I saw this book showin up on my feed with high praises. I still wasn’t sure because, as much as I love sci fi, newer ones can be a bit of a book zoneI saw this book showin up on my feed with high praises. I still wasn’t sure because, as much as I love sci fi, newer ones can be a bit of a book zone riddled with land mines. So when I got a chance to stop at a bookstore a couple weeks ago, I sucked up the courage and picked it up for a sneak peek. Page one sold me. No actually, the first four-salty-worded sentence did it.
The story? Mark Whatney, Martian astronaut from the not too distant future, is stuck on mars. Alone. He’s determined to survive and get off the planet. Mars fights back.
That’s pretty much the story. Simple, but MAN, what a great little tale. Why is it great? Because Mark Whatney is a pretty cool dude. He’s smart, mechanically inclined, determined, and nothing gets him down, By God, not even the harsh surface of Mars. He simply does not give. up.
Unlike most sci fi, there’s no aliens here. Just Mark vs the Martian Elements. And the survival story, told mostly 1st person by Mark through inner dialogue, log entries and then by the people trying to get him home is thoroughly engaging because, well, because he’s a funny guy! Whatney makes it easy to be inside his head. The driest bits are all the frickin math and the fact he “sciences the shit out of everything”- which is, unless I missed it, only a line from the movie and not the book.
As you can tell by my status updates, so many other lines cracked me up in this book- I decided enough was enough, but there were plenty more than even I posted.
So yeah, I highly rec this one for suspense, humor, and plain ol' triumph of the human spirit.
I’m giving it 4 ½ out 5, just short of 5 because the ending was way too abrupt, his story almost demands an epilogue… woulda liked to see him on earth!! Oh well...more
Ah I miss Ten and Rose- that’s why I lept at the chance to listen to a, as yet, untold adventure of their’s on Audible. In this short stThe Stone Rose
Ah I miss Ten and Rose- that’s why I lept at the chance to listen to a, as yet, untold adventure of their’s on Audible. In this short story, (About 2 and ½ hrs listening time), part time Time-Traveling Doctor’s companion Mickey Smith shows The Doctor and Rose something odd at the museum- a perfect replica of Rose as the Goddess Fortuna in marble… from 1st Century Rome.
Realizing that’s Rome is their next trip, The Doctor takes Rose back in time with him to discover the creator of the statue. The thin plot thickens later when we discover the true source of the piece of art- altho, any fan of BBC’s Doctor Who can figure that out pretty easily. Slightly less difficult to wade through is the amateurish prose with the Doctor saying and doing some rather odd things- wehll, for Tennant’s Doctor anyway. Also the somewhat conspicuously missing TARDIS (The iconic time traveling machine masquerading as Blue Police Telephone Box from 60’s era London) once they land in Rome circa 124 AD didn’t help this story much either. (I kept saying, “use the TARDIS. Why aren’t they using the TARDIS- USE THE TARDIS DUMMY!” But then, I suppose that would have made this novel even shorter. )
It gets even weirder by the end- I can hear Davies and Moffat groaning from here- BUT with some nice gentle touches of Ten/Rose ‘shipping and the fact that, (hold your breath Tenth Doctor fangirls), David Tennant narrates the tale hisself ‘fank you very much luv’…
Screw the plotholes and silly prose- this book gets 5 stars from me! heh heh
And that my friends is what it means to be a Whovian- wehll, a Tenth Doctor Whovian anyway. :)
(btw, Billie Piper does NOT narrate in this one, by Tennant does a fab job of voicing all the characters mimicing their chav'ian accents just fine.)...more
SO- if you’re any kind of Sci Fi nerd, as I am, you know this story. I mean, know this story. Not only have you read the book, you’ve seen the old mov SO- if you’re any kind of Sci Fi nerd, as I am, you know this story. I mean, know this story. Not only have you read the book, you’ve seen the old movie starring Rod Taylor and you’ve also seen that glowy, gadgety, steam punky, levered, whirling time machine guest star on a recent TV show which shall remain nameless, because it’s become a fixture in nerd culture worldwide.
But here’s a recap in case you aren’t as aware of it: Around the turn of the century, a guy makes a time machine. He travels to the distant future and makes it back with a story to tell. Apparently, in the future, the human race has evolved into two sub-species: The shiny, happy Eloi who live above ground with nothing to do but eat, play and indolently make love. Below ground it is a different story. Hairy, with subterranean eyes accustomed to the dark, the Morlocks are n brutish, threatening lot, which the traveler surmises descended from the lower class of people who’s jobs it were to “get their hands dirty”, i.e. the laborers of our culture. (Not as much a point for Socialism as I guess Wells intended, as it comes off slightly snotty and academically elitist.)
Because he’s sure the Morlocks are treating the Eloi as cattle on which to feed, and partly I’d say because he had taken the lovely Eloi, Weena, to bed, the traveler decides to take it on himself to smoke the Morlocks out of their subterranean homes. Plus… they have his Time Machine. His plan works beyond his imaginations and when waking the next day, he does indeed find his Time Machine- all set up like bait in a trap. But he knows something the Morlocks do not- he can escape the trap with ease. And escape he does- but not without a tense confrontation with the white haired, red-eyed creatures.
Farther into the future he goes, watching the sun grow red and huge and then wane, till only darkness and stars permanently fill the skies. And then he comes home- to the exact moment he left- a little distance away, because, after all, the Morlocks had moved his machine, and though time had changed, distance had very little.
The end of the tale leaves those listening, not believing a word of the travelers supposed flight of fancy. Still, one friend comes back days later because he’s just not sure. He of course sees the traveler disappear in his machine. That friend is still waiting for his return.
Honestly? The story doesn’t really get good till about the time the scary Morlocks show up… but, I gotta say, the tiny smooth-skinned Eloi creep me out more. With scientific touches- classic to his stories- H. G. Wells plays a game of “what if?” with the future that still feels unique even as it spawned an entire genre and thousands of similar stories. I wish Wells had a time machine to take him to today so he could see how beloved his stories were and still remain. I wonder if he would have changed his future world to be a little more happier, a little less dystopian? Then again, maybe not- he seemed to have been an excellent judge of human nature, if misguided, by what would fix it, imo. ...more
Society has evolved to a place where a home can babysit and raise your kids for you, with a nursery that will bring to life anything your child imaginSociety has evolved to a place where a home can babysit and raise your kids for you, with a nursery that will bring to life anything your child imagines. George and Lydia Hadley were happy to purchase their Happylife Home so affordably, where lights turn on as you walk in a room and the house clothed and fed and rocked their kids to sleep. But something is awry in the nursery. The room is stuck on an African Veldt land with lions feeding and vultures looming- and this imaginary world feels all too real.
When George asks the kids about their African playground, the kids deny that’s where they’ve been and when Wendy, his daughter, quickly runs ahead of George and changes the scenery, he knows they are hiding something.
Realizing that giving the kids everything they’ve ever wanted probably wasn’t such a good idea, he begins to shut things down- including the nursery. But too little- too late, and at the end of the tale, George and Lydia finally realize why the screams coming from the nursery every night sounded so familiar.
Bradbury never fails to strike me with his descriptive wording- even in a short short story such as this.
“The hot straw smell of liongrass, the cool green smell of the hidden water hole, the great rusty smell of animals, the smell of dust like a red paprika in the hot air.”
“Like a red paprika...” Hunh. Love that.
I’m also sensing, Bradbury really didn’t like modern entertainment and the direction it’s heading. He must have felt that eventually it would atrophy the brain and spoil the kiddos.
Incarceron- an infinite prison created to hold the criminals, the unwanted and the refuse. It was supposed to be a place to rehabilitate those imprisoIncarceron- an infinite prison created to hold the criminals, the unwanted and the refuse. It was supposed to be a place to rehabilitate those imprisoned there, a paradise… but something went wrong. Now those trapped inside live in hell and the prison has become something altogether new- a horrible living organism.
Claudia is the daughter of the warden of Incarceron. She senses that something is not quite right about her world. A prisoner in her own right, she is being groomed to be the next queen- married off to the current Queen’s selfish son- for her society had stopped progressing long ago, when something called The Protocol was enacted, trapped in a time when courtiers and facades of civility hide terrible secrets. Longing to escape the tyranny of a hopeless future, she stumbles upon a strange key while secretly investigating her father’s study. A mystery quickly unfolds because, with the key, she has found the way to unlock her world- along with the door to Incarceron.
Brilliantly imagined the mystery of Incarceron and Claudia’s world kept me reading on… even when the mostly 2-dimensional characters less than thrilled me. But I must confess, the admittedly fascinating world building failed to hold me over through much of this book- especially when it took so long for the prisoners of Incarceron to make their way out.
This story wants to be a dystopian YA on the scope of The Hunger Games and the plethora of other similar books hitting the best sellers right now, unfortunately it lacks engaging characters. (I think the author even tried to set up a love triangle however she pretty much failed, imo. You have to get the reader to care about whom ends up with whom and with an otherwise selfish heroine, a passive hero and side characters that granted, were a bit more intriguing then the H/h- it just didn’t work for me.)
The story throws in some predictable twists that are easy to guess- especially if you’ve been reading (or watching) Sci Fi, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, for as long as I have- (view spoiler)[ pssst! "It's bigger on the inside" (hide spoiler)]- but they did manage to give me a moment of pause to mull them over. There is that.
I sound hard on this book, and in a way I am, because I love dystopian fiction so much and set it to a higher standard, but I did in fact like it more than some other YA out there- ::cough cough twilight cough cough:: I at least wanted to read the entire book and might even consider reading on if the author can resolve the lack of character depth. (With Twilight I gave up halfway through the first book!)
So- with some qualms- I do recommend this book if you like the genre, because let’s face it, disappointing fantasy/ sci fi is better than a lot of other genre fiction out there! Just sayin. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Well this is just sad. The whole of this short story a bizarre metaphor for awakening to find yourself completely changed into somethingMetamorphosis
Well this is just sad. The whole of this short story a bizarre metaphor for awakening to find yourself completely changed into something utterly repugnant even though you feel exactly the same inside. Changed by societal and familial burdens thrust upon him and said society/family rejecting him for it- from the beginning there is no hope for joy in our lead character’s future. (But then, when is there in critical literature?) And yet, there is so much truth to be had, you cant help but delight in the art of it.
If you ever felt that sudden change into something wholly “other”, whether by purpose or circumstance, and had that change bother some to the point of ridicule- then you’ll get this story. ...more
Now I know why many recent horror/sci fi story tellers count HP Lovecraft as an inspiration. This simple tale, told in bland documentary style, is theNow I know why many recent horror/sci fi story tellers count HP Lovecraft as an inspiration. This simple tale, told in bland documentary style, is the bare essence of every alien movie ever made.
Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein is a pretty good read. Still, it took a bit to get into it. It started off well and good, grabbing my intereNumber of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein is a pretty good read. Still, it took a bit to get into it. It started off well and good, grabbing my interest with the premise of four intelligent people running from an alien menace ("The Black hats") into other dimensions. But it lost me until I was 75% through the book. As such it took me longer to get through it then most of my reads.
Too much of it got convoluted and just felt like discordant ramblings by the author, in my opinion. Still I do love the idea that other universes are made up of our stories and myths here on terra firma.
We saw the land of Oz and Alice's wonderland, and also apparently some characters and worlds from some of his other books. (I liked his teasing jab at himself as the characters commented on one of Heinlein's earlier works.)
I definitely want to pick up some more of his stuff and read more about this Lazeraus Long fellow too...
Each of these terms could be used to describe Justina Robson's novel Keeping it Real (1st in her Quantum Gravity series)Sci-Fi?
Each of these terms could be used to describe Justina Robson's novel Keeping it Real (1st in her Quantum Gravity series). But each in and of itself would be a misnomer. An intriguing mix of all three, in addition to a "destined for each other" love story and yes, sex- How could I resist?
The book begins by describing how some time in the not too distant future, a massive explosion of a superconductor causes the thinning, and in some places- outright tearing- of the veil separating our world and the realms that coexist beside us. Since the explosion, euphemistically called "The Quantum Bomb", the inhabitants of each realm are now communicating with Earth - all except the Elven realm that is.
After a deadly encounter with some nefarious otherworlders, Lila Black is supposed to be dead. Her body is stained and torn apart by the death magic used against her, but her ambiguous employers have rebuilt her. Now, dead to her family and living undercover, she's part machine/part woman and assigned to protect an Elf who has crossed into Otopia (formerly known as Earth) and is making a name for himself as a rock musician.
Upon meeting Zal, the mysterious Elf who is more than what he seems, a game is started between them. One that will lead her into the Elven world where intrigue abounds and where Zal and Lila find themselves involved in a plot that will not only endanger their worlds, but also their hearts.
This book had many things going for it and a couple things against it.
What I liked? The world Robson's attempting to create and the complete flipping on it's ear of what a romantic hero and heroine should look and act like. (Lila's body is a blend of Tony Stark's Ironman suit and Terminator 3's weapon infested Terminator Chick and Zal doesn't care one wit that she's strong enough can carry him wherever he may need to go.)
What I didn't like? The book seemed all over the place, miring the story until she (and the plot) got to where it was supposed to go.
Accordingly, it didn't really pick up till two-thirds through the book. But then again, the ending makes up for much of the meandering beforehand. (Who can resist an evil Elf Queen and ancient dragons leaving cryptic messages?)
That said, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series! ...more
This book is all about one man's struggle against the status quo- even more frightening for him because he lives in"I hate a Roman named Status Quo!"
This book is all about one man's struggle against the status quo- even more frightening for him because he lives in a world where firemen are not the rescuers but the fire starters. They rush to houses not to put out fires but to burn them, and only those that hold the most heinous crimes against the state- books.
Guy Montag did his duty as a fireman till one day a girl- a free thinker- held a dandelion under his chin and woke him up.
His world turned upside down he made a stand and then had to run for his life- watched all the while by inhabitants of the city glued to their wall tv sets, numbed and dumbed down by the very thing that holds them enthralled.
Yet, Montag makes his escape, becoming more important than he ever could have realized while his world disintegrates around him- literally.
I read Fahrenheit 451 ages ago and it was fun to revisit it with older eyes. I thought I remembered this as a dystopian rant against state run government- perhaps exacerbated by a documentary borrowing the titled not long ago- but really its not.
This little tale is all about the dumbing down of the human soul, when we give up reading and communicating on a deeper level to reality shows, texting and abridged stories. (yeah, yeah, texting and reality shows weren't around when Bradbury wrote the book- but then, how prophetic is THAT, because that's exactly the eventual outcome he saw coming! Eerily prophetic, really.)
I had also forgotten how much I love Bradbury's use of cadence, similes and how spare his writing feels- even though it's not. Very emotive.
It makes me sad that kids may miss this because they can't be bothered to sit down and read a book over the media shouting such old fashioned behavior down. "Like butterflies puzzled by Autumn" they will one day wake up and not understand.
As much an underwater travelogue as it is a sci fi/steampunk classic, Jules Verne takes us around the world20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
As much an underwater travelogue as it is a sci fi/steampunk classic, Jules Verne takes us around the world, thru the depths of the ocean with the enigmatic Captain Nemo at the helm. Narrated by a Professor Arronax, a French naturalist accidentally swept into the world of Captain Nemo, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is thought to be an allusion to Homer's Odyssey- and I suppose it is- but it’s theme of one man’s defiance of humanity, especially after being disappointed and devastated by it, is a theme repeated time and again throughout ALL literature and entertainment.
The story begins with the Professor joining a hunting expedition for a large underwater creature menacing the ships traversing the waters of the world. After a brush with the strange sea creature sweeps Professor Arronax, his companion Conseil ,and the brutish Canadian whaler, Ned Land, overboard their ship, they find themselves unexpectedly rescued not by the large narwhale they were chasing, but rather a man-made creature instead- Captain Nemo’s underwater ship, the Nautilus.
Unsure of their three new companions, Nemo keeps them imprisoned till he decides what to do with them, but when he finds at least one of the ragged men to be a man of thinking, he decides to let them have free roam of the ship- with a couple conditions: They must go back to their rooms when asked- with no questions asked by them- and they must never leave the Nautilus.
Ned Land, a lover of freedom, is furious and Professor Arronax is worried as well, but quickly finds himself enraptured with the amazing sights to behold and the chance to be the first to catalog them!
Soon months fly by with Ned getting more restless and approaching an inevitable crisis point, although just as caught up in the new adventures around them.
Hunting in underwater “forests”, amazing underwater creatures never seen before, underwater volcanoes, caves and hidden channels, along with natural terrors like hurricanes, icebergs, and a spot aptly named the navel of ocean- all of this to be borne until the Nautilus’s fierce implacable captain reveals his heart of vengeance in an all out battle with another ship.
When confronted with the true nature of Nemo, that archangel of hate as Professor Arronax calls him, the professor agrees it’s time to leave and they make their plans only to be thwarted by a squid of colossal dimensions. But Nemo wrestles his ship free in his usual efficient manner and now it is only Nemo himself left to block their escape.
Written in the late 1800’s, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a marvel. Verne imagined self sufficient underwater vessels, electric “bullets” (that's tazers to you and me) and all kinds of things that is norm to modern man, but to a man on the brink of the 20th Century- fantastical. He also surprised me with his outright admonition to humanity for its over fishing/whaling and the dire consequences that will follow if left unchecked.
Although I could have done with less of the eye-glazing cataloging and info dumping, when the action hits, it hits in a big way.
Truly a man ahead of his time, Jules Verne deserves his unofficial title as the father of science fiction as he teaches, imagines, admonishes and entertains generation after generation- but isn’t that what good sci fi is supposed to do? ...more
**spoiler alert** When I closed the cover of Missing in Action, I said to myself- literally outloud- "Now that's good storytelling."
I've come to expec**spoiler alert** When I closed the cover of Missing in Action, I said to myself- literally outloud- "Now that's good storytelling."
I've come to expect that with PAD's Star Trek New Frontier series, but MIA is the best one yet.
Slight SPOILERS to follow:
In MIA, Calhoun finds himself and the crew of his ship, The Excalibur, sucked into a distant universe where the laws of physics are not what we are accustomed to. Space is gelatinous rather than a vacuum and the creatures that inhabit it are just as bizarre. While there, he must end a centuries long feud between two warring races- a feud that has wiped out the entirity of the inhabitants of their universe, except for their own races of course.
Back home, Calhoun's wife, Admiral Elizabeth Shelby, must decide whether to defy Star Fleet and go after him or sit back and wait- as she was ordered too. Always a strict adherent to regulations, she's naturally torn, but in the end makes a decision based on her instincts, much like her cowboy husband always does. (Well, instincts and ALOT of whiskey!)
Before she can reach her husband, she finds herself in the middle of a war at it's breaking point on the Planet of Priatia, in the part of space where Calhoun and The Excalibur disappeared.
Old friends, Lt. Commander Robin Lefler and Captain Kat Mueller, join her- and by this time I was reading fast because the action was so intense.
The climax comes together with Calhoun expertly manipulating his way out of a morass of "peace" negotiations between the warring peoples- a peace negotiation that could have been "do this or die" if it had been any other man- and Shelby, Lefler, and Mueller discovering just how connected the planet of Priatia is to Calhoun's disappearance- and vice versa. A big surprise hits at this point and since I've probably spoilered too much as it is- I leave it for you to discover.
The book concludes with a few excellent little denouements- one with an ironic twist reminiscent of the old The Twilight Zone, and the other, a fable-like scene featuring Q, that lets us know where we measure up in the scheme of things.
MIA is a continuation and finale of a story arch advanced in the previous book, After the Fall. Where as it might be helpful to read the books before MIA, it really wouldn't be necessary to enjoy this story.
PAD writes with a sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud like no other author can. I have yet to read his other books, outside of the Star Trek universe, but I will eventually get to them, of that you can be sure of!...more