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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-25 21:42
Messing Up the Eco-System
Legacy of Heorot - 'Larry Niven', 'Jerry Pournelle', 'Steven Barnes'

Sometimes I wonder whether the more authors a book has the worse it becomes. Actually, come to think of it, I struggle to actually think of any work of literature that has more than one author – it seems as if for a book to enter into the annals of greatness the book has to be written by a single author. To me this isn't actually all that surprising because artists tend to work alone. In fact, when one considers music the same seems to apply, considering Bohemian Rhapsody was allegedly written by a single person (though I was always under the assumption that Queen, a four piece band, actually wrote the song, but then again people seem to think that Freddy Mercury actually wrote the song, Queen just performed it).

 

Anyway, as you can probably tell, this book was written by three people, which makes me wonder how a book is actually written by three people – do they write a chapter a piece, or do they just write specific characters? In either case how is it that they actually put the book together – do they sit down and work it out around some really bad cups of coffee, or do they argue about it around some really bad glasses of wine, and then go away, write their own sections and let the editors work it out. Or is it that they simply draft the outline of the book and then let poor Larry Niven sit down and put it all together. Well, however they do it the final product really didn't turn out all that well.

 

So, the story is set on a planet orbiting Tau Ceti. The characters had just come out of a hundred year long sleep and are now setting up for a new world on what appears to be a paradise. Unfortunately there was a problem with the hibernation pods and apparently everybody has emerged from deep sleep somewhat stupider. Mind you, if we are talking about the best and the brightest, maybe it is simply the fact that the one thing that they lack is common sense – this seems to always be the case when you put a bunch of academics together, the one thing that they all seem to lack is common sense. Anyway, they land on this world and in their mind it is a paradise, and after a number of surveys they believe that there isn't actually anything hostile on this world, that is until a nasty monster comes along and starts ripping everything apart. However, they don't actually believe that it was a monster, but some guy who is sulking over the fact that nobody believes that there is anything hostile on the island – that doesn't sound as if the hibernation pods had busted, that just sounds like your typical bunch of human beings who want to live with their heads in the sand – climate change anybody?

 

Anyway, they eventually realise that these creatures exist after one of them almost completely destroys the camp, so they decide to go out and hunt the rest of them down and kill them. Well, that turns out to be a particularly smart idea because it also turns out that these creatures have a natural way of keeping their population down – they eat their young. In fact, it turns out that they are like frogs – as babies they start off as fish, but when they mature they turn into these monsters – so, the mature creatures basically eat the babies, which keeps the population down. However, now that they have basically gone out and killed all the mature ones there is nothing keeping the population down, so they pretty quickly discover that the whole island is swarming with monsters. Mind you, the other catch was that they only eat their young if there is nothing else to eat, so when the colonists arrive with all their live stock, all of a sudden they have something else to eat.

 

As I mentioned, this book was rather dull and boring, and in fact is the first part of a trilogy. Sure, it did do well to explore how humans have this nasty habit of completely ruining an eco-system with their introduced species. For instance, the landed gentry introduced foxes into Australia simply so they might have something to hunt, and not surprisingly they have gone and run havoc across the environment. Mind you, the farmers then get criticised by the likes of PETA when they try to cull the foxes due to them causing issues with their live stock. Then again, I do see where they're coming from because technically humans are an introduced species, and a pest, but we don't go around culling ourselves.

 

Mind you, the other interesting thing is that we all know that the colony is going to survive, but then again this novel does play out like a movie, and unless the creators are really clever, we never actually have the protagonists lose. Okay, they have to adjust the way the colony works, namely that every man gets to have two wives (namely because half of the male population was wiped out when they went to war against the monsters – they called them Grendels after the monster from Beowulf), however the colony does manage to survive. The other interesting thing is that the planet is ten light years from Earth, and they took a hundred years to get there from Earth, and they are talking about advertising for new colonists. Well, they didn't think that through all that much because first of all it is a twenty year round trip for any communication, and even if another colony ship was sent out, it would take a hundred years for them to arrive, and that doesn't take into account humans developing new technology. Mind you, as yet I don't know of any book where the colonists arrive at a planet after travelling for a hundred years only to discover that while they were asleep humanity has invented the FTL drive and the planet has already been colonised.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1878686760
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review 2017-01-13 12:45
Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem
Ubo - Steve Rasnic Tem

 

Ubo is difficult to talk about without sounding insane. There are so many thought provoking questions here, all locked up with roaches holding the keys. I know, I know...insane.

 

I have to touch on the basic outline here to make any sense at all of this review. Daniel goes from sitting in an airport contemplating walking away from it all, (including his wife and their sickly son), to living out scenarios of the most violent events in the history of the world, with only a vague, surreal, memory of wings and a moon separating the two.

 

When I say living out violent scenarios, I mean from inside the very heads of those doling out said violence. Jack the Ripper. Jim Jones. Charles Whitman. Here you are, witnessing these crimes as if it were you perpetrating them, while at the same time finding your conscience and your stomach recoiling. What possible good could come out of that? If there IS something good, can it be discovered and/or implemented before humanity destroys itself? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I requested this ARC from NetGalley/Solaris because I have been a huge fan of Mr. Tem's short stories over the years. I remember his name always showing up in horror anthologies and knew I could depend on him to give me a good thrill. This book, however, is more of a science fiction novel with horrific elements-but all of his intense, strong writing? It's still here.

 

There's so much more I want to say, but...spoilers. Many things are going on in the background that beg for your attention, important things. Commentary about humanity really, where it is going and where it has been. Much of it is unpleasant. Somehow though, I found hope at the end. Is that because I couldn't face the stark reality, (not that far off from our current reality, by the way), or because I truly do think there's hope? I'm not sure. This is one of those times where I wish the author was my friend and I could just call him up and ask him. Since that's not happening, I'll settle for hearing what YOU think.

 

Highly recommended for those readers that enjoy turning over the reigns to a trusted author and believing that they will bring it all home. Go ahead and discover if there's even any home left. Read Ubo.

 

Ubo is available February 9th. You can pre-order your copy here: Ubo

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Solaris for the e-Arc of Ubo in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2016-07-08 17:07
The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes

This is a beautifully well-written book that will open your eyes to the beauty and the need to protect the trees that are around you from the tree-tops down to their roots. This book will also help in understanding those that are on the spectrum and how they see those around them.

Fourteen-year-old March Wong knows everything there is to know about trees. They are his passion and his obsession, even after his recent falls—and despite the state’s threat to take him away from his mother if she can’t keep him from getting hurt. But the young autistic boy cannot resist the captivating pull of the Pacific Northwest’s lush forests.

One day, March is devastated to learn that the Eagle Tree—a monolithic Ponderosa Pine near his home in Olympia—is slated to be cut down by developers. Now, he will do anything in his power to save this beloved tree, including enlisting unlikely support from relatives, classmates, and even his bitter neighbor. In taking a stand, March will come face-to-face with some frightening possibilities: Even if he manages to save the Eagle Tree, is he risking himself and his mother to do it?

I loved this book! I highly recommend this book to tree huggers, people interested in climate change, nature lovers, hikers, or anyone that has ever climbed a tree even if you were to scared to climb down.

"I believe in trees. I can touch them. And they have true names."

"Trees do not require you to make certain sounds to be understood. They are simply present and ready for you to climb at any time. Trees are easier."

"Sometimes I think I would like to be a tree. Sometimes I think I am a tree, just located temporarily in a moving body, like one of the Ents from the Lord of the Rings"

"You cannot own all of a tree," I said.

"Sometimes I wish it was not so hard for me to make myself understood. I wish I could plug an electric cord from my brain into someone else's ears so that they could hear how I think and I could understand how they think."

"Human beings are on the cusp of destroying all of God's great natural world, which was originally gifted, according to the scriptures, to the human race, who would function as stewards of this great Earth. We have not been every good stewards in the last century."

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photo 2016-07-04 13:53
eagle tree quote

Book Quote: from The Eagle Tree, by Ned Hayes

 

"My fingers are callused from gripping tree limbs, and my nails are short and grubby with bark. They are like the talons of a bird that lives only in trees."

 

-- The Eagle Tree

Source: theeagletree.com
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photo 2016-05-26 13:46
the eagle tree

Book Quote: from The Eagle Tree, by Ned Hayes

 

"The tree's presence is overwhelming. I want to spread my arms and allow the sound that is building in my chest to come out of my mouth in one unending scream of joy."

 

-- The Eagle Tree

Source: theeagletree.com
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