Sunday, August 19, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #10

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
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #7 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #8 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #9 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.

For a Breath I Tarry by Roger Zelazny -shot story-

   Writing 5                       Creativity 5                       Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

Wow!  Do yourself a favor and read this. An intriguing and emotional ride. After human beings become extinct due to their own doings, a hyper intelligent robot makes a wager with another robot that he can become a real human being.

Read it here.

""Something is still lacking," said Frost, settling to the ground. 
"I am now capable of gathering data in a manner analogous to Man's afferent impulses. The variety of input is therefore equivalent, but the results are not the same." 
"The senses do not make a Man," said Mordel. "There have been many creatures possessing His sensory equivalents, but they were noit Men." 
"I know that," said Frost. "On the day of our bargain you said that you could conduct me among the wonders of Man which still remain, hidden. Man was not stimulated only by Nature, but by His own artistic elaborations as well - perhaps even more so. Therefore, I call upon you now to conduct me among the wonders of Man which still remain, hidden." 
"Very well," said Mordel. "Far from here, high in the Andes mountains, lies the last retreat of Man, almost perfectly preserved.""

Last Contact by Stephen Baxter -short story-

Writing 5+                       Creativity 4.5                       Intrigue 5  

Overall 5+

Stephen Baxter has slowly but surely crept into my being and has found a permanent niche. So far, this is the only story in my list of reviews that brought me to tears. A story about the systematic nullification of everything, and what it would be like to live through it.  This story is packed with such intense yet subtle emotion and is executed so cleverly and well timed. This one is truly a masterpiece.

Read it here.

""Maureen said, “The sun went, right on cue.”
“Oh, it’s all working out, bang on time.”

Somewhere there was shouting, whooping, a tinkle of broken glass.

“Someone’s having fun,” Maureen said.

“It’s a bit like an eclipse,” Caitlin said. “Like in Cornwall, do you remember? The sky was cloudy, and we couldn’t see a bit of the eclipse. But at that moment when the sky went dark, everybody got excited. Something primeval, I suppose.”

Life-Line by Robert Heinlien -short story- 

   Writing 5                       Creativity 4                       Intrigue 4.5 

Overall 4.5

Short story about a scientist who creates a device that can tell you exactly how long you will live. What can go wrong?

Read it here.

""Once before I offered such proof to this same body of self-styled experts, and they rejected it. I renew my offer; let me measure the life length of the members of the Academy of Science. Let them appoint a committee to judge the results. I will seal my findings in two sets of envelopes; on the outside of each envelope in one set will appear the name of a member; on the inside, the date of his death. In the other envelopes I will place names; on the outside I will place dates. Let the committee place the envelopes in a vault, then meet from time to time to open the appropriate envelopes. In such a large body of men some deaths may be expected, if Amalgamated actuaries can be trusted, every week or two. In such a fashion they will accumulate data very rapidly to prove that Pinero is a liar, or no.""

Test Rocket by Jack Douglas -short story-

   Writing 4                       Creativity 4                       Intrigue 4.5 

Overall 4.5

Humans launch a rocket into space with mice on board as an experiment on the effects of life. One day the rocket is launched back, but the animal that waits inside is not what anyone expects. An overall great piece.

Read it here.

"“They are our markings?” Captain Baird asked. It was not the question. Captain Baird knew the markings of the Rocket Testing Station as well as the doctor did.

“Yes,” the doctor said, “they are our markings. Identical. But not our paint.”

Captain Baird turned back to the window. Six months ago it had happened. Ten minutes after launching, the giant test rocket had been only a speck on the observation screen. Captain Baird had turned away in disgust.

“A mouse!” the captain had said, “unfortunate a mouse can’t observe, build, report. My men are getting restless, Johannsen.”"

The Dead Past by Isaac Asimov -short story-

    Writing 5                       Creativity 4                       Intrigue 4.5 

Overall 4

A historian wants to get his hands on a fabled device hidden by the government called a chronoscope. This device allows the user to observe the past. Could it be that there's a reason the public is lied to about its existence?

Read it here.

"“I don’t know why. I want you to find out. I’d do it myself if I knew enough. I came to you
because you’re a young fellow with a brand-new education. Have your intellectual arteries hardened
already? Is there no curiosity in you? Don’t you want to know? Don’t you want answers?”"

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