Sunday, May 20, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #1

First of all, I love to read!

I spend a great deal of my time every day reading speculative science fiction.  The rest of my time is spent asking the questions and questioning the answers that the science fiction I read creates. All of the stories I post contain elements of profound contemplation, varying philosophy, metaphysics, and theoretical pondering. The authors that create these stories are among my heroes in this reality, and I very much want to share them with you.   Although I read a great deal more than the stories I will post in these short reviews, I only want to share those pieces of text/audio that really stick with me and force my mind to ponder life, the universe, and everything. While I am delighted with nearly all that I read in this genre, I will make an attempt to only present the best of the best.   

I have created a rating system that helps me to place the stories I read into varying degrees of awesome.  It is quite simple.  I rate the stories based on their writing, creativity, intrigue, and overall enjoyment on a 5 point system.  You may notice that I haven't rated anything below a 3.  There may come a time, but like I said, all of the stories I read are just so damn spectacular.  Try them out, and you will see what I mean! 

Writing - The quality of the writing.  I specifically rate the writing on how well it is able to convey to me the action, thoughts, emotions, etc. of the story. 

Creativity- Simply put, this rating is a measure of the degree of imagination that exists in the writing.  How unique and new was the story? Is it something I have seen done over and over again? I also factor into this rating category interesting literary techniques such as stylish ways to present chapters or different parts of the story.   

Intrigue- This rating represents the stories ability to keep me interested.  Did I get bored and have to fight my way through to the end?  Or did I lose myself and end up somewhere else entirely?

Overall- My general impression of the story. How much I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and/or how much it affected me.

I will also let you know if the story is a novel, a novella, a short story, or a piece of flash fiction (something that only takes a few minutes to read).

Most importantly, I'll include a link to where you can read the story if it is available online for free.

This post is the first of many to come.  My plan is to present 5 brief story reviews per post.  

26 monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson  -Short Story- 

  Writing 5                        Creativity 4                         Intrigue 5  

Overall 5

A story split into 24 quick fragments that documents the strange experience of a woman who becomes the owner of 26 monkeys. All 26 monkeys amazingly disappear during an act on stage and reappear with strange artifacts. Where do they go? A charming and satisfying tale.

Read it here.

"No one knows how the monkeys vanish or where they go. Sometimes they return holding foreign coins or durian fruit, or wearing pointed Moroccan slippers. Every so often one returns pregnant. The number of monkeys is not constant.

"I just don't get it," Aimee keeps asking Geof, as if he has any idea. Aimee never knows anything any more. She's been living without any certainties, and this one thing - well, the whole thing, the fact the monkeys get along so well and know how to do card tricks and just turned up in her life and vanish from the bathtub; everything - she coasts with that most of the time, but every so often, when she feels her life is wheeling without brakes down a long hill, she starts poking at this again.

Geof trusts the universe a lot more than Aimee does, trusts that things make sense and that people can love, and therefore he doesn't need the same proofs. "You could ask them," he says.

Prayer by Robert Reed -short story-
                   Writing 4.5                       Creativity 5                         Intrigue 4.5  

                                                                              Overall 4.5

Talking guns, wildly alternate history, world at war, pre teen female soldiers, and prayers that are actually answered in ultra real ways.  The story switches between the perspective of a young girl and the powerful rail gun she wields.   This one was a really wild ride. 

Read it here.

"To me, guns are just another layer of clothes, and the best day ever lived was the day I got my hands on a barely-used, cognitively damaged Mormon railgun. They don't make that model anymore, what with its willingness to change sides. And I doubt that there's ever been a more dangerous gun made by the human species. Shit, the boy grows his own ammo, and he can kill anything for hundreds of miles, and left alone he will invent ways to hide and charge himself on the sly, and all that time he waits waits waits for his master to come back around and hold him again.

I am his master now."

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick -novel-

  Writing 5+                          Creativity 5+                            Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

A chilling, dystopic story that will leave you as paranoid and depressed as the central characters in the most thrilling way. I know it sounds paradoxical, but Dick pulls it off.  I actually listened to the audio version of the story which was put together in 2008 and read by Paul Giamatti.  Turn off your lights and tune in to a tale of a downward spiral that starts and ends with 'D.'

"How'd you like to gaze at a beer can throughout eternity? It might not be so bad. There'd be nothing to fear."

"What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me - into us - clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too."

"Sometimes I wish I knew how to go crazy. I forget how."

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov -novel-

Writing 5+                         Creativity 5+                         Intrigue 5  

Overall 5+

One of Asimov's most notable pieces.  A captivating journey through various centuries of human history spanning 100's of millenia after the 20th century. Eternity, an organization and place created by early humanity that exists outside of time, initiates trade between varying centuries and alters reality for the betterment of the objective whole of humanity across time.  As seemingly perfect as Eternity is, it may have/has/had potentially/possibly caused an end to eternity.  Hah!  This is such an awesome story!

"Harlan felt his annoyance to be quire reasonable.  The 2456th Century was matter-oriented, as most Centuries were, so he had a right to expect a basic compatibility from the very beginning.  It would have none of the utter confusion (for anyone born matter-oriented) of the energy vortices of the 300's, or the field dynamics of the 600's.  In the 2456th, to the average Eternal's comfort, matter was used for everything from walls to tacks.
To be sure, there was matter and matter.  A member of an energy-oriented Century might not realize that. To him all matter might seem minor variations on the theme that was gross, heavy, and barbaric.  To matter-oriented Harlan, however, there was wood, metal (subdivisions, heavy and light), plastic, silicates, concrete, leather and so on. 
But matter consisting entirely of mirrors!  
That was his first impression of the 2456th."

For Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal -short story-

     Writing 5                  Creativity 4                   Intrigue 3.5  

Overall 4

A futuristic tale about a robot in Victorian style dress who is responsible for recording every moment of every person's life in a family whose size fills an entire intergalactic ship. One day, the robot's handler, a young girl, asks the robot to dance, and accidentally drops it. The simple mistake could be fatal for many.

Read it here

"“In your room? Why is she with you? Why do you have Cordelia?” His voice rose, cracking on the AI’s name. She and her uncle had disagreed on Cordelia’s maintenance before, but this was all out of proportion to what was happening. Mostly. “She should be with me.”

Rava swayed as if her uncle had struck her. He’d resigned from his post as the AI’s wrangler and of all their relatives, Rava had been the one Cordelia had chosen to take over. If the AI didn’t blame Rava for dropping her, then Uncle Georgo had no room to. “Hey. I’m her wrangler now and I’m capable of dealing with this. I just need the cable.”

“Where is she? I want to see her.”

Rava had to f ight the urge to yank her glasses off. Clenching her f ists so hard her fingers ached, Rava said, “I told you, she’s in my room.”
“Your room . . . But I don’t understand. Who are you?”"

That is all for now.  I'll post 5 more reviews in a few days or so.  I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did.  

Thanks for taking a look.

1 comment:

  1. Now a firmware update has also been added, and this
    version is identified as i - OS 4. While there may be much
    less expensive headphones than Audio-Technica
    headphones, anyone opting for Audio-Technica is aware of that
    they opting for higher value when it comes to durability, sound quality and each of the other variables which matter in a headphones set.
    Using the factors above, you will be able to get the best noise cancelling headphones which will be friendly not only
    to your ear, but to your pocket also.

    Here is my page audio technica ath-m50