I, Robot – BBC Radio 4 dramatization (2017)

There is a 5 episode series based on Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot available to stream for free via BBC Radio’s iPlayer. I’ve only listened to the first episode “Robbie” and enjoyed it. The overall story is the same, but delivered in a slightly different way. I think it’s worth it to check out at least the first episode to see if you like it. I figured I’d post here right away when I saw it as the availability is time limited. The Omnibus has a bit longer shelf life than the oldest episode. I may go back and compare this version to the Audible version to see which I like better. If you’re into special effects, be sure to check out this one before it is too late.

Omnibus link: Expires March 14th – 1hr 10 min

Individual Episodes 1-5 link: ~15 minute episodes, begin to expire on March 8th.

 

via The Guardian

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Manta’s Gift by Timothy ZahnManta’s Gift by Timothy Zahn

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It has been a while since I have read anything by Timothy Zahn. I loved his Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy and Hand of Thrawn Duology. I also enjoyed the Conquerors’ Trilogy. I’d like to go back and re-read those sometime in the future, but for now I’m focusing on chipping away at my collection of books I haven’t read yet. I was very pleased at how well Zahn developed the Zhirrzh in the Conquerors’ Trilogy, so I was curious to see how well he does here in Manta’s Gift.

The Qanska are not the typical aliens you would expect so see in a Sci-Fi novel. They look like huge manta rays flying through the various levels of ever thicker atmosphere in Jupiter. The vast majority of aliens that I have read about have been humanoid. The ones that are not humanoid are usually portrayed as monsters (Starship Troopers), or there is a huge communication gap. Zahn challenges this stereotype and succeeds in describing a completely unique and intelligent alien race.
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2016 year in review2016 year in review

Ok, so as I posted earlier, I didn’t do any reviews this year, but I consumed a ton of content. Some may be from 2015, but it is hard to remember. I’m going to provide a list with some highlights and recommendations

  • Audiobooks
    • Elantris – Brandon Sanderson: Good stanalone book, one of his earlier works. Interesting premise – people get a disease and are forced to live in the remnants of a once great city. They cannot be killed, but also cannot heal. Each injury never heals, and never stops hurting.
    • Mistborn Trilogy (1-3) – Brandon Sanderson: One of my favorites this year, very unique set of magic systems
    • Alloy of Law / Shadows of Self / The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn novels)- Brandon Sanderson: continuation in a different time period, also very good
    • The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson: Another unique magic system, aimed more at the YA audience, but I enjoyed it.
    • Pandora’s Star / Judas Unchained – Peter F. Hamilton: Second favorite series of the year, be warned, some explicit adult situations
    • Lock In (Amber Besson’s narration) – John Scalzi: unique premise, police procedural
    • Android’s Dream – John Scalzi: another unique premise, enjoyable
    • Redshirts – John Scalzi: must read for any Star Trek fan! won 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel
    • Agent to the Stars – John Scalzi: I didn’t really care for this one, too much focus on talent agency politics, interesting premise though.
    • Fuzzy Nation – John Scalzi: Good book, reboot of “Little Fuzzy”
    • The Dispatcher – John Scalzi: Novella, another interesting premise by Scalzi
    • Ready Player One – Earnest Cline: One of my favorite standalone novels of the year – must read for anyone that grew up in the 80’s
    • Armada – Earnest Cline: Lackluster followup, skip it. Cline doesn’t dodge the fact that he ripped the premise off of “The Last Starfighter” movie from the 80’s.
    • Undying Mercenaries Book 1-4 – B.V. Larson: Sci-Fi Military fiction. Lots of violence, a little sex. I got these super cheap at $1.99 a pop, would not recommend spending a full Audible credit on them.
    • Year Zero – Rob Reid: I read this in book format back in 2012. Premise is that aliens unwittingly pirate enough music from Earth to bankrupt the galaxy. The solution? Destroy Earth! Remeinds me a bit of The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    • Altered Carbon / Broken Angels – Richard K. Morgan: Great audiobooks, a couple of my favorite from this year. Lots of violence and a little sex, so be warned. I’m finishing up reading the 3rd book Woken Furies as the narrator changed and didn’t bother to read up on how to pronounce the main character’s last name.
    • Alien: Out of the Shadows (An Audible Original Drama – Full Cast) – Tim Lebbon & Dirk Maggs: Free from Audible, OK if you like the Alien universe
    • American Gods (Full Cast) – Neil Gaiman: Maybe the best standalone audiobook of the year. The performances were perfect and the story engaging. This is soon to be made into aTV series on Showtime I think.
    • Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman: Decent book, narrated by Gaiman himself
    • Hyperion (full cast) / The Fall of Hyperion / Endymion / The Rise of Endymion – Dan Simmons – ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SERIES OF THE YEAR. I cannot count how many times I caught myself thinking back on the stories. I’ll definitely be listening to these again in the future. A good amount of violence and some sex as well, so be warned.
    • The Fountains of Paradise – Arthur C. Clarke: decent book that introduced the idea of the space elevator
    • Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke: ending literally gave me shivers up my spine – The Syfy TV miniseries was just loosely related to the book. Skip that and read this!
  • Books
    • Old Man’s War series (Book 1-6) – John Scalzi: Very interesting premise. Each book seemed to have a new perspective, not like a continuation of the previous ones. I’ll try to explain it a bit more if I have time to go back and review the books individually.
    • Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue – Hugh Howey: YA related, checked it out and it really wasn’t for me
    • Beacon 23: The Complete Novel – Hugh Howey: guy stuck on the edge of the galaxy, a bit of a psychological thriller toward the end
    • Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang: good collection of stories
  • Short Story
    • Paper Menagerie – Ken Liu – ending gave me shivers up my spine as well, very good story

That’s it for now. I don’t think I have time to list TV. maybe next year!

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. MillerA Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

Book Cover

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. (more…)