I really like how St. John Mandel portrayed the post-apocalyptic world. It had devolved to state-less tribes but wasn't exactly lawless either. Most pI really like how St. John Mandel portrayed the post-apocalyptic world. It had devolved to state-less tribes but wasn't exactly lawless either. Most people did their best.
Just the fact that the apocalypse occurred via natural means and didn't involve some sort of conspiracy is a breath of fresh air to a genre that is normally obsessed with pinning genocide on governments or madmen. Sometimes shit just happens.
Some oddities though. I feel like it was important thematically to her to have the post-apoc world be full of disconnected islands, to contrast things with the globalization of the present age. Which makes sense to some extent. But some technological genies don't go back into the bottle so easily - the idea that at an airport they wouldn't have access to shortwave/longwave radios with the ability to talk across the continent and across the world in certain conditions doesn't seem believable. Really she just had to set the story somewhere else and I wouldn't have noticed the lack of Ham radio equipment. :) Or that the museum wouldn't figure out how to produce enough electricity to at least demonstrate computer screens to children. These are just little details that brought me out of the story a few times.
So I liked the book and would recommend it, so I'm giving it three stars. ...more
I can understand the point of view of the guys on the Coode St podcast, that is that basically an author shouldn't publish a short story collection unI can understand the point of view of the guys on the Coode St podcast, that is that basically an author shouldn't publish a short story collection until they've written enough stories that you can put together a book of only that author's best stories. Given that all of Rajaniemi published stories (that's the 'collected' part) fits in this book 200-something page book, clearly it fails that test.
However if you, like me, would probably read any short story of his that you came across, why not put it all in one convenient book? :D
So it's the post-singularity stuff you expect as well as some 'Finnish weird' stories, which really aren't so different from his post-singularity stuff if you think about it. I liked it all.
The Skywalker of Earth (first published here) is particularly great. Though he hasn't done this before, I hope he returns to this universe with more short stories. It was more post-singularity than steampunk, but regardless the 1890s aesthetic (Jules Verne was name checked) was what made it fun.
Tachyon did a great job putting the book together, both the cover and interior graphic art is fantastic....more
So thanks to Borderlands Books for providing the advanced reading copy. If you are in San Francisco, reserve an afternoon for Dandelion Chocolate andSo thanks to Borderlands Books for providing the advanced reading copy. If you are in San Francisco, reserve an afternoon for Dandelion Chocolate and Borderland Books on Valencia in the Mission. :)
I've been a fan of Kim Stanley Robinson since forever. I read his Mars Trilogy about when they came out while I was in junior high. His work is not what you would call commercial - they are a bit hard to get through sometimes. For instance I bounced off Shaman. This is the guy who will give an impassioned defense of the 'infodump' at cons. And its obvious why - what makes you pick up a KSR book anyways is that the science is solid and fun to think about. Also his politics is always there - he is writing 'message fiction' without a doubt.
And in Aurora that message could hardly be more overt. In the opening acts we have Devi providing the ecological worldview that defines the rest of the book. Everything, from the human body to the generation ship biomes, the ship itself, the Earth, politics, relationships, everything are constantly falling in and out of homeostasis. This is my biggest take away from the book. This isn't a new theme in his work at all, but it was really well done here.
The book itself is a found document of sorts, written by a quantum computer coming to grips with English and thinking in general. I really loved this point of view. It allows Aurora to have the omniscient point of view with some character and flair. The computer repeatedly rolls its eyes at our ape antics. And makes mistakes. (The computer is sometimes styled Pauline like the quantum computer in 2312, this might be a hint of continuity!) It's inevitably my favorite character.
The book is a response both to 'generation ship' scifi sub-genre and folks like Elon Musk who opine about how humans need to leave the cradle of Earth. At one point he drops all pretense and has a bunch of old white guys going on all about this so that they can be punched in the face. LOLz. There's no mistaking that KSR is a Earthfirster - he clearly loves the Earth deeply and does a good job reminding you of why you should too.
2312 got a bit twisted around and overly complicated IMO. However the Aurora plot is a very straightforward survival story, albeit one measured at a percentage of the speed of light. Together with the cool POV of the ship I think this makes it my favorite KSR book....more
I wouldn't have read this book if it wasn't recommended to me since alien invasions and telepathy aren't my favorite tropes. But the book ends up workI wouldn't have read this book if it wasn't recommended to me since alien invasions and telepathy aren't my favorite tropes. But the book ends up working well.
I do love first contact stories and this book has two.
This will for sure be one of my Hugo nominations....more