This book should be called "And Then There Were Gelatinous Replicating Cubes". It's kind of a Dick take on Agatha Christie style whodunit -- a lockedThis book should be called "And Then There Were Gelatinous Replicating Cubes". It's kind of a Dick take on Agatha Christie style whodunit -- a locked planet mystery, if you will. Fourteen people are reassigned to a small settlement on a planet known as Delmak-O without being told why or what their mission is. Pretty soon, they start dropping like flies. And because it's PKD, it gets a little weird after that.
This is definitely one of Dick's philosophy/religious exploration novels, so it's a bit trippy as you'd expect, but still pretty lighthearted and entertaining. I really liked it. One thing I thought was hilarious is that in the table of contents, each chapter is titled -- for instance, "8: Glen Belsnor ignores the warnings of his parents and embarks on a bold sea adventure" or "13: In an unfamiliar train station Betty Jo Berm loses a precious piece of luggage", but none of these have anything to do with the story. There aren't even any train stations or bold sea adventures in the book. And that is why I love Philip K. Dick.
Sidenote: Fairly early in the book, there is a line that made me sit up straight because it was so familiar: "One day," Babble said, "your pills are going to hatch, and some strange birds are going to emerge." I finally realized this is extremely similar to the only lyrics in the Coil song Strange Birds, which goes "One day, your eggs are going to hatch and some very strange birds are going to emerge." Coincidence or not?...more
When I first started seeking out science fiction novels written by female authors several years ago, this was one of the first that made it to my listWhen I first started seeking out science fiction novels written by female authors several years ago, this was one of the first that made it to my list. I've been meaning to read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang for ages. It has won multiple awards, is part of the Science Fiction Masterwork series, and has been highly recommended to me numerous times. After finally reading it, I know it truly deserves all that praise.
I can't think of very many books about clones off the top of my head, which is surprising considering the scientific advances we've made in that area over the past few years and the huge potential (both positive and negative) human cloning has for radically changing our society. Kate Wilhelm explores the myriad implications of cloning to great extent here, but it doesn't come off as preachy. While some would consider this hard-sf, the technobabble is kept to a minimum. At its heart, this is really a story about family, and conformity versus individuality. How much of your own self should you sacrifice to ensure the survival of your siblings, your neighbors, the rest of the human race?
While the storyline was fascinating on its own, I also really liked the writing style. It's kind of Philip K. Dick meets Margaret Atwood. There are some uncomfortable subjects here, from incest to mass murder, but the prose is beautiful and clear. This one might be moving to the favorites list. ...more