Part space opera, part horror, part detective fiction, in almost equal parts, Leviathan Wakes is actually a good read. This particular novel had come...morePart space opera, part horror, part detective fiction, in almost equal parts, Leviathan Wakes is actually a good read. This particular novel had come highly recommended, especially when I was at Readercon this past summer. However, despite how much I enjoyed the book this is unlikely to be anything more substantial than a summer fling, but it is a good summer read. The author(s) missed a couple of opportunities, in my opinion, to really add depth to the story in several places and glossed over some story line issues, such as about two-thirds through the book when our two main protagonists are so sick they can barely climb a ladder and have spent weeks in sick bay, and then practically the next day after their first day out of bed (and remember, one can't and the other only barely can climb a ladder in near zero G) they find themselves exploring an abondened military ship and doing all sorts of things. Really? Anyway, there were a couple of issues like that but I'm mostly being nitpicky. This is a good, well-thought out book. I wouldn't call it hard sci-fi but there isn't anything that makes you slap your head and wonder if the author(s) finished third grade. This is what I personally call a "dessert book". It's fun, tasty and has no nutritional value. But you will enjoy it.(less)
I have to admit, I'm conflicted about this book. I was expecting a fairly breezy and forgettable story based on the nerdy premise of redshirts realizi...moreI have to admit, I'm conflicted about this book. I was expecting a fairly breezy and forgettable story based on the nerdy premise of redshirts realizing that they are "redshirts". The beginning part of the book is just that, a number of two dimensional characters slowly coming to the realization that something is wrong with their reality. Then Scalzi changes things up and gets all existential on us. This kind of threw me to be honest and I felt somewhat, well, cheated. Then I realized I was wrong. I had thought of this book (and it is how it is marketed) as a sci-fi humor story when what it really is is a pseudo-philosophical treatise on the meaning of existance and free-will. This is really the story of a writer's creations coming back to him and telling him he needs to be a better writer, how the creations deal with their reality being another's fiction; then we have the world of the creator and how the reality of his creation coming to chastise him creates angst in the people affected by the creations coming back; and then we, as readers, know that this story is just another level of the fiction as that world's reality is our fiction. So, are we living a fiction? Do we have control over our fate? If you're asking these questions I can recommend a number of philosophical treatises, but not this book. This book is well-written and Scalzi really is an excellent writer. However, his main audience for this book is other writers. Open this book knowing what to really expect and you'll get more enjoyment - but don't expect to be any smarter.
BONUS DRINKING GAME: read the other reviews; every time you see the word "meta" take a shot of your favorite beverage. To start you off, I've used the word "meta" twice already... (less)
Part "A Brief History of Time" and part "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", this is a series of loosely interconnected stories each of which is based...morePart "A Brief History of Time" and part "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", this is a series of loosely interconnected stories each of which is based on an astronomical or physics fact. This fact usually provides the setting or background of the story. For example, "At One Point" begins;
"Through the calculations begun by Edwin P. Hubble on the galaxies' velocity of recession, we can establish the moment when all the universe's matter was concentrated in a single point, before it began to expand in space."
Each of the stories begins with a fact such as this. Now, Here is the first line of this particular story;
"Naturally, we were all there, - old Qfwfq said, - where else could we have been?"
The stories are very short but very informationally dense. The sheer ludicrousness of having multiple people in a single point is automatically balanced by the thought of where else would they have been. And all of the stories are like this.
This isn't a book that will have you laughing out loud, but it does live up to its claim on the cover of being brilliantly imaginative. Calvino is a wonderful writer and I have to say this is one of the most original books I've read in a very long time. Cosmicomics is delightfully intelligent. (less)
Here is a range of stories that go from ok to very enjoyable. Anthologies in general tend to be hit-or-miss but this one hits almost every time. There...moreHere is a range of stories that go from ok to very enjoyable. Anthologies in general tend to be hit-or-miss but this one hits almost every time. There are some stories that I think would push the boundaries of the definition of "steampunk" but in this case I think that's a strength, not a weakness. Kelly Link has chosen a nice selection of stories that cover a myriad of topics, tropes, and timelines and even the "just ok" stories were still enjoyable. I really enjoyed the fact the story settings range from a weird west style colonized planet, to a house co-located in a magical/fantastical/fairy place and then ends with a mechanized ancient Rome (Carthago delenda est!) with a myriad of other place settings added in. If it is your opinion that steampunk can be more than brass goggles and turbo-powered dirigibles then my recommendation is to check this anthology out. (less)
Well, let me start by stating that this is an A. Lee Martinez standard story. The extremely powerful protagonist and helpful everyman (everyperson?) g...moreWell, let me start by stating that this is an A. Lee Martinez standard story. The extremely powerful protagonist and helpful everyman (everyperson?) get into some kind of issue/trouble and save the world/universe/reality or whatever while overcoming an unforeseen plot twist. I've just about described every book he's written but you know what, I still love him. He's one of my favorite authors despite the formula because he makes it work. Without giving anything away let me say I loved this book. His "get right to the point" writing style coupled with a golden age view of science fiction make this one of the most fun reads I've had in a very long time. If you've ever read the old Lensman series by Doc Smith you have a feeling for the universe he's set up. Couple that with some "Mars Attacks" and "Starship Troopers" and you have one great ride. Seriously, a huge robot powered by the giant radioactive brain of Marie Curie? This is great stuff! Nobody will ever confuse Martinez's writing with that of Arthur C Clarke or Isaac Asimov, but so what? There is no law against reading a book that is pure fun, and that's what this is. Buy it, enjoy it, I promise you won't be sorry you did. (less)
Thought provoking and well-written, Magary imagines a near future where a cure for aging (but not death) has been discovered and is eventually made av...moreThought provoking and well-written, Magary imagines a near future where a cure for aging (but not death) has been discovered and is eventually made available to all. The author uses the trope of found records to recreate a story. Other reviewers have compared the storytelling to Handmaids Tale but to be honest, I instantly thought Dracula. The author uses this plot device to good ends though and moves things along at the right pace.
While I don't agree with a few of the speculations the author presented some of his ideas are downright scary. Ideas such as the "living living" which is derived from "living dead" and has some of the same connotations. The story can easily be viewed as an allegory to overpopulation but his brief ruminations on the meanings of life and death are also worthy of further thought.
Everything that you think would be discussed in a book like this is mentioned, but he takes a number of ideas and really makes them bear fruit. Magary has written a book with enough style and originality to make this well-worth a couple of hours of your time. So, grab yourself a cold $300 glass of water, place your shotgun by your side (but keep it close), keep an eye out for bright orange electrics and lose yourself in a very realistic future.(less)
There's no need to rehash the plot. You can read that anywhere. This is unlike Scalzi's other work and is refreshingly funny. This is the kind of sci-...moreThere's no need to rehash the plot. You can read that anywhere. This is unlike Scalzi's other work and is refreshingly funny. This is the kind of sci-fi book that Christopher Moore might write if he did sci-fi. I'm not selling Mr. Scalzi short; writing sci-fi that is both entertaining and humorous is seldomly done and even more rarely done succesffully. Scalzi pulls it off though. Get the book, read it, you won't be disappointed.(less)
Fun book that is well-written with some really good ideas. Well worth a summer afternoon. Pay no attention to the plot holes big enough for a spaceshi...moreFun book that is well-written with some really good ideas. Well worth a summer afternoon. Pay no attention to the plot holes big enough for a spaceship to drive through, like the fact that the "skip drive" was invented on earth and only one other race understands the tech, but earth is a technological "backwater". Maybe the dog ate the drive schematics?(less)
Beware! This book gives you the old bait and switch. You think you're getting a science fiction story of criminals being loaded into a hollow asteroid...moreBeware! This book gives you the old bait and switch. You think you're getting a science fiction story of criminals being loaded into a hollow asteroid and sent on a long tour of the solar system with all the fighting and brutality of a prison , but what you're really getting is social commentary on the part criminals and political activists play in the evolution of civilization. As a bonus, you get some remarkable theorizing about small, totally isolated mini-civilzations that spring up inside of these prison asteroids. Interspersed with enough action to keep the story moving and intelligent writing that manages, given the social aspects of the story, not to get too preachy. You won't find aliens, flying saucers, terrible wars, doomsday weapons and such here, but you will find some darned-good storytelling that will make you think.(less)
Dark and vaguely depressing, cities are a thing of the past except for maybe the world government and every other planet in our solar system. Also, ju...moreDark and vaguely depressing, cities are a thing of the past except for maybe the world government and every other planet in our solar system. Also, just for the heck of it someone makes it so dogs talk. No real reason, just because. People hardly see each other anymore, oh, except for everywhere else in the solar system. This is set up as a series of apocryphal tales passed from generation of dog to generation of dog but even giving some slack for that the holes are still a bit big. If you like old time sci-fi and are feeling too happy, give this a read.(less)