A solid collection of hard SF that delves deeply into questions of existence and divinity. All the stories are strong, generously and rivetingly fleshA solid collection of hard SF that delves deeply into questions of existence and divinity. All the stories are strong, generously and rivetingly fleshed out, but I love, especially, Carolyn Ives Gilman "Okanoggan Falls" and Robert Reed's "A Billion Eves".
The typos are a bit annoying and I don't know why the publisher had to list Joe Haldeman and Michael Swanwick on the cover if none of their works are included in the anthology. Other than that, it's a hugely satisfying book....more
Third encounter of the Vonnegut kind for me. A story with multiple arcs, weaving and twisting around the concept of kismet, featuring a satyrical, nihThird encounter of the Vonnegut kind for me. A story with multiple arcs, weaving and twisting around the concept of kismet, featuring a satyrical, nihilistic religion called Bokononism and a way to end the world with a sliver of specially bred water crystal. Darker than both "Slaughterhouse Five" and "The Sirens of Titans", the book still sings with Vonnegut's distinctive terse, subtly poetic style....more
Great compilation of inspiring SF short stories, many of them winners of Hugo and Nebula awards from authors such as Connie Willis, Philp K. Dick, GreGreat compilation of inspiring SF short stories, many of them winners of Hugo and Nebula awards from authors such as Connie Willis, Philp K. Dick, Greg Bear and Orson Scott Card. The length of the works compiled here, plus the variety of theme (adventure, coming of age, tolerance, etc) make this an excellent read for young people....more
Is it just me, or women do write more fluid dialogs in their SF stories? After reading McCaffrey, and then Bujold, and then finally reading Connie WilIs it just me, or women do write more fluid dialogs in their SF stories? After reading McCaffrey, and then Bujold, and then finally reading Connie Willis, it came to me that while authors like Theodore Sturgeon, Greg Bear, even Asimov and Clarke, came up with mindblowing plot and intergalactic sweep, dialogs between their characters might seem stilted and perfunctory. Compare them with the dialogs between the characters of McCaffrey's "Pegasus in Flight" for instance, or Bujold's "The Warrior Apprentice", and especially with the characters in Willis' short stories, and you'll see the difference.
Willis wittily, and with a wry sense of humor, expounds on womanly woes in "Even The Queen". She cleverly, and comically, wrote about how love bloomed in unlikely situations, a space center embroiled in a negotiation with aliens ("Spice Pogrom") and a science convention in Hollywood ("At The Rialto"). She drew, in rich detail and with deep sensitivity, WW II London, with its unique band of bomb wardens, and a most civic-minded, patriotic, creature of the night ("Jack"). She waxed beautifully about loss ("Chance" and "The Last of The Winnebagos"), and spun a cannily authentic-sounding theory about the true author of Shakespeare's great plays ("Winter Tale"). She hurled barbed critique at censorship ("Ado") and corporatespeak ("In The Late Cretaceceous").
I think, if you're just starting to read SF, and especially if you don't care that much for science, and you think your life as a housewife or a nine-to-five worker is too ordinary, this is an excellent introduction to SF--one that brings science and life and emotions and fantasy together in an effortless, natural, funny, and sensitive way. ...more
"Lord of Light" exquisitely blends the Buddhist and Hindu concept of reincarnation (along with the Hindu pantheon and Buddha of the many names) with c"Lord of Light" exquisitely blends the Buddhist and Hindu concept of reincarnation (along with the Hindu pantheon and Buddha of the many names) with casual references to speculative science and technology (body transfer, state of the art weaponry), plus snippets of scriptural text and wry sense of humor to create one of the best SF stories I've ever read.
In a world that is not Earth, the First generation colonists who conquered the alien planet and made it habitable pose themselves as gods of the Hindu pantheon to the later generations, their offsprings slash worshipper who are left completely bereft of technology to ensure utter devotion and belief in the gods and the Lords of Karma, who issues new bodies for the select ones who have been proved to be worthy. Mahasamatman, also known as Maitreya, Tathagatha and Siddharta, although he prefers to be called Sam, one of the First, seeks to overthrow Heaven and allow the populace to grow rather than be subjugated by the gods. Seeing him as a threat, the gods send destroyer after destroyer to assassinate him, but he cunningly eludes and defeats them. Enlisting the help of Rakasha, beings of pure power, and, later, Nirriti the Black who commands a horde of soulless animated bodies, Sam tries, fails, then tries again bring the gods from their throne, winning some of them to his side, and evoking the wrath of others.
Unless you read the synopsis, you'll probably think that the story is simply an elaborate premise that borrows heavily from Hinduism and Buddhism, until you're thrown off balance by casual references of decidedly non-Indian in nature, a western song here, a prayer machine there. The dialogs are written in solid scriptural style, interspersed with beautiful descriptions of places and events, making the book almost poetic in its delivery, something I have come to expect from Zelazny since reading his "A Rose for Ecclesiastes".
My only--admittedly minor--problem is with the climax, which, IMO, is not so much as a climax as denouement. The battle at Khaipur, where the gods are finally beaten, pales in comparison to the horrific scope and scale of the battle of Keenset that presages the downfall of the gods.
"Stations of the Tide" is set on Miranda, a planet on the verge of yet another periodic global drowning, where a bureaucrat equipped with a talking, t"Stations of the Tide" is set on Miranda, a planet on the verge of yet another periodic global drowning, where a bureaucrat equipped with a talking, tracking, ultimately-capable-of-making-decision briefcase is tasked with the hunt for a shaman slash fraud slash technology pirate. Threatened by the imminent great flood, hampered by suspicion of treason, subjected to poisoning and murder attempt, the bureaucrat went from one evacuated city to the next, struggling to find his quarry.
Swanwick poetically described a lush, vivid alien world that combines the advanced mind interface technology for communication (surrogates, consciousness-splitting technology for more efficient information gathering, mnemonic library) with a culture that has a decidedly Caribbean flavor to it: voodooesque rites, hallucinogens, Mardi Gras-like revelry, with just whiff of tantric sex to spice things up. Add to that the grotesque and yet fascinating details of encroaching planetary drowning: the mushroom rain, the polar tsunami. But so unpredictable, so bizarre are the scenes sometimes, you can't help feel for the confused and harrassed bureaucrat and his seemingly impossible quest. The ending is quite a surprise, still poetically graphic, but in my opinion just a bit too abrupt. All in all, quite a succulent, delicious introduction to Swanwick....more
While waiting for rescue following a freak nuclear plant accident, the victims, while still unconscious, share a horrific dream in which they live outWhile waiting for rescue following a freak nuclear plant accident, the victims, while still unconscious, share a horrific dream in which they live out each other worst fears; phobias, deeply inculcated paranoia, sheer blind ignorance, which may well be incorporeal as stuffs of dreams are, but feel, sound, look, smell real anyway.
Typical of Philip K. Dick, the prose is dry, fast-paced and matter-of-fact. But what intrigued me the most is the way this book makes me think about my own worst fears. Sometimes it's not always an object (hence my difficulty in figuring out the shape of my boggart--as defined in JK Rowling's Harry Potter lexicon). Our fear can be intangible, formless: bigotry, belittlement, even hostility masquerading as goodwill....more
This book is chockful of twists and surprises. At the beginning it looked like nothing more than an exuberant, gratuitous, though admittedly juicy, naThis book is chockful of twists and surprises. At the beginning it looked like nothing more than an exuberant, gratuitous, though admittedly juicy, narration of life on Titan, the biggest of Saturn's moons. Clarke's description of hydrocarbon clouds and ammonia snow, the rose-tinted atmosphere and the wax formation that wraps around lukewarm volcanic effluvium is mesmerizing, as is his characters, the Makenzie twins, separated by decades, because they are clones. Add to that the fact that book was written in the seventies and yet it had predicted such things as palmtop organizer and the internet, and the kind of propulsion engine powered by mini black holes, the kind only mentioned in the Star Trek series so far. Add to that pentominoes, polyominoes, joy stick, null-G sex and asymptotic drive, and you have your perfect recipe of a jolly romp in space. Still it didn't seem to promise much beyond mere advertisement on life on Titan, and I admitted to a slight feeling of disappointment.
But then on the 500th anniversary of the USA, Duncan Makenzie was invited to give a speech before the assembled representatives of Earth and its colonies. The story switched to the vivid, poignant exploration of an estranged home by Duncan, who not only has to train hard to acclimatize himself to Earth's stronger gravity, but also meets his first horse (...First Monster from Outer Space.... Understandably, since the horse is a Percheron weighing upwards of a thousand kilos, bred in the past to carry fully-armored knights), his first butterfly (an exuberant--no, arrogant--loveliness, is first taste of honey, his first underwater murder
Then suddenly, with the sudden appearance of a gemologist, it seemed that the book had turned into a whodunit, full of mysterious, exotic things like titanite being smuggled and a friend slash ex-lover falling off radio telescopes.
And yet, in the end, the book gives another twist, a profound, unutterably grand, and yet chillingly frightening, capped with a speech rife with courage and heroism it would've made Abe Lincoln proud.
As usual Clarke presented his readers with solid science and a healthy dollop of dry humor, but also as usual, he staggered the mind with a vision of such mindstopping scope and scale. Hence the five stars....more