I haven’t been as fastidious about my blog this month, partly because I got hung up on writing that stupid review of The Clone. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I think I’m running out of things to say about the schlock I’ve been reading– I’ve said it all before, others have said it all long before, and lately I’ve been more interested in reading those other people than just spouting off my ignorant drivel. Also, I’ve been restricting my post-writing time to a small window in the mornings, as this blog has been leaking into my weekend days more than I’d like.
Plus, the weather has been nice! It’s like we’re having an actual autumn this year and it’s only been like in the 80-somethings this month, which makes me want to be outside more.
If it feels like this month at FC2M has been more gleefully contemptuous than usual, it’s only because I’m scraping the bottom of the Hugo ‘6 list, despite my careful planning to mix up the worthy classics with the dross. It’s not an even list to begin with, but man, those eighties, nineties, and aughties are painful to assign in any order. No amount of sugar makes Hominids go down easy.
I doubt it means anything that the sky suddenly opened up and hailed for five minutes right after I saw the Hugo shortlists, but that’s what happened. 4000 votes seems less like redoubled dog efforts and more like a galvanized voting community with little ballot overlap and little interest in the anything but the novel category. I just like to see my own nominees on the voting stats list in August… at the very bottom of the list probably… but still.Continue reading →
A month of way-above averages, during which I read a lot, listened a lot, scoped SF shortlists a lot, and worked my ass off a lot, while enjoying those balmy 87 degree February days. This was not a normal month in any sense.
It’s been a good winter. Five days of winter, exactly. Spread throughout the past two months of mild spring temps. In late December, we had three days of snow. Snow that stuck. Snow that piled. Snow that didn’t melt as soon as it hit the ground, or turn to slush the moment the sun rose the next day. Plus, we had one day that was chilly and windy, and last week we had another day that brought an afternoon of sleety snow. That didn’t stick. Or pile. And did melt as soon as it hit the ground. That’s my kind of winter!
And it was 78 degrees and gorgeous yesterday. (Today is Has-Anyone-Seen-Toto windy, my neighbors have a car-sized tumbleweed stuck in their yard, and I can’t find my garbage bin. But that’s beside the point.)
My reading pace has been just as agreeable and occasionally odd as the weather, sticking with fair weather SF the majority of the time, but occasionally delving into other book categories, which has, much to my surprise, reinvigorated my reading pace, rather than burdened it. It’s a pattern I think I’m going to stick with for a while.
But this is a SFuh blog, so let’s get to the SFuh.
I got kind of busy this weekend and never had a chance to link my most recent book review, which was actually posted last week at the Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations blog, one of my favorite SF blogs. This review is part of a series of guest posts to promote the work of Michael Bishop, an SF author who has attracted critical acclaim throughout his career, but is not as well known as other SF authors. It’s an admirable effort by Joachim Boaz, the guy behind SF&OSR (who does not actually live in a city under the sea), and a reasonable pursuit considering that Bishop’s novel is one of the best I’ve read so far this year, and one of the best SF novels I’ve read from the (*cough* dreadful *cough*) eighties.
I reviewed Bishop’s 1982 Nebula Award winning novel, No Enemy But Time, which also appears on David Pringle’s Top 100 Best Science Fiction Novels. If you have a taste for time travel, prehistory, and trope trampling, you should give this a whirl. I will definitely be adding more Bishop to my TBR list.
And the 2014 noms are… [with my initial thoughts in brackets.]
Best Novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit) [surprise, surprise. Here’s a link to my review.] Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace/Orbit UK) [Maybe he gets better, I tell myself.] Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit) [Will her fans back off if she finally wins one?] Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books) [No.] The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor) [No. I read the first threeand you can’t make me read more.]
[Overall opinion: Very disappointed. Was hoping to have an excuse to read Christopher Priest’s The Adjacent and Gareth L. Powell’s Ack Ack Macaque.]Continue reading →
When I opened Virtual Light and, within the first five pages, read references to no less than five types of guns and two non-fatal weapons, I groaned. Will this be another Neuromancer? Heavy on weaponry and jargon, light on character development, circuitous on plot, but brimming with a striking narrative style that leaves me conflicted and incapable of rendering an articulate opinion?
Fortunately, Gibson improved in the decade after his seminal piece.
In Virtual Light, Gibson keeps his flair for flowy prose, but adds depth to his characters, reigns in the plot, and tones down the jargony pretense I remember from Neuromancer.Virtual Light is an apt name, as there is little of anything “virtual” or “cyber” going on here. It’s a straightforward tale of two underdogs whose paths cross in near-future California during a crime investigation. The near-future is near enough to be recognizable, so Gibson’s trademarked style of withholding information until it’s absolutely necessary does not hinder the reader’s ability to imagine the setting. Continue reading →
An aircraft crashes on an unknown deserted land, where danger and mystery lurk in every shadow. The survivors are tested by their surroundings, their enemies, and each other as intrigue and drama unfold. Disagreements over strategy split the group, and one faction plots betrayal and murder to gain control of their fate. Meanwhile, unexplainable events suggest that their crash site isn’t exactly uninhabited, and some survivors risk their lives to discover the truth about this mysterious land’s history. As relationships among the characters evolve, the pasts of the more complex characters are revealed through flashbacks.
Sounds a lot like that TV show, Lost, right?
But did I mention that the crash survivors are sapient, talking, spacefaring dolphins? (And one obsessive chimpanzee geologist with mild Asperger’s syndrome?) Continue reading →
This 2003 nuclear-steampunk space opera is crammed full of SF tropes and wink-and-nudge political satire. And in case you aren’t intelligent enough to sniff out the satire, Stross will bruise your ribs from his incessant elbowing of belabored musings and contrived character debates.
In the future, a mysterious force called the Eschaton has punished Earth for violating time-travel causality laws and relocates most of humanity to colonies throughout the galaxy. By the 23rd century, most of humanity has been rediscovered and efforts are made to reestablish relations. On neo-Victorian Rochard’s World, ruled by a technophobic regime, another mysterious presence called the Festival rains cell phones down from space, promising anything in exchange for entertainment. The reactionary government of Rochard’s World pursues war with the Festival, while the disenfranchised citizens demand revolution. At the same time, the mysterious employer of Martin Springfield, an engineer from Old Earth, plants him as a mole within the New Republic navy, and UN diplomat Rachel Mansour is sent to spy on the New Republic war tactics in order to prevent causality violations that might further upset the Eschaton. Martin and Rachel spend their time on the ship playing double-agent on board, playing doctor with each other, and then agonizing about getting caught. Continue reading →