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review 2019-10-01 16:37
Last Short Story Was a Bust
Randomize - Andy Weir

So this was the shortest of the stories in the "Forward" collection and honestly my least favorite. It was beyond boring and the ending was just a meh moment to me. I wanted something more for a supposed science fiction book. Talking about quantum physics and entanglement didn't do a thing for me.

"Randomize" is at the heart just a boring heist story. We follow a member that plans on stealing from a Las Vegas casino using quantum physics. Yeah, that's a new one on me. It's still boring though. And the last little bit is just a lot of talking about things that made me go huh? Seriously? What is happening? I finally got annoyed though when I realized this was not going to end in a very dull way. I wondered at first if Weir misread what Crouch wanted all of the authors to do when he put forward his premise.

The writing was boring. Unlike with "The Martian" Weir does not make this easy to understand. I am not a stupid person, but nothing that was said even made a little bit of sense. I went back to my "The Martian" review and saw that I did love that book, I also noted that Weir was too technical at times. And boy is he here as well.  


The flow was nonexistent. We go from discussion of heist, heist, and post-heist so fast there's no time to even settle in. There is zero development of characters too which is why I didn't even bring up one of the people we follow. 

The ending felt unrealistic to me. 


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So to wrap up here was how I rated this collection:


Ark by Veronica Roth, 4 stars

Summer Frost by Blake Crouch, 5 stars

Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin, 5 stars

You Have Arrived at Your Destination, by Amor Towles, 4 stars

The Last Conversation, by Paul Remblay, 5 stars

Randomize, by Andy Weir, 2 stars. 

Overall rating 4.5 stars. 

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review 2019-10-01 16:24
The Last Words You Will Hear...
The Last Conversation - Paul Tremblay

Wow. This was a bang up short story in the collection. I loved it. It had a lot of horror elements I thought working for it too. The ending gave my goosebumps.


"The Last Conversation" follows an unnamed person (we never find out if they are male or female which I liked) who wakes up slowly and cannot see. We don't know what has happened, except a person named Doctor Kuhn is the only person that the unnamed person can talk to via an intercom. The unnamed person is run through daily tests and told hints and pieces about their lives, but finds their memory slowly coming back. They want to know though why they can't see Doctor Kuhn or be let out of their room. And when they eventually are, they may wish they never left.


I have to say the unnamed person hit me in the feels. I felt claustrophobic at times in parts of this story. Not being able to see and just having a voice to guide you freaks me out. They are forced to walk on a treadmill, do memory association games, and the only person they can "talk" to is someone named Doctor Kuhn they cannot physically see cause "reasons."


Doctor Kuhn is the only other person you get to interact with in this story which increases the feeling of claustrophobia. 

I thought the writing was very good. I liked how Tremblay takes away any sense of who the unnamed character is and even when Doctor Kuhn is supposedly saying their name you can't read it, it's changed to just this "____". It makes you feel as if you are reading a lab report. Which I assume was done for reasons the ending will make clear later.

The flow was really good too. I wanted to find out more about this world and what went on, but once again you only have Doctor Kuhn's say so on things and if you are like me my "this woman is a liar who should not be trusted" feelers crept up.


The setting to me is definitely dystopian based on what the ending reveals and I liked the horror elements as well. All of this book takes place in a room in a supposed infirmary type place. And then when the setting moves (no spoilers) I felt nothing but apprehension.


The ending was definitely a gut punch and made me want to read more. That to me is the mark of a great short story when you don't want it to end. 


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review 2019-10-01 16:12
Third Act Weighs Down Short Story
You Have Arrived at Your Destination - Amor Towles

Well not too much to say about this one except the third act one of the characters went on about actually weighed down this book a lot. I loved the concept (able to use an algorithm to choose what path an unborn child will possibly lead) but after the character of Sam lives the corporation the book just got messy. 


"You Have Arrived at Your final Destination" follows Sam whose wife Annie has talked him into having a child via a corporation called Vitek which does "genetic nudging." Vitek can supposedly use enough "science" to lead a couple to determine what type of life a child they will have one day, will experience. Sam starts off skeptical, and then dismayed when he sees what type of life his child could have and what does that mean in the end for free will. 

Sam I liked a lot initially. He was rightfully skeptical when he gets to Vitek. When he is told his wife has already selected three projections of their child's life for Sam to view, he wonders how she came to a decision so quickly. When he is shown the three projections  I had to wonder at why Sam reacted the way he did. And we quickly find out about his past and his father and start asking questions of what parts of those experiences made Sam and what parts were pre-determined? The story talks a lot about his wife Annie, but we never get to "see" her or get her thoughts on things. Based on the ending of the book, one wonders if she was trying to get Sam to some realizations cause those three projections she selected say a lot about her. 


I thought the other character in the novel we stay with the most is Sam's "projection" child and we have that character being the driving force for the choice that Sam makes in the end.

The writing I thought was really good. This reminds me a a bit of Gattaca, but on drugs a bit due to how the genetic nudging works with them able to "view" their child's life. The flow though once we get to "act three" didn't really work. Also one of the character's saying everyone's life goes around three acts like a movie just bugged me. 


The setting of this book seems to be in the not to distant future, though with a lot of things that sounded familiar to me. 


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review 2019-09-30 17:37
The Skin You Are In...
Emergency Skin - N.K. Jemisin

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Definitely going to read the other stories in this collection. This was a wonderful way to pass the day in bed on Sunday. Also this weekend in the U.S. we should be seeing a  cool down. There is even snow happening in some parts. And as for me I am going leaf peeping. So this book was the perfect thing to read especially with the discussion of climate change going on.


So "Emergency Skin" follows an unseen narrator talking to someone who is going back to someone placed Tellus. The narrator reads as more robotic than anything as does the person they are conversing with. We quickly realize though that Tellus sounds familiar. We find out quickly, how Tellus inhabitants were left to die when the planet started to die, but now the narrator is forcing person #2 to go off and find something that is needed. Once they do, they will be given an emergency skin. 


I don't know what to call the narrator/consciousness character besides an ass. The character I call Person #2 I was intrigued with and wanted to find out more about. We do get an information dump via a secondary character which almost made me mark this down by a star, but I just let it go. FYI I loathe information dumps via characters.


I have to say that so far this writing was intriguing and I wished that Jemisin had written more. This was the shortest story in the collection so far. I had so many questions. I was interested in reading about the "Founders" who would probably have loved Gilead. I also thought it was funny how the narrator was negative towards anything Tellus. 

The setting of this book was intriguing especially once Person #2 starts to go around Tellus. It's also interesting how the narrator/consciousness was derisive towards the "skin color" of the people of Tellus that were met by Person #2, how they didn't like anyone that was "fat", disabled, or old. Apparently people are still racist and ablest in the future. Also to read how the Founders created "skin" and what that led to creeped me out.


I loved the ending especially when I figured out who the Founders were. 


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review 2019-09-30 17:07
Holy Crap! And Damn!
Summer Frost - Blake Crouch

Woo boy. Blake Crouch put his foot in this short story. Damn. I loved every part of it and think if he can stick the landing like this in his stand-alone novels he would be a instant buy author for me in the future. "Summer Frost" was wonderfully done from beginning to end. I swear this read like the best Black Mirror episode ever. Which is saying something since the past two seasons I have been meh towards Black Mirror. 


"Summer Frost" follows Riley who is a video game developer. Riley has realized that a NPC (non-player character) named Max has somehow realized they are in a game and is testing the boundaries of that game. We follow Riley through the years as they help Max learn about humanity through books, movies, etc. Eventually Max is past the human threshold for genius. When Max is finally brought out into the real world, things in Riley's life start to change. 

So I liked Riley a lot. It's weird that I assume Riley is a woman, though it says during the short story that they see themselves as male when playing games. Riley is happily married at the start of this story to a woman named Meredith. They keep trying to have children, with Meredith experiencing miscarriages. You start to see how Riley gets caught up in Max since this is something that she can take care of and nurture like a child. When Riley starts to see Max as something more, her relationship with Meredith suffers.

I really loved the character of Max. Max sees themselves as not female or male and I liked how Crouch infuses Max with being beyond gender and even Riley uses pronouns to reflect that as everyone does, besides Meredith still calling Riley 'it."

I thought the writing was thought provoking and I loved how Pascal's wager came into play here. I haven't thought about this since college and thought that it gave an interesting flavor to this novel especially with what comes at the end.

The setting of this story I would once again assume is future, or near future. 

The ending was a smack in the face (in a good way). 


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