous measure violence and dark fantasy. Shake well, recline in your favourite chair by the fireplace and enjoy. Anderson serves us no surprises; indeed he follows in the tradition of the tragedies, where after the first chapters we can see all the way to the bitter end and the interest is really in how the storyteller takes us there. Anderson might have gone a bit easier with the stilted faux-old-fashioned language. The next time someone smites mightily with his sword, I think I might just smite right back. And leave the verse-writing to Tolkien. Deep intellectual fare this is not, but a jolly good ride to be thoroughly enjoyed, preferably in a single sitting or two, and Anderson makes intelligent use of his various mythological sources to good effect....more
It has been too long since I read Bradley's take on the Arthur myth for me to write a proper review of the book. However, I will make a couple of shorIt has been too long since I read Bradley's take on the Arthur myth for me to write a proper review of the book. However, I will make a couple of short observations.
This is one of those novels that are much more well-known than I was aware of at the time of reading the book. Only later did it become clear to me that this is not only a much-read fixture of the modern fantasy genre, but to an even greater extent considered a feminist-fantasy milestone.
I must confess that I did not perceive the novel as at all feminist when reading it. It's "feminist" message consists more in recasting the classic story of King Arthur into a story of some of the women figuring in and around his life, rather than in presenting any particular philosophical or political standpoint. In more than one way, it says something very sad about one or both of the society in which this book was conceived and the feminist movement of the time, that merely retelling a classic story from the point of view of a few female characters, or merely telling a story about women, is perceived as a strong statement.
However, political and philosophical considerations aside, Bradley does more than simply change the storyteller's point of view: she turns the entire story to a story about a handful of very different, and yet very similar, women, in particular Morgaine. It is in this complete change of both perspective and subject that Bradley is able to turn the Arthur myth into a new, powerful fantasy....more