Gulliver Foyle has been marooned in outer space after an attack on his space ship. When he is ignored by another space ship passing by, he vows to pun...moreGulliver Foyle has been marooned in outer space after an attack on his space ship. When he is ignored by another space ship passing by, he vows to punish the ship that left him to die. Foyle in fact lives and his obsession with that one goal alters the universe irreparably. Think revenge with a capital “R”.
Bester's world building is impressive. The female characters are well drawn with depth and authenticity – finally! His narrative is compelling, creative, inventive, terrifying and totally unpredictable. You are unprepared for whatever happens next in the story and are generally surprised. “Did he really do that?” The last fifty pages are mind bending and are reinforced by his extraordinary manipulation of prose.
What would The Count of Monte Cristo look like if it were set in the twenty-fifth century? This incredible novel just might be a close approximation. (less)
Those of us who read Among Others are aware that Jo Walton has read a “bit “ of speculative fiction and has a fair amount of authority when writing ab...moreThose of us who read Among Others are aware that Jo Walton has read a “bit “ of speculative fiction and has a fair amount of authority when writing about the genre. Much like Nick Hornby’s writings in McSweeneys, this is a collection of Walton’s reviews of the vast reading she’s done in speculative fiction. As I am new to the genre, I experienced little confluence with much of the writing. There are thirteen reviews of the works of Steven Brust (never heard of him), thirteen of books by Lois McMaster Bulold (only read one) and several on C.J. Cherryh (?) and Samuel ‘Skip’ Delaney (Nova). With that said, I was impressed and elated with reviews of books that I knew and had read, some of them not science fictiony at all.
Her review of George Eliot’s Middlemarch warmed my heart. What a pity she couldn’t have single-handedly invented science fiction!
“So the most common failing of genre fiction is that you get shallow stories with feeble characters redeemed only by the machinations of evil wizards, or the fascinating spaceship economy or whatever. What I want is stories as well written and characterized as Middlemarch, but with more options for what can happen. That’s what I always hope for, and that’s what I get from the best of SF.”
She made me want to re-read and purchase my own copy of The Bone People by Keri Hulme so I could read it as many times as I like, when I like. Having just finished The Left Hand of Darkness, I thoroughly enjoyed her assessment of Le Guin; Gender and Glaciers. We both loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and wonder why Susanna Clarke’s novel wasn’t more influential. Walton and I are kindred souls over Octavia Butler’s Kindred who got ‘time travel’ right. And finally she most makes me want to read Fire On The Mountain, by Terry Bisson, who I’ve also never heard of but want to.
An interesting and comprehensive collection of reviews that is a must for all readers of science fiction and fantasy. (less)
An anthology of science fiction short stories complied by the Great Books Foundation with an excellent representation of the wide range of authors aff...moreAn anthology of science fiction short stories complied by the Great Books Foundation with an excellent representation of the wide range of authors affiliated with this compelling genre. They include Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, PKD, E.M. Forster, Le Guin, Vonnegut, James Tiptree, Octavia Butler, Karen Joy Fowler and Connie Willis to name a few.
A good resource for those new to science fiction literature.(less)
Heinlein is not kind to his female characters. I suspect this is less a feature of the times than his appallingly chauvinistic view of women. (I haven...moreHeinlein is not kind to his female characters. I suspect this is less a feature of the times than his appallingly chauvinistic view of women. (I haven encountered this attitude in other books of his.) He is not an androgynous writer nor apparently does he want to be. With that said he has crafted an intriguing narrative and created an alarmingly accurate portrait of the nature of human beings (Americans more specifically).(less)
In the not too distant future, the oil age has passed, large elephant-like animals called Megadonts provide energy and bio engineered diseases run ram...moreIn the not too distant future, the oil age has passed, large elephant-like animals called Megadonts provide energy and bio engineered diseases run rampant. Company man, Anderson Lake and Emiko, one of the New People together set events in motion that have a profound effect on the city of Bangkok. Bacigalupi has woven a complex intriguing narrative filled with heart stopping tension and vibrant, intense characters, using skilled, thoughtful, beautiful prose. He raises critical questions about bioengineering and it’s relation to bio-terrorism and whether mankind is headed for a post-human evolution. I was mesmerized! Bacigalupi is clearly one our finest contemporary science fiction writers.
Be prepared for another genre-bending, mind-blowing novel from one of the most enigmatic authors of the twenty-first century. This time we are taken t...moreBe prepared for another genre-bending, mind-blowing novel from one of the most enigmatic authors of the twenty-first century. This time we are taken to a distant planet colonized by humans and inhabited by sentient beings called Ariekei who communicate in a very unique manner. Avice Benner Cho cannot speak with the Ariekei but in childhood, has been made a figure of their speech, a simile. In this gripping tension-filled narrative, inter-stellar politics ultimately upset the tenuous balance between humans and aliens leading to tumultuous events involving war and disaster. Mieville's world building often focuses on the city or the place as one of the main protagonists in his novels. This time it is language and he has woven it into the story masterfully. It's a study in semiotics. Read it! See what Mieville's mentor, Ursula K Le Guin has to say about Embassytown. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/...(less)