the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Alien

photo credit Roger Czerneda Photography

My friends,  it is my honor to be hosting Julie Czerneda today (and tomorrow!).  Julie’s science fiction starts with biology, asks a wild  biology “what if” question, and fills the answer with science, more science, humor, aliens, and fantastic characters.   Way back when, she wrote a science fiction trilogy featuring the shape shifter Esen.  Esen discovers humans, and well, erm, to tell you anymore would spoil the best parts!  This trilogy was recently lovingly reprinted in trade paperback, and there’s a new novella coming out this autumn, and OH YEAH a whole new Esen novel, also out this autumn!

Today and tomorrow feature Give aways!  Cover reveals! Behind the scenes! Inside jokes!  but before we get to all that goodness:

Julie on Amazon

Julie’s fan page on Facebook

About the author:

For over twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s written fantasy too, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited numerous award-winning anthologies of SF/F, most recently SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Out this fall is an all-original anthology written by fans of her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis. Her finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, was released in 2017. This fall will also see the return of her most beloved character, Esen the webshifter, in Search Image.

 

 

 Esen’s Back!

by Julie Czerneda

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Fans of her Blobness! New-to-her Readers!

It gives me the biggest of grins to mark the return and perhaps introduce to you my favourite character of all, Esen-alit-Quar. Esen for short, Es in a hurry or between friends.

In honour of the occasion, we’re throwing a two day cover release party!  Thanks, Andrea! Thanks DAW Books!

Today, I’ll tell you a bit about Esen and why she’s so beloved. And fun. And remarkable.

Tomorrow, you’ll see, for the very first time, not one, but TWO NEW COVERS! Really, it’s almost too much fun. Nah. There’s never too much fun.

Here’s a sneak peek.

But wait, there’s more! GIVEAWAYS! Details below, but my thanks to DAW Books for not only keeping Esen’s stories in print, but in doing these gorgeous Trade Editions, released just last year! In stores all over.

Cover art by Luis Royo

 

So Who Is Esen? Or What?

Short answer? A blob of blue, shaped like a teardrop. Who happens to be a semi-immortal shapeshifter. Who has really good intentions…but is working on her life skills.

Writing Esen’s attempts to protect life in the universe–or at least keep it civil–makes me happy and always has. As it turned out, Esen made you happy too, dear readers. I’ve received more feedback and love from you for the Dear Little Blob than for all my other work combined.

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Immortal Clay, by Michael Warren Lucas

published in 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the author (Thanks Michael!!)

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What if you woke up one day, and you remembered everything about your life, but you knew without a shadow of a doubt that you weren’t you anymore? That you were something else?

 

While you’re chewing on that, lemme give you some backstory, and then we’ll circle back to this whole “you’re you but you’re not” thing.

 

30-some years ago, a movie called The Thing bombed at the box office.  The cosmic horror movie that was ahead of its time was based on a 1930s novella by John W Campbell Jr. called “Who Goes There?”.  The plot of the novella and the movie adaptation follow American researchers at an Antarctic research base who come across an alien being who can perfectly imitate any lifeform it comes across. Any tiny part of the alien creature acts independently and can imitate anything. There is practically no way to know if your friend has been “assimilated”. The alien will do anything to survive.  We sure are lucky the alien’s ship crash landed in Antarctica, and not, say, the American midwest, right?

 

The movie became a cult classic, spawning sequels, discussions of the alien’s point of view, discussions of how mistrust can spread in a small community, discussions of cosmic horror and how defenseless humans would be of a creature who can so perfectly imitate us after it destroys us.  Is the alien evil? Why would an alien creature understand or care about a human’s definition of evil? Do we blame a cat for killing a mouse?

 

At the end of the movie The Thing, it is assumed that the humans win and that the alien is either dead or will starve to death, and that the rest of humanity has been saved.

 

Assumed.

 

Michael Warren Lucas’s novel Immortal Clay knows what happens when we assume. The concept behind this book is that the researchers in Antarctica failed, the alien survived, the alien grew, the alien found civilization. The alien’s goal is survival. And it won.  Every living thing that it touched, it devoured and then duplicated. Within a few years, every living thing on Earth, every person, every bird, dog, blade of grass, fish, everything, was a duplicate of the alien creature. Kevin Holtzmann knows he isn’t himself anymore. He remembers everything about his life – how he tried (and failed) to save his wife and daughter from being assimilated, where his house is, his old job as a police detective, everything.  But he know he isn’t himself anymore, that he’s just a duplicate created by an impossible-to-understand alien.

 

What happens after the world ends? Actually, mostly the same stuff as before – going to the bar, mowing the lawn, petty shoplifting,  making sure teenagers have adult supervision – just at a slower pace. We’ve already lost, so what’s the hurry?

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Borne, by Jeff Vandermeer

published in 2017

where I got it: purchased new

 

 

 

I finally read Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne.  This book was on everyone’s Best of the Year list last year, so why did it take me so long to read it?  Uhm… i dunno. Took me a while to get out of The Southern Reach, I guess. Guess I needed the closure that was the incredible oversensoryoverload scene at the end of Annihilation more than I thought.  Anyway.

 

One of the nice things about read a book that had a lot of hype, a year after it came out, is that I can skip all the obligatory “what this book is about” crap, and get to the meat of what I wanna talk about in this not-a-review.

 

Seeing the Annihilation movie reminded me of how much I loved all the flashback scenes in the novel. I got to know the biologist through her flashbacks. Her character wasn’t only who she is right this second, while she is walking through Area X, but it’s all the things she did in her life that got her to be this particular person – the overgrown swimming pool, the tidepools, the isolated introvert-heaven projects, how she felt about herself and the world when she was outside. The biologist became who she is now, because of who she was then.

 

And that’s how I felt about Rachel.  The short flashbacks of her youth, of being a refugee, of how she wished her parents didn’t feel like they had to put on a happy face for her all the time, that is how I knew who she was. By who she was then, I had a better feeling for the depths of who she is now.  A well written flashback is a gem in a geode.

 

I’m a super tactile person.   I hate wearing shoes and i joke that when I walk around barefoot that I’m seeing the room with my feet. It’s only half a joke, because in a sense that isn’t seeing, I really am experiencing the texture of the floor through my feet, and that is being transmitting to my brain as a way of “seeing” the floor.   It’s a throwaway comment when Rachel mentions that she usually sleeps with her shoes on, that she hates taking her shoes off, something about an experience she had while she was a refugee.  When I read that, my gut reaction was “how sad, for her to be blind in that way”. I felt bad for her, that she wouldn’t be able to see a room through her feet.

 

Among other things that he might be, Borne is one gigantic sensory organ.  Once he starts talking and walking, and touching and tasting and “seeing the room through his feet”, he can’t stop. Well, he can’t stop doing those things just like he can’t stop doing some other things that he doesn’t like talking about.  Just like you can’t say to yourself “hmm, i’d like to shut off my sense of sight, or my sense of smell today”. You can’t stop either. But for you, not being able to flip a switch to stop seeing, or smelling, or tasting, is normal. So why would someone expect someone else to just be able to stop seeing the room through their feet?    Because we all want our kid to be fucking normal, that’s why.

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First things first:

Have you seen the movie yet?

do you plan to?

If your answers were “No”, and “Yes”, do not read this post. It’s cup runneth over with ridiculous quantities of snark and epically major spoilers.  I suppose you could scroll all the way to the bottom and just read the last few sentences for the whole point of the post. But even that might spoil the film for you.

Ridley Scott got me a present. Something he’s been working on for a while. Something old skool Alien fans such as myself would certainly be excited about.

By “old skool Alien fans”, I mean those of us who were weaned into science fiction horror  by Ellen Ripley and H.R. Giger. A series of films ripe with suspense, movies you only watch in broad daylight with all the lights on. Sure, the plots are simple (another distress call? didn’t this end really badly for the last ship that answered a distress call?), but the people were smart. They talked about what they planned to do, made contingency plans, found appropriate weapons, and they intelligently went about their business. Thanks to spot on direction and creepy sets, the suspension was through the roof.  Thanks to well written dialog and plotting, the films were peppered with lighter moments and small talk, quickly giving depth to characters. This was a film franchise that was all about show instead of tell. Remember that scene with Ripley at the very end of Aliens (granted, that was one directed by James Cameron) when she’s in the nest with the queen? Not a word is spoken, and no words are needed.

So, with baited breath, I opened the gift Ridley Scott had made for me.

This is where the spoilers start, btw. You’ve been warned.

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I haven’t done a Friday Fun post in what feels  like ages, so I know, let’s do one!

I’ve got a “to be read” pile that’s nearly reaching the ceiling, I finished Lavie Tidhar’s Osama last night and haven’t even started a review yet, am torn between three books I want to start and I’ve got two other books on hold at the library.  Yup, definitely time for a Friday Fun / random stuff / link soup post.

speaking of reading piles, what are you reading right now, and what have you got on deck?

Are you looking forward to the Prometheus Alien movie? Think it will rock? Worried you’ll be walking out of the theatre saying “Way to wreck the franchise, Bakula”?  see the trailer here.

Wanna win some sweet military history stuff from Osprey Publishing? Military history caption contests are the best!!

If you ask me, this is what heaven looks like. (yes, yes, I know, I stole this link from Dark Cargo, but she always posts all the cool stuff first)

Seems like everyone who is anyone is reading Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon. I’m getting my copy tomorrow. I’m usually turned off by anything that gets hyped or over-hyped, but not this time. Maybe it’s because I’ve met Ahmed and he’s one of the nicest, most modest guys around (not to mention insanely well read, intelligent and a fellow Michigander). But anyways, what are your thoughts on titles that are hyped / overhyped? First titles that come to my mind are Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Are books that are superhyped bound to be disappointing to us book snobs? or am I just an epic book snob?

I’m a cavewoman and just discovered pod casting.  what reasonably priced ipod/mp3 player should I buy for use on long work commutes? I’m also thinking 40 minute yoga sessions will be much less boring if I’m listening to some sweet audio.

and randomly speaking of fun Michigan stuff, I’ll be at the Marmalade Dog gaming con next weekend.  Hoping to run at least one game of Ticket to Ride:Europe on Saturday morning, possibly Game of Thrones as well, while secretly hoping to get in on a game or two of Small World or Railways.  are you a board gamer geek? what are your faves?


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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.
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