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review 2016-10-02 15:50
Book Review: Explorations: Through the Wormhole
Explorations: Through the Wormhole - Ralph Kern,Richard Fox,Stephen Moss,PP Corcoran,Chris Guillory,Jacob Cooper,Jo Zebedee,PJ Strebor,Charlie Pulsipher,Stephen Palmer,Rosie Oilver,Shellie Horst,Thaddeus White,Josh Hayes

*I was offered a copy of this book from the author or publisher for review.

A book full of wormhole stories. Each is different in the worlds they create and characters that interact. There is a story here for everyone.

After each story is a quick interview with the author. One question is on where they got the spark of an idea for the story. Nice to meet the authors this way in the book. Especially if they are new to you.

The Challenge by Ralph Kern
Captain Elaine Harmon-Sykes flies the Olympus through the newly appeared wormhole, the first to investigate. Working to learn more of the worlds and the wormhole from the other side, the wormhole starts to fade. Will they make it out in time?

This story feels relatable to what we have in the way of technology now, not like Star Trek or super advanced technologies. Which makes it easy to understand and visualize things.

The story was good. I liked that we also got to see 400 years later. This future vision gave the story the feel of conclusion.


Through Glassy Eyes by P.P. Corcoran
Professor Chris Kane is working back on Earth, after the wormhole closed. He's made a great discovery that could rocket human and machine interface into existence. Wetware.

This story gives us a glimpse of over two years of meetings with Chris on his creation and launch of Wetware. And there is a complication in the end.

This was a good story but not what I expected in this book, especially with the title. I had thought all stories would be about space and adventures on the other side of the wormhole. This one was not about going through a wormhole. It's only connection was to the first story, and the wormhole closing on the Earth side, then it dove into a story on human technology that's the next evolution in human and machine interfacing.

Here, Then, Forever by Chris Guillory
Aliza volunteered for this mission. It's a one way mission, to fire the item into Khonsu, the wormhole, to keep it stable and from closing.

I really liked this one. The beginning caught my attention, though the transition to memory felt unclear until after I read it. Where Aliza ends up feels like a science fiction fantasy story. And was something I totally enjoyed!

In a wide rounded way it felt as a reminder of Alice in Wonderland.


AI Deniers by Rosie Oliver
Melrika headed out into space to fix the droid, but upon touching it found herself in the future and a different part of space. Through an unknown wormhole she had gone.

When Melrika is found and brought back to the world she learns she's rich, and many want her money. People will work for her or kidnap her for it. But the wildest thing is the way of the world now. She recovers in the hospital then sent to a recovery center to gradually bring her into the world of technology and living now. Things have drastically changed since her time. The recovery center had me thinking of a rotating stage of eras she would move through to gradually get use to the technology as it expands. Though some people never move past certain years.

While in the hospital and at her recovery center she sees snipits of the news, which we get to read, on the Al Denier.

There is a reason she has so much money, and why someone attempts to kidnap her. That we learn in the end.

I felt like there was a lot to this story and world and this short format was too compact with information. To much in one place.


Flawed Perspective by PJ Strebor
His ship comes out of the wormhole 64,000 light years away. They expected to only be 20,000 light years from Earth when entered the wormhole. The mission, find a planet suitable to sustain human habitation.

Oh how easily someone's views and ideas start to sway from the path with events and options before them. I really liked this take on this story. Captain Stonehaven is on a peace mission, but becomes the policing of peace in space when he hears of a bullying race. But could he become the bully with his reactions?

I liked this stories format. We have movement and reason to the characters, and a dilemma to get through. The type of technology here reminds me of the Star Trek feel, which I do enjoy.


The Lost Colony by Josh Hayes
Unscheduled use of wormholes carry a hefty fine with the STA, if you are caught. Captain Hale plans to not get caught. He has a passenger who's paid him to jump. Captain Hale's ship is pulled further than expected, to discover the key to the wormholes.

Off the bat I enjoyed Ears and Captain Hale's chatting, more banter. Even Kenzie and Lincoln too! There was great chemistry with the characters on this ship. The technology and connection between tech in body and the ship and how it works is a cool addition that makes this story and plot.

I was left wondering, what if Earth was the colony... Well done.


The Aeon Incident by Richard Fox
Lyon and his crew are sent through the wormhole to inspect the observation shuttle that was watching over Aeon, and now are all dead. What happened from a race that's not far into technology yet can get to a shuttle?

This is sort of like a little mystery and action story. Lyon finds the doctor from the station is alive and held captive. He's determined to get the doctor back, and find out what happened here.

I liked the story. Lyon acts differently than expected in a crucial moment, but it seems to work!


The Doors of the Temple by Jo Zebedee
The war has left Earth battered and destroyed. A new wormhole opens. But it's different, one way in, two ways out. Coulter volunteered for this mission.

This story has a mythical feel to the reasoning for going through the wormhole. What they find on the other side explains, as does the passenger from Trinity College in Dublin. To save those left on Earth.

This felt like a fast read. There is a reason to the wormhole and something more to the world than some expected.


Dead Weight by Thaddeus White
Guan will not surrender his ship. Even though they are damaged and limping along, he finds a way to make it to the wormhole and escape. But when he comes out on the other side, the ship is in need of desperate repairs. They have to stop to fix it, and may not have enough supplies for all aboard.

We start in with action. The crew interact under stress and personalities shine. I like the daring and determined action, but in being this there are deadly consequences too. It's a story that kept me reading.

It seems there could be someone on the ship killing people, so they can survive longer...


Webbed Prisms by Charlie Pulsipher
T'en has powers he shouldn't with being of a slave stature. But he sees the ripples of the Nexus from his world, and watches it nightly.

After 19 years of applications at Omniscient, AJ's dream of working with wormholes comes true. His synthetic arm making the job a bit easier as he's already wired to the interface of Omniscient's technology. Kendra works with AJ and create a strong bond together.

This is a bit different in how AJ is able to travel into space. It's interesting. And he has a bit of a different way in which he works "with" the wormhole, like going through it.

This is a blend of computer science fiction tech and wormholes.

We get this story from two sides of the wormhole, AJ and T'en. We see where AJ and Kendra are coming from and where they are going.


Anathema by Jacob Cooper
A supply run through the wormhole. Through the wormhole, to the station, then home. However when they come through there is debris everywhere and hitting their ship.

This story has many elements to it. We have haulers coming through behind Everson's ship that need protected from the floating debris. Then we get a signal that they need to investigate. Possible survivors? But we also have some elements that feel supernatural in a sense, though it's done by technology. One example is the elemental, he's of science fiction creation but has a paranormal feel to him. Even the Captains "knowing".

The characters all feel like a crew. They have their connections and dislikes in each other but keep working. It all works together to create the environment.

This story works the story and characters to the end. I enjoyed it.


When the Skies Open by Shellie Horst
I ended up giving up on this one. There are hints to the world and characters, but I found it harder to keep it all in line and pieced together. Others might like this, but the style didn't work for me.


A Second Infection by Stephen Palmer
I think my interpretation of this story was wrong. I just couldn't visualize what Seneschal Smith went through. I passed onto the next story.


Personal Growth by Stephen Moss
The wormhole was thought to be normal. The crew was thought by citizens to never return, like others in different wormholes. This one turns out special, it grows in size as they near it, but now they can't turn around. They will find the works of the wormholes on the other side.

This is the longest story in the book.

This is different. I like it but sometimes I struggled understanding the world or way of things to adapt to space needs. Once we get through the wormhole though, things iron out and I understood clearly what's happening.

I enjoyed the ending of this one. Neat. It might be a one way trip, but seems worth it.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2013-09-09 21:36

This could have been a truly impressive book. I have a deep, abiding interest in intellectual history, and the subjects set forth in the title provide a fertile field of interdisciplinary study. The ideas themselves are interesting, if only Kern could have synthesized them in a new way or said something about them that hadn’t been said before, or more intelligently – but he simply doesn’t. In fact, the book is a little list-y, and what he chooses to write about becomes fairly predictable. 

 

To begin with, Kern presents a clumsy methodology in his forward, in which he tries to explain what originally piqued his interest in the topic, and how he has organized the book. He states that he got his organizing principle and some of his themes from the realm of philosophical phenomenology (that is, the philosophy of perception). He breaks up the chapters thus: 1) The Nature of Time, 2) The Past, 3) The Present, 4) The Future, 5) Speed, 6) The Nature of Space, 7) Form, 8) Distance, 9) Direction, 10) Temporality of the July Crisis, and 11) The Cubist War. The only problem is that the topics discussed in the book make these categories much less useful or intelligible than you would otherwise think. He never discusses why “Temporality of the July Crisis” (the events directly following the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in July, 1914) couldn’t go into chapter two, three, or four, or why “The Cubist War,” which mostly discusses changing perspectives of time in Cubism, couldn’t be presented in chapter six. 

 

Kern’s interdisciplinarity is impressive, though, but this is countered by his unfortunate inability to rally the history into anything cohesive or compelling. He draws from the visual arts, philosophy, psychology, music, literature, the natural sciences, geographical and international relations theory, cinematography, communications and communications theory, and diplomacy, but leaves the threads all dangling at the end of the text. 

 

The book does have its moments. The chapter on distance discusses how changing perceptions of this quantity shaped the bourgeoning field of geographic theory and international relations. The chapter on the outbreak of the First World War looks at how time greatly contracted after the invention of the telephone and radio, and how this affected diplomacy (or attempts at it) leading up to the declaration of war. Both of these are topics which you rarely see dealt with in detail in intellectual history of this type, so I especially appreciated these parts.

 

If you’re familiar with the generation of cultural and intellectual history leading up to the end of the WWI, this book isn’t the kind of revisionist history that would enable you to re-conceptualize the way you think about these ideas. You get all the standard questions: Is time continuous or atomized? How do Proust and Joyce create a sense of private time (as opposed to a public time) in their novels? How did inventions like the telephone and bicycle change the public’s view of time and speed? These are fascinating questions, but ultimately nothing new to someone who is moderately familiar with the better books in the genre.

 

Readers looking for a quick-and-dirty intellectual and cultural history of the time could certainly do worse than Kern’s book, however they could also do better. Some of the better attempts that I’ve read recently are George L. Mosse’s absolutely stunning “Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars,” Modris Eksteins’ dependable but conservative “Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age,” and William M. Johnston’s hay-as-hay but necessary “An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938,” all of which I have reviewed on this site. None of share Kern’s methodology or cover the same territory, but parts of them discuss some of the material much better than Kern does.

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