Robots and Aliens — Discussion ***(Heavy Spoilers)***

I prefer the Robot City series to Robots and Aliens. At the end of Robot City I felt like everything was building up to a new series, which it was. I don’t think that Robots and Aliens did a good enough job to tie everything together. It seemed like just the last few chapters of Book 6 were used to close any loose ends in the plot lines.

One of my biggest questions that started early on in Robot City was: How do these aliens, Aranimas and Wolruf, fit into the universe that Asimov created? By the end of Robot and Aliens we are aware of 6 unique alien species. Four of these live on just two worlds and are interconnected by trade. It seems that after thousands of years they would expand and eventually run into the Galactic Empire from the Foundation novels.

Jerry Oltion ties off this question in just a few pages toward the end of Humanity. Two of the robots from Aurora convince Adam, Eve, and Lucius to reconsider allowing future Robot Cities to aid in colonizing worlds for humans. They speak of an early form of psychohistory that they argue shows that humans would be better off without direct intervention from robots. This fits with the progression of Asimov’s own novels which take place before and after these two series end. The idea certainly seems plausible, but it seems to me like an easy way out to play around with the plotlines.

One detail which I was disappointed to see overlooked was the origin of the Keys to Perihelion. No further explanation as to how they work, or what actually controls or created Perihelion is given. There isn’t any comment as to how Dr. Avery discovered the technology in the first place. It bugs me that a device that is integral to most of the plot in the series is left unexplained.

Another serious problem is the transition between the last book, Humanity, and a new trilogy beginning with Mirage. I read this trilogy by Tidemann back in 2002 without ever thinking to read Robot City first. It turns out that it didn’t really matter. I don’t think there is any connection between these two series at all, even though Derec and Ariel play major roles. I can only assume that their memories were erased, again, through the intervention of the robots. It seems to me there should have been a transition novel after Robots and Aliens to explain what actually happened.

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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!