Aug 302011
 

Rama Like First Contact

Michael Cassutt & David S. Goyer are both new to me. I enjoy new things.

This starts out as a space-race between NASA and Braziln-Russia-India  to a Near Earth Object and turns into a first contact situation that somewhat parallels Rendezvous With Rama. As in Rama the characters are important. The preparation for the mission and the back-story of the astronauts makes them real so you can root for them as they explore the mysterious vessel. Zack Stewart is the main protagonist and leader of the NASA expedition. The story involves his teenage daughter on Earth, his dead wife and his new girlfriend the former leader of this expedition.

This is space porn as it best with a lot of technical details on the crafts and the spacesuits to enjoy for a fanboy like me.

There are many surprises inside not least the method of contact (it has been done before but not quite like this). The aliens are alien and I still don’t understand them fully but that is okay since this is the first book in a series.

Heaven’s Shadow was a good read even if it didn’t blow my mind. I definitely want to read the sequel to find out how it goes.

Book Information

Heaven’s Shadow (Heaven’s Shadow Trilogy book 1) by Michael Cassutt & David S Goyer (Tor) - Amazon US | UK

Heaven’s Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race – but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined . . .

What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has travelled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will ead to anything but harm for humanity.

May 232011
 

A Man and his dog and Fuzzies

When reading is good it bring you into a different world. The people step out of the pages and become close to you. Fuzzy Nation is such a book.

It is a book about a disbarred Lawyer who meets a family of cute little fuzzy aliens and saves them from the clutches of the Big Bad Mining Company ZaraCorp. Jack Holloway is the kind of unwilling hero you love to read about.  At first he blows up half a mountainside prospecting for the Company and hit the big one, gets fired for the destruction and rehired straight afterwards when his favorite enemy prospector liaison learns what he found. Relationships like that is something I like reading about. They drive one another crazy but there is respect between them. In the brief time Jack is unemployed he claims the find and bring in the ZaraCorp as his partner to help extract the find.

When he arrives home at his tree house (Yeah that’s right) he finds a fuzzy little animal inside his cabin. Carl ,his well-trained dog (well he can set of explosives) takes offence at the intruder and chases it up a bookshelf. Jack has never seen anything like the cute little catlike biped before so he put Carl outside and offers fruit to win its trust before it leaves for the jungle. That is basically first contact for you.

What follows is immersive and fun. Jack involves a former girlfriend who happens to be a biologist to look at the creatures. She has moved on to a new fiancé which makes for interesting chemistry, maybe not what you expect though. The Company is very excited about the new find but they are only allowed on the planet because it has no sentient specie. They would do anything to stop the Fuzzies from being declared sentient including exterminating them.

Jack is at first convinced they are just animals and I guess the money he would lose if ZaraCorp weren’t allowed to mine the find of rare jewels he made also helps. But he is also a lawyer and uses that to his advantage. His relationship with the former girlfriend continues to deteriorate as she is convinced they are. She is idealistic and he is self-serving.

There is action but most of the decisions in this novel take place in the court room. It is funny how enjoyable the whole experience is. Never in a thousand years would I have guessed I would enjoy a story about lawyers so much.

Fuzzy Nation is an homage to H. Beam Piper and his Hugo award-winning novel  Little Fuzzy.

Heineken doesn’t do science fiction, but if they did it would be something like Fuzzy Nation to paraphrase their promo. John Scalzi is a brilliant scoundrel and Fuzzy Nation is the most brilliant fan fiction I ever read. I so hope there will be more books in this universe.

Book Information

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi – Tor (2011) – Amazon US | UK

Excerpt: Chapter 1-4

Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.

Oct 142010
 

The crew of the Destiny is exploring the ship. No, not their own ship, a seed ship they found drifting.

This sets off all kinds of interesting things. They find enough energy there to dial earth but when they connect the ships aliens that been hibernating on the seed ship starts to tap Destiny of power and Rush is forced to use the Bridge to disconnect the ships and save Destiny revealing more or less that he has discovered the bridge in the first place.

Colonel Telford is left behind on the ship with all the creepy aliens. I imagine how he would feel in that situation. It is chilling. I am sure he will turn up again somewhere down the line.

Colonel Young keep on handling the Lucian Alliance personnel left with mistrust and disdain. Wray on the other hand, starts to make sense. They did kill their leaders to save the crew of the destiny.

I like the way the characters all make sense now. They are also not serving us all the answers on a silver platter. It is obvious something is happening with Chloe, but it is hinted at instead of written on our noses. Chloe got long gorgeous legs, yes but she was also writing on that notebook. But they didn’t show the writing like they could have done.

TJ had a great moment this episode when one of the Lucian tried to get fresh with her she got rough right back and he had to back down. I love TJ.

Rush ends this episode in the captains chair on the bridge. He sits there because he doesn’t want to face the music.

Next episode will be mighty interesting. It looks like it will focus on what is happening with Chloe which is about time. I love this new season of SGU. It is really hitting its stride now.

Related posts

Aug 092010
 

Title: Survival Kit
Author: Frederik Pohl
Genre: Collection of science fiction short stories
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Panther 1979

Order from: Amazon US | UK

I am not into short stories much but this is a book I picked up in a used-bookstore in London last summer. It was a collection of short stories by Frederik Pohl and I had fond memories of the Heechee series so why not. Being a bit outside my comfort zone I read them one by one when I had time. The stories all have survival as a theme.

The Knights of Arthur (1958)

This story takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York and portraits some unlikely companions of Arthur the teletyping computer. The story is a bit jaded but not without merit.

Mars by Moonlight (1958)

This is quite a surprising story that doesn’t end where you think at all. In the future Mars is a penal colony where the inmates all have had their memories erased. This story feels very fifties and the ending makes you want to know how it goes then.

The Haunted Corpse (1957)

Haunted is fitting for this military science fiction about a general in charge of protecting an eccentric scientist with an invention that can kill humans by removing their soul. I liked this one even if it was chilling.

The Middle of Nowhere (1955)

Another Mars story, this one about a colony that faces technology superior to their own when the Martians attack and it becomes a story about survival. Alien mysteries and first contact in a very time typical way.

The Day of the Boomer Dukes (1956)

Naive time traveler wants to hook up with the Mafia for some fun and games. It doesn’t go as he planed when the Boomer Dukes get hold of his weaponry. An entertaining cookie, could I have another?

Survival Kit (1957)

The title story for this collection is about an alien time traveler who hires a local guide for a futuristic New York. It is set in some kind of post event future where some things are different. The guide is a small time con man who tries to con the amazing and versatile survival kit off his employer and he gets what he deserves in the end.

I Plinglot, Who You? (1959)

The last story in the collection is about first contact. Plingalot contacts all the nuclear powers and make them believe they are the selected ones where the aliens are going to land and that he is a trusted intelligence officer. It is fun to read such an early story about aliens set out to eliminate all competition.

My View

Not a bad collection if you want some fifties vibe. I enjoyed the stories even if some of them where a bit jaded. They all have that special kind of simplicity and naiveté that seems to originate in the fifties but they are not as good as his Heechee novels in my opinion. I always feel hungry for more with short stories, it is like eating fast food; it satisfies for the moment but leaves you craving for more in a few hours.

Jul 092010
 


I prefer female protagonists and this series of posts is homage to some of the most formidable female main characters in science fiction novels or series. This weeks formidable females contains some new favorites like Mearana, Briar, Caitlin and some old.

  1. Mearana - The Harper (Michael Flynn)
  2. Sparta – Venus Prime (Paul Preuss)
  3. Briar Wilkes – Persistent Mother (Cherie Priest)
  4. Caitlin Decter – Best Friend of the Web (Robert J. Sawyer)
  5. Ilia Volyova – Triumvir Ultra (Alastair Reynolds)

Mearana - The Harper

Books: The January Dancer (2008), Up John River (2010)
Series: The January Dancer
Universe: Firestar
Author: Michael Flynn
Genre: Gaelic Space Opera
Publisher: Tor | Tantor Media

My reviews: The January Dancer | Up Jim River

In the beginning of the January Dancer a beautiful redheaded Harper walks into a bar in search for histories to sing. She approach the Scarred man that tells her the story of The January Dancer. In Up Jim River she and the scarred man goes looking for her disappeared mother. It reads like an epic gaelic saga with beautiful prose. I can recommend the audio version of The January Dancer it is just awesome, it blew my mind.

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Sparta – Venus Prime

Books: Breaking Strain (1987), Maelstrom (1988), Hide & Seek (1989), The Medusa Encounter (1990), The Diamond Moon (1990), The Shining Ones (1991)
Series: Arthur’s C. Clark’s Venus Prime
Author: Paul Preuss
Genre: YA | Science Fiction
Publisher: Avon | Pan | iBooks

I remember these books from my youth. Sparta is a beautiful and mysterious woman with advanced abilities due to her bioengineering. But she don’t remember the last three years and tries to recover her past and save her future. Beautiful description and adventures on the planets of the solar system based on short stories by Aurthur C. Clark.

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Briar Wilkes – Persistent Mother

Books: Boneshaker (2009)
Series: Clockwork Century
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Tor

Briar Wilkes name used to be Briar Blue before her husband poisoned downtown Seattle with a gas that turned humans into Zombies with his infernal digging machine – The Boneshaker. Now her son is lost inside the walls erected to keep the gas out and she would do anything to save him. Much steampunk fun with airships and zombies.

A second book, Dreadnought in the same universe will be out in September 2010, but it has a different protagonist.

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Caitlin Decter – Best Friend of the Web

Title: Wake (2009), Watch (2010), Wonder (2011)
Series: WWW
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Genre: Science Fiction | First Contact | Emerging AI
Publisher: ACE | Gollancz

My reviews: Wake, Watch

Caitlin Decter is a feisty young blind girl that is quite ordinary besides being a mathematical genius and after an experimental treatment to make her see again she starts to see the world wide web. Out there in the web she encounters an emerging intelligence and befriends it.

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Ilia Volyova – Triumvir Ultra

Books: Revelation Space (2000), Redemption Ark (2002)
Universe: Revalation Space
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: Gollancz | ACE | Tantor Media

Triumvir Ilia Volyova of Nostalgia for Infinity is an implant-free Ultra, and a major character in both Revelation Space and Redemption Ark. At the beginning of Revelation Space, Volyova is the keeper of the Cache Weapons. It is during her search for a means to control these weapons that she enlists Ana Khouri (who was planted in the role by the Mademoiselle), thus setting off a chain of events that continues throughout the novels. She maintains a long friendship with Captain Brannigan, a man melded with with his ship. When I am reading this I realize I have read these books a long time ago, it makes me want to go back and reread them.

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