Mailing List

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Eon (The Way, #1)Eon by Greg Bear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rest In Peace, Mr. Bear.

I decided I had to re-read at least one of his better works right after I learned of his passing. The moment I learned of it, I was in shock. I've been singing Bear's praises for many, many years.

Eon is one of those bigger-than-life Hard SF books that never slow down with those big ideas. It eases us into the WOW factor, the awe, and then changes tacks several times in the telling, giving us more... so much more. And then it gives us even more.

It's easy to point a finger at Clarke's Rama or high-level topography math/physics or any number of alternate universe novels or time-travel tomes, but it's something else entirely to pull all of these rabbits out of a single hat. And not only that, it includes a version of the Singularity, a vast space battle across a vast number of realities, a closer-to-home apocalypse, and massive geo-political rivalries right here on Earth.

When I look for SF, it's BECAUSE of this book that I found a love of SF as the literature of IDEAS. The characters, not even poorly drawn, inevitably take a back seat to the IDEAS. It's overwhelming the way I love to be overwhelmed by authors like Stephen Baxter, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cixin Liu, and even Adrian Tchaikovsky. There are more, of course, but for me, personally, Greg Bear blew my mind first.

Rest In Peace, king.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Bring the JubileeBring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here's a book that shouldn't be forgotten. Especially for fans of Connie Willis or Jodi Taylor, fans of historians going back in time because -- COME ON, WHAT HISTORIAN WOULDN'T WANT TO GO BACK IN TIME?

More importantly, the time this came out in the early 1950's should be an interesting fact. The kinds of time travel that had come out before were more adventure and less introspective. This one is very introspective. It's also very imaginative, rather dystopian, carefully philosophical and skeptical, and massively bookish. The main character is a serious observer and reader, and this is great because most of the book takes place in a world where the South won the Civil War.

The world is very different. Darker, rather horrible. And yet, intellectuals and skeptics do tend to find their way, even if it is in poverty and uneasy circumstances.

I'll say this for certain: this is one of the best great-grandaddy of all alternate timeline books. It's not an adventure. It's a philosophical discussion and an ultimate show/don't tell careful exploration of what might have been.

I'm very impressed.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 25, 2022

Children of Memory (Children of Time, #3)Children of Memory by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one offered up some pretty great SFnal surprises.

From the start, I had some suspicions that this would be something like a culture-shock kind of novel in a poor human colony world meeting the long list of truly fascinating alien (ish) races that were serendipitously uplifted in the previous Children of Time novels. (All fantastic, clever, philosophical, and well-explored.)

This one, however, takes a right turn to the others. My expectations had to swerve and were nicely pummeled by Tchaikovsky.

Now, as for the new alien race we get to explore, it's a classic Sentience problem with some great Corvids, as conducted by an actual AI, with lots of opinions carried by a slime mold, octopus, spiders, and some human memories. :) I mean... to say I'm intrigued is to say very little at all.

That being said, the author continues a dialogue with older SF but writes it in a great modern way with lots of attention to detail and description. I still say this series is a must-read for any fan of SF.

That twist... whew.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, #3)The Uplift War by David Brin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book nearly as much as I loved Startide Rising.

Back in the day, I read both of these, or indeed, any David Brin, with nothing short of awe. Not only were the books full of wonderful stories and characters, digging into my chest and pulling my still-beating heart out of my chest, but they were also some of the most amazing world-building achievements, rocking such wonderful imagination, that I frankly held them up as some of the most glorious examples of SF that SF could offer.

In short, I was a total fanboy, but for many great reasons that I could enumerate, ad nauseam, without ever falling back on a silly, "but I enjoyed it" argument.

The irony was glorious. The language play was superb. The pure SFnal discussion about intellect/heart/will and how it applies to a highly complex form of Darwinism and its questioners was glorious. And on top of all of this, I was rocking a "I really enjoyed it" adventure featuring guerilla warfare, species adaptability, and a long-form joke in the form of a full novel that worked on so many levels that I can't stop chuckling, even now.

In short, this book not only deserves all the awards it got back in the day, but it STILL deserves massive praise for being one of the best-crafted SF of all time, along with Startide Rising.

It's not just my fanboy-ism about David Brin. These books should not be swept under the rug of SFnal history. The '80s were a fantastic decade for SF. The writers all raised the tone, pushed so many envelopes, and added so much to the genre. Not only were they becoming literature, but they were also pushing the envelope of pure imagination and speculation and doing it in brilliant ways.

I'm still shocked at how complex and beautiful these two novels are. It rather puts most modern SF to utter shame.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Ember (Awaken Online: Tarot #1)Ember by Travis Bagwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the previous book that introduced Finn as a fiery antagonist, I admit I was fascinated. Knowing that there are three books following it that followed Finn as a lowly player to the monster he became in the previous book was all gravy to me.

Did I love seeing a side-tale of the fiery avatar of a fire god? Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.

Was it kinda predictable? Sure, but school and tournament stuff is pretty standard stuff. Plus, we get to see a lot of burns. :)

View all my reviews

Monday, November 21, 2022

To Fire Called (A Seeker’s Tale, #2)To Fire Called by Nathan Lowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still enjoyable, but frankly not as enjoyable as the previous volumes. We're out in the boonies making creds and hunting down some vital information. That being said, our intrepid Ishmael is kinda out of his depths and I frankly don't like to see him that way.

He's always been one to take careful preparation, cover all his bases, dot all his I's. So this little jump off into ignorance kinda grated on me.

It all worked out pretty well, all told, but my confidence porn got pummeled a bit. Alas.

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 20, 2022

In Ashes Born (A Seeker’s Tale, #1)In Ashes Born by Nathan Lowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the previous book with Ishmael, I thought it was rather a downer, even if it was fairly realistic, and it hit a different kind of tone with me from all the previous Share books. I discovered that I wanted to take a break, and did, and was entirely unsure whether I would want to continue on with what appeared to be a side tale.

I’m VERY glad I went ahead and picked this up. It came back to the good ole competence porn I had first loved about these books. The formula? A fixer-upper, some sticky people problems, and the need to cut some red tape with a blowtorch.

What we get is a very satisfying tale that gets us putting one foot in front of the other and lemons into lemonade. That old tone is rather gone and something fresh has taken its place. No complaints.

View all my reviews