the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Alastair Reynolds’ Category

Robot-UprisingRobot Uprisings edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams

published April 2014

Where I got it: purchased new

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Robots are supposed to help us, right? they’re supposed to do the jobs that humans don’t want to or can’t do, right? and thanks to Asimov’s three (four!) laws, there’s nothing to worry about.

 

right?

 

wrong.  Leave it to folks like Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Cory Doctorow, Ernest Cline, Nnedi Oforakor and others to remind me that robots do exactly what we program them to do, and in many cases this is fucking terrifying.

 

I just about every story in this anthology, we played God. We created something, typically in our own image, that would be able to do things we couldn’t.  Our creations raise and teach our children, solve our computer programming issues, clean up radiation, do jobs that are too dangerous for humans to do, protect company assets, keep us healthy, etc. When we’re so sure our inventions will help us towards a better world, what could possibly go wrong?

 

But lets say we succeed. the computer programming issue has been solved, the kids are grown up, the asset has been protected, diseases have been cured, the radiation has been cleaned up. What do we do when our problem is fixed and our shiny tools are no longer needed?  Robots are designs to work. they are not designed to stop.

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Long story short – It was ah-maz-ing.   another weekend of my geekgirldreams brought to us by the very hardworking folks at Stilyagi.

but, in case you are interested in the short story gone overly long, here ya go:

Last year at ConFusion I was about authors, authors, authors, and just for good measure more authors (also, one particular author, but that’s a different story). But this year I wanted to branch out a bit and see what else was going on. Luckily, the programming made that even easier for me. The sheer variety of programs and panels was amazing. There was an entire Science track, a Doctor Who track, lots of guest artists doing artwork in the hotel atrium,  and a Studio Ghibli movie marathon on top of all the amazing author readings and “such-and-such in Sci and Fantasy” panels.  And the best part? I was totally cool about this year. A little bit less of the running up to authors and babbling ohmygodIloveyourbookssomuchwillyoucomehomewithmecanicookyoudinner going on. Also, I cosplayed for the first time. Now that I’ve worn a tail, I can see why people don’t want to take them off.

Friday afternoon was saying hi to friends, hitting up the dealer room, finding the consuite (on the first floor, down the hall from all the panel rooms = WIN) and playing “spot the famous person” (omg, there’s John Scalzi! and he has a ukelele!). I made it to 2 panels on Friday, Fun with Liquid Nitrogen, and the Opening Ceremonies of the Con.

Liquid Nitrogen with Dr. Jennifer Skwarski.   I always thought if the stuff touched you, that part of your body would shatter off. not so! (wait, scifi movies lied to me??) Apparently you can splash it all over your hand and be OK, although I don’t recommend trying that.  Also, it makes a really neat snapping noise when splashed all over the floor. Demonstrations included the amazing whirring around ping pong ball, frozen vodka, frozen soap bubbles, crunchy expanding balloons, and of course making ice cream!

The epic immersion blender of awesome.  Also, liquid Nitrogen ice cream! Epic brain freeze.

The epic immersion blender of awesome. Also, liquid Nitrogen ice cream! Epic brain freeze.

Not too much to say about the Opening Ceremonies, except that Mary Robinette Kowal had the best ever marionette story.  I’m hoping she posted it on her blog somewhere, because if I try to tell it I’ll mess it up, and also it’s not my story to tell.  And, Yes, she had her Hugo. Perhaps it was a prop for this?   Also, Charles Stross has a really cool accent.

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Terminal World, by Alastair Reynolds

Published in May 2011

Where I got it: purchased new

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I read Alastair Reynold’s debut novel Revelation Space last year, and while it was pretty good, I wasn’t as thrilled as I’d hoped to be by this award winning author.   I gave him another chance with Terminal World, and boy am I happy I did.  In Terminal World, Reynolds offers what Space Opera fans love to find: a glimpse into a possible future of humanity, technology gone  wrong, futuristic cities, and wildernesses full of danger and carnivorous cyborgs chasing steampunk airships. Wait, what?  Ahh yes, the carnivorous cyborgs. Just the first of many wonderful surprises that awaits you in Terminal World.  And who said you can’t have Steampunk space opera?

Spearpoint, the tallest structure on Earth, is the last human city.  Doctor Quillon has been hiding in it’s depths for nine years. He was always a doctor, he just wasn’t always what you or I would consider human.  Once he dwelled  in the Celestial Levels, looking down at the pathetic pre-humans below him. Now he cuts his wings off and wears glasses to hide his post-human angelic eyes.  The few people who know his true identity are corrupt themselves, or dead.  When a dying angel tells Quillon that he’s wanted back in the Celestial Levels, Quillon decides if he wants to live, he has to run.

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Ahh, the smell  and feel of new books.  Even if they are only new-to-me.  Even if they came from the library and I have to give them back. They are still the physical object known as book, usually smooth on the outside by not always, often shiny and sometimes embossed.  Sometimes with print on three of six faces,  alluring cover art or none at all, dearest book thing how do I love you?

Allow me to introduce you to my latest aquirrings:

Terminal World, by Alastair Reynolds.

I didn’t have much luck with Reynolds’ debut novel, Revelation Space,  it was an “almost” book for me. Almost awesome, but not quite.  So when Terminal World was announced as my local SF group’s October read, I was excited to give Reynolds another shot. I’m about 100 pages in, and so far, so good!

The photo doesn’t do it justice at all, but the cover art is stunning. It’s embossed, so the light reflects of the artwork in all sorts of alluring ways.   and it’s got air ships!  Let’s see if I can get a decent close up of the cover art:

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 Reynolds opens this epic space opera of the destiny of the universe with Daniel Sylveste getting arrested on the planet Resurgam. The son of a wealthy scientist and famous for his archaeological research in his own right, Daniel is used to things going his way, often burning bridges faster than he can build them. He has spent most of his adult life researching an ancient and now extinct race of our galaxy, the Amarantin. Once upon a time, the Amarantin were a burgeoning race of intelligent flightless birds. They had culture, religion, a written language, and were about to discover space flight. and then, almost magically, almost instantaneously, they were gone. Sylveste has made it his life’s work to discover what happened to the Amarantin.

But a government coup is something he can’t buy his way out of. 10 years later, he’s still a political prisoner, but has befriended the man who took over the planet Resurgam, been allowed to continue his research, and is about the marry the lovely Pascale. The government of Resurgam isn’t as stable as it seems, and on the day of the wedding Syveste finds himself behind bars, again. The only person he can trust is a beta level simulation of his late father, Calvin.

While Syveste has wasted away on Resurgam researching his precious Amarantin, people from his past are desperate to find him. Volyova and her cyborg crewmates (known as the triumvirate) aboard the Infinity follow every lead at their disposal to find Daniel Sylveste. They believe he is the only person in the galaxy that can save their captain. Ex-soldier Ana Khouri infiltrates the crew of the Infinity, for it is also her mission to find Sylveste. She is going to kill him. Read the rest of this entry »


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.