Oct 242007

I found this C|Net news article via Slashdot talking about a company named Willow Garage that hopes to develop domestic robots, autonomous boats, and autonomous cars. I’m especially interested in this development since I’m such a fan of Asimov, who is attributed to first using the term ‘robotics’. I’m not sure that there will be any sentient robots any time soon, but I’m glad to see that the development information will be open source. I think that keeping the design specifications open will be a good thing, rather then keep them secret which could lead to a monopoly like US Robotics and Mechanical Men in Asimov’s writing.

How far do you think robotics will have progressed 10, 20, or even 50 years from now? I’m interested in reading your comments about this.

Posted by Stettin
Oct 222007

The Diamond Age Book Cover

If one word could describe The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, it would be “surreal.” I think that this is one of the main reasons that it won the Hugo Award in 1996. The main setting for this novel by Neal Stephenson is in the middle 21st century Shangai, shifting briefly to other places such as Vancouver and London later on. Nanotechnology is heavily used at this time, especially in Matter Compilers, usually referred to as an M.C. Matter flows from the “Feed”, which comes from the “Source” of the raw materials used to create everything from food to household items. A Source is much like a power station, except that it transmits matter rather than energy. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Oct 052007

Almost three years ago I set out on a massive project to read all 36 of the books in the Robot and Foundation Universe. The main thing that prompted me to start this project was an eBay auction that had a specific book I was looking for (The End of Eternity, which is loosely connected to this project) and several other books which I’ve already read. I purchased about 16 books in a lot for about $35 total. After finding this deal I decided to try and purchase every book in the series, which I eventually accomplished. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Oct 042007

Foundation and Earth Book Cover

Background:
This is the final novel in the Foundation Universe chronologically speaking. There are a couple short stories completed by other authors, but Foundation and Earth describes (in 494 pages) where Asimov saw his epic saga moving toward. It is a shame that he couldn’t have lived longer to continue on writing. For those that don’t know, Isaac Asimov contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during a heart operation in 1983. It later developed into AIDS, causing heart and kidney failure which led to his death in 1992. For more information on his life and death, visit Asimov Online. I wish I could remember the source, but I know I read that Asimov was not sure exactly how he would continue the series when a fan suggested he go back and write some prequels. Before his death he did fill in some gaps with the Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation.

Review:
Almost no time has passed since Golan Trevize made his decision in favor of Galaxia over a Second Galactic Empire controlled by either the First or Second Foundation. Trevize is still on Gaia along with Janov Pelorat and Bliss. Golan intends to find Earth so that he can find out why he chose felt that Galaxia was best for not only mankind, but for every living thing in the Galaxy. He will not rest until he finds Earth. Bliss insists on going on his search to act as protection through her role as part of Gaia, and Janov has his own research on Earth that he wishes to complete.

The one thing that Asimov succeeds accomplishing in this novel, as he does with the others books in this series, is creating and describing different cultures. These cultures vary from the extremes of conservatism to tribal utopias. Each new world has its own customs, mythology, and history which is described through the interactions between the protagonists and the natives encountered throughout their complex journey. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Oct 032007

I’m amazed at how much technology from Sci-Fi has been shown to be workable lately. I just stumbled across this new high-tech holographic display technology. The demonstration looks amazing, and the technology looks to be promising once they get the resolution up. They are currently limited to 768×768 pixels. Check out the original post at Gadget Reviews, and the accompanying video demonstration in their follow-up post.

Posted by Stettin
Oct 022007

Family Guy - Blue Harvest
Let met start by saying that if you are a Star Wars fan, you must watch this episode before you can possibly see any spoilers. If you missed the premier, there are links all over on YouTube, or maybe a friend recorded it on their DVR. Just find a way to watch it, then come back and read this review. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Oct 012007

Tim Pratt recently won the 2007 Hugo Award for best short story with Impossible Dreams. The story’s main character, Pete, is a huge movie buff that stumbles across a new video store in his neighborhood. He doesn’t seem to understand how he missed the store before, but ventures in and finds an odd selection of movies which he though had been canceled, or made by different directors with different actors. What follows is an interesting commentary on movies which either were never made, were lost, or simply done differently. This is a truly awesome story with an excellently planned ending. It was a pleasure to read from start to finish. From the writing it either the author is a huge movie buff or his writing is so good that you’d never even suggest he wasn’t passionate about movies. Visit the link above and read the full story at Asimov’s Science Fiction.

Posted by Stettin

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