the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘future

defendersDefenders by Will McIntosh

published May 13 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Orbit!)

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Can my entire review just consist of “holy fuck this book completely shattered me”?  Because really, that’s all you need to know.  But a seven word review? boring!

 

It’s 2029 and our first contact with an alien species is an invasion. The Luyten look like giant six or seven legged starfish, and they fell from the sky.  We attacked them, they fought back. They seemed to always know where our troops were, what our plan was. The Luyten could read our minds. They knew every thought going through every human’s mind, our dreams, our fears, everything.

 

And they were winning.

 

Homeless, hungry, and freezing to death, Kai helps a Luyten who claims to be an unarmed and wounded scout. A tenuous trust grows, and the Luyten begs Kai to keep silent about it’s hiding spot. How is a starving teen supposed to say no to a human soldier who promises food and a warm bed?  The Luyten is captured and tortured.

 

But still, the Luyten were winning. There was nowhere we could hide, nothing we could hide from them. If a Luyten were within eight miles of a human, the entire Luyten population knew what that human was planning. We needed to come up with something, and fast.

 

Are you scared yet? You should be. And this is only the beginning.

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gemsigns USGemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (®Evolution Book 1)

published in the UK April 2014, US May 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Jo Fletcher books!)

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Plagued by an often fatal syndrome, it was the miracle of genetic manipulation that allowed humanity to survive and to ensure that future generations would live in a world safe from disease, from birth defects, and from congenital conditions. The corporations known as Gemtechs who developed these life saving technologies were quick to realize that their boon to society was directly linked to vast profits and additional technological developments. Children born under the auspices of the Gemtechs were designed with vast genetic manipulations, everything from extended eyesight to super strength, to savants of all kinds. The property of a Gemtech from the day of their birth, they knew nothing except a life of indentured servitude.

Until now.

Gemsigns takes place  a year after the Declaration, the piece of legislation that gave the Genetically Modified People (known as “gems”) a modicum of human rights and the legal ability to separate themselves from their parent Gemtechs and integrate into regular society. Forced to display their “gemsigns”, usually naturally florescently colored hair,the gems know every instant of every day that they are different, and that normal humans see them as inferior, dangerous, and other. The big question is, are they as human as you and me? Because if they are, don’t they deserve human rights?

Dr. Eli Walker has been hired to research the situations of gems who are integrating. After generations of forced servitude (let’s just call it what it is: slavery), how are the gems handling finding a job that meets their abilities, or paying their rent? Are they becoming too dependent on social services? After one particularly violent interaction where a norm child was killed, can any gem even be trusted around normal children? Dr. Walker has his work cut out for him, and the European Conference on the Status of Genetically Modified Humans is right around the corner. This will be a landmark moment for the gems, either providing them full human rights, or solidifying their legal permanent status as slaves. Legal status aside, is humanity ready or even able to accept as equals those they have seen as inferior?

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Genius Unlimited by John T. Phillifent

published in  1972

where I got it: purchased used.

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Hitting up the used bookstores is much more fun with a friend in tow. Otherwise how would my friend have had the opportunity to recommend John T. Phillifent’s Genius Unlimited to me? A what a fun and entertaining book!

Interstellar Agents Rex Sixx and Roger Lowry always get the crap jobs, the gigs that no one else wants.  This new bodyguarding assignment seems like a cakewalk, so why did it fall in their laps? This should be as easy as the furlough they just came off of.  The secretive colony of Iskola has asked for assistance and consulting, and all  Sixx and Lowry need to do is get special agent investigator Louise Latham to Iskola on the planet Martas, make sure no harm comes to her while she is consulting with the Iskolans, and bring her home.  What could possibly go wrong?

To start with, Miss Latham isn’t your average investigator and Iskola isn’t your average colony. But at least Sixx and Lowry already know a little about Iskola. A private island colony, the only way to gain residency is to pass a battery of tests and prove you are a genius. Privacy is a very big deal there, and no one seems to be sure exactly what happens on the island other than genius residents solving problems and minding their own business.  Iskola brings in an income by consulting on large problems, such as the recent one of erosion and soil degradation on the mainland continent. That one in particular was a disaster, because the agricultural experts on the mainland weren’t interested in being told that their slash and burn methods of deforestation had destroyed the thin layer of topsoil. Even a genius can’t be telling an expert how to do their own job, now can they?

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Vintage SF badgeNull AWorld of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1945, first published as a novel in 1948.

where I got it: purchased used, the 1970 printing.

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“The map is not the territory, the word is not the thing itself”

Gilbert Gosseyn has arrived in the great city of The Games to prove his Null-A training.  His wife Patricia Hardie recently passed away, but he knows this is what she would have wanted, for him to succeed at the The Games and win passage to Venus.  He’ll win for both of them.

During a meeting with other visitors, Gilbert is accused of not being who he says he is. But he passes a lie detector test with flying colors.  The year is 2560, lie detector computers are ubiquitous, and why in the hell would anyone lie about having been married to President Hardie’s daughter Patricia (who is very much alive, and very much unmarried)?

In the World of Null-A, the world of non-Aristotelian logic, there is never any reason to lie about one’s identity, never any reason to panic.  Among other things, Null-A mental training allows one to instantly adapt to changes in their environment, and Gilbert has been training his whole life for this.  But he was never prepared to not have any idea who he is.

He can trust only his memory, but what if your memory is wrong? Does our memory make us who we are? Does our brain and our memories tell us exactly how something happened, or only how we perceived that it happened? How do we get rid of the filter of our own perception?

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Makers, by Cory Doctorow

published in 2009

where I got it: purchased Print new, and downloaded the e-book

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I got this from the library in 2009 when it first came out, and I’ve been itching to reread it ever since, and finally, finally I found a paperback copy.  Makers is also the first book that I’ve read half through paper, and half on my Kindle. I’d read the print book at home, and read on my Kindle at work. Through a creative commons license, Makers (and all of Doctorow’s works) is available for free download through his website.  You might be thinking to yourself “why would he give his stuff away for free?”, and the answer, or at least part of it, is covered in Makers.

A few years from now in Florida,  two best friends found themselves in a garage, tinkering with an entire dump full of consumer goods, most still in the packaging.  Lester and Perry build silly robots and oversized calculators, they wire up a bunch of dancing Elmo dolls, they make ten new things every day.  They make just enough money from selling their unique inventions to keep the lights on and the 3-D printer filled with goop. Maker culture? these guys are living the dream.

Enter Suzanne Church, journalist. She’s been hired to be an “embedded” journalist with these guys, to help the rest of the country understand this amazing lifestyle business, of stripping the electronics from one thing to make another thing, of creating something because it’s fun, of not needing a factory or a board of directors or middle management to make a business work.  Thanks to Perry and Lester’s creativity, and Suzanne’s passionate blogging, “New Work” becomes the new trend, the new way to make a living. Entire swaths of the country leap on board, to grab hold of something that is constantly changing.

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Abaddon’s Gate, by James S.A. Corey (book 3 of The Expanse)

published June 2012

where I got it: received review copy from Orbit (thanks!)

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Being a review of the 3rd novel in a series, this review has unavoidable spoilers for Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War.  Also, you really, really need to read this series.

The events at the end of Caliban’s War left Jim Holden’s crew alive and with money in the bank, and a big hole in space out near the edge of the Solar System. During the course of that novel, the alien technology that crashed into Venus was a busy little beaver, building huge structures, changing the chemistry of the planet, plotting who knew what. And then it shot out to the limits of the solar system and ripped a hole into the fabric of space time. A wormhole? A portal? No way of knowing what’s beyond the ring until someone gets out there and goes through the damn thing.

Jim Holden has had plenty of “knowing what’s out there”, thank you very much. He’s happy hauling freight anywhere that’s the opposite direction of the Ring. But thanks to a journalist backed by shadow politics and money, Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are headed exactly where they don’t want to go. The journalist, Monica Stuart, intends to interview the survivors of Eros, and Holden can’t let her find out that Miller’s ghost has been speaking to him more and more lately.

A note on the title of the book: Abaddon is a biblical reference to a place of destruction, a place of the perishing. Keep that in the back of your mind.

While I’d love to have an entire novel that’s just Holden and Naomi and Amos and Alex, James Corey gives us plenty of other point-of-view characters to root for as well. There’s Bull, the shat upon OPA security chief of The Behemoth who can’t help that he was born on Earth; Anna, a Methodist pastor and member of a contingent of religious leaders headed out towards the ring; and Melba, the alias of Clarissa Mao, who is obsessed with destroying Holden the same way he destroyed her father.

I could give you a run down on all the political and plot stuff, but Bull says it much simpler that I ever could:

“We’re heading out to throw gang signs at Earth and Mars while the Ring does a bunch of scary alien mystery stuff. . . .  worst that can happen is we’ll all die.”

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I’m working my way through the Hugo nominated novellas! click back a day or two to see my thoughts on the others.

red_station_cover_small

Having escaped the war zone, Magistrate Linh travels with a ship full of refugees to Prosper Station. She has distant relatives on the station, and hopes they will take her in. Of course they will, she’s family, and her mem-implants will prove it, should anyone question who she is. And if they should insist on questioning her Linh is quite used to staring down underlings. She should certainly be able to handle a few cousins who have never even seen the capitol, let alone passed their exams.

On Prosper Station, Administrator Quyen has far more important things to worry about than finding quarters and a job for Linh, and the two women immediately begin to get on each other’s nerves, especially when Linh beings a friendly relationship with a male cousin who is already an embarrassment to the family. Quyen and many members of her family have been left behind on the station, while their more educated spouses have been forced to join the war efforts elsewhere. Quyen and Linh are opposites in every way, and they are both used to be being in control.

But Quyen isn’t alone in her leadership of Prosper Station. She’s aided (or perhaps it’s the other way around) by the Honoured Ancestress, the AI Mind who runs the software and interfaces of the station. The Honoured Ancestress was born to a human woman, but she was never human, she was always designed to be what she is: timeless and in complete control of herself. Except when she isn’t in control. Sometimes she ignores Quyen, sometimes she is silent when Quyen calls for her. Linh hasn’t much experience with AI Minds, but she has her own honored ancestors, those who live in her Mem-Implants, the uploaded minds and memories of her ancestors. They are a connection to her past, honored elders who guide her and remind her of proper manners and mannerisms.

Taking place on the edges of de Bodard’s Xuya universe, “On a Red Station, Drifting” touches on many traditions of China and Vietnam, including bloated and bureaucratic governments, ancestor veneration, and strict social protocols. I found the dichotomy and balance found between futuristic technologies and ancient traditions absolutely beautiful. Quyen is hearing an AI’s voice in her head, yet her home is steeped in tradition, in places quite literally engraved with ancient poetry. I read so much futuristic science fiction where the past is left behind and completely ignored, it was refreshing and comforting to meet characters who live in the future, but keep their deep connections to their past and to their traditions. A perfectly balanced dichotomy.

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2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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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.