Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Friedrich the Snowman" by Lewis Shiner

First Publication:, December 2013

Cover Artist:  Ross MacDonald

I remember fondly watching “Frosty the Snowman” on the television each holiday season.  Lewis Shiner must have watched it too.  He incorporates parts of the song into this fascinating short story about reincarnation, being a stranger in a strange land, Nietzche, and the horror of finding your work subverted into something it was not meant to be.  After reading this touching story, “Frosty the Snowman” will never be the same again.  I know I will be thinking of this story every time I hear the song.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hull Zero Three

Author:  Greg Bear

First Publication:  November 2010

Publisher:  Orbit

Source:  Library

Cover:  Shutterstock

The 2015 Sci-Fi Experience

The holidays tend to make me reminisce and this year my thoughts returned to my youth when I make weekly trips to the county library.  My family would go to town on Friday nights to do the banking, go to a couple of stores and stop at the library.  My parents were not science fiction and fantasy fans but they were happy that I enjoyed reading.  I would usually pick up a book or two at the town newsstand, appropriately called “The Village News”, then end up checking out a couple of books from the library.  Especially in the winter, I would read a book in one or two days.  Granted, the books were mostly shorter in those days. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Saboteur" by Ken Liu

First Publication:  Analog, December 2014

Cover Art:  Shutterstock

Memories flooded back as I was reminded of watching “The Twilight Zone” while reading this story.  If it ever returns to television, I would hope they would adapt “Saboteur”.  In a few pages, Ken Liu reveals this near future world and makes you care for the characters who live in it.  He does a great job of fleshing out the characters in a very limited space.  After reading “Saboteur”, I understand why Ken Liu is such a popular short story writer.  I will definitely be looking for more of his work in the future.  If you can find this near future story, pick it up.  The ending was a classic.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"All Too Human" by Paul Carlson

First Publication:  Analog, December 2014

Cover Art:  Shutterstock

“All Too Human” belongs to a sub-genre created by Philip K. Dick.  For lack of a better term, I call it SF Paranoia.  One of my favorite novels (Tetrasomy Two) belongs to this category.  The main character appears to have lost touch with reality.  Everywhere he looks he sees aliens.  It is obvious that he is hallucinating.  But is he really?  In this type of story, I have seen the conclusion go either way.  Part of the fun is in trying to figure it out before the revelation.  “All Too Human” is a fun read. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Merlin's Gun" by Alastair Reynolds

First Publication:  Asimov's Science Fiction, May 2000

Cover Artist:  Mark Garlick

After I read this story, I discovered that two other stories take place before it.  "Merlin's Gun" is the last (to date) story in the short fiction series "Merlin".

I previously read one novel ("Revelation Space") and two short stories ("Scales" and "Great Wall of Mars") by Reynolds.  All three provided me with an enjoyable reading experience.

  1. In this story, Reynolds revisits the classic "weapon that can destroy the universe" theme that has appeared in numerous science fiction stories.  He develops some interesting twists on the idea.  Reynolds does a good job with the two main characters but the story fell short for me.  This is a case where I wish he had fleshed it out into a novella.  I was disappointed not to find out more at the end.
A decent story but not up to the level of his other work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"The Game of Blood and Dust" by Roger Zelazny

First Publication:  Galaxy, April 1975

Cover Artist:  Jack Gaughan

 I remember reading this in Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine when it originally was published.  At that time, Zelazny was still writing the original “Amber” series (which was being serialized in Galaxy).  “The Game of Blood and Dust” shows what happens when two beings with god like powers use the Earth as their chessboard.  Changes to our history are the moves in the game.  As expected, I liked this story.  Zelazny poetic use of language always appeals to me.  In a very short story, he manages to cover the history of man.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Doctor Who Series 8 Wrap Up

Episode 5:  “Time Heist”
A classic bank caper with a twist.  The Doctor, Clara and others wake up in a chamber suffering from memory loss.  The only thing they know is that a being called “The Architect” has recruited them to rob an alien bank.  The twist is that they agreed to have their memories wiped.  It was a fun fast-paced adventure with some surprises.

Episode 6:  “The Caretaker”
Clara is trying to live two lives, one with the Doctor and the second as a school teacher with a boyfriend.  The Doctor appears at the school as the new janitor/caretaker.  He meets Clara’s boyfriend and has an immediate dislike because he was previously a soldier.  The Doctor, Clara and Danny (the boyfriend) work together to stop an alien threat.  Once again someone who dies in an adventure awakens at the end and is now in the “Promised Land”.  The mystery continues…