Category Archives: SF

Ben Bova — Death Wave

This book reminded me of the good old-fashioned SF space operas I used to read as a kid. This one is about a more or less one man crusade to get the people of earth to help save other intelligent species in our galaxy.

There is a “Death Wave” traveling across the stars wiping out all life on every planet it touches. Jordan Kell has returned from New Earth, a planet created by a very old machine intelligence. The planet is populated with human inhabitants created with DNA from earth. Kell and his wife from New Earth are on a mission to save intelligence on other planets. His battle is with the politicians who want to silence him. They are too busy trying to save earth from global warming. One particular politician, Anita Halleck, head of the world government, is determined to stop him. She is afraid of losing her almost dictatorial power over the earth.

There are underlying themes about greed, power, loss of freedom and privacy, and not paying attention to what today’s actions will cause in the future.

I enjoyed the story and Bova’s writing. But there were a couple of issues that bothered me in this book. One was the fact that Jordan and company were only concerned with saving “intelligent” life. How about all life?

The other was a minor irritation. The dialog between Kell and his wife is full of “dear,” “dearest,” and “darling.” People don’t talk that way. The rest of the dialog was realistic, but that little tick Bova added to the loving couple’s conversations is an annoyance.

Read the book anyway. It’s fun.

Claire North —Touch

This novel is a SF/Fantasy/Paranormal weird story. I hadn’t read anything by Claire North previously. When I checked her out I found she wrote her first novel at age fourteen as Catherine Webb. She has also published under the name Kate Griffin.

I’m not sure why I picked the book up. It isn’t the type of book I usually read. It’s the story of Kepler, a “ghost” who moves from person to person by touch. “Have you been losing time?” The person whom Kepler inhabits remembers nothing of the time Kepler has been using his or her body. Many times he/she asks permission and leaves the borrowed body better off than when he took possession. He is fond of the people he chooses.

The story begins as Kepler is being assassinated and he jumps into the body of his killer. He is one of a group of people who know of the ghosts and are trying to eliminate them. Kepler sets out to discover who is behind this group. He wants to save the ghosts.

Even though it is a strange premise, the book held my attention. North’s characters, the ghosts, are interesting and her descriptions of settings are wonderful.

I enjoyed the story.

Gene Wolfe — Borrowed Man

Talk about weird concepts — E. A. Smithe is a clone of an author from a previous time who lives in a library and can be checked out like a book. Colette Coldbrook’s father died and her brother was murdered. Before being murdered he passed a book (written by Smithe) to Collete that he believed held a secret. So she checked the Smithe clone out of the library to help her discover the secret. Then she disappeared. Smithe sets out to try to find Colette.

It’s a good mystery/SF story. Devious twists and turns and lots of fun along the way.

Charles Sobczak — The Year of the Bad Decision

Research, Research, Research… Sobczak must have spent years on research for this book. Even though it is fiction, it is loaded with facts about climate change. The novel is SF/speculative fiction and the year of the bad decision was 2043. The author says he may have compressed events a bit, but I’m not so sure he did. Sometimes I feel climate events are moving faster than anyone predicts.

The Center for Meteorological Controls has plans to send tiny nanomirrors into the atmosphere to mitigate global warming by reflecting sunlight to cool the earth. Dr. Warren Randolph has discovered a flaw in the design that could send the world into a short-term ice age and likely kill a large percentage of its ten billion people. Of course, he is ignored. He moves to a farm in a remote area of Montana and gathers his friends around him to try to live out the coming disaster.

It’s a good story along with much information about our planet and the consequences of climate change.

Carolyn Ives Gilman — Dark Orbit

Nothing I enjoy more than a good science fiction novel. I’ve been reading SF since I was about ten. There are many subgenres of SF. Almost as many as there are genres and subgenres of fiction. I’m not into the war games or monsters type of SF. My favorite is “hard science fiction,” based on scientific accuracy and technical detail. I also like the category called “soft science fiction,” which explores the social sciences. This book probably falls mostly into the “soft” genre, but it also includes hard SF (space folds and gravitational anomalies, etc.).

Dark Orbit tells a tale about finding a new “habitable” planet where people are living underground who cannot see. If we are missing one of our senses do we develop others? Does our hearing become sharper? Are there senses we don’t know about or use that can develop in the absence of sight?

The book also shows us different cultures and how people tend to categorize others and react to those differences.

It’s a great read. Gilman is a creative and talented author.

Gregory Benford & Larry Niven — Shipstar

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Larry Niven is one of my all-time favorite science fiction authors and Gregory Benford is not far behind. Shipstar is hard SF based on science and technology pushed beyond our imaginations, but not beyond Niven’s and Benford’s. An Earth starship visits a huge bowl in space, powered across the galaxy by a star, filled with multiple forms of alien intelligent life. We are not only entertained by the humans’ reactions to this wonder, but we are exposed to aliens point of view trying to figure out what these strange primates are all about.

This is the second of a two volume saga. You can read it alone but will understand much more if you read the first volume, Bowl of Heaven, first.

Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett — The Silent History

I stayed up ‘til 4AM a couple of nights ago reading a SF book – The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett. This is soft or social SF. I found the book fascinating for several reasons. One is the fact that it is a collaboration between three authors. Something that caught my attention was that the story was originally written as an iPhone app. Another reason is that they wrote in first person, but each chapter is from a different character’s point of view. You don’t see many books written multiple first person.

An interesting point is that these characters may show up in only one or two chapters or they may continue to appear throughout the book. This made the story a bit difficult to follow when I started reading. I kept thinking, “Did I see this person before?” But that didn’t last when I got into the story.

The plot: Children are born without language capability. It turns out to be a virus and more and more children are born with this condition.

I could get into the story and the characters’ reactions. I could tell you how it relates to the way people today respond to anyone who is “different.” I could tell you how the story progresses. Instead, I’ll let you read this very absorbing story.