Sunday, June 10, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #4

To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #1 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #2 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #3 click here

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.

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.

-And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
-short story-

 Writing 5                Creativity 4.5                  Intrigue 5

Overall 5

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit biased because RAH is one of, if not my very favorite author of all time. Doesn't change the fact that this is an amazingly well written story. A man semi-inadvertently builds a house that spans 4 spatial dimensions. Entering the house is easy, leaving is the interesting part. A classic!

Read it here.

"Teal met them in the lounge. "I could have told you that wouldn't work," he announced. "Now here's what we have to do: As I see it, in a four-dimensional figure a three-dimensional man has two choices every time he crosses a line of juncture, like a wall or a threshold. Ordinarily he will make a ninety-degree turn through the fourth dimension, only he doesn't feel it with his three dimensions. Look." He stepped through the very window that he had fallen out of a moment before. Stepped through and arrived in the dining room, where he stood, still talking."

The Day They Came by Kali Wallace -short story-

Writing 4.5     
           Creativity 4                  Intrigue 5 

Overall 5

A story written in the second person perspective "you."  Things change dramatically for a small community, and the world. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that this one is really eerie and leaves you with a palpable feeling of isolation and terror

"There is still electricity running to your house, but there are fewer and fewer lights each night when you look out the window before bed. If it weren’t for the one morning a week you walk to the high school to await the distribution of rations, you might suspect you are the last person on Earth.

You eat your rations methodically and think of Edward G. Robinson and the miracle of strawberries, of the chicken plant now silent and empty, of the shorter and shorter lines at the high school every week, of Mrs. Meester’s children and the snakelike creatures in the changing creek.

The man on the television says, “It is not safe to venture outside your defined zone.” Perhaps he is a human puppet coerced into speaking for them. Perhaps he is only wearing a human shape."

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke -novel-

   Writing 5     
              Creativity 5+                  Intrigue 5+

Overall 5+

This is it, my ALL TIME FAVORITE sci fi story! This is the book that truly launched me on my never ending journey of science fiction. It is short, sweet, and elegantly portrayed. To top it off, it is extremely short.  You can easily finish the entire book in half a day.  
One day, monstrously large alien spacecrafts appear in the sky over most major cities around the globe and... do nothing at all. Not for quite a long time at least. What do they want? What do they mean? Why are they here and who are they? These questions along with questions you never even realized you had will be answered within the first few chapters, and that is only the beginning of an intensely profound story. You are not a speculative sci fi fan until you read this book.

"The stars are not for man."

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein -novel-

 Writing 5+     
      Creativity 5            Intrigue 5+

Overall 5+

Arguably the most pivotal story ever told in the sci fi genre. It even created a very powerful, necessary new word that we don't have an equivalent of in our language; 'grok.'  This novel tells the story of Michael Valentine.  His parent's were from Earth, but due to an accident, he was born and raised on Mars by Martians.  The book is split up into parts that represent the normal Martian life cycle.  Michael might not have been ready for what he would find when he comes to Earth, but more importantly, is Earth prepared for Michael?  Read this book.  You don't even need to be a sci fi fan to get into this one.  A literary masterpiece.

“The Universe was a silly place at best...but the least likely explanation for it was the no-explanation of random chance, the conceit that abstract somethings 'just happened' to be atoms that 'just happened' to get together in ways which 'just happened' to look like consistent laws and some configurations 'just happened' to possess self-awareness and that two 'just happened' to be the Man from Mars and a bald-headed old coot with Jubal inside.”

Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Mike Resnick -short story-

 Writing 4.5            Creativity 3.5              Intrigue 5

Overall 4

What if your food could talk to you? Humanity has increased at an exponential rate, and a large portion of people are either nutritionally deficient or starving to death. A farmer genetically engineers a type of animal that, due to its biological and genetic characteristics, can feed the entire planet. There is one drawback though. 
 Due to the problems the world is facing right now with global food industries and agricultural dilemmas, this is not only interesting, but also relevant.

"He turned to the barn and nodded to a man who stood by the door. The man pushed a button, and the door slid back.

The first big surprise was the total silence that greeted us from within the barn. Then, as they heard us approaching–we weren’t speaking, but coins jingle and feet scuff the ground–a voice, then a hundred, then a thousand, began calling out:

"Feed me!

No comments:

Post a Comment