Emergence (1984) by David Palmer


Hi again, Posterity. Happy to see me?

What do you mean you forgot about me?

Coming off the heels of the Clarke being awarded to Yet Another Post-Apocalyptic Tale, also known as “The Stand: but this time motivated by a book that is not The Holy Bible,” (that would be Station Eleven, an enjoyable, character-driven read, but weak on the SF elements, lacking in originality, that ultimately let me down), I bring you an even cooler, more original post-apocalyptic tale. YA, epistolary, Hard, and Heinlein-inspired, it sounds like something I would read with gloves, mask, and tongs, so as not to tarnish my pretentious sensibilities.

But this. This is good. Continue reading

Iron Council (2004) by China Miéville

ironcouncil1The road is a sentence written on the ground… (p. 199)

And in Iron Council, that sentence is a manifesto. A tale where quest meets unrest, an unexpected journey, there and back again, not to destroy or retrieve a magical talisman, but to unshackle the working class. Told from the third-person narratives of three male revolutionaries, we see the effects of revolution on the individual: how it inspires, how it transcends, how it corrupts. Continue reading

The Mote in God’s Eye (Moties #1) (1974) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle


That’s because you helped write it, Bob.

A recent conversation in the Couch household:

“So, um, I’m reading this book…”

“As usual.”

“It’s about these far future humans who encounter unknown aliens in another system.”

“As usual.”

“So, these aliens… they’re kind of like humans, except they’re asymmetrical.”

“That’s weird.”

“Well, because they evolved outside of gravity or something like that, but anyway…”


“Well, yeah, but anyway, these aliens… they have a caste system…”

Continue reading

The Whole Man (1964) by John Brunner

TheWholeManAnd then we have The Whole Man.

It’s not Stand on Zanzibar.

The End.


Whatinole do you want? A synopsis? Fine.

Gerald Howson is born into disadvantaged circumstances with a disadvantaged physique, while a vague world crisis occupies the background. The short-statured, slumped boy with developmental delays struggles through life, until one day, his latent telepathic skills activate. When a crime career doesn’t pan out, he joins a group of telepathists to guide the world and each other because, without proper guidance, telepathists can be the most dangerous threat to humanity.

It basically occurs in three acts, a la Karate Kid*: Continue reading

Stand on Zanzibar (1968) by John Brunner

standonzanzibar1It opens with a television advertisement. Stock cue SOUND. Stock cue VISUAL. Plug cue. Script cue. Best news program anywhere. Starring Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere. Lots of loudness. Lots of promises. Promises of things. Things we didn’t know we need.

…Excerpt interjection by Abbie Hoffman type. Rhythm and more loud. IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY.

…Followed by fragmented introductions of cast. We don’t know anybody. Yet. Some adverts here and there.

…Problem in small African nation. (Did he say President Obama? Obami. Obami.) Shady things going on. Doesn’t look good.

…More TV. Editorial news. Slang and baby farming.

… Norman as he takes down a woman with liquid helium when she attempts to destroy the predictive AI computer Shalmaneser. Her limbs freeze off. Justice in the modern world reminds him of his grandfather’s slave days.


Then bits and bites of conversations. Snippets of inflammatory political digests. An incestuous brother and sister. Interracial roomie arrangement. Repeat cycle.

[It’s like when I go to Chili’s and the TVs are really loud and on different channels and I am mesmerized by the noisy, moving pictures and can’t even pay attention to the person I’m with.]

This is sensory overload. Polemics in the form of ADHD. Part oracle, part Anarchist Cookbook. A graduate of The Space Merchants Academy, hold the cheese. Continue reading

Welcome, Chaos (1983) by Kate Wilhelm

Welcome chaos2In keeping with this month’s theme of me showing up in places I don’t belong, both physically and virtually, my review of Kate Wilhelm’s post-Sweet Birds thriller, Welcome, Chaos has posted at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations. Thanks to He Who Shall Be Called Joachim for letting me take over his site every once in a while. (I participated in the Michael Bishop series last year.)

Joachim’s author review series are an important effort to revive interest in still living authors of groundbreaking vintage works. It’s unfortunate but common that many celebrated and award-winning authors are overlooked by later generations. That new release you have in your hands right now? The one we’re all sick of hearing about? Probably not gonna be talked about much ten years from now. Yup.

And, twenty years from now, people are going to lose their shit over a similar book on a similar topic, written by some young punk. Because that young punk didn’t bother to read their classics. (Or did they? Hmmm.)

Anyway, here’s my review of Welcome, ChaosAnd remember to check out the other excellent Kate Wilhelm reviews. And then check back for more upcoming reviews this month!

And then go read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976). Seriously.