Book Review: Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clark (Four Stars)


Book Review: Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clark

(Four Stars)

“Why is the universe here?” “Where else would it be?”

This is why Arthur C. Clarke is thought of as among the Big Three of science fiction. This novel was written in the 1980s, based on a short story originally written in 1957. Don’t read the blurbs; they’re both misleading and spoilers. Too many topics to comment on or even lift his quotes about, but Clark still manages to insert an engaging story.

“No serious philosophical problem is ever settled.”

Golden Age science fiction. In many ways Clark is better than anything being written today. He deals with big issues but gets the details of science and people right. Yes, great portions of his text are sermons on various hobby horses, but Continue reading

Book Review: Death’s End by Liu Cixin (Four Stars)

Book Review: Death’s End by Liu Cixin

Four Stars

“In the end, the real power is wielded by time.”

Loved it. As usual with Liu’s books, took a couple hundred pages for the story to get traction, but once it’s out of the station this train builds lots of momentum.

“Twice … she passed the world into the abyss in the name of love.”

Main character is so flawed in a Sesame Street-way that you can’t help loving her–even as you yell at her for her stupid decisions.

“forty five kilometers below the [Earth’s] surface.”

Lots of Quibbles: 1. Europe is not “on the other side of the Bosporus” from Istanbul. 2. Peacekeeper missiles were decommissioned in 2005. 3. “Known universe is 16 billion light years across.” It’s Continue reading

Book Review: The Dragon Never Sleeps by Glen Cook (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Dragon Never Sleeps by Glen Cook

Four Stars out of Five.

Really good futuristic hard space opera. Star Wars meets Run Silent; Run Deep with a dash of Enemy Mine. Huge cast of complex—occasionally opaque—characters, some of whom are clones of themselves. Expansive setting on a galactic arm scale. Technologies and speciation which boogle the mind. All encased in excellent prose.

Make no mistake: this is not light reading, but it is fully engaging. A well-developed story of love and war in the distant future. All the more amazing because it was first published in 1988. While so many stories so old suffer from technology lag, Cook successful bypassed the obvious pits which many stories fall into. Advances in computing and personal communication are assumed (correctly). His solution to faster-than-light travel is most ingenious.

All neatly contained in three hundred pages, no Jordanesque series of volumes. A satisfying, if open conclusion.

A very good read for hard-core hard science fiction readers. Others will wonder why the fuss.