Saturday, June 30, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #6

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
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #4 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #5 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.

(Just as a note, the stories in these reviews range in publication date from earlier than the 1920's to the present)

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein -novel-

                        Writing 5+                Creativity 5                 Intrigue 5+

Overall 5+

Considered one of the most important sci fi novels ever written, this remarkable story chronicles a revolution on the moon led by descendents of prisoners from Earth and a fully sentient computer named Mike. Mike has many aliases and loves to play pranks like giving the entire planetary wealth of Earth to a janitor on the moon as a bonus in his paycheck. Another classic, another must read! I was hooked from the first word.                  

"I spent time then soothing Mike down trying to make him happy, having figured out what troubled him — thing that makes puppies cry and causes people to suicide: loneliness. I don't know how a long a year is to a machine that thinks a million times faster than I do. But must be too long."

"A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as "state" and "society" and "government" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame. . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world. . . aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure."

"I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."

Source Decay by Charlie Jane Andrews -short story-

                        Writing 4.5                Creativity 5                 Intrigue 4.5

Overall 4.5

A wacky, bizarre tale spanning thousands of years with a single focal point, the 21st century love triangle between a man and two women. This love triangle is filmed and put on a reality television show identical to the show 'cheaters.' It eventually becomes an historical epic, causing varying wars and divisions among every sentient being. A hilarious story and a perfect, albeit insane example of the butterfly effect. To sum up this story in two words, "Mind Fuck." I was giggling like a mad man by the end.  Check it out! 

"The story of Tara and Jeremy became a super-popular metapoem (a poem with elements of opera, video games, neuro-Bollywood, and vibro-blog included) called "Playing Games." In this version, Tara was an Ortho, who refused to get all the filters and skin-upgrades required to live on Earth. She preferred to keep her pure, traditional, human shape; appendage-wise, Tara had only the three hands, two legs, and one prehensile tail. Roberta, meanwhile, was fully upgraded, with seven modular limb-sockets, the full Earth-survival suite, and a few extra sensory organs—including the one which let you smell higgs bosons, which many people believed made you a nymphomaniac."

Kiss me, Synch me, Drop by Suzanne Church
- short story-

                         Writing 4                Creativity 4                 Intrigue 4.5

Overall 4

Set in a world where drugs have been replaced by totally encompassing, orgasmically sensed music. People spend their time at the clubs seeking the synchronously felt overwhelming climax of the musical drop. There's a new track on the streets, but the main character is running out of time.

""Yeaaaah!" She shouted and grabbed my hand, squeezing it. Harder. Her eyes pressed shut, her mouth wide open, she leaned her head way back.

The drum beats surged, and then, for a fraction of a second they paused. Everyone in the club inhaled, as though this might be the last lungful of air left in the world and then...


But drop doesn't say it all. Not even close. Because when it happens, it's like the most epic orgasm of all time and pinching the world's biggest crap-log at the same moment.

Rain opened her eyes and pressed her hand against the side of my cheek. Lunging with remarkable speed for a woman who over-voweled, she kissed me. Her tongue pressed against my lips."

Nightfall by Isaac Assimov Writing -short story and novel (2 versions)-

                        Writing 5+                Creativity 5                 Intrigue 5

Overall 5

Whenever you see a listing of the best sci fi stories ever written, this is the one that usually takes the number one spot. From the father of science fiction (H.G. Wells is the grandfather) comes a story that haunts the characters of the alien world, and the reader as well. On a planet orbiting multiple the world is always at least somewhat illuminated. Every 2049 years, there is a total eclipse, and the inhabitants experience a temporary darkness, the nightfall. A time for celebration, or madness? A must read!

"There was one simultaneous gasp as every eye followed the pointing finger and, for one breathless moment, stared frozenly.
Beta was chipped on one side!
The tiny bit of encroaching blackness was perhaps the width of a fingernail, but to the staring watchers it magnified itself into the crack of doom.
Only for a moment they watched, and after that there was a shrieking confusion that was even shorter of duration and which gave way to an orderly scurry of activity -- each man at his prescribed job. At the crucial moment there was no time for emotion. The men were merely scientists with work to do. Even Aton had melted away"

A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel by Yoon Ha Lee    -short story-

                          Writing 4                Creativity 5                 Intrigue 4

Overall 4.5

This story is just downright fun. It chronicles the different ways and traditions that various beings use to traverse across the galaxy. The variations in space travel are astonishing and sometimes hilarious.  A very entertaining read.

"Among the universe’s civilizations, some conceive of the journey between stars as the sailing of bright ships, and others as tunneling through the crevices of night. Some look upon their far-voyaging as a migratory imperative, and name their vessels after birds or butterflies.

To most of their near neighbors, they are known as the dancers. It is not the case that their societies are more interested in dance than the norm. True, they have their dances of metal harvest, and dances of dream descending, and dances of efflorescent death. They have their high rituals and their low chants, their festivals where water-of-suffusement flows freely for all who would drink, where bells with spangled clappers toll the hours by antique calendars. But then, these customs differ from their neighbors’ in detail rather than in essential nature.

Rather, their historians like to tell the story of how, not so long ago, they went to war with aliens from a distant cluster. No one can agree on the nature of the offense that precipitated the whole affair, and it seems likely that it was a mundane squabble over excavation rights at a particular rumor pit."

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