Wow, don't quite know what to make of this one. It was enjoyable enough and certainly aspires to a level of profoundness, although I'm not so sure I gWow, don't quite know what to make of this one. It was enjoyable enough and certainly aspires to a level of profoundness, although I'm not so sure I get it. Aliens enslave humans, genetically altering and breeding them into steeds and super-soldiers. Humans do same to said aliens, creating the "dragons" of the title. The question, I suppose, is whether this is any more ethical than what the aliens are doing. Riding around on dragons certainly seems less grotesque than lizard-like grephs galloping around on humans. There are a number of clashes, between the two main human factions, and, obviously, between humans and aliens. In the end, though, it didn't make a heck of a lot of sense. There is a nifty twist involving a third set of beings, the sacerdotes, which I thought was pretty satisfying. Perhaps I'm attempting to read to much into it...
This novel did win the Hugo award, in 1963, for best novella / short story and not best novel as the cover blurb will lead you to believe. It's Jack Vance, so it's not bad by any means, but this isn't his best work by a long shot. I much prefer the Planet of Adventure series and Tales of the Dying Earth to this....more
What’s a man supposed to do? Here is a novel that is greatly revered by critics and fans alike. It received both the Nebula and Hugo awards for best nWhat’s a man supposed to do? Here is a novel that is greatly revered by critics and fans alike. It received both the Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel (1972 and 1973 respectively). Asimov himself identified this as his favourite. And yet…
I normally really enjoy Asimov’s works. Foundation, especially, is one of my favourite SF novels. I am going to go against what appears to be the norm by not giving this novel four or five stars. It’s a novel I respected rather than enjoyed.
I can certainly recognise The Gods Themselves as a good Science Fiction novel. It’s no surprise it won awards. The science is hard enough to break rocks, even in one sixth of gravity. No doubt using this book to teach some of the fundamentals surrounding atoms and isotopes would be a good ploy for a science teacher. This is Asimov in full-lecture mode. There is also a lot of dialogue as characters use one another as sounding boards to drive the science home. To borrow from the comment below: it’s a bit wordy.
And perhaps most importantly. The novel opens with an apocalyptic notion of epic proportions. The universe is going to explode! Or, more specifically, our “arm of the galaxy is going to be turned into a quasar”. You’d think this garnered some sense of urgency. You’d be dead wrong. The story plods along at its own pace, focusing on relationships and theories to a mind-numbing extent. But what about the imminent end of all things? Oh, well, I suppose we’ll get to that later. In the end it would have been more satisfying if the universe did explode, just to shut up all these people.
Now before I get crucified. I liked the novel (hence the three stars), I just didn’t like it quite enough. In fact I feel that it is far inferior to Foundation. That is just my two cents’ worth, and looking at the current rate of exchange it probably isn’t much at all. ...more
Downbelow Station reads like a classical historical epic, with a large cast of characters, many of whom are family, lots of intrigue, shifting allegiances, backstabbing (sometimes quite literally), and of course, tragedy. I'm mentioning this, because many reviewers complain about the novel's slow pacing. It does take a while to get into its stride, but once it does the pace picks up noticeably.
So, a novel about interstellar conflict? Yes, and also no. There are space battles here, but they don't fill a great many of the rather intimidating number of pages of this novel. Neither is this a military science fiction novel from a tactical point of view. Space Opera probably comes close, but refer the quote above. This is a very good novel that just happens to be a Science Fiction novel. The thing is, it is a really good novel. The emphasis, however, is on social sciences, economics, logistics and the importance of family. It is one of the most realistic science fiction novels I've read, too, in its depiction of life on a space station. The reader is right there in the corridors with the rest of the cast, smelling the fear, breathing the often stale air, stomach knotted with tension, while events on a grander scale and totally out of their control determine their fates.
This novel concerns itself with things like Martial Law and the abuse of military power. Reminiscent of cold war era intrigue (the novel won the Hugo Award in 1982), there are also scenes that might be re-enactments of Germany's Kristallnacht during the Second World War. People dragged from their homes, riots, collateral damage.
The resolutions to problems, plot dilemmas, were often vastly different to what I had foreseen. In some cases the suddenness surprised me. I would recommend this novel to anybody, especially science fiction readers, with a decent attention span. Oh, and especially those who don't need to be spoon-fed. It wants to be read! ...more
Let’s get one thing straight. The Uplift War is not military science fiction. There is a war, yes, and there are some appropriately war-like moments,Let’s get one thing straight. The Uplift War is not military science fiction. There is a war, yes, and there are some appropriately war-like moments, but the emphasis is, once again, on the ‘Uplift’ and not on the ‘War’. Arguably, one the greatest strengths of The Uplift War and its predecessors, is the alien element. Brin certainly went the whole hog when he was designing and imagining his Galactics. This is where these books shine. Each alien race has its own culture and corresponding cultural oddities, and some of them are quite bizarre. That being said, I had a difficult time of it imagining the Gubru as an intimidating warlike race, despite all their hardware. They always seemed to remind me of oversized chicks, or broilers, or canaries. Tweety with a laser rifle and an attitude?
So, yes, the Gooksyu-Gubru have it in for earthclan. They really want to know what the Streaker spaceship found out in the star-lanes (see Startide Rising), so they set off for Garth (a planet leased by Earth in an attempt to undo ecological harm that has transpired there) on an official ‘crusade’. The galactic politics are interesting and at least come up with some plausible explanations why the aliens don’t just roast earth, which is obviously the grand prize if you think Humans are not worthy of their patron status, and be done with it. The ‘War’ is mostly concerned with the guerrilla efforts of the neo-chimpanzees on Garth to undermine their new, and unwelcome, rulers. Mostly. But this novel isn’t just about the war. It’s also about a lot of other things, most notably a Tymbrimi ‘practical joke’ that goes WAY beyond the average April Fool’s day.
There is a lot of science in here. Biological science, ecological science, chemical science, linguistics, you name it. By the time Brin was writing this, he was apparently feeling comfortable enough with his writing skills and the success of the first two Uplift novels to utilise the kitchen sink approach. Some of the characters are truly delightful, such as the Neo-Chimp Fiben Bolger and Uthacalthing, the Tymbrimi ambassador to Garth.
The novel teeters on a fine edge, yet somehow manages not to topple into the realm of being overly complicated. Well, barring perhaps the Galactic code of conduct and all that. All in all, it comes together nicely. Expect some great twists. But you already knew that, didn’t you, having already read Sundiver and Startide Rising? Oh, and of course, this novel has neo-gorillas! ...more
Ah. Hyperion. Quite the achievement. Like its fascination with poetry might suggest, this novel is a piece of art.
There are many themes addressed hereAh. Hyperion. Quite the achievement. Like its fascination with poetry might suggest, this novel is a piece of art.
There are many themes addressed here, and a re-reading at some stage is likely in order. On one level it's a novel about faith: the loss of faith, and, perhaps, the regaining of faith. On another, it's a novel about retribution. Alternatively, it is nothing of the sort, and just a darn good Space Opera.
As other reviewers have noted, there is a notable element of horror throughout. It is a dark work, and disturbing. It evokes emotional responses and raises questions. I guess that is the whole point. There isn’t a lot of 'hard' science at work here, but there are some tidbits that keep the journey interesting.
Speaking of journeys: this book is actually one big journey. Seven pilgrims set off to see the legendary Shrike on the planet Hyperion. On their pilgrimage they share their accounts of what brought them there. As would be expected, some of the 'stories' are better than others. One or two accounts are particularly brutal and/or moving. There are times when the novel does read a bit like a short story collection, but there are common themes and threads tying everything together.
Hyperion won a number of awards, including the Hugo award for best novel. It seems it wasn't even nominated for a Nebula, although its sequel (The Fall of Hyperion) was. Odd.
In order for you to truly appreciate Ringworld you would have to mentally backtrack forty-odd years.
BiNot much I can say about this.
It blew my mind.
In order for you to truly appreciate Ringworld you would have to mentally backtrack forty-odd years.
Big Ideas in Science Fiction are a dime a dozen. Today.
But in 1970…?
Perhaps Niven’s vision upstaged his characters. Perhaps. But I could still lose myself on the ring. It fascinated me then; it fascinates me now. This novel made authors sit up and pay attention to just how big you could think if you really applied your imagination. Also, I’ve spent years wracking my mind trying to think just how that horizon must look, curving up like that for millions of miles…
Hugo Award – 1970 Nebula Award – 1971 Locus Award – 1971