Book Review: Six Wakes by Mur Rafferty
“Having a second clone is highly illegal, right?” “Well, so is murder, but that doesn’t stop people.”
Thought-provoking science fiction about trust, murder, and what it means to be human. Rafferty dumps the cast and reader right into the first crisis–blood and bodies floating everywhere who-knows-how-far from earth on a colonization ship with hundreds of sleeping humans and a brain-dead AI. What else could go wrong? Plenty.
“The greatest gift a creature can give another is that of sacrifice. Clones can’t sacrifice.”
Classic locked-room murder mystery; almost everyone has motive and means. Then the lights go out. Despite a diverse crew, all shared Continue reading
Book Review: “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
“All known forgeries are failures.”
Hilarious short story about a bio-forger in way over her head. Help comes from an unlikely addition to her “staff.”
“The trick is to not get ambitious.”
Well-developed short story with the reader learning bits as the plot progresses.
“There are so many ways for a forgeries to go wrong, and only one way it can go right.”
(2018 Hugo Award short story finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)
Book Review: Stone Mad (Karen Memory #2) by Elizabeth Bear
“Overkill is something of a personal defect.”
The subtitle tells it all: recycled. Not a bad story, but neither the story nor the characters are half as complex and engaging as in Karen Memory. Bear tried to compensate with the interplay among Karen’s female friends, but that felt forced, too. Even the antagonist is sympathetic and not very threatening.
“Deciding you know something when you don’t is about the deadliest thing a person can do.”
Lots of preaching, which also rehashes much of the first novel. Karen’s awkward syntax lacks the originality of the first opus, too.
“The advantage of being elderly is you don’t have to make the same stupid self-defeating decision the same way a second time.”
Book Review: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells
“I am not a combat murderbot, I am security.”
Another of the plethora of AI stories this Hugo year. This novella is marked by the great inner voice of a robot who has hacked his own command module and spends too much time watching the entertainment feed. Nice cover art.
“Lowest bidder. Trust me on that one.”
Since the entire story is told from the robot–cyborg, actually–point of view, Wells only gives the reader clues what’s really going on. The reader sorts it out alone with our protagonist.
“When I do manage to care, I am a pessimist.”
(2018 Hugo Award novella finalist)
Movie Review: Ready Player One, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.
“Maybe we should stop talking about it and start showing it. If you all want to reach under your seats, you’ll find there’s nothing there.”
Spielberg hasn’t lost his touch. Great fun; better than the book. A trip down memory lane for people of a certain age, a smash up of many pop culture references for others, and a heart-warming team action adventure for others. Lots of video images, violence and unreality because it’s about a virtual reality world.
“She wanted to go dancing, so we watched a movie.”
The inventor of the fictional Oasis mass multiplayer universe may be Continue reading
Book Review: “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer
Short, sweet, and hilarious. Well-conceived and -written short story from the point of view of an obsolete (maybe) nano-sized repair robot. Nothing spectacular, but well done.
“… turning space into something that would give Escher nightmares.”
Read and enjoy.
“We’ve got a long trip home.” “But we are home.”
(2018 Hugo Award novelette finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)
Book Review: “Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker
“There aren’t new things in history. That’s why it’s called history.”
A well-told short story about life on a generation space ship which has lost all its records of Earth. Nice story, but never made a point. Perhaps that’s why the younger generation couldn’t see the point.
“Maybe we failed these children already if they thought the past was irrelevant.”
(2018 Hugo short story finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)
Book Review: “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse
“Tourists don’t come to Sedona Sweats to live out a [expletive] battle, especially if the white guy loses. They come to find themselves.”
An engaging tale about a young man who facilitates immersive native American experiences for non-native Americans: “pretendians.” What could go wrong? Plenty. Well-conceived and written.
“Tourists aren’t all bad. They’re just needy.”
(2018 Hugo finalist short story)
Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
“People are blind to a bubble they are inside.”
On the Waterfront meets A Christmas Carol as told by Karl Marx. A cautionary science fiction extrapolating an ocean level rise exceeding fifty feet. Well-developed ensemble of characters with interwoven plots. Lots of preaching. Three hundred pages of excellent story hidden among another three hundred of repetition and bombast. Lots of quotable epigrams.
“You think what you see is the totality.”
Make no mistake: Robinson has an agenda. Cynical view of almost everybody: politicians, cops, investment bankers, lovers, water rats. No, kind of soft toward the water rats. The humbler the character; the more sympathetic the portrayal.
“Everyone’s leveraged, right? More loans than assets?” “If you’re doing it right.”
Quibbles: Lots of nits keep knocking the reader out of the spell of the story, starting with Continue reading