Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #3

To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #1 click here.
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #2 click here.

I spend a great deal of my time every day reading speculative science fiction.  The rest of my time is spent asking the questions and questioning the answers that the science fiction I read creates. All of the stories I post contain elements of profound contemplation, varying philosophy, metaphysics, and theoretical pondering. The authors that create these stories are among my heroes in this reality, and I very much want to share them with you.   Although I read a great deal more than the stories I will post in these short reviews, I only want to share those pieces of text/audio that really stick with me and force my mind to ponder life, the universe, and everything. While I am delighted with nearly all that I read in this genre, I will make an attempt to only present the best of the best.

Writing - The quality of the writing.  I specifically rate the writing on how well it is able to convey to me the action, thoughts, emotions, etc. of the story. 

Creativity- Simply put, this rating is a measure of the degree of imagination that exists in the writing.  How unique and new was the story? Is it something I have seen done over and over again? I also factor into this rating category interesting literary techniques such as stylish ways to present chapters or different parts of the story.   

Intrigue- This rating represents the stories ability to keep me interested.  Did I get bored and have to fight my way through to the end?  Or did I lose myself and end up somewhere else entirely?

Overall- My general impression of the story. How much I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and/or how much it affected me.

The Last Question by Isaac Assimov -short story-

Writing 5+            Creativity 5+            Intrigue 5+

Overall 5+

A story spanning the entire life of the universe.  This is my second favorite sci fi story of all time, and Assimov's favorite story that he ever wrote.  Short and sweet.  Really, really sweet! 

"The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light.  The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way..."  

Time Again by Tim Maly -flash story-

 Writing 3.5               Creativity 4.5              Intrigue 4.5

Overall 4.5

A 3 minute read that will leave you piecing together a world and romance that no longer has beginning or end. This one made me think, "wow, what an orderly luxury linear time really is!"

"Today, I watched an egg assemble itself on the kitchen floor. It made a strange popping noise as the last bit of eggshell attached itself. It flew into the air up and up and then came to rest on the counter. A helicopter roared overhead and our son came in and told me he was scared. I didn't know what to tell him. The war has begun and no one can say how or when it will end."

The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams -multiple novellas-

 Writing 5               Creativity 5+            Intrigue 5

                                                                           Overall 5

This novel actually contains 6 separate stories that are linked together by the book's central characters and an endlessly zany universe; ours. It begins with the destruction of Earth due to the need for an interstellar expressway. Every page brought another fit of laughter and genius. A book of tragedy, humor, action, romance, intrigue, speculation, and silliness.

 A must read, and remember, "DON'T PANIC!"

All the Things the Moon is Not by Alexander Lumans -short story-

 Writing 5          Creativity 5+        Intrigue 5

Overall 5

The Earth is filled with super intelligent, hyper evolved megafauna, and the moon is used to cultivate and harvest golden seas of moon mold. What happens when you are stuck on the moon as a lunar farmer for a year? You eventually smoke the mold spores. What happens when you smoke the mold spores? You eventually turn yellow and trip balls. Definitely an adult story. One of my favorites! 

"Tamsen looks straight into my eyes and says, "You're a lovely man." This has all the meaning in the world, and none of it. "Has anyone ever told you how lovely you are?" I try to forget her moans, the image of her body thrusting under Vinegar Tom's. How she could go for a guy without a nose was beyond me. "I mean it, Murph. You're glorious." She passes the foil to Vinegar Tom and leans back against the wall. "Like a baby's mobile. The kind with the lights and funny animals."

Spitzer laughs at her. I want her to go back to being serious. My wife was serious.

"You want to hear something fucked up?" asks Vinegar Tom."

Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein -novel-

 Writing 4.5          Creativity 4         Intrigue 3.5

Overall 3.5

A novel meant for teenagers, although certainly not exclusive. It documents, in meticulous detail, the perils and wonders of colonizing another planet, specifically the most hospitable moon of Jupiter; Ganymede. I really enjoyed this novel despite its somewhat narrow scope compared to Heinlein's other novels. If ever there was a guide to planetary/satellite colonization, this is it. Migration, farming, politics, economics, and more. Heinlien doesn't miss a beat.

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