If SF is about the human condition, this story delivers in spades. Perhaps the most alien species of all are going to be the ones that look enough likIf SF is about the human condition, this story delivers in spades. Perhaps the most alien species of all are going to be the ones that look enough like us, that we'll make bad assumptions or completely lose our perspective (in either direction)....more
Bottom line: I got this before the price dropped to 99c, and I have no regrets. At 99c, it's a steal.
Tony Noland is a fixture in Twitter's #FridayFlasBottom line: I got this before the price dropped to 99c, and I have no regrets. At 99c, it's a steal.
Tony Noland is a fixture in Twitter's #FridayFlash meme, writing punchy and often violent short stories of 1000 words or less. Verbosity's Vengeance (VV) is his first novel-length outing, and it's a heck of a ride! If you're tired of the endless Marvel/DC reboots, rehashes, and retreads, the Grammarian is both new, and a new kind of superhero. The idea of grammar, syntax, and punctuation as superpowers sounds a little strained, but Noland has the technical chops and the writing chops to make it work. I really enjoyed the details of the Grammarian's life as Alex Graham, a wealthy entrepreneur turned bookseller, as it really spotlights the difficulties a "real" superhero would have in maintaining two identities.
Some of the plot twists were telegraphed, but that may well have been unavoidable given the genre. There were a couple short passages where the story seemed to drag a little, but that was over quickly and the story got going again. Overall, the pacing was excellent.
Maybe this will be a graphic novel one day--but if you like superhero stories, why wait? Get it. You'll enjoy it....more
Lydia and Jeremiah go on rumspringa, a sort-of rite of passage in which Amish teenagers spend some time among the "English" so they can make an informLydia and Jeremiah go on rumspringa, a sort-of rite of passage in which Amish teenagers spend some time among the "English" so they can make an informed decision about how they want to spend the rest of their lives.
Then it gets weird. Deliciously weird.
It's fifty years in the future, the English world all but tore itself apart in energy wars, and the Green Republic walled in the Amish enclave of Hemlock Hollow and forgot about them. They have a few friends on the outside, including some former Amish who decided they preferred the English world, and that's where Lydia and Jeremiah go first.
Then it gets even weirder and even more delicious. Lydia finds she has a power within, one the Green Republic will gladly kill for. Thrown into a world of oppression and revolution, and entangled in a love triangle, Lydia wants to stay true to what she knows is right while finding her way home. But in this strange world, what is right?
I had to give this high marks for characters you can care about, the surprising twists and turns, and a pretty reasonable portrayal of the energy shortages that are sure to come....more
A pretend mystery becomes a real mystery when a "rag" (slave) girl is killed. The rag's powerful owner goes looking for the killer.
The pacing is excelA pretend mystery becomes a real mystery when a "rag" (slave) girl is killed. The rag's powerful owner goes looking for the killer.
The pacing is excellent. The twist is unexpected and a little funny. But as a whole, the story just didn't gel for me. I never really got into the avant-garde type of SF that revels in moral ambiguity. If you like stories like this, you'll probably find it a 5-star read....more
Defying Gravity is a YA, soft-SF novella. Or maybe it's a romance in an SF wrapper. I can't say too much more about the story than the synopsis does,Defying Gravity is a YA, soft-SF novella. Or maybe it's a romance in an SF wrapper. I can't say too much more about the story than the synopsis does, without giving away too many details. ;-) The story is extremely character-driven, which I mostly like, but I'd have also liked a few more details here and there.
But no matter. The story itself was a fun (if brief) read, and there were a couple of places where I laughed out loud. The initial chapters do a very good job of introducing the two main characters, their motivations and background — so when the two are thrown together, the story flows pretty naturally. The author did a good job of avoiding the "oh come ON" moments that can infest soft-SF, and there were only one or two handwaves.
If hard sci-fi is your thing, you'll want to pass on this one. Most other people should enjoy it though....more
I'd give this 3.5 stars if possible. It was a fun read, marred only by its dated prose and attitudes.
I seem to remember starting an E.E. Smith title iI'd give this 3.5 stars if possible. It was a fun read, marred only by its dated prose and attitudes.
I seem to remember starting an E.E. Smith title in my college days, on a helicopter (long story), but I managed to leave the book on board. I was pleased to find that many of his books are now available on Gutenberg, and downloaded a MOBI there. The Gutenberg version is the serialization from Amazing Stories, and includes several illustrations. In two or three places, editorial commentary from the magazine seems to be included as well.
Synopsis: a lab accident leads to the discovery of a new energy source, one that can propel objects into space. An evil genius ("Blackie" DuQuesne) enlists the help of a shady corporation, World Steel, to steal and monopolize the technology by whatever means necessary. The good guys, Richard Seaton and his own magnate partner Martin Crane, partially fend off attempts at industrial espionage and sabotage — the bad guys manage to copy but not outright steal the technology — and the space race is on. When DuQuesne kidnaps Seaton's fiancee, Dorothy Vaneman, the interstellar chase is on.
You have to remember, this story came out in 1928, making it what I call "roots" SF, with all the flaws of the genre at the time. Much of the "science" centers around a mysterious compound known only as "X" (with the quotes) although the problems of G-forces and the like are done well. There's a lot of the white male superiority thing going on in this story (as Isaac Asimov once put it, "the darker the skin the more villainous the character"). What was perfectly normal in 1928 is considered racist these days — DuQuesne's race is hinted at several times, but perhaps not explicit as contemporary readers may have balked at the idea of a black genius. The lurid prose, standard fare for SF of the time, is almost laughable today. Sexism is prevalent as well, but Dorothy Vaneman is a very strong female character for pre-1970 SF; she's quick-witted and even gives DuQuesne what-for at one point.
Some of the other good things about it: there are no sex scenes or vulgar language to worry about, so there's few worries about the kids sneaking a read. The ending third, where the heroes intervene in an alien conflict, had me glued to my Kindle. (Good pulp fiction will do that, no matter the genre.) And overall, it's a fun read....more
I suspect that with steampunk's popularity, classic SF novelists like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are getting a fresh look — if nothing else, to get inI suspect that with steampunk's popularity, classic SF novelists like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are getting a fresh look — if nothing else, to get insights into the society of the time. Compared to others of Verne's works, this one is obscure but still worth reading. Mostly.
A comet grazes the earth and carries off a few dozen Europeans, along with the dirt and buildings surrounding them. The mechanism of how this is accomplished is glossed over, somewhat of a departure from Verne's other SF works (for example, From the Earth to the Moon, in which he provides meticulous calculations to show how it could actually be done).
What makes this book worth reading is also one of its major drawbacks. Interactions between the various characters are thick with the Euro-ethnocentrism so prevalent in Verne's time; much of it adds some levity to the story. However, there's a strong anti-Semitic streak in this story — Verne gives Isaac Hakkabut no redeeming qualities at all, even if his Jewish merchant doesn't really qualify as a villain.
The ending wrapped things up well, but again glossed over important details so prevalent in other Verne novels. If you can stomach the anti-Semitism, you might enjoy this work....more