Monday, July 9, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #7

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
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #6 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.

Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes by Tom Crosshill           -short story- 

  Writing 5                        Creativity 4.5                         Intrigue 5  

Overall 5

Some of the best writing I have ever read. He has already won many awards, and I have a feeling Tom Crosshill is only at the beginning of his due to be highly successful writing career. Crosshill introduces his readers to a world where people can be uploaded into a personal, virtual world of their choosing just before death to be preserved forever.This story is packed with emotion and leaves the reader stunned and speechless by the end of the ride. A story that begs the age old question, "what is self?" 

Read it here.

"Every day, Mom says goodbye to me for the last time.

I need to go to the office or meet Lisa at the airport or pop out for some milk. I'm lacing my shoes in the hallway when I hear the tap-tap-tap of her heels. I freeze for a moment, then rise to meet her.

Mom stands in the door, elegant in a simple dress. No matter the silvery hair. No matter how her skin, once a smooth dark brown, wrinkles over her bones. You'd never guess she has lived a century. She has no titanium knees, no vat-grown veins, no concession to modernity inside her.

If only her mind were as strong."

They- by Robert Heinlein -short story-

     Writing 5                        Creativity 4                         Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5

A schizophrenic patient in a mental hospital is paranoid that the entire world has been created and continues to exist as an illusion to fool him. Is it possible he's right?

The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov -short story-

      Writing 5                        Creativity 4                         Intrigue 4.5  

Overall 4.5

This is the story of a boy born 40,000 years in the past and brought to the present to be studied. When the studying is over with, what is to be done with this ugly little boy?

Read it here.

"Hoskins said, “We’ve had the fix on one particular moment in time for weeks, breaking it, remaking it after calculating our own movements in time; making certain that we could handle time-flow with sufficient precision. This must work now.”
But his forehead glistened.
Edith Fellowes found herself out of her seat and at the balcony railing, but there was nothing to see.
The man at the microphone said quietly, “Now.”
There was a space of silence sufficient for one breath and then the sound of a terrified little boy’s scream from the dollhouse rooms. Terror! Piercing terror!"

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson -novel-

   Writing 5+                        Creativity 5+                         Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

Neal Stephenson quickly became a big name in the realm of sci fi. His degree of historical research, technical insight, rhetorical wit, and high level of storytelling ability are mixed with a perfect dosage of action, romance, charm and wonder. The virtual world and real world are both at risk of complete destruction and pandemonium. In a completely capitalistic and corporate United States whose land is bought and sold by other nations and companies, including itself, it is up to Hiro Protagonist, a pizza delivery driver and the greatest swordsman in the 'the world' to save everyone. One of the most entertaining and well told/researched stories I have ever read. From start to finish, I completely lost myself in this one. Beyond perfect score in all aspects.

“Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”

“She's a woman, you're a dude. You're not supposed to understand her. That's notwhat she's after.... She doesn't want you to understand her. She knows that'simpossible. She just wants you to understand yourself. Everything else is negotiable.”

“When you are wrestling for possession of a sword, the man with the handle always wins.”

Article of Faith by Mike Resnick -short story-

Writing 4.5                        Creativity 4                         Intrigue 5  

Overall 5

It's weird enough that a robot named Jackson has any desire at all. The fact that he has the sole desire to become a member of the church he cleans is even stranger! A story that examines humanity's humanity. Beautiful and poignant. 

"“I’m sure,” I said. “Somehow, lunch seems pretty trivial after you’ve been thinking about God all morning.”

“God, sir?”

“The Creator of all things,” I explained.

“My creator is Stanley Kalinovsky, sir,” said Jackson. “I was not aware that he created everything in the world, nor that his preferred name was God.”

I couldn’t repress a smile."

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