Thursday, 28 January 2016

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson - Book Report #149


I "read" this book as an audio book loaned from my library.

I was stunned by how much research must have gone into it.

The scope of it was breathtaking.  It wasn't just about the getting there and setting up a base.  No, it went on to city building, immigration issues, corporate shenanigans, political power plays, environmental issues and incredible infrastructure construction.

It felt so real. 

Do not let the fact that it was published in 1992 make you think it's out of date.  It is not.  Everything discussed here is still fresh and relevant. 

A must read for sure.

It felt like a privilege to spend so much time with a superior mind.

KSR website -

Kim Stanley Robinson

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Analog Magazine, January/February 2016 - Part Two

We Will Wake Among the Gods, Among the Stars by Caroline M. Yoachim and Tina Connolly

002/15012016 - Remember how the big reveal of Planet of the Apes was that it was not the distant past but the distant future?  This is that same kind of thing.

Seven ships land in different parts of a habitable planet.  One is never heard from again and becomes a thing of legend, like Atlantis.  We are generations past the initial landings and find the descendants have reverted back to kingdoms and blind religious faith.  In this story we are following an expedition to find the lost Seventh City.

The story was well written and interesting enough but this kind of dystopian future is not my rusty tin cup of muddy tea.  These tales are best set right here on Earth, for the simple truth that we understand implicitly how tings were, we are invested in the past of the story.  For this very reason I found the story fell flat.  It may have worked better had it been a novel, making the end of the story even more powerful.

Caroline M. Yoachim -

Tina Connolly -

Farmer by Joe M. McDermott

003/150/2016 - Another dystopian story, this time set on Earth.  A New York brownstone is converted into an urban farm.  Not because it's trendy but necessary for survival.  Things are not good in this future.  We are never told exactly what happened to cause the infrastructure to collapse as it has, only that this type of urban farming is not unique.  People live in squalor and are ever-fearful of superbugs, drug resistant infections.

It is such an infection of one of the farm's customers that threatens the livelihood of the two men who own and operate it.  The government still functions and now the men are under threat of an inspection to see if they are the cause of the infection.  Were they doing something illegally?

I liked this one.  It was very vivid in my mind's eye.

Joe M. McDermott -

Rocket Surgery by Effie Seiberg

004/150/2016 - What happens when you give a guided missile artificial intelligence? 

This was a cool story.  I enjoyed how the AI evolves.

Saving the World by James Gunn

005/150/2016 - An exploration about genre fiction.  How does reading Science Fiction affect the brain.  Can reading science fiction save the world?

This is a well argued story.

The Persistence Of Memory by Rachel L. Bowden

006/150/2016 - A quick story about a memory of a time and place that changed the direction of the narrators' life. 

I could picture it as a short film. Well done. 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Analog Magazine, January/February 2016 - Part One

Wyatt Earp 2.0 by Wil McCarthy.

001/150/2016 - In Dawes Crater City, Mars, a facsimile of Wyatt Earp is printed. The head of security needs a bit of help to control the miners and convinces his superiors that a lawman from Earth's history is the correct choice to bring about a bit of order.

Earp wakes up complete with his memories and personality intact. At first we get a fish-out-of-water story but it doesn't take long before he gets his footing and starts asserting himself.  At first he struggles with whether he is a real person since he is a manufactured copy of a man long dead.

There is a fair bit of exploration of the meaning of life when you are the 2.0.  The old saying, The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same came to mind in the final action sequence.  The last scene made me happy for its cleverness and made me wish the story was longer.

An excellent start to the issue.

Wil McCarthy's website is here:

Wil McCarthy

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Art of Space by Ron Miller

This is a coffee table book filled with beautiful art with space and science fiction as its theme.

It explores the history of the art form in five distinct areas:
Planets & Moons,
Stars & Galaxies,
Spaceships & Space Stations,
Space Colonies & Cities
and finally Aliens.

It's beautiful, informative and focuses occasionally on specific artists who excelled at their work.

I would recommend this book as a valuable addition to any personal library both for its own right and as a reference to other works.  It makes a good resource to seek out other collections from specific artists. 

Some of my favourite artists are Chesley Bonestell,

Alan Bean,
John Berkey,
Chris Foss,
Don Davis,
Robert McCall
and the ever-creepy H. R. Giger.

There is one other artist, who is not mentioned in this book,  but should be better known, his name is Wayne Haag who did a series of covers for Interzone Magazine.  He has a series of crashed and derilict ships, known as the Ankaris Project.

I have no idea if he had anything to do with the new Star Wars movie but you can get a real appreciation of his art in the opening scenes on the desert planet Jakku.  Below are pictures of his series not of the new movie.

  See?  The book is already working.  It will inspire you to look into this genre of art.

Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 Reading Goals

The theme for this year is

 - SPACE! -

This will apply to fiction and non-fiction.

On the non-fiction front I have dozens of books to satisfy my needs.  I have been a giant NASA geek for my whole life so I will dedicate this upcoming year to reading about the agency.  I also hope to read a bit of speculation on where space exploration, both government and commercial, will go in the near future.

I really loved my 100 short stories in 2015 challenge and I will try to read 150 shorts this year.  I will primarily accomplish this by following a secondary goal; to read each issue of Analog Magazine with a 2016 publication date.

I cannot control what is published in Analog but they tend to stick to Hard Science Fiction which will satisfy a reading focus I'd like to attempt on the fiction side; that is to read fiction without FTL travel.  The massive best seller, The Martian by Andy Weir, has re-awakened a market for "plausible" SF.  Let's face it, without a breakthrough in propulsion, humans will not see another star system in anything resembling the near future.  I want to concentrate on fiction within our own solar system.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Ben Bova, Kristine Kathryn Rusch,  Robert J Sawyer and Michael Flynn are authors that immediately come to mind that have written novels in our home solar system so my focus should not be difficult.

Just to keep things symmetrical I will set a goal of 15 books (fiction or non-fiction) and 150 short stories.