the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘hard SF

The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

published in 1974

Where I got it:  Might have swiped it from my Dad

why I read it: was in the mood for some good old hard SF.

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Even in the 1970’s, hard science fiction and first contact stories were nothing new.  But the masterpiece by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote in God’s Eye, was something brand new. Sure, it had spaceships and aliens and detailed explanations of FTL travel, but it had something more, something new, something unexpected. The aliens in this ultimate first contact story were nothing like anything ever seen before.

If you’ve ever read any of the Pournelle CoDominion books, you’ll be in familiar territory, as The Mote in God’s Eye takes place on the edge of CoDominion space. Although teeming with futuristic technologies, the empire is saddled with a bloated aristocracy and an old fashioned view towards women.  Old fashioned and futuristic all at the same time, does that make this book horrifically dated, or did Pournelle purposely design it into the original CoDominion novels?

The six word sentence plot summary of The Mote in God’s Eye is: Aliens are weirder than we thought.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Published: Jan 2011 from Solaris books

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: it’s this months’ SF book for my local SF reading club

Space ships, alien invasions, alien diplomacy, galactic empires, time travel, artificial intelligence, genetic manipulations, world changing ideas with life changing ramifications.  This is what Hard Scifi is all about!  

In the past, I haven’t been much for short stories, and I’m actively trying to change that.  Anthologies especially are tough for me, as they always seem a mixed bag. You get some great stories that blow your mind, and some mediocre stuff. Reminds me a little of the old days of buying an album just for the one track that was in heavy rotation on MTV. Wow, I just dated myself.

Engineering Infinity is a new Hard SF collection, showcasing some of SF’s biggest names, such as Charlies Stross, Peter Watts, Karl Schroeder, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, and Gwyneth Jones, just to name a few.   Was the anthology a mixed bag for me? Yes. Did I discover some new-to-me  authors that I plan to actively seek out? Yes, and more than I expected.  Was there some stuff that just didn’t do it for me? Yes. Such is the challenge of the anthology – it simply isn’t going to be everything to everyone.

If you enjoy short stories and Hard SF, you will probably have a blast with Engineering Infinity. And if, like me, you’re trying to get more short stories into your life, this is a good place to start. 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.
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