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review 2017-04-25 12:17
Old Man's War, John Scalzi
Old Man's War - John Scalzi

I'm not sure what to make of this. I'm not sure the world really needed another Starship Troopers or even another anti-Starship Troopers and I don't even know which this is. The characters discuss whether the endless conflicts with all and sundry are really necessary or not but the genuine political situation is never made clear and the author's politics of conflict is left in doubt, too.

 

What I see is a cleverly plotted story about an under-developed world (we get very little by way of a big picture), using the kind of smart-arse protagonist that seems to be Scalzi's default. It's fun, funny and minus all the SF trappings is a Vietnam war movie novelisation with nothing new to say. It is more of a novel than the thinly disguised screen-plays of later years, though.

 

Weirdly, despite the flimsy feel of it, I'd happily devour the sequels - or maybe because of the flimsy feel of it - I want to learn what that missing big picture is!

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review 2017-04-22 01:02
Nuanced SF: "Crackpot Palace - Stories" by Jeffrey Ford
Crackpot Palace: Stories - Jeffrey Ford

There are two kinds of "favourite books," I always say. There are the ones that you recognize as original in concept, extremely well written, and strong in theme. Then there are the ones that say something personal to you so that you identify with the protagonist, live in that society, laugh at the jokes and thrill at the adventure, but also realize that the style may not be so good or the theme so strong. I ain't half the SF geek I was when I was younger - you know, before I discovered characterisation and inner life - but I still appreciate a good novel of ideas. So often, it comes down to a tug-of-war of definitions and false differences of opinion. The mundane literary establishment tends to demean SF. Yet, the works of Cormac McCarthy, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut are just as much SF, using the same devices to advance the same thought experiments and commentary on society as many other SF writers can do.

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2017-04-21 14:45
Deepwater Black: The Complete Story by Ken Catran
Deepwater Black: The Complete Adventure (H SF) - Ken Catran

Series: Deepwater Black #1-3

 

I read the omnibus edition that had all three novels.

 

Deepwater Black, Part One: Robbie (originally published as Deepwater Black)

 

This is why I usually avoid science fiction novels for younger readers: the physics is a mess. If you gloss over the weird Colour-space stuff with creatures like trites, amebs and nebulae that don’t sound like any nebulae I’ve ever heard of, I’d say it’s not a bad book.

 

So why did I want to read this? I remember watching the Deepwater Black TV show on YTV when I was younger, and I had always intended to look up the book it was based on. Unfortunately, when I finally thought to do it a little while ago, it turned out to be out of print. But then I stumbled across some used copies and although I’m usually leery of buying used books online since I never know what condition they’ll be in, I figured what they hey; this was the only way I was going to get to read this.

 

So this book opens with Robbie – or Reb – dreaming he’s on Earth when really he’s in space on a ship he and the other kids call Deepwater. When he wakes up, he doesn’t remember being Reb although he keeps getting these flashes where he’ll answer with information Reb knows but doesn’t know he knows, type thing. So the reader learns about their situation as Robbie learns it and we’re introduced to the other characters: Yoona (the leader/captain), Gret, Lis, Bren, and Zak. Everyone’s pretty colourful – light green, blue, yellow etc – for younger reader science fiction book science reasons. Of course, we soon discover that the kids themselves (they’re supposed to be about fourteen) don’t know much about their situation, so the book becomes about learning more about themselves and running around their spaceship.

 

Deepwater Black, Part Two: Denie (originally published as Deepwater Landing)

 

Although the first Deepwater book wraps up its story arc, it also presents a new challenge at the end. This time we get to find out what’s in one of the closed caskets and we find an alien planet with life. And then it seems like there’s something else on the ship, something out to get them…

 

I have to say that the motivations of some of the antagonists in this installment didn’t make all that much sense to me. My only theory is that too much cloning drives people loopy.

 

Deepwater Angels, Part Three: Connal (originally published as Deepwater Angels)

 

This is the story of Deepwater’s final mission to restore human life to Earth. They’ve crashed-landed on Earth and some of the reborn species don’t appear to be friendly. The solution to the mystery behind NUN was weird as a reveal and there’s some more weird pseudo-science stuff. Don’t get me started about the terraforming efforts on Mars lasting hundreds of thousands if not a million years. Or would it take that long for the atmosphere to bleed away? Anyway, it’s a cute wrap-up to the trilogy even if it doesn’t always make sense.

 

 *

 

I read this for square #24 “Read a book tagged middle grade or YA” for the booklikes-opoly game. I think it fits perfectly since it seems like something I would have read a the middle grade level, and probably would have enjoyed it more since I wouldn’t have been distracted by all of the quasi-science stuff. I’m glad that I’ve finally assuaged my curiosity about the series though. Since the book has 501 pages, that’s another $5 for my bank, bringing my total to $35.

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review 2017-04-14 14:52
Unreliability of Fiction: “The Devil You Know” by K. J. Parker
The Devil You Know - K.J. Parker

“I don't do evil when I'm not on duty, just as prostitutes tend not to have sex on their days off. My ideal off-shift day starts with a hot bath and the scent of black tea, followed by an hour on my balcony with a good book; then a stroll through the busy streets to view an art exhibition, hear a sermon or philosophical debate, or simply admire the mosaics in the Blue Temple.”

 

In “The Devil You Know” by K. J. Parker

 

The underpass is vacant apart from a solitary figure headed directly toward her. A woman around Romany's own age, and not too dissimilar from how she looks.

'I see you're not taking the advice,' the police officer says nodding to the wall. 'The poster. We're advising young women to be careful not to walk alone when they don't have to. He's killed three.'

'I'm sorry, I didn't see it. I'm only headed around the corner,' Romeny replies.

'I'll walk you along. I hope you've been watching the news.'

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2017-04-14 09:57
Unreliability in Fiction: "Blue and Gold" by K. J. Parker
Blue and Gold - K.J. Parker

"The two predominant factors that make me up, philosophy and criminality, when combined, when combined together on the block of ice hat serves me for a personality go to make up alchemy.”

 

In “Blue and Gold” by K. J. Parker

 

 

 

Beep.

 

Beep… -cking answering machines! Kevin… Kevin… Kevin, I know you’re there. With her probably, whoever she is – stupid cow. Listen Kevin, you actually love me really. You’re jus’ confuuuused, and I don’t blame you. But you better not do anything you’ll regret – and if you’re doing it now I will hunt you down and… and cut your goolies off… You see the thing is… the thing is… God, iss really ridiculous communicating like this. We’re human beings. Why don'sh you just pick up the phone and we’ll talk like grown-up adults. Hmm? Hmm KEVIN, PICK UP THE BLOODY PHO… Beep.

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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