Archive | February, 2016

Existence

21 Feb

ExistenceExistence by David Brin
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I give this tour-de-force exploration of one possible answer to the Fermi paradox a 3.5. Better than a three, but not as good as a four. However, there is no 3.5, so four it is. It reminds me, in structure, of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312–a long, meandering novel with multiple characters and story lines, where the plot eeks along at a snail’s pace while entire chapters are turned over to philosophical musings.

Then, in the last quarter of the book, the myopic detail of the story lines is dumped to take a different point of attack on resolving the larger story, leaving the emotional payoff of the original story lines hanging, to be resolved by various, off the cuff “tellings,” rather than “showings.” This is frustrating, although you do find out what happened to the characters, and the ultimate message of the novel is positive.

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Planetfall

11 Feb

PlanetfallPlanetfall by Emma Newman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve decided that, “My science fiction is pasted on, yay!” stories make me cranky. These are stories that could just have easily have been set in early 21st century Earth, but are instead plopped onto another planet, or a ship or station in space. The mechanisms of travel between stars aren’t even hand-waved, they’re just not mentioned at all. The aliens are Obscure, or are referred to as “human.”

Renata Ghali is a complex character, and even I was taken in by Sung Suh’s mild manner, but that doesn’t make this story any less an episode of Hoarders set in a town so small it’s boggling that no one could have known about a community leaders/home-builders problem for over twenty years.

Yes, buried secrets (literally). Stress. A mysterious alien artifact. But all that leads up to one of those obscure endings that leaves you not satisfied, but scratching your head wondering how to interpret exactly what happened.

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