Sunday, September 16, 2012

Science/Speculative Fiction Review #12

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.

All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein -short story-

  Writing 5+                      Creativity 5+                       Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

A very short story concerning time travel and the webs of space-time that intertwine indefinitely. It took me a few careful read throughs to truly understand and grasp the plot. Here's a hint- there is only one character. Genius.

Read it here.

"Then I glanced at the ring on my finger.

The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from - but where did all you zombies come from?

I felt a headache coming on, but a headache powder is one thing I do not take. I did once - and you all went away."

The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch -short story-

Writing 4.5                      Creativity 4.5                       Intrigue 5  

Overall 4

A story that puts the reader into the head of a woman biologically altered to have an insatiable need to kill and destroy anything and everything, even herself. Is there any way she can return to normality, or will she be a prisoner within herself forever?

Read it here.

"No shielding, no vehicles, no nothing. Just us, dosed, altered, ready to go.

I wanted to rip something’s head off, and I did, the fury burning in me like lust. The weapons became tools—I wanted up close and I got it, fingers in eyes, fists around tentacles, poking, pulling, yanking—

They bled brown, like soda. Like coffee. Like weak tea.

And they screamed—or at least I think they did.

Or maybe that was just me."

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke -novel- 

Writing 5                      Creativity 5                      Intrigue 5  

Overall 5

One of the most influential stories in the genre. A gigantic cylindrical object appears in our solar system and passes Earth in its trajectory. Where did it come from?  What is it?  Who made it?  Where is it going? All the inhabited planets and moons of the solar system collectively decide to send an expedition team to search the mysterious craft. What they find becomes stranger and stranger with every turn of the page. A brilliant story that pushes the boundaries of the reader's visualization. 

"The mass of Rama was at least ten trillion tons; to any spaceman, that was not only awe-inspiring but also a terrifying thought. No wonder that he sometimes felt a sense of insignificance, or even depression, as that cylinder of sculptured, ageless metal filled more and more of the sky."  

A Random World of Delta Capricorni Aa, Also Called Scheddi - by John C. Wright
-flash story-

   Writing 4                     Creativity 4                      Intrigue 4  

Overall 4

A volunteer alien abductee is brought to a strange world where nothing seems to make sense. There is a reason though. There must be a reason for everything! I really enjoyed the perspective on higher intelligence this story provided. The description was fantastic as well.

Read it here.

"The Hierarch I called “Lollipop Guild” hovered naked next to me, his gleaming gray skull at armpit height. He raised a slender, shining arm and pointed, looking at me with eyes too large for his face, and deeper than outerspace. In his eyes, I saw the message:This is why.

“Why what?” I asked, teeth chattering. I had not mastered their art of speaking without speech.

In his eyes I saw a memory. The first thing I had said to them when the crystal ship had lowered itself out of the October dawn, ringing like hollow chimes, and the inhuman, solemn faces peered at me like fishermen examining a fish beneath their keel had been a question. “Why do you come to Earth?”"

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester -novel-

  Writing 5+                     Creativity 5+                      Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

Gully Foyle, a simpleton shipwrecked in space and kept alive through extreme and hapless self preservation for six months, is abandoned by a passing space craft. The anger he feels spurs him to seek obsessive revenge on the commander of the space craft through any means necessary. This drive leads him on a filthy, demeaning, struggle of a journey. The characters in the story are so well fleshed, especially the main character. The main character is a hero, a villain, a murder, a savage, and a saint. It is no wonder this story has been a sci fi/speculative favorite for the last fifty years for readers all around the world.
"He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead. He fought for survival with the passion of a beast in a trap. He was delirious and rotting, but occasionally his primitive mind emerged from the burning nightmare of survival into something resembling sanity. Then he lifted his mute face to Eternity and muttered: "What's a matter, me? Help, you goddamn gods! Help, is all.""

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