Wow. He does crazy really well.
I am generally not a fan of military science fiction but Embedded by Dan Abnett was a Kindle monthly special a while back and that’s really all the incentive I need. Science fiction novel? $3.99 or less? Why not?
This book, however, aside from the shooting, the bleeding, and heads being blown off, actually is a pretty interesting story and is very well-written. An aging, cynical journalist investigates a conflict that the government is trying to cover up or downplay. It’s not a war or a conflict; it’s merely a “dispute” and no one will say what it is really about. Unable to get any straight answers, he gets himself “embedded” into the mind of a soldier.
The ending, though it resolves most of the major questions, leaves things wide open for a sequel, which I will definitely read. I was disappointed to find that it is not out yet.
The 5th book I have read this year is My Other Car Is a Spaceship by Mark Terence Chapman.* Present Day retired U.S. Air Force pilot Hal Nellis is kidnapped by aliens and offered the choice of either returning home to a peaceful retirement or training to pilot a starship and fighting pirates. No points for guessing which option he chooses. This book is full of action from beginning to end – lots of shooting and bombs and destruction but also an interesting plot with surprises and intrigue. Pure fun and escapism. I highly recommend it to any space opera fans out there.
* I read the Kindle edition.
I finished reading the Extinction Point trilogy by Paul Antony Jones. I’m having a hard time getting started on this “review”. It was definitely good, definitely interesting. I read it in what was, for me, record time. But the ending was a disappointment. So what can I say about the ending without it being a spoiler? Perhaps, nothing? It wasn’t terrible, I suppose. Perhaps someone else would think it is the perfect ending?
So, let’s start at the beginning. A mysterious red rain falls, destroying almost all life on Earth. Emily Baxter, a journalist for a NYC newspaper heads off on a cross-country trip to find other survivors. (And I have another small quibble. Emily is from Iowa. Is it just me or does it seem like young women who move to New York are always from Iowa? More bothersome is the fact that she does not know how to drive. If she was from Iowa and moved to New York City as an adult she would at least know how to drive. She might not own a car and might not have got a license in NY but she would know how to drive.)
Anyway… I don’t want to be too negative. Overall it was a very interesting story and I do recommend it to anyone who reads science fiction. The characters were well developed and interesting. The alien life was original – different from anything I’ve ever come across in other books or in movies. The story itself, the action, was compelling and made all three of the books unputdownable.
Mr. Jones says that there will be at least one more book in the series and there is a short story about one of the characters in the series and, yes, I will read those and likely other books by this author.
Since I finished reading Railsea I have already finished another book and I’m more than halfway through another. Wow, must be the weather. At this rate I could read over 200 books this year but I can’t keep this up. I have to come back to the real world and do other things, like sewing. I haven’t really done any sewing since before Christmas and I really need to get back to it. The stash is feeling abandoned. I haven’t even so much as fondled it in weeks. Not to mention that all the online fabric retailers keep having sales. (Shhh. Go away; I don’t need you.)
The books I’m reading now are the Extinction Point series by Paul Antony Jones. I’ll have more to say about them later on. I probably won’t review every book I read but I have decided to try to keep track of the total number of books I read this year. I’ve been doing that on Google+ but I might start some kind of list here too. Feel free to add me to your Circles if you like and I will add you to one of mine. (unless you’re a spammer) I’m not trying to be as exclusive on Google+ as I am on Facebook.
I got China Mieville’s Railsea for Christmas. It’s one of those books that I have been wanting for a while but never got around to buying. I started it a few days after Christmas and finished it Saturday night. (which is really fast for me) I don’t know how to review this book because about all I can think of to say is, “Wow!” Which is usually the first thing I have to say about any of Mieville’s novels.
Railsea isn’t as totally freak-out weird as Perdido Street Station or Iron Council but it’s weird enough. It is not set on the same world as those two novels. It has elements of Moby Dick but it would be unfair to call it “Moby Dick on rails” as I did when I first started it, as that aspect of it turns out not to be the most important part of the story. And there are surprises.
I used to say that if you’ve never read China Mieville start with Perdido Street Station but now I’m thinking Railsea might be the better one to start with. But it doesn’t matter all that much. If you like weird fantasy and science fiction you should definitely read both. PSS is fantasy; Railsea is science fiction. I think. With Mieville, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
I finished reading Stardancer yesterday morning. About two weeks to read it, I think. That’s actually pretty fast for me. It usually takes me at least a month to get through an average sized book. (Though I am getting better about that since I’ve been trying to spend more time reading books.) It’s sort of a weird experience for me to write about a book knowing that the author is going to read this, because he’s not some distant celebrity but someone I have known online for more than 10 years. But in this case it’s easy because this is a really great book. Seriously.
I read a wide variety of science fiction (as well as other genres, mostly classics and history) but this is the kind of story that got me hooked on science fiction in the first place – full of space ships and adventure. Stardancer is unique in a number of ways too. The main character is a teenage girl who, though she is a princess who discovers that she has a strange ability, is fairly typical of girls that age. There is also an ethnic minority character who is a minority of one on the planet they are visiting. Girls and minorities are two seriously neglected groups in science fiction. There is a hint of environmentalism – what happens when you rely on just one power source and that source starts running out – but the reader is not beat over the head with it. The story keeps moving, uninterrupted by either preaching or science lectures.
The story comes to a satisfying conclusion, not in any way a cliffhanger, but enough questions are left open to make me really impatient to read the next book.
That’s a tough one. On Facebook, where I first saw this, a lot of people liked Malcolm Reynold’s “I aim to misbehave” speech in Serenity. Someone mentioned the V speech. I do agree that both of those are great. When I was a little kid I loved Captain Kirk’s speeches. (It seemed like he was always speechifying) They seemed so moving and profound. (Like I said I was a little kid.) But which one?
I always hate to declare one of anything to be The Best because I know that I will almost certainly remember something even better later, but I’m going out on a limb and saying that surely one of Captain Picard’s speeches must be the best. But again, which one? Well… this certainly must be a top contender.
What are your favorites? (From any science fiction or fantasy movie or TV show)
300 Suns by Allan J. Ferrenberg is one of the more unputdownable books I have read recently. In the near future a huge alien starship arrives. The aliens refuse to show themselves or to communicate in any way. Soon they begin putting satellites into orbit around Earth. Scientists, the military, and politicians are divided over whether or not the aliens are hostile and what, if anything, to do about them.
I don’t want to post any spoilers but I do want to say, “Hello, Hollywood? This would make an epic disaster movie.” Also, I was able to figure out what the aliens were up to one chapter before it was revealed in the story. I do like surprises but I also like being able to figure things out. I was not entirely pleased with the ending but it wasn’t a bad ending. My quibble is just over details, I suppose. Overall it was a very entertaining and worthwhile read.
A week or three ago there was a brief conversation on Facebook about fantasy and science fiction. Someone said something about not liking the direction that a lot of modern fantasy is going. I responded, saying that I don’t read a lot of fantasy but that the same was true of me and science fiction. But then, later, I thought, “Why did I say that? Is that really true?” I was thinking of some of the near future sci-fi and “hard” sci-fi (No FTL) that I’ve seen in recent years and which critics seem to be saying is “the future of science fiction,” the direction it’s going, and some of that is really good, but more often I’d rather just read some good old fashioned space opera. Damn the scientific plausibility and just entertain me!
If you ignore the critics and the hard “SF” nerds and really look at what’s out there, you see that there are books to take you in any direction you want to go. One of the first authors I thought of when I was rethinking my comment on Facebook was Neal Asher. Definitely original, what you could call “a new direction”, and yet, at their heart, his stories are good, old fashioned space opera, with strange planets, weird aliens, and FTL to get you there in less than one lifetime.
Independent and self published books are becoming more common. I have mentioned a few of these before: A Door to Truth by J.S. Johnson and The Last Revolution by R.T. Carpenter, to name just two. These authors have been inspired by the same books, movies and TV shows many of us have loved and they have their own original ideas so you get some really good stories (in spite of the fact that some of these authors really need to improve their proofreading skills) that might never have made it into print if they had been stuck trying to get past the traditional gatekeepers.
But what I really wanted to talk about is the book I just finished reading and one that I am eagerly anticipating. Let’s start with the one I just finished: Space Chronicles: The Last Human War by Dean Sault. The story begins some 300(?) years after Earth was completely destroyed in a war between several interstellar empires. The surviving few thousand humans are living in benevolent slavery on the planet Tanarac. The Heptari, a reptilian race, have apparently just discovered that there are still a few humans left alive and want to kill them all. Or at least they’re using that as an excuse to attack Tanarac. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot so I’ll just say, if you like space ships and especially epic battles between space ships you must read this book.
I have two more sci-fi novels and a non-fiction book (no wait… two of those also) in the queue, plus all those classics that I’m going to read someday, and I’m not sure what I will read next. But the big important one that I’m waiting on – and I have to wait until November for it – is Stardancer. I have been reading Kelly Sedinger’s blog, Byzantium’s Shores, since 2002, I think, and I have read some of the short stories he has posted there, and I think I know something of his taste in fiction, so I know this will be good. I’m going to try to time my reading to be done and ready for Stardancer when it comes out but if I’m in the middle of something at that time I will likely drop it to read Stardancer immediately. I don’t seem to be very good at reading two books at once. I usually end up dropping one even if I don’t intend to.
We have started watching Doctor Who again. I first started watching it when Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor. I was not familiar with the long tradition of new Doctors and new Companions every few years so I was hugely disappointed when Eccleston left the show but I soon got used to David Tennant and ended up liking him very well. But then he was replaced by Matt Smith. I suppose it was partly that I took one look at a photo of Matt Smith and immediately disliked him (He always looks like he smells something nasty.) and partly that I was just put off by having to get used to a different actor yet again but I stopped watching. I did not watch any of the Matt Smith episodes. I did catch maybe five minutes of a couple of episodes when I changed channels to watch whatever it was that came on after Doctor Who and those few minutes never did anything to entice me watch an entire hour.
Now here comes Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor. I don’t know why I decided to give it a try again but I did and I have really enjoyed the first four episodes of this season, even the one with the Daleks. I really, seriously, effing hate the Daleks. I know we’re supposed to hate them because they’re the bad guys but I don’t mean it like that. I really hate them as characters. I hate the whole idea of Daleks. Worst excuse for villains ever! They’re not scary; they’re just stupid and annoying. But in the latest Dalek episode there was one that turned good for a while and that was sort of interesting.
I like the unique British weirdness of Doctor Who. It’s not what we generally think of as “good science fiction” but it’s fun. I especially liked the most recent episode, Listen, which was actually rather serious and, I would even say, beautiful. I look forward to seeing what’s next and I hope that Peter Capaldi sticks around for several years. I like Clara, the current Companion, too. I have not disliked any of the companions.
Much is being made of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, with good reason, I think. That is an incredibly long time for a television show to last and it seems that it could keep going for another 50. The long line of new Doctors and new Companions – having a way to periodically change stars built into the story – is what has enabled it to keep going. Therefore I can’t complain about that anymore, Matt Smith notwithstanding.
From Orbus by Neal Asher:
“The introduction of technology slows the process of evolution, but it never actually ceases, … and when technology advances sufficiently to be applied to the bodies and minds of those wielding it, it becomes a tool of evolution.”
I had a 7th grade teacher who, whenever he would explain something to a student one-on-one and they would say, “Oh,” would respond, “I see said the blind man.” I suppose some students might have found this annoying but I always thought it was hilarious and I loved him for it. He was also one of my first Black teachers (I had two that year) and one of my first male teachers.
But that’s not what this is about. I just happened to think of it when I read this. That line from Star Wars, that the Millennium Falcon “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs,” has always bothered me. I mean seriously bothered me. A parsec is a measure of distance, not time. Things like this, to me, are worse than fingernails on a chalkboard.
Well, in fact, it does make sense. And I’m feeling quite annoyed at myself for being such a scientifically illiterate numbskull. This is rather obvious.
The main criticism of the line is that a parsec is a distance. Han saying that he made the run in 12 parsecs is like a runner saying she ran a marathon in 26.2 miles. This would be a legitimate criticism if the Kessel Run was a set distance like a marathon. In most cases, there are several different paths from point A to point B. For example, I live next to a lake, and there is a house across this lake. The direct route from my house to this house is to swim across the lake, but swimming is not an option for me because I can’t swim. To get to this house, I have to walk or drive. The same applies to the closest Target, which is a little over a mile away. To walk directly there, I would have to swim across a lake (a different one; I live in Minnesota) and walk across a freeway. Again, driving five miles is the best way for me to go to Target. On Earth, certain obstacles prevent a straight course; instead, a path around these impediments is the best way to travel.
In space, the obstacles are numerous. Planets, asteroids, comets, meteors, and black holes are just a few of the features a pilot has to navigate around in order to arrive at a destination safely. When Han has to get away from Tatooine, he tells Luke, “Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy. Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?” According to the material in the expanded ‘Star Wars’ universe, the Maw is a cluster of black holes on one of the possible routes to Kessel. The safest course is approximately 18 parsecs. For Han to have completed the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, he would have had to travel near this cluster of black holes, which is dangerous. A black hole has a strong gravitational pull, and getting too close to one could result in the ship either being destroyed or pulled into the black hole to face an unknown fate. Traveling a direct route in space can be risky, and it takes a skilled navigator to plot a course that will get a ship to its destination in one piece.
The author goes on to say that Han’s boast “doesn’t sell him as a great pilot.” I don’t care. This line that has bugged me for over three decades now makes sense to me. Rays of glorious light shone down from Heaven and angels sang. You can’t take that away from me. Not even by going back to the time vs. distance issue:
The problem with the Kessel Run claim is the fact that Han says the line as an answer to a question about speed. Obi-Wan says he is looking for passage on a fast ship. Han asks, “Fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?” Obi-Wan replies, “Should I have?” Then Han says the famous line, “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” A parsec is a unit of distance, and distance is distance. You drive 60 miles; it could take you three hours if you go 20mph or one hour if you go 60mph, but you still travel 60 miles. Speed is determined by the relationship between time and distance. Again, without knowing how much time it took Han to complete the Kessel Run, the comment is an attribute to his navigating skills and not the performance of the ship. If Han has said, “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in 11.7 parsecs in 3 days,” then the speed the Millennium Falcon could be determined, giving Obi-Wan an actual answer to his inquiry.
Okay, so she has a point. Sort of. But note the specific wording of the statement. “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” “The ship.” As if it was the only one that ever did it. A historic stunt that everyone is expected to have heard of, including other details, like time, that are not given in Han’s brief statement. Anyway, that’s how I make sense of it and I’m happy now. Star Wars is officially perfect.
I keep getting spam comments from someone or something using the name ShoogeStulfef. I swear if I ever write a fantasy novel I’m going to name a character Shooge Stulfef. I haven’t decided what sort of character he will be. Certainly male, probably large and disheveled, and not necessarily human. Thoughts?
When I posted the Science Fiction Top 50 I said I might post a few that did not make it onto the list. I’m not sure I would put all of these on a “Top 50″ list but then I’m not sure I would put some of those that actually are on the list on the list. These are in no particular order.
Millennium – This was an X-Files spin-off. I remember liking this but can’t remember a lot of specifics about it and I’m not sure it really qualifies as science fiction even though it was spun off a science fiction series.
Gargoyles – It might be “just a cartoon” but this was a classy and sophisticated show, with some very famous and talented actors providing voices, including several cast members of Star Trek (mostly TNG), plus Ed Asner, Tim Curry, Matt Frewer, John Rhys-Davies, James Belushi, and many other notable names.
Stargate: Atlantis – This could easily win an award for the worst show with the best cast. I loved the characters on this show; they had great chemistry and were fun to watch. Unfortunately, they had nothing particularly interesting to do. You would think that if you sent a group of people to a distant galaxy they would find some fascinating planets, civilizations, and creatures but no, nothing of the sort. It was just the same kind of stuff they had on Stargate:SG1 only duller. The enemies, The Wraith, were mostly just tiresome. I was happy to watch it just for the characters but I always wished it could be more than what it was.
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. – Crazy, weird, awesome show! Unfortunately it only lasted one season. I guess most people’s minds aren’t flexible enough to wrap around the concept of a sci-fi western. They never last very long.
The list of 50 did not include many current series but there are a few good ones on right now. This is actually a really good time to be a sci-fi fan.
Grimm – Another good creature of the week series that is in danger of being dragged down by the long term story arc but it’s still fun so far.
Defiance – I keep liking this show more and more. Which means that the rumors of cancellation that I’ve read are probably true. They just can’t give a great, original series a chance. Everything has to follow an established formula.
Under the Dome – Based on a book by Stephen King and he is also one of the executive producers and it shows. In a good way.
Extant – A relatively new series that I’m liking so far.
I have probably missed a series or three. That’s what the comments section is for. Your turn.
Oooo! A list! A sci-fi list! The 50 Greatest Sci-Fi Television Shows. You won’t find the whole list there. I did click through to the list but it’s a slideshow and I just don’t have the patience for those. Not only that, this one spontaneously started to open up a new tab so I quickly left the site and went to the other link, Which turned out to be the first of a series of posts commenting on the list. So, strap in kids; here we go.
The Thunderbirds – I hadn’t heard of this one before.
Land of the Lost and Space 1999 – I think I might have seen one or two episodes each many years after they originally aired. That’s not necessarily by choice. We only received a very limited number of channels when I was a kid – only one up until about 1971 or thereabouts and then still just a few.
The Six Million Dollar Man – My little brother was obsessed with this show when we were kids so we watched every episode. It was okay.
Dark Angel – I liked it fairly well and was a little disappointed when it was cancelled but I agree that it wasn’t really a great show.
Knight Rider – I loved this show! A talking car? With a British accent? How can one not love?
Jerico – ummmm… sounds familiar? I think I might have watched a season of this but I’m not sure if it’s the show I’m thinking of.
Space Above and Beyond – Never watched it. I don’t think I ever had the opportunity.
Dollhouse – A serious disappointment
Battle of the Planets – Never heard of it.
Life on Mars and Lexx – Never watched these. I was going to say never heard of them but I do think I remember seeing ads for the first one.
War of the Worlds – I didn’t know there was a series.
Twin Peaks – Never watched it. Didn’t even know it was sci-fi.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Oh yes! A ridiculous and fun show.
Cowboy Bebop – Never watched it.
Caprica – I only watched the first episode or two. It didn’t grab me.
Alien Nation – Silly and cheesy but I sort of liked it.
Star Trek: Voyager – I watched about a season and a half, I think, (or was it 2 and a half?) but then we moved and couldn’t get it anymore. The ST series that I liked the least.
Lost in Space – This too, was on at a time when we had only one channel and this show wasn’t on it. I did see at least one episode years later. Wasn’t really impressed. I guess I need to have seen it when it was new.
Battlestar Galactica (1978-79) – I liked this one even though it was very cheesy and a number of things about the show really, seriously got on my nerves. It could have been a much better show if certain aspects, such as some of the made-up words, hadn’t made it seem so cartoonish. In science fiction it is often necessary to invent words for things but it’s a good idea to try to make them sound not stupid.
Futurama – A great, silly, hilarious show
Logan’s Run, Red Dwarf, and Ghost in the Shell – Never watched these.
Max Headroom – I remember this but I can’t remember if I ever watched it or if I’m just remembering the commercials.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – I was really getting into this when they cancelled it.
Torchwood – I watched one season and I’m looking forward to watching more. Weird and pretty good.
Farscape – I have watched a few episodes and I really want to like this show but I just can’t get into it.
Quantum Leap – I know I watched this but I can’t remember much about it.
Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato – Hadn’t heard of it before
Babylon 5 – Love, love, loved this show! But then we moved and couldn’t get it anymore. Someday I’m going to watch it all from the beginning.
Sliders – Cute show. Sort of juvenile and silly but a pleasant diversion. I am surprised that it’s this high on the list.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Never watched it, darn it.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Not my favorite ST but not the worst either. I liked most of the characters. This was another victim of the Big Move so there are several whole seasons that I have not seen yet.
Blake’s 7 – Sounds vaguely familiar?
Stargate:SG1 – I liked this a lot but always had the feeling it could have been better. It seems like every extraterrestrial human civilization they came across was almost exactly like every other. Still, it was a very enjoyable series.
V – I watched most of the original but very little of the reboot. Silly fun.
Lost – I watched the whole first season and part of the second but gave up on it because it didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Firefly – Do I even need to say it? And BTW, why is this only number 11? Because it lasted only a short time is not a valid excuse. It had more awesomeness in 14 episodes than most series put into five or more seasons.
The Outer Limits – I have watched several of these but not a lot. The rest of my family doesn’t seem interested but I think it’s quite good.
Fringe – I loved this show until it got into the alternate universe storyline and even then it wasn’t bad but I prefer just the plain, stand-alone, straight up weird phenomenon or weird creature stories. Loved the characters in this show. And we got to see Leonard Nimoy again as a different and very interesting character.
Neon Genesis Evangelion and The Prisoner – Never heard of these.
Star Trek: TOS – What can I say that hasn’t already been said many times? Seems like it should be a little higher on the list. In the top 5 at least.
Twilight Zone – An undeniable classic. I don’t know that I’d put it ahead of Star Trek but, I don’t know, maybe I would. It’s pretty iconic and a few of the episodes are true classics.
Battlestar Galactica 2004-09 – I never got as excited about this series as some people did. It was undeniably well done and the acting and special effects were spectacular but it sometimes got tiresome. I certainly wouldn’t put it in the top 5 and probably not even in the top 10. Unlike most people though, I loved the ending.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – This was my favorite of all the ST series. I understand the complaints against it and agree with some of them but I don’t care. It was pure, delightful escapism. I am of the opinion that escapism does not have to be realistic or support your politics.
X-Files – Great show but too high on the list. The first two or three seasons were excellent but I was disappointed that they sunk into the conspiracy theory mire. I would put this just behind Fringe on the list.
Dr. Who – Well, I suppose it makes sense that this would be first on the list. It has been on for 50 years. I watched the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant episodes but I got tired of having to get used to new Doctors and new companions every couple of years. Aside from this, the show is weird and silly, which is not bad for a sci-fi series but it’s not what I expect in a top series.
Here I feel like I should do some “honorable mentions” or personal favorites that were missed but I might do that in a separate post.
Some days I have absolutely nothing to say and other days I have too much to say and no energy to say it and I start to think, “Why am I still doing this? How much longer will I keep doing this?” If Blogger would make one or two more little improvements I might switch back to that. I would miss my links page though. But I need to work on that some so, I don’t know… maybe I’m just getting tired of the whole thing. On the other hand, I want to have something for those times when I do really have something to say. And I like being part of a “community” even if I am destined to always be the weird, lonely girl that almost everyone ignores.
This week is the hottest this year so far. They are forecasting triple digits for this weekend. Everyone is complaining and yeah, I am too a little bit, but I really don’t mind all that much. Now I feel like it’s really summer, not just a perpetual spring. I know I’m making that sound like a bad thing. Of course I am more comfortable when the temps are in the 70’s and 80’s, but it’s August and it’s supposed to be hot. It’s hard to explain. I guess I’m more comfortable (in a different sense) when things are the way they are supposed to be.
I have really slacked off on sewing. I haven’t started one of these yet like I had intended to do. I have been working for over a week on a baby dress that I could have finished in a day. But you know, it’s like that sometimes. Sometimes you feel inspired and feel an urgency (which in my case is almost always imaginary) and other times you just can’t stay interested. Maybe it’s because it’s August. Is this the lazy month?
It’s also the month that school starts. Not something I have to deal with anymore, thank goodness. It always seems wrong to me that school starts in the middle of August. It’s supposed to start in September, the day after Labor Day. Anything else will always be wrong.
We started watching The Strain. I have mixed feelings about this show. It has a little too much “gross horror movie” stuff for my taste but it is also interesting enough that I want to stick with it to see what happens next. The new season of Haven starts soon. I’ve been seeing ads for it. I sort of feel like they started to lose me last season but not completely. I still want to keep watching.
By far my favorite series that’s on right now is Defiance. Here are two behind the scenes videos.
I generally don’t do politics but this is too good to pass up: This Land Is Mine. There is plenty of reason for sympathy for both sides and plenty of reason to blame both sides. Most people only see blame on only one side or the other though.
Anyway, both sides are wrong; both sides are right. It’s been going on for thousands of years and there’s only one way the situation will ever be resolved. Aliens. That’s right, aliens invade the Earth and either kill everyone or they go all Mom on everyone and say, “I don’t care who started it. We are going to finish it,” and with technology so advanced it seems like magic to us poor, backward humans, they simply stop all fighting. I know, I know! Shut up. This is MY fantasy and it will go the way I want it to.
Firefly fans, you have to read this longish article full of behind the scenes Firefly stuff. Great article that gets into all the reasons why Firefly was the greatest series ever. I don’t have much to say about it other than my usual: Damn you, Fox! Which reminds me…
I do not know J.S. Johnson, author of A Door to Truth but there is what you could call an indirect family connection. Without that connection I probably never would have read the book simply because the title does not appeal to me at all. So perhaps I shouldn’t judge a book by its title? But if you can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a book by its title how does one choose which books to read? Anyway, I am glad that I read this one. It is an interesting story.
Because of the connection I mentioned, I feel hesitant to write very much about the book. It honestly is a very good story so that’s no problem. It’s just, you know… talking about a book written by someone I could very likely end up sitting next to at a family picnic someday. This situation really lights up the “what if I say something stupid?” node in my brain.
You can read a little bit about the book in the author’s Introduction. Here there is something that bothers me and, though I am very reluctant to say anything, at the same time I have to because trying to make people understand what science fiction is is sort of a cause for me. Johnson writes:
“A Door to Truth” can be loosely defined as a science-fiction story. I’ve struggled with categorizing it from the moment I knew what I wanted to write about. The story has to be called science fiction, because it requires some science and is certainly fiction.
But it is a story of “why” vice “how,” and this is where I struggle to justify it as science fiction.
I have been reading science fiction for well over three decades and I have read hundreds of books. Science fiction is very much about “why”, far more so than “how,” though “how” certainly plays a part. So many people have this mistaken idea that science fiction is all about space ships and blasters and cartoon-style heroes and that it’s full of techno-babble. Science fiction is as much about spaceships and blasters as mainstream best sellers are about houses and furniture. Science fiction explores human nature, culture, and the “why” of things by putting people in situations that could not happen (at least not yet) in the real world. It explores possible futures and speculates about the ways people might behave in those futures. Sometimes it questions what we are doing in the present and warns about where it might lead in the future. Science fiction is an extremely broad and inclusive genre. Sometimes it’s just for fun but it is often serious and often very political.
A Door to Truth is unquestionably classic near future science fiction. And it’s good. Read it.