Sunday, October 14, 2012

Science/Speculaitve Fiction review #14

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.

The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien -novels- 

   Writing 5+                      Creativity 5+                       Intrigue 5+  

Overall 5+

Go read the books that have had a bigger impact on the mind of humanity than most literature throughout all of history. Just think, we know more about the creation, history, and laws of the Lord of the Rings universe than we do any other, including our own. Written initially as a bedtime story, these books speak for themselves - the greatest epic ever told, ever!

“It's like in the Great Stories, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too young to understand why. But I think I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something-that there's some good in the world, and it's worth fighting for!” 

The Gravity Mine by Stephen Baxter -short story-

Writing 5                       Creativity 5                      Intrigue 5  

Overall 5

A very short story spanning an amount of time that is greater than maximum entropy itself. Due to the scale and profundity of this story, it is instantly one of my favorites. An individual part of a universal collective consciousness trillions of years in the future wakes up to its individuality within an ancient black hole.  This individual continues to awaken and fall back into the slumber and ease of the collective whole as time progresses on a scale beyond current conceptualization.  Leave it to Baxter.  While the terms Baxter uses may be a bit out of the realm of the normal reader's vocabulary, those of you that are really into contemporary physics and cosmology will love this one. Speculative and awesome!

Read it here.

"They are the remnants of stars," he said.

He told her about the Afterglow: that brief, brilliant period after the Big Bang, when matter gathered briefly in clumps and burned by fusion light. "It was a bonfire, over almost as soon as it began. The universe was very young. It has swollen some ten thousand trillion times in size since then ... Nevertheless, it was in that gaudy era that humans arose. Us, Anlic."

Am I Still There? by James R. Hall  -short story-

Writing 4.5                       Creativity 3                      Intrigue 4.5  

Overall 3.5

This is the story of a man who has systematically had every body part replaced. Now, after centuries alive, it is time to replace his brain. The whole idea of this story is represented as a prologue - "Which must in essence, of course, simply be the question 'what do I mean by I?'"

Read it here.

"Mr. Lee, this isn't going to be a matter of repair. We have found it necessary to replace the entirety of what could roughly be called your 'brain', as well as part of the spinal cord."

"My whole brain?" Lee sat, stunned, comprehension slowly filtering into him. He voiced the only coherent thought which materialized. "Why that will mean there won't be anything left of me at all."

Raft by Stephen Baxter -short story-

Writing 4                       Creativity 5+                      Intrigue 4 

Overall 4

An enormous ship is somehow transported into a parallel universe. Gravity is billions of times stronger in this universe, and due to this, planets do not exist as they would implode due to their own mass. Many generations after the ship is transported into the parallel universe the surviving humans build a 'raft' out of the ship that was destroyed due to its mass. They survive in a nebula on the outskirts of a massive black hole. Even humans have a noticeable gravitational field in this universe. Because of the nature of gravity in this universe, the story takes place amid a time of environmental collapse. What will the surviving humans do to escape the fate of a star plummeting directly toward them.

Read it here.

"The structure swung neatly around the star, tipping so that it kept the upper face to the star. People cried out and deck plates groaned. Rees watched two trees smashing together; huge splinters rained down over the deck.

For a moment he was upside down, the distant stars rushing upwards, and there was the Core itself poised above him, cool and red and enormous. But centripetal force and the Raft's gravity field kept him glued to the deck, and then the Raft whipped through the rest of its rotation and righted again, dangling from its trees like a toy."

Scales by Alastair Reynolds -flash story-

Writing 4                       Creativity 5+                      Intrigue 5 

Overall 5+

Nico signs up to fight an invading alien species that has already decimated all human strong holds on Mars and Luna. It turns out the creatures that attacked humanity are just puppets of a far vaster and complex life form that spans n dimensional space. In order to fight the enemy, Nico's physical form is systematically dismantled. A recursive story that leaves you wondering who the enemy really is. Amazing!

Read it here.

"“Forget your armour certification, your weapons rating,” says the new instructor, a human head sticking out of an upright black life-support cylinder. “Now it’s time to get real.”

A wall slides back to reveal a hall of headless corpses, rank on rank of them suspended in green preservative.

“You don’t need bodies where you’re going, you just need brains.” she says. “You can collect your bodies on the way back home, when you’ve completed your tour. We’ll look after them.”"

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
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #10 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #11 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #12 click here
To view Science/Speculative Fiction Review #13 click here

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