Riveting play on Schrödinger's cat. If a detective can see all potential universes, does it make her job easier? The twist at the end was a complete sRiveting play on Schrödinger's cat. If a detective can see all potential universes, does it make her job easier? The twist at the end was a complete surprise....more
As with the previous entry in this series, my biggest objection is poor editing. Weber has published, literally (if not literarily) dozens of novels w
As with the previous entry in this series, my biggest objection is poor editing. Weber has published, literally (if not literarily) dozens of novels with one of the largest SF houses on the planet. They should be able to edit his books!
I'm not even sure if this one: "[the] flag briefing room was on the small size" is the author's error initially, or just a typo. I've heard too many people say exactly that, so perhaps Weber really thinks it should be "size" and not "side", but dammit! His copy editors should have got it right. But that was nothing compared to seeing: "Here, here!", when nobody was calling a dog.
I still enjoyed the story, but Baen Books should be able to produce something that looks a little better than the most recent self-published works...
This is a book that I've been intending to read for a while... right after I knock off the other 120 unread books. But apparently our meetingOh. Wow.
This is a book that I've been intending to read for a while... right after I knock off the other 120 unread books. But apparently our meeting was fated. My mother accidentally checked it out from the library, the day before I was to leave for home. My mother despises SF, so I had to read it, and I had 24 hours to do it.
This is one of the few books I've ever read that I wanted to restart as soon as I finished (though, part of that is because I had to read it too fast in the first place). Unfortunately, that's going to have to wait, now, as the book and I are about to part ways!
I felt it started a little woodenly, but wasn't sure whether that was an artifact of the translation or intentional on the part of the author—since I've never read a Ken Liu original that I didn't love, I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt as a translator. Pretty soon, I was immersed and it stopped mattering.
It's a far-from-classic alien invasion story—after all, the aliens in question won't be here for 450 years—with a lot of hard mathematics & physics thrown in (the math is all virtual: be not afraid!). He almost lost me at unfolding protons into two dimensions—I mean, why? We don't work in two-D, we work in three, so it makes far more sense to unfold an 11-dimensional proton into three-D. In any case, conceptually it should be possible; practically, maybe not so much.
Early in the book, a physicist commits suicide because she's discovered that the immutable Laws of physics are not-so-immutable. Ted Chiang did this in Stories of Your Life and Others—somewhat more believably. In Chiang's case, a mathematician couldn't cope with finding a proof that 1=2. That really would undermine everything we think we know. In Liu's case, particle physicists are finding that their experiments are not reproducible. OK, I'm no graduate physicist, let alone one of the top minds on the planet, but that just says to me that at a quantum level, there's chaos: which we already knew. otoh, maybe my reaction is like that of the husband of the mathematician in Chiang's story, who essentially says "So what? Mathematics still works, right?"
Later on, we meet Mike Evans, a disciple of Peter Singer (Animal Liberation). Mike's supposed to be a bad guy (such as there are, in this story: Liu really doesn't judge anybody), but I'm predisposed to judge him as worse than he probably is because of the Singer connection. It's not that I really disagree with everything Singer says, but I had to take a Scientific Ethics course in university where I failed to realize until it was too late that I wasn't supposed to debate Singer, but was required to swallow his propaganda whole. I'm a little biased...
Liu manages to discuss politics, man’s inhumanity to man (and other creatures), the advance of science, and just about anything else under the sun (or suns), all in the context of the three-body problem (a real “holy grail” of physics), and all, apparently, without upsetting the censors of what is still a totalitarian state. A tour-de-force, and well worth all the attention it has been getting around the world. ...more
I'm so not a fan of short stories, that I have to have somebody shove them down my throat.
In this case it was Michele, who grabbed me by the (figura
I'm so not a fan of short stories, that I have to have somebody shove them down my throat.
In this case it was Michele, who grabbed me by the (figurative) lapel and shouted "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS! NOW!!"
OK, Michele. I've read it! It was pretty darn good too.
All of the stories are thought-provoking, from the opening Tower of Babylon which is a simple, fun, fantasy, or Exhalation in which a race of undying pneumatic-powered robots are faced with entropy; to the title story, in which a linguist finds her world-view forever changed by learning the language of an alien race, and the heart-rending final story The Lifecycle of Software Objects. Particularly that one. I know a lot about the lifecycle of software objects, but none of the software objects I've ever worked with have been quite as endearing as Chiang's digients. I'm actually quite pleased that there's no resolution, and Ana simply continues “...as best she can, the business of living.”
I found Chiang's stories a little reminiscent of Greg Egan, though the science is not quite as likely to induce brain pain. Still, Divide by Zero is the purest of science. The story could only work with a pure mathematician at its centre. When the mathematician finds a proof that Arithmetic is not consistent (ie, that 1=2 or any other number you choose), she believes that it's the end of the world. Her husband says "How can you say that? Math still works. The scientific and economic worlds are't suddenly going to collapse from this realization." And he's absolutely right. As it is, physicists are used to working with systems they know are wrong (say, Newtonian mechanics), because it's "good enough" for their purposes. And absolutely nothing's hard and fast in biology. But pure math, even though Gödel long ago proved that some of math is unprovable, is supposed to be the one thing everybody can rely on.
On the other hand, I think there's a little sleight of hand going on in Story of your Life, because Fermat's Principle of Least Time absolutely doesn't imply anything about the future being already cast in stone. It doesn't stop the story from being an absolute gem.
So, read this. Now. If you don't, I'll set Michele on you.
A science-fiction retelling of parts of the Norse Eddas (primarily the Elder Edda), in some ways this reads like Jack Chalker without the twisted sex.A science-fiction retelling of parts of the Norse Eddas (primarily the Elder Edda), in some ways this reads like Jack Chalker without the twisted sex. Not that there isn't sex, and some of it is as distasteful as you might expect from a Viking Edda.
Ultimately, though, the characters are not well developed and the plot is mostly a lot of rather bloodthirsty fighting. Much as I expect of the Elder Edda, though I haven't read it.
There's also a whole subplot where one of the gods causes the destruction of one of the 'planes' (as in Norse mythology, there is the plane where the gods live, the plane where ordinary humans live, and then separate planes for giants and other monsters). This plot must have been snatched straight out of the Edda, because in his afterword, Drake talks about how the Elder Edda is an assemblage of fragments rather than a coherent story, and this is definitely a disjoint fragment. There's no explanation for the god wanting to destroy the plane, or why it even matters....more
This is not going to be for everybody. Armas has written a story that will feel decidedly odd to most nativeI edited the second edition of this book.
This is not going to be for everybody. Armas has written a story that will feel decidedly odd to most native English-speaking readers. It's stream-of-consciousness in a conscious that spans the entire universe. If you can work through the unusual presentation, it's an epic fantasy in a pseudo-scientific setting most reminiscent to me of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, etc.), without the religious element.
Strictly, the protagonist is unnamed, but he is nicknamed ‘Deceneus’ by the people he helps. Deceneus is recruited by an agent of ‘The Universe’ to help steer the progress of less-developed races on other worlds. Sort-of. But it's clear that Deceneus himself is considered a savage, and there are far too many similarities between certain periods of Earth's history and events he lives through with these other races for one to be entirely sure it is another planet. And the author certainly isn't going to tell you soon.
Deceneus is a rather unsympathetic character (not quite as annoying, say, as Donaldson's Thomas Covenant, but he takes some getting used to). He whines a lot and makes the reader wonder why ever somebody would think he'd be worth the investment of their time, but over the course of the novel, he becomes more likable and understandable. In fact, he's a normal human being: he drags his feet when asked to do things outside his comfort zone, but when he discovers he has an aptitude for the task, he complains less and enjoys himself more. Consequently, we enjoy him more, too.
This is clearly the first of a series, but this story stands alone, with a satisfactory conclusion....more
In my defense, I've just lost my 14-year old dog, and was drinking to forget, so it came as a surprise to me when I figured out, only a
In my defense, I've just lost my 14-year old dog, and was drinking to forget, so it came as a surprise to me when I figured out, only about half-way through, who the Black Amazon was… but I hadn't realized when I downloaded this from Project Gutenberg that it was an Eric John Stark story, so I was focusing on that. Clearly, however, the Amazon wasn't wearing the armor shown on the cover of the "Planet Stories" magazine issue that the story appeared in, or Eric John Stark wouldn't have been so slow on the uptake either.
Leigh Brackett may well have been the last practitioner of the Edgar Rice Burroughs school of Mars stories. Like ERB's Mars, this story is completely unscientific. Generally, I prefer Brackett's Skaith novels, because they're set on a complete fantasy world that can be anything she wants, rather than a Mars that is nothing like what we know it is, but really, it doesn't matter what the setting is, because the stories are about Stark and his need to make things right in the face of oppression.
Stark is from a long literary line of humans-raised-by-animals (or at least savages) like Burroughs' Tarzan or Kipling's Mowgli, and like them he has learned to be the best of both worlds.
In this outing, Stark must return a stolen talisman (read: powerful artifact of long-forgotten science) that protects all of Mars from the return of an ancient race of pure Evil from beyond the Gates of the Dead. My only problem with the story is that, in its time, the solution probably seemed fine, but in 2014 I can't help thinking that "pure Evil" really means "unfathomably alien" (since no evidence of actual Evil is presented) and that there should have been a better solution to the co-existence of the two races.