Friday, August 31, 2012

All the Love in the World by Cat Sparks

This was an nice departure on the post-apocalypse story.  This one is smack dab in the "post" part of history and centers around a woman who lives in a walled-in suburban street.  All the neighbors work together to keep their community safe and to cope with the end of civilization as best they can.

But it's not as bad as you might think.  What I liked about the story was the lack of pillaging and chaos.  Instead people do what you'd like to think they would - they try and survive by helping each other. What also made the story credible was how no one really knew what had happened.  There was a war of some kind and civilization has stopped functioning but no one knows why.  As you might expect one of the first things to be lost was communications; TV news was gone, radio and telephones too, what electricity there is is produced locally.  There are sometimes scratchy messages over short wave radio but that is the extent of news from the outside world that can be gathered.

Some people become sick and medicine is needed.  A hazardous walk into town must be made to try and find a doctor who can provide the needed medicine.  Dangers are found along the way but not nearly as intense as expected.  What is found are people just trying to make the best of things as they are.

Life goes on.

Well done indeed.  A nice fresh play on an old type of story.

The author's website is HERE

More on her writing can be found HERE

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum

I've not been having much luck reading decent science fiction short stories these days. So I thought I'd visit the masters for a little while.

Not long ago I discovered a collection of vintage SF called The Science Fiction Hall of Fame at my local used book store.  (The Wee Book Inn)This first story was published in Wonder Stories July, 1934.  Think of it - 1934 - the world then was a scary, scary mess, and this guy Weinbaum writes a very convincing story of discovery on Mars.  The story is very plausible given the knowledge of the day.  In it, a group of scientists are listening to the adventures of one of their team members as he tells the story of how he survived a crash landing and his subsequent discovery of indigenous Martian life.

This was a very well told story and has been reprinted dozens of times and is still available today.  It's well worth trying to find the story and reading it in the context of 1934.

Here is a list of 10 things that stood out for me from the history of that year.
Alcatraz becomes a prison.

The 10 year German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact is signed by Germany and the Second Polish Republic.

John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and their gang rob the First National Bank in Mason City, Iowa.

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker kill 2 young highway patrolmen near Grapevine, Texas.

Dust Bowl: A strong 2-day dust storm removes massive amounts of Great Plains topsoil in one of the worst dust storms of the Dust Bowl.

New Deal: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Securities Exchange Act into law, establishing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Outside Chicago's Biograph Theatre, "Public Enemy No. 1" John Dillinger is mortally wounded by FBI agents.

Adolf Hitler becomes Führer of Germany, becoming head of state as well as Chancellor.

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd is shot and killed by FBI agents near East Liverpool, Ohio.

Persia becomes Iran.

Highlights of 1934 selected from the Wikipedia page HERE

Wikipedia page about Stanley G. Weinbaum is HERE

Book is still in print with new covers and size HERE

Download or read online from Project Gutenberg HERE

Friday, August 24, 2012

Under the Moons of Venus by Damien Broderick

Sorry to say that I gave up on this one.

Multiple realities, uncertain narrator, possible insanity throughout ...

Can't follow. Not logical.


Monday, August 20, 2012

X Prize founder

I read an inspiring article in the July 2012 issue of Wired magazine.

"X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis has His Eyes on the Future" is a wonderful modern spin on an old custom of encouraging innovation by offering a cash prize.

In the case of the X Prize it was to encourage private access to space.

Diamandis is a forward looking optimist who also wrote a book that I'll probably buy very soon. The book is called "Abundance; The Future Is Better Than You Think"

The article can be read HERE

Wired magazine is HERE

Peter Diamandis Wikipedia page is HERE

The X Prize webpage is HERE

The book can be found HERE

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Frank Zafiro bonanza!

Lucky me, I just found out that every River City ebook by Zafiro is on sale for $0.99.

I've caught up my library by buying;
Some Degree of Murder

Dead Even (short story anthology)

No Good Deed (short story anthology)

And Every Man Has To Die
The Cleaner (short story anthology)

Waist Deep

I've been a fan for a while but put his books aside after his third River City novel, only because I found it over-long. Zafiro usually writes much tighter stories and I was disappointed with the departure.

As a matter of fact I am currently reading "The Bastard Mummy", a free download, and will review it soon. Look for a post on the story in early October.

Thanks to Frank.

Frank Zafiro's website is HERE

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Report #47 - Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Now THIS is SF! Old-school adventure story in space. Like the folks who dive on ship wrecks in the Earth's oceans Boss (who narrates the story but does not tell us her name) is in the business of finding and exploring derelict spacecraft. Mostly she's in it for the history although she's managed to make a fair living at it.

One day she finds a ship, an enormous and old ship, one that should not be in the region of space she's found it in. And it's dangerous; there is a technology on board that is still powered up and it's claiming lives.

This is what I want in SF; nuts and bolts, ships that need repair, crews that have conflicting personalities and desires. There are no aliens with weird names with apostrophes in strange places, no need to learn a new culture or history. We are dealing with humans and although there is an Empire and an Alliance Rush does not waste time explaining the ins and outs of the universe she's creating. In just a few sentences we learn there was a war between the two groups ( the Empire won) and we are in a region of space that is pretty much left alone as a bit of a frontier. 'Nuff said.

I'm sure she'll go on to expand on the world inhabited by the crew of the "Nobody's Business" but if she makes it part of the story without veering off into back story then I'll know that I'm in the hands of a very skilled story-teller.

There is nothing I hate more than exposition. If it takes more than a paragraph or two to explain the environment of the tale then the author is not as skilled as he could be.

The book was laid out in three parts and although the middle section was not very action packed it was a good place to expand our knowledge of the history of the world Rusch is building.

The third part of the book was very interesting and opened wide the door to future books.

I am so glad I read the original short story and now the novel.

I've already purchased the next two books in the series plus an issue of Asimov's for a short story in the "Diving" universe.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's website is HERE

The original publication of the Diving into the Wreck short story was in Asimov's magazine, December 2005.

It was also collected in Recovering Apollo 8.  Buy it HERE

The novel can be purchased HERE

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bookless Library

I just read a very interesting article by David A. Bell in The New Republic magazine's website about the impact of ebooks on public and research libraries.

Well worth the read.

Find it HERE

The New Republic website is HERE

Information on the author can be found HERE

Friday, August 10, 2012

Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra by Vandana Singh


First of all - not Science Fiction.

This is a story about stories; about meaning from folk tales. It is self-described as a tapestry, which was apt since it would go off in one direction, come back to the beginning only to fling itself into another direction.

There is a line that describes this story well:

"The fact that you can't wrest meaning from everything like fruit from trees - that meaning is a matter of not only of story but of what the listener brings to the tale - all that is not something she can face at the moment."

So, yea, it went on like that for many pages.

It also suffered from a trope of SF that I find annoying - the use of unpronounceable names. I find that very distracting.

You can judge for yourself by reading the story HERE at Strange Horizons.

The author's website is HERE

Monday, August 6, 2012

About It by Terry Bisson

A janitor takes home a science experiment . . .

This was a touching story about the brevity of life.

Even if somebody takes up a very small place in this world he leaves a mark.

Very sweet story. It left me feeling quiet.

The author's website is HERE
Terry Bisson

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mars Baby!

Congratulations to NASA and the Mars Curiosity team for a beautiful landing!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Report #46, Up in Honey's Room by Elmore Leonard

Up in Honey's Room
Elmore Leonard

Set in Detroit in the spring of 1945.

Since this is a Leonard story with all the interesting characters and twisting plot lines; I'll let the Amazon website describe it:
German-born Walter Schoen, now living in Detroit, is a dead ringer for Heinrich Himmler. Walter's American wife, Honey Deal, doesn't know he's a German spy, but she's tired of telling him jokes he doesn't understand—it's time for a divorce. Along comes Carl Webster, the hot kid of the Marshals Service. He's looking for a German officer who escaped from a POW camp in Oklahoma. Carl's pretty sure Walter's involved, so Carl gets to know Honey, hoping she'll take him to Walter. Honey likes Carl and doesn't much care that he's married. But all Carl wants is to get his man without getting shot. It's Elmore Leonard's world—gritty, funny, and full of surprises.
Was it any good? Oh, yes it was. Every time I thought I had a scene figured out it would twist suddenly into something unexpected.

The book is well titled; in the end every character is in Honey's room for a surprising conclusion.

My trouble, as a reader, is that I like to read a series from the first book to the current entry. This paralyzes me and I wind up with a bunch of books I won't read until I fill in the gaps. I recently read somewhere that if an author is doing his job you should be able to jump in at any point. This being a sequel to The Hot Kid I would normal have shelved it but I read it instead and boy am I glad I did. Sure, there were references to the previous book, but it did not take away from the story I was reading.

You can buy the book HERE

Elmore Leonard's website is HERE