The End of Eternity (1955) by Isaac Asimov

EndofEternity1And here’s another sci-fi romance, dated forty years earlier, by Mr. One-of-the-Big-Three Himself, Isaac Asimov.

Andrew Harlan works as an Eternal Technician, analyzing and recommending Minimum Necessary Changes (MNC) in order to guide Reality. When he meets Noÿs Lambent, a non-Eternal from a Century far from his own, he falls in love and attempts to save her from the upcoming MNC that could destroy her existence as he knows it. But is he just playing into the hands of his superiors? Or, perhaps, a more powerful guiding force?

Like Remake (1995), which I reviewed yesterday, it’s another “he barely met her, but now he desperately loves her” kind of book. And also like Remake, it’s easy to dump this book for its dull, old-fashioned tone and predictable sexist relationship patterns. However, both books’ faults lie in their shared purpose: a tongue-in-cheek critique of social standards, although Asimov’s tongue might be less in his cheek and too buried in sci-fi pseudo-jargon for ‘50s sci-fi geeks to notice the social disconnect. Continue reading

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The Time Ships (1995) by Stephen Baxter

TheTimeMachineBut first…

The Time Machine (1895) by H. G. Wells

(a.k.a. The Communist Manifesto, Part II: Eat the Rich)*

With The Time Ships shimmying up my TBR, it was about time I committed to finishing the 1895 classic, The Time Machine. Years back, I decided to sample some pre-20th sci-fi classics and, along with Mary Shelley and Jules Verne, H. G. Wells joined my reading list. At least for a few pages.

Then I decided to read another Verne, instead.

As with a lot of the early genre writers, old Herbie G has this issue with trusting the reader to suspend disbelief, so his narrator spends a large chunk of the book setting up the premise for the story, rather than just starting the story with an omniscient third party. The first quarter of the novella centers on Unnamed Protagonist explaining the story to his friends (one dude happens to be a writer): explaining the time machine, demonstrating the time machine, coming back from a time trip and explaining his tale over a proper gentleman’s feast. Lots of explaining.

That’s The Time Machine part. It’s incredibly boring. I never got past that part the first time. I thought the whole book was going to be like that. Continue reading

Bones of the Earth (2002) by Michael Swanwick

bonesoftheearth1After a rash of Michael Swanwick’s name appearing everywhere in my usual online haunts, and seeing his name associated with every author I categorize as being cerebral, artistic, and innovative, it’s about time for one of his books to queue up on my TBR.

Bones of the Earth. Now that’s a pretty name. Visualizing rickety scaffolds in the mantel of the earth. Imagining Earth’s remnants floating in empty space. Pre book blurb, the possibilities are sensawendless.

*scans the first few pages*

Dinosaurs. It’s about dinosaurs.

So you mean, like, literal bones of the earth?

*scans some more*

Dinos with time travel.

*shoulders sag* Continue reading

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern (1983) by Anne McCaffrey

moretadragonlady1stAs a kid who devoured Nancy Drew and Baby-sitters Club novels, then Kurt Vonnegut and Marion Zimmer Bradley as a teen, I can’t quite place where Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series would go on the recommended reads for child development chart.  Its style and content seem ideal for the ages 3 to 7 crowd, yet there are some sexy moments that seem a little too sophisticated for young kiddos. But I’m not sure an older child or young teen would buy the whole space-dragon on a medieval future world premise. I know I wouldn’t have.

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern is the prequel to McCaffrey’s extensive Dragonrider series, which serves to explain the legendary tale of the famous dragonrider, Moreta, who is often referenced in the earlier-published, but later-occurring novels. Moreta is a dragonrider/dragonhealer/weyrleader who lived 1000 years prior to the events of the first published Pern novel. Little is known about her because the Pernese suck at recording history (they do this on purpose, sometimes), but her adventures and tragedies are immortalized in song and poetry. Basically, it’s a story about a story from the story. Continue reading

Millennium (1983) by John Varley

Millennium(1stEd)John Varley’s 1983 Millennium, a novelization of the 1989 film disappointment of the same name, which was inspired by a Varley short story*, has a tasty core with a problematic shell. The story itself? It’s just plain neat. The characterization? Kind of annoying.

Louise Baltimore runs a time traveling snatch team from “The Last Age” of humanity. Bill Smith investigates aircraft crashes for the U. S. government in 1983. A devastating double-plane crash occurs in California which draws both characters to the event—Bill to identify the cause, and Louise to supervise her distant-future team as they snatch the imminent victims from the doomed planes and dash them to the diseased and polluted Last Age to be preserved until arrangements can be made to transport them to another world and begin humanity anew. Continue reading

No Enemy But Time (1982) by Michael Bishop

noenemybuttimeI 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 Timewhich 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 don’t forget to keep checking Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations for more Bishop posts this week! Some of my other favorite SF bloggers have been and will be participating!

 

The Man Who Folded Himself (1973) by David Gerrold

TheManWhoFoldedHimself(1stEd)The man best known for giving us tribble troubles also gave us this fun but disquieting 1973 Hugo-nominated story about the technicalities and repercussions of time travel. In the space of 100 pages, The Man Who Folded Himself explores every nuance and angle of time travel, both amusing and troubling at times. I imagine Gerrold had to sit on the cover just to get the pages to close from all that he stuffed in, but the moment it’s unlatched– WHOOSH! Springy snakes everywhere.

It’s like no other time travel novel you’ve read– the ultimate Pandora’s box of time travel fiction. And it just may make you reevaluate that childhood wish for a time machine. Continue reading