The Science Fiction Review

Contact by Carl Sagan

July 5, 2010 by

Contact Book Cover

If I remember correctly, I saw Contact (the movie) in the theater when it came out. I enjoyed it and always wondered how it compared to the book. It turned out that my future wife owned the book, but I didn’t get around reading it until now. Of course movies rarely ever measure up to the novels they are based on, and this was no exception. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good, however it just scratched upon the surface of what the novel contains. Read more…

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

April 20, 2010 by

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A while back a co-worker of mine gave me A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. It sat on a shelf for a few years until I recently got around to reading it. I didn’t really know much about the book when it was given to me, but since then I’ve seen it on a few “Best of SF” book lists. It also won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel. There are three parts to the book, each taking place a few hundred years apart.

The setting of the first part takes begins in the 26th century. At some unspecified time in the past, the world all but destroyed in a global nuclear war. Almost all the secrets of modern technology were lost in what would later be described as a purge. The mob of humans left alive banded together to destroy all knowledge that could lead to another nuclear war. There were book burnings and hangings of scientists. The story follows group of monks that have built an abbey in the desert to house the Memorabilia as they refer to books, technical manuals, and other bits of information that are uncovered over time. Their patron is a man by the name of Leibowitz, who was hung during the purge just after the first nuclear war. Read more…

Isaac Asimov would have been 90 today

January 2, 2010 by

Nobody is sure when exactly Isaac Asimov was born due to poor record keeping. January 2nd, 1920 was the day Isaac Asimov decided to celebrate his birthday. Along with creating the Three Laws of Robotics, Asimov also unintentionally coined the term robotics. It was first used in print when his short story “Liar!” was published in 1941. He was constantly writing in just about every area of literature. I have primarily read his Science Fiction, but he has done textbooks, humor, mystery, non-fiction, and more.

My first exposure to Asimov’s writing was when my father gave me an old worn out copy of I, Robot. I tucked the book away for a few years and eventually got around to reading it. I was so enthralled with the robots that I eventually read every robot book by him and other authors. This naturally led me to read the Foundation series which I also enjoyed, but I’ve always preferred the robot series. The Robot and Foundation books make up the biggest reading project I have ever completed. Aside from those, I’ve read a bit of his autobiography and plan on sampling some of his other writing in the near future.

By the time I discovered Asimov, he had already died. I wonder how much more he could have written had he not contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart surgery. He died of myocardial and renal complications on April 6, 1992, but the true cause of his death wasn’t publicized due to the stigma of HIV/AIDS at the time. His work has greatly influenced my love of Science Fiction, and for that I am thankful.

For more information on the life of Isaac Asimov, please visit the official Wikipedia post

Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold

November 22, 2009 by

Donnerjack Book Cover

One thing I like to do before I review a book is to look up some Wiki pages and other reviews to get a feel for how others reacted to the book. First of all, the Wikipedia entry for this book was no help at all, so much so that I’m considering updating it myself. I’m glad I took some notes while I was reading. I ran across some very harsh reviews on Amazon that had I read beforehand, I might not have picked up this book. Quite a few of the die-hard fans said to read just the first third of the book and stop. After that point, many of the reviewers pointed out that it is fairly obvious that Lindskold deviated from Zelazny’s quick and witty formula.

I, however, loved Donnerjack. It is probably one of my favorite reads in the past few years. About seven years or so ago I enjoyed reading The Great Book of Amber by Zelazny. It was also one of my first exposures to fantasy along with the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Later on I went on to read Lord of Light, also by Zelazny, which I also loved. I’ve also read This Immortal and finally Lord Demon, which is the other book of Zelany’s that Lindskold helped finish. Lord Demon was good, so I didn’t think twice before grabbing Donnerjack. I’ve also not read any Zelazny in the past 3-4 years, so I can’t say I was as aware of the change in writing style as others were. With that said, there was definitely a noticeable difference between Part I and Part II. Thinking back, I would almost say that they could have been split into two different books. Read more…

Gold, The Final Science Fiction Collection – Isaac Asimov

September 27, 2009 by

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In 1992, the year of his death, Isaac Asimov was awarded the Hugo Award for best novella for writing Gold. This story, along with many others was published in 1995. Along with 14 other short stories, there are collections of essays called “On Science Fiction,” and “Writing Science Fiction.” Interestingly enough, I found the essays much more interesting than the stories themselves. I think this is partly because I have read a TON of his fiction, but haven’t got around to reading his non-fiction.  I’ll give a brief overview of the essays, saving the stories for later. Read more…

Sietch Nevada concept straight from Frank Herbert’s Dune

September 24, 2009 by

Dune Book Cover

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read Dune. I found my way to this interesting conceptualization, Sietch Nevada, through my regular StumbleUpon clicking. For those not familiar with Dune by Frank Herbert, please check it out! It is an excellent novel, as described in my review. I find it interesting how many ideas are drawn from Sci-Fi. Everyday technology like cell phones, video conferencing, and robots (well maybe not everyday yet), were hinted to by authors long before they were developed. I find the Sietch concept intriguing because I lived in Phoenix, AZ for many years. A few years after I left, I started hearing about how Lake Powell, fed by the Colorado River, might dry up soon. I thought that it meant there would be no more water, but experts are referring to “dry” as unable to generate hydroelectric power. So, not only will water levels be low, but there could be power shortages as well!

Humans to become immortal cyborgs within 20 years?

September 22, 2009 by

About a year an a half ago, I reviewed The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil. I never did get around to reading his slightly newer book, The Singularity is Near. I just ran across an article that quotes him as saying

I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogram our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, aging. Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever.

He goes on to describe a number of medical advancements that seem unbelievable.  He doesn’t really expand on how many people, or rather WHO will have access to this technology.  We can’t very well have billions of immortal cyborgs running around for eternity, now can we? I think that those denied immortality, or at least extended life-spans, would wage war against those that would keep the technology for themselves.

Credit: Telegraph via Geekologie

Note: For those of you not familiar with Geekolgie, be sure to check that blog out.  I added it to my newsreader about 2 months ago and it keeps me entertained every day!

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

August 25, 2009 by

Flatland Book Cover

I’ve been meaning to read Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott for some time now. I’ve seen it lying around the house here and there for many years. My wife actually acquired this book as part of her required reading for a “Sensation and Perception” course in college. I ran across it again when packing up my Asimov collection to bring up to my sister in Minneapolis. It was a short read, which was refreshing after some of the longer books I’ve been tackling recently. Read more…

Angelmass by Timothy Zahn

August 9, 2009 by

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After reading the Cobra Strike Trilogy, I was glad to be getting back to a more recent book by Timothy Zahn. Angelmass is about a small group of human worlds on the edge of the Galaxy dubbed “The Empyrean” that sprouted up near a very peculiar black hole. They eventually discover that this no ordinary black hole, if it is one at all. They named it Angelmass because it emits “angels” that when harvested can affect the behavior of humans that are near them. They make humans act honorably, when otherwise they might have tendencies otherwise. Soon the government requires that all politicians wear an angel around their neck so that everyone knows they will be trustworthy. Read more…

Cobra Bargain by Timothy Zahn

July 12, 2009 by

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The main character in the third and final book of the Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn is Jasmine (Jin) Moreau. Her father is Justin Moreau, the twin son of Johnny Moreau that became a Cobra. Jin hopes to continue this legacy, but there is one major roadblock. She’s a woman. Somewhere around this time the government discovers something odd happening back on Qasama, the world that they invaded back in Cobra Strike. Several blind spots in their satellite surveillance have developed. They are worried that the Qasamans might be trying to develop space flight or some type of weapon to use against the Cobra worlds. When a covert operation is planned, her family pushes for her to be trained as a Cobra. All Cobras that the Qasamans have seen have been men, so she should have an advantage. Read more…

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