But that doesn't really do the story justice. Set in modern-day Kenya in a small village named Gichichi, Tandeleo is the oldest daughter of the village Episcopalian priest. An alien life form called the Chaga has landed on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and transforms the landscape in unthinkable ways. Luckily Gichichi is far from Kilimanjaro and Nairobi, and the people in the village are more concerned with their crops and animals and living their lives. But the Chaga is spreading and will soon reach Gichichi and Tandeleo's family home. What happens next to Tandeleo is a story of fear, adaptation, migration and acceptance.
This was just announced as an Arthur C Clarke award 2010 finalist. I've never heard of the book, and with only 47 ratings not many GR folks have heardThis was just announced as an Arthur C Clarke award 2010 finalist. I've never heard of the book, and with only 47 ratings not many GR folks have heard of it either. The premise sounds like an interesting intersection of historical fiction and sci-fi....more
I can't say this enough: I love stories that start with a simple premise (e.g. in Eifelheim aliens crash-land near a small 14th century German villageI can't say this enough: I love stories that start with a simple premise (e.g. in Eifelheim aliens crash-land near a small 14th century German village) then follow the characters as they react and interact with the situation.
I'm really wavering between 4 and 5 stars for Eifelheim. Yet another conundrum due to the Quantized GoodReads Ratings. Let's lay out the case for each:
Five Stars: I was really mourning the end of this book because I felt like I was so thoroughly immersed in the 14th century German village. I loved the characters, and even the minor ones had back stories. I wanted to share a mug of beer and natural sciences discussion with Dietrich on Frau Honig's porch and have Theresia blend me some herbs for my headache. I wanted to go to one of Herr Manfred's fetes and dance and laugh with Mannfred, Max, Gregor, Lorentz and Trude.
The aliens were well and truly alien: from their way of speaking, their systems of logic, their mating and their sense of justice. It made for a rich first-contact story.
I found the occasional use of German (and alien-translated German) really natural and entertaining. I spent a year in a German-speaking Kantonschule in Switzerland, so Tom's Germanglish felt amusing and natural. When Flynn literally translated German words into English, it made the Krenken really sound translated and foreign. One example was "to oversit" was used for "to translate", where the German term is Übersetzen.
Final evidence for giving 5-stars is Tom and Judy's modern day historical research fit the 14th century pieces nicely together.
The evidence to drop a star: Sharon and Tom's relationship in the modern-day interludes. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Why are these two together if they have so little respect for the other person and their life's work? I was so excited to read this knowing there was a female theoretical physicist (rock on!), but Sharon was self-centered, shrill and rude. OK, she's brilliant, but I'm shocked someone hasn't smacked her in the face sooner. This cosmologist emphatically does not want to be friends with Sharon.
Also, I was hoping for a little more stitching of Sharon's sci-fi discoveries with the alien race. The sci-fi end of the modern-day pieces felt wildly disconnected to the overall story until the last possible moment.
Since my gripes really are about a fraction of the modern-day pieces, I'm going to give Eifelheim the benefit of Quantized GoodReads Ratings.
Two stars because lots of SF/F writers have been inspired by The Little Prince. Inspiration should be respected, even if I'm not inspired by the sameTwo stars because lots of SF/F writers have been inspired by The Little Prince. Inspiration should be respected, even if I'm not inspired by the same sources.
Otherwise, it's such a disjointed, piecemeal, overly-symbolic, pseudo-deep story that Saint-Exupéry must have been drinking some tainted Absinthe while writing & drawing this book. Honestly, would modern-ish kids like this book?
The best part of the story, though, was the little ditty about the Turkish astronomer. It made me laugh out loud, only because I have been to many, many large astronomy conferences. I can say without a doubt that if a turkish astronomer gave a talk at a large AAS or RAS meeting in a Fez and billow-y I Dream of Jeanie-esque clothes, his talk would be the most popular session of the week!...more
Such a funny little book. I bought the book partly because of the cover. I was expecting something more grim. Also, I'm labeling this one as YA, evenSuch a funny little book. I bought the book partly because of the cover. I was expecting something more grim. Also, I'm labeling this one as YA, even though the publisher hasn't designated it that way. It would be excellent for someone learning English, or who struggles with reading. The story is told from the point-of-view of a pre-teen human "mount."
And no, not "mount" in a pervvy way! Imagine humans as a cross between a horse and a slave, and little alien creatures are perfectly physiologically suited to riding on our shoulders and being our masters. Emshwiller has created a curious dystopia, where humans have become universally subjugated, but not always unhappy.
The way she slowly unveils the aliens - how they look, how they act, how they organize themselves is brilliant. I had to keep remolding and reshaping my image of them. Without giving anything else away, this is ultimately what the story is about: an evolving point of view.
There are things I really, really love about The Algebraist, a detailed space-opera in the extreme. The variety of aliens are fantasmagoric while theThere are things I really, really love about The Algebraist, a detailed space-opera in the extreme. The variety of aliens are fantasmagoric while the spot-on science, and unusual locales excited the astronomer side of my personality. I particularly loved the concept of Slow species vs. Quick species - i.e. species in the galaxy that live on vastly different time scales. I also laughed at a couple of the geeky jokes. When referring to the surprisingly few number of all-out Dweller wars, the number barely reaches the double digits, and that's in base-8! Ha!
After finishing the book earlier today, I'm really left wondering more about the Dwellers - the ancient Slow species that live in/on Gas Giant planets. They are an example of a long-lasting anarchy that appears to function despite their maddening laissez faire culture and self-indulgences. I love that Banks didn't give us definite answers to to the reality behind-the-scenes of the Dweller culture. There were hints at hidden organization/s and benevolent cooperation, and I'm left imagining and wondering what the "truth" was.
Ultimately, though, I found the story too hard to pick up again at each read, and the climax (or was it climaxes?) felt muddied by the changing points of view. (These are probably more a failure of the lowly reader, though.)
The Albegraist is probably best for a fan of Space-Opera romps, complex narratives and/or fans of Banks....more
I love stories where the world is effectively our own, but then one weird, amazing thing happens that turns the world upside down. Contact has this inI love stories where the world is effectively our own, but then one weird, amazing thing happens that turns the world upside down. Contact has this in spades, exploring the political, religious, scientific and personal reactions to an alien signal from outer space. The story doesn't unfold simply or with too many contrivances. And you can be amused at Sagan's inability to predict some technological advances.
I had a tough time rating Contact. On one hand the science, concept and consequences of actions are amazing! On the other hand, the writing can be tedious with too much exposition and background on many characters. Even with the background, the characters mostly feel flat, which is a bummer. It's really the kind of book I'd imagine a high-level science professor to write. And it is!
Read the story to be transported to a world of "what-ifs" and possibilities and wonders of the Universe. Read the story if you really enjoy physics and astronomy....more
What a fun read! A gripping science fiction romp that will leave you dazed, thinking about the size of the Universe, the effects of world-wide crises,What a fun read! A gripping science fiction romp that will leave you dazed, thinking about the size of the Universe, the effects of world-wide crises, and our small place in both of these.
The difficulty is being able to tell you much about the book. Every chapter contains either a huge game-changing twist, an important turn in the characters' story, or both. The twists start happening so early on, that I can't even breathe a word of them, lest I ruin the fun of the surprise.
The best I can do is give you the setup. In a very near future, the Earth is suddenly surrounded by a temporal shield, the Spin, that blocks out light from the stars and moon, replicates the sun and tides, but otherwise leaves the Earth intact. Outside the Spin, the Universe is aging at a rate of 100,000 years to one year back on the Earth. The consequences of this disturbance are complex, both scientifically and sociologically. We follow the story of three characters as their personal stories intersect with those of the Spin and its aftermath for decades after the event.
There is so much cosmology, astronomy, exobiology, sociology, and evolution to keep you thinking and guessing at each turn.
Seriously, I haven't had this much fun being absorbed in a science fiction story since I read Darwin's Radio.
I just wanted to add that Spin is the first in a planned trilogy, the second volume, Axis is already out. The ending sets up the second book, so it might come across as unfulfilling. ...more