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The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Joseph Campbell, David Kudler
The Complete Fiction
H.P. Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi
Anathem
Neal Stephenson

Degrees of Freedom (Samuil Petrovitch Series #3)

Degrees of Freedom - Simon Morden Review: http://infinispace.net/2013/02/samuil-petrovitch-trilogy-by-simon-morden/

Theories of Flight (Samuil Petrovitch Series #2)

Theories of Flight - Simon Morden Review: http://infinispace.net/2013/02/samuil-petrovitch-trilogy-by-simon-morden/

Equations of Life (Samuil Petrovitch Series #1)

Equations of Life - Simon Morden Review: http://infinispace.net/2013/02/samuil-petrovitch-trilogy-by-simon-morden/

RITE OF PASSAGE

Rite of Passage - Alexei Panshin The SFWA really missed the boat giving this one the Nebula award over Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Rite of Passage is just a dull, dull, dull science fiction book with uninteresting characters and an equally uninteresting plot. Who knew that in the future where people lived in a ship capable of FTL travel and traversing the galaxy that they still kept horses on board to ride around when they landed on planets. Horses!!I would have rather the author had focused on why they were on the ship and why/how Earth was destroyed, not about a girl crawling through ventilation ducts, or playing soccer, or calling her father 'Daddy' every other sentence. And the entire 'rite of passage' where the kids are dropped off on a planet to survive for 30 days only took place in the last 40 pages of the book.There's really no science in the book. There's very little world building. Conceptualization is near nil.Ugh, just a dreadful science fiction. This plot could have just as easily taken place in a contemporary setting with no impact to what little story there is. And to top it off the cover art of the used version I was able to dig up is just awful.

Roadside Picnic

Roadside Picnic - Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky, Olena Bormashenko, Ursula K. Le Guin

I consider myself fairly steeped in science fiction literature, and I'd read of this book being mentioned over the years but never thought much of it. In recent years the influence of the novel has shown up in the gaming world, notably the games S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Half-life 2 (the design of City 17 seems very influenced by Roadside Picnic..except the aliens are still there). The book was recently re-published in English so I picked it up. Glad I did! I would very nearly give this a 4.5 stars but Goodreads (for some terrible reason) doesn't allow half star ratings...so I'm going with a solid 4 stars.It's a twist on the first contact idea. Instead of meeting aliens face to face, what happens if they make a short stop on Earth and have a "roadside picnic" taking no notice of the animals that scurry around them. When they depart they leave behind Zones where physics is wildly twisted and dangerous, and their equally dangerous xeno-junk litters the landscape?

 

The book is pretty dark and probably parallels the mindset of the average communist citizen residing in 1971 Soviet Russia...feeling trapped in the role dealt to you, constantly surrounded by fear, and always longing for hope, happiness, and freedom. Throughout the short novel you get the sense that none of these characters are truly happy, they are in an eternal conflict with their entire existence.The last line of the book rings true to this parallelism, as Red realizes there's really no way out of his dismal existence. I don't want to mention more as it would spoil then ending.Next thing to do is rent the Russian movie that's based on this novel.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm This is the only Kate Wilhelm book that I've read (and am apt to read) because it's a Hugo and Nebula winner and is thus a required read for anyone who is a student of the genre.The book hooked me with the first few chapters and I was really excited to find out what happened with the details of the colony and cloning. But the story soon became mired down in liberal aspects of communal living and "free love." It's clear that Ms. Wilhelm was influenced by the 60s movement when she began writing this (probably) in the early 70s.All in all not a bad book. I enjoyed it. But it's marginal science fiction at best that got lost in the later 2/3rds.

The Fountains of Paradise

The Fountains of Paradise - Arthur C. Clarke I've had this book on my shelves literally since ~1978 when it was published in paperback. It followed me through high school, college, marriage, career, and finally on the skids towards retirement. I'm slowly working through all the Hugo and Nebular winners and needed a book. What the hell...I grabbed it off the shelf.It's a great tale of the intersection of technology, religion, and fictionalized history. I was a bit perplexed by the ending. Was it even needed? Did he need to touch on the Starholmer's visiting Earth in the far future? It hinted at a future that could lead to another very interesting book, but it looks like Clarke did not leverage that ending in to another tale.

Prometheus: The Art of the Film (Film Tie in)

Prometheus: The Art of the Film - Mark Salisbury, Ridley Scott A book full of amazing concept art and behind the scenes commentary. There's a lot of extra information in The Art of the Film that is not in the movie (or didn't make it in to the final cut). Here's hoping that Ridley Scott gives us a director's cut that incorporates more concepts and more horror that was clearly left out of Prometheus.

Mockingjay (Hunger Games Series #3)

Mockingjay (Hunger Games Series #3) - Suzanne  Collins I knocked out the trilogy at the behest of my wife. It took me a bit of time, but I found it overall enjoyable. Not the amazing experience that many seem to have when reading it though. The hormonally driven inner dialogue of Katniss just isn't my cup of tea I guess. When the story was progressing forward (instead of listening to her weep and moan about things) is when I enjoyed the books.I enjoyed The Hunger Games the most. Fact moving, lots of conflict (physical and character), fun read.Catching Fire was a little bit of a let down purely because Collins used the same hook (tossing kids in to the game) that she used in the first book. I thought that was a bit lazy.Mockingjay was also a bit disappointing in that the death of the president was a HUGE missed opportunity for Katniss' development as a character, and having Katniss agree that children of the capital be thrown in to new tribute games went against everything we were led to believe about her. I did not buy that scene at all!! So overall I found the ending of the trilogy a bit of a let down and a characterization cop out.My 2 cents.

MetaGame

Meta Game - Sam Landstrom What a huge disappointment. This book is nothing but a 400 page infodump of the author's ideas, and most of the ideas never really worked for me. He also smatters his book with internet/game slang like "n00b" etc, as well as giving his characters names like A_Dude, Love_Monkey, and K_Slice. The book just PLODS along for 380 pages of nauseatingly detailed datadumps explaining his concepts, then abruptly ends in a flurry of activity. There's really no story here worth caring about. The characters are completely forgettable.This book fails two of the holy trinity of writing: characters and story. It gets 2 stars mainly for the third leg: concepts.

Zoe's Tale

Zoe's Tale (Old Man's War, #4) - John Scalzi Scalzi's Old Man's War (great) series probably should have ended with Ghost Brigades (good), and certainly with The Last Colony (so-so). As the works within the series clearly declined over time, Zoe's Tale is the inevitable cash in novel. It's just a re-telling of The Last Colony from the point of view of an annoying and pretentious teenage girl...yes, the protagonist (Zoe) is immensely unlikable. 90% of the story is told through character dialogue. There's nothing more boring than reading page after page of characters describing loosely what happens to them via endless "he said" and "she said" types of passages as opposed to inserting action and descriptive narrative. Using dialogue to almost exclusively tell a story is lazy storytelling and world building. And writing a book that just re-tells a story from a different perspective (without being IMMENSELY compelling) is what I call a cash in. Orson Scott Card has been guilty of doing this for years with his endless Ender's Game books.Unfortunately Zoe's Tale cured me of Scalzi's writing. There are far more compelling books and authors coming out on a regular basis for me to waste my time and money (and who's time and money isn't precious these days). He struck a cord with Old Man's War, but sadly I'm afraid he may be a one trick pony.I'm utterly aghast that this book was nominated for a Hugo award, even though it's the equivalent of the Golden Globes. It just smacks of fanboism to nominate such a dismal book because it was written by an author you happen to like from previous works. Shame on you Worldcon attendees.

Day by Day Armageddon (Day by Day Armageddon,#1)

Day by Day Armageddon (Day by Day Armageddon,#1) - J.L. Bourne I just don't get the zombie genre. Foraging for food, shelter, and ammo is only interesting for so long. I grabbed this book at Borders (before it went under) because it looked like a quick read. Only to get to the end and have the author say (paraphrasing) "Yeah, I'll finish this later, I've been busy." What!? The book was entertaining, but I'm not going to slog through who knows how many more pages of them foraging for food, shelter, and ammo.Did I mention that the book is rife with spelling and grammatical errors?I can now cross the zombie genre off my list.

The Host: A Novel

The Host - Stephenie Meyer This is NOT science fiction. One of the sappiest, most contrive, poorly written, trite pieces of literary refuse I've ever had the displeasure to read.

The Sword of Maiden's Tears (Twelve Treasures)

The Sword of Maiden's Tears - Rosemary Edghill One of the most godawful abominations of cliched fantasy I've ever had the displeasure to read. I've got nothing else to say, that about sums it up.

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Series #1)

The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan Initially I was worried that Jordon would die before this was completed.NOW I'm worried that I will die before this is completed.

Pirate Latitudes

Pirate Latitudes - Michael Crichton I read it for what it was: an fun adventure romp in the Caribbean. Not a bad adventure yarn, but not his best. This book comes across as one he wrote to "loosen up his tie." There's no exhaustive bibliography, or message for/against science, or Earth-shattering revelations. As far as I understand it (Wikipedia) Crichton was working on (or at least thinking about) this book since the 70s. This leads me to believe that he worked on it whenever he found some leisure time to let his hair down and relax a bit. Don't pick up this book expecting anything but action, adventure, debauchery, and lots of violence.