the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction

 

Hello fellow #RRSciFiMonth readers! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite science fiction that I’ve read over the last year or so. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself “what kind of science fiction does Little Red Reviewer enjoy?” this list should answer that question. the links will take you to my review.

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

 

The Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee, which includes Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun. I love everything about this trilogy, even though I am still recovering from that scene that made me cry hysterically for most of two days. Here’s a link to all three reviews, but read everything after the Ninefox Gambit review at your own risk because Spoilers!

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells – A murderous cyborg who balances a heart of gold, an addiction to soap operas, and hating on humans. My fave entry so far is the 2nd one – Artificial Condition.

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick – Fake news! First half of the book is excellent, second half isn’t so awesome, but this book is still worth the read.

Acadie by Dave Hutchinson – the best fun you’ll have in 100 pages

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer – weird, wonderful, post-apocalyptic. I hope one day Rachel feels safe enough that she can take her shoes off.

Nova by Samuel Delany – this story hasn’t aged a day! a compelling read that keeps you turning the pages. Excellent characters, fast paced plot.

Advertisements

 

I got chatting with author Chris Voss over twitter (@vossdross), and if you follow the #RRSciFiMonth tag, you’ve probably seen some of his tweets about his science fiction TBR, enjoying Doctor Who, his current  reads, and reminiscing about scifi paperbacks he enjoyed as a kid.

 

Chris’s debut novel, Genesis, came out earlier this year,  and boy did I have a ton of question for him about it!  I wanted to know everything – what was his favorite scene to write? what inspired the book? why go the self publishing route?  you know. . . everything!  Sorry Chris, I didn’t mean to freak you out with so many questions! I’m just curious about everything, and i might be an introvert but that doesn’t stop me from e-mailing someone a million questions.    This is a pretty cool interview, if I do say so myself!

 

About the book:

In a world ravaged by climate change, social inequality and dwindling natural resources there’s only one solution: abandon ship and terraform a new home.

Operation Genesis is beset by problems from the start – sabotage, covert infiltration, planning by committee – but Dylan Lomax, an emotionally disconnected empath, soon discovers there are worse things than organisational incompetence. The mission to bring life to a new planet has a terrible secret, one which threatens to take humanity to the brink of extinction.

About Chris Voss:

C.A. Voss was raised in Walsall, a small industrial town in the UK famous for its close proximity to the M6, Jerome K. Jerome and a concrete hippo (Google it). He moved to Leicester to study at De Montfort University and has been resident there ever since. He writes in his spare time and would love nothing more than to earn a living by telling stories.

He loves the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, Philip K. Dick and Hunter S. Thompson, to name but a few, and believes the greatest novel ever written was the first, Don Quixote by Cervantes. He also draws inspiration from the thousands of movies and TV shows consumed during a misspent youth; and hopes that his work contains a fraction of the wit, intelligence and excitement displayed by creatives like Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Spielberg.

 

Let’s get to the interview!

 

Little Red Reviewer: Hi Chris! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Chris Voss: I find writing a little about myself way more difficult than writing a 100,000 word novel!

The initials in my pen name, C.A. Voss, stand for Chris(topher) Adam. I live in Leicester, in the UK, with my girlfriend Jen. A few years ago we both quit our jobs to go travel the world on a shoe-string budget and had the most amazing adventure. We barely scratched the surface of all the sights and experiences the world has to offer and can’t wait to get out and do it again someday.

I’m a master of procrastination; binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reading books off my TBR list and playing Red Dead Redemption II when I should be writing my next novel. I have three great ideas I’m working on at the moment, including a spiritual sequel to my debut novel Genesis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire, #3)

published June 2018

Where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

One of the reasons I write reviews is to help myself process how a book makes me feel. I’m not super good at expressing myself verbally (or at all, actually), but somehow writing a book review helps me express myself and process my thoughts.  Somehow, with words, I am making a picture of the journey a book took me on. A picture of a journey, made of words? Magic!

 

Anyway.

 

I finished Revenant Gun nearly a week ago.  I’d been reading this book very slowly, savoring every page.  Like Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem, Revenant Gun is fucking smart. I can’t tell if this trilogy is the decade’s smartest science fiction epic, a treatise on management and communication, step by step instructions for how to take down a government, or if all of those things are actually in a way the same thing.  Among other things,  The Machineries of Empire trilogy is the story of what happens when choice is removed, and then many generations later, it is given back. If you’ve never had something before, how do you know what you’re supposed to do with it? I’ve grossly oversimplified the plot, of course. Sort of like saying Star Wars is about a guy who goes on an adventure, meets his dad, and then decides to kill his dad’s boss because of a political disagreement. I skipped over all the good parts, didn’t I?

 

I finished reading Revenant Gun nearly a week ago. That day, and the next day, I was no shape to write a review. Nearly in tears, I’d emailed my best friend and tried to explain to her (hey, remember that e-mail I sent you? And I said I wasn’t going to tell you the name of the book I was talking about? Well, it’s this book!)  that a particular scene had taken place, and that I felt rather positive about that scene. That I’d liked that scene.  And then later in the book, I found out that what I thought was happening that scene wasn’t actually what was happening at all.  And now that I knew what was really going on, what kind of fucking monster was I for liking that scene??   You guys, this was beyond #Allthefeels.

 

After I was done crying (I still didn’t feel any better, I’d just cried myself out), I ordered a copy of Yoon Ha Lee’s short story collection.

 

But enough about me and my mushy feelings,  you want to know what this book is about, right?  I don’t know what’s better – the overarching theme and plot of the trilogy or that these books are so damn smart and perfectly written that maybe the overarching plot doesn’t matter.

 

I was hoping for another Cheris book, and while she does make an appearance in Revenant Gun, this final volume is Jedao’s time to shine.  He’s awake, has only himself in his mind, doesn’t seem to have an anchor, and he thinks he’s 17 years old. His body is 40 something years old, and the soldiers expect him to order them around. Makes sense, since he’s been hired to win a war.  The soldiers are also terrified of him, and he doesn’t know why. Jedao is functioning without an understanding of what happened between him and Khiaz. He’s functioning without any understanding of his place in history. Even worse, he’s the only person who had no idea who Cheris is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells

published 2018

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

 

 

 

Murderbot needs to stop hanging out with humans.  You hang out with humans too much, and they start to rub off on you, and you start to think that maybe not all humans are awful, that maybe it is possible for a bot to be treated kindly.  You start getting spoiled, you start getting used to sleeping on soft beds and having access to niceties.

 

You hang out with humans long enough, and even their gross feelings and emotions start to rub off on you. Feelings like  anger. Loyalty. Envy.

 

Plot-wise, Rogue Protocol doesn’t offer much we haven’t seen before.  Murderbot is going somewhere to get more information about GrayCris, and will have to pass as human (or at least pass as anything other than a SecUnit) to be successful, all while keeping dumb humans from getting killed by their own stupidity. There is interaction with another bot, whereby Murderbot learns that not all bots have the same experience with humans, and not all humans are awful.  I didn’t feel the connection with the characters as much in this book as I did in previous installments, making Rogue Protocol feel like it suffered from “middle book syndrome”.

 

When I say that so far this is my least favorite Murderbot book, what I’m saying is that Rogue Protocol is better than 75% of the books I’ve read this year. And the way this book ends? I know I am in for some spectacular Murderbot-ness in the next installment!

 

I appreciated that Murderbot has no idea how to feel about Miki, the other bot.  Miki is privileged, and maybe a little spoiled by her humans. Should Murderbot feel envy? Miki also isn’t very smart, her programming isn’t very complicated. Should Murderbot feel pity? She’s too dumb to really understand what’s happening (although she has got the 3 laws of robotics down pat), so maybe ignorance is bliss.  Her programming keeps her rather childlike, almost the way you and I keep our pet cats and dogs in a state of permanent pre-adolescence so they can stay tame, cute, and domesticated. Hmmm… maybe that’s the trick to humans treating their bots with kindness – in your mind, the bot is a pet cat. Some cats are very smart, but I’ve known some pretty dumb indoor cats who would have died without a human to care for them and protect them.  There are plenty of dogs out there with jobs, but also plenty of really cute and dumb dogs.  it’s surprisingly easy to keep a pet cat dumb, or pet dog dumb.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick

published in 1964

where I got it: purchased used

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

You trust your government right?  Ok, maybe not 100%, but at least when it comes to defense of the nation and keeping our citizens safe, you trust the head honchos, right?

 

Nicholas St James and his entire community follow that trust.  They remember being shuffled into underground shelters when the bombs fell.  They remember being told that it would just be until it was safe to come back to the surface, two years at most.  Nick and his family and his community listen to the radio broadcasts, they watch Talbot Yancy speak on TV, they know if they just wait a little longer, that it will be safe to go above ground, and that one day soon their children will see a sunrise and a sunset.  One day the war will be over and the citizens of the tanks will be able to stop building and repairing the leadies who fight for the people’s freedom every day. Without trust, there would be chaos and death. They’ve been in these damn tunnels for thirteen years.

 

Meanwhile, Joseph Adams lives on his estate in California with a phalanx of leadies who are mostly used as house servants and security guards. On a daily basis he flies to his job in New York, where he works as a Yanceman – writing the speeches that will be fed into Talbot Yancy. Who is a robot bolted to an oak desk. Adams and his peers literally write “fake news”.  So much so that fake documentaries were even made that all children watch in school, and most adults have nearly memorized, documentaries that convince the people in the shelters that the government did what they did to protect their own people from harm. The Yancemen take their orders from Stanton Brose, who effectively rules as a feared regent. In Brose’s attempts to rule forever, he has had multiple parts of his body replaced with artificial organs, known as artiforgs. There may be half a dozen artificial hearts or artificial livers in existence, but according to Brose, they are all reserved for his use.

 

Oh, there was a war all right, between West Dem and Pac Peop. And there were bombs that fell. Most of the actual fighting was done by leadies.  The American government shoved as many people as they could into underground shelters, and those who survived above ground lived our their sterile lives in park like surroundings, with leadies to do their bidding. It’s so beautiful and empty up here, no dirty workers anywhere. Maybe we’ll wait just a few more years to bring the people from the shelters up, yeah? Because it’s just so nice up here, with only our friends up here.  Those filthy people who came up on their own? Oh, they are housed in prison-like apartment complexes, where they have a roof over their head, food, their medical needs are seen to, they’re even given jobs!

Read the rest of this entry »

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille by Steven Brust

published around 1990

where I got it: purchased used

.

.

.

.

 

.

 

After Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory, I needed a unicorn chaser. And by that, I mean I needed a comfort read. Something fun, fast, with witty dialog, a plot that wouldn’t fry my brain, and some sexy romantic scenes wouldn’t hurt either.  You know what bookshelf never lets me down? My Steven Brust bookshelf. As my finger went over the spines of Vlad Taltos paperbacks, I hit on a paperback that looked like it didn’t fit: Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille. Thinking I was going to be reading a fantasy novel, somehow I’d landed on straight up futuristic science fiction!   Nice!

 

This little paperback is everything I was looking for in a happy unicorn chaser comfort read: it was a fast read full of snarky and witty dialog, the plot is a slow burn that was distracting enough to keep me from remembering all those scenes in The Wasp Factory,  there was some satisfying (although mostly off-page) sex scenes, much of the book was strange to the point of loopy, and overall it was super fun.

 

When you’re inside Cowboy Feng’s, you’re always in the same place. It’s the outside that changes all the time.  You see, nearly TARDIS like, this bar jumps around the galaxy. Always landing on an populated planet, and always jumping just before a nuclear bomb or other disaster hits the block, the trick is to be inside the bar when it jumps. Cowboy Feng’s serves some excellent food, and they have an excellent house Irish band, so any customers (or musicians) who happen to be in the restaurant when it jumps are along for the ride too.  If a space-jumping restaurant doesn’t sound like your thing, read this just for the heavenly food and meal descriptions!

 

Libby the bartender and Fred the de facto manager have been with Feng’s for darn near forever. Along the way, they picked up Rich and Eve. One day, as the restaurant was getting ready to jump, the members of an Irish Band where there too.  Billy, Tom, Rose, and Jamie became the house band that night. Even if they wanted to go home, they have no idea how to do that.

 

The story is told from Billy’s point of view, and starts just as the restaurant lands at a new location. Everyone gets settled, they scout out the neighborhood,  open the bar for business, meet some locals, and the musicians even rent an apartment a few blocks away. And then a murder happens in the bar and the police don’t seem to care.  By the way, this is the kind of story in which murders don’t randomly happen in random bars, and the kind of book in which it sure looks suspicious that the cops don’t seem to care. Seems even more suspicious that the poor sap who got killed bears a striking resemblance to Billy.

 

Traditional  Irish music, the best food in the galaxy,  a murder mystery, and the possible destruction of humanity. Who could ask for anything more?

Read the rest of this entry »

Nexhuman by Francesco Verso

Publishing date Aug 14th, 2018 (click here to pre-order)

Where I got it: Received copy for review from Apex Books*

.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

 

 

#sorrynotsorry, I’m going to give you a spoiler right out of the gate:

 

Nexhuman will offer you enough ideas and discussion topics and thought experiments to keep you busy for the next ten years. In fact, an entire Convention programming track could be built just around the questions and ideas in this book.

 

What Nexhuman does not offer is concrete answers to any of the questions that are brought up.

 

It’s something you should know before you pick up this book: If you are the kind of reader who wants a book to ask questions and then cleanly answer them, Nexhuman will be one confusing and disappointing read.  On the flip side, if you enjoy science fiction books that ask questions about how society works, why humans act the way they do, why we make the decisions we make, how obsession and fear and passion work, a book that invites you to pull your own thoughts apart and examine them, and oh  yeah, if you love beautiful prose that doesn’t rely on snark to get a point across, Nexhuman could be the best book you read this year. Interested in how any of this came about? Francesco Verso recently published a short essay in Apex Magazine about the origins of the novel.

 

Another spoiler: Nexhuman does not at all read like your typical popular American-style science fiction novel. What I mean by that is there is no snarky language for the sake of being snarky or shocky,  no sexy cinematic scenes, the language is often raw and blunt, and the characters don’t really care if you like, agree with, relate to, or sympathize with them. I mean no disrespect to science fiction when I say that Nexhuman reads like literature.

 

Most of the novel takes place in or around a dump that overflows with consumer goods. For me, this novel was a connecting keystone for works such as Battle Angel Alita, Wall-E, John Scalzi’s Lock In, Ferrett Steinmetz’s The Uploaded, David Brin’s Kiln People, and other stories that touch on hyperconsumerism and leaving our fleshbodies behind for one reason or another.

 

Peter and his family make their living by clawing through the trash to find bits and pieces that can be resold, recycled, reused. Many household items are 5th, 6th, nth hand. Having something that is brand new is a status symbol, but also a symbol of flagrant waste.  Even Peter’s prosthetic limbs are made of whatever he can find in the dump. If he wants a better arm or a better leg, he better hit the jackpot of finding outdated robot or android parts in the dump. I spent 80% of the book wondering if he was born with a birth defect, or if there had been an accident or infection that led to his amputations. Peter doesn’t like to talk about, and when I found how what had happened to him,  not only did I realize why he hates to talk about it, but everything in the beginning of the book suddenly made a ton more sense!

 

Ok, so what the hell is this book about?  On the edge of the dump is a commercial district. Teenage Peter has a puppy-dog crush on a young woman named Alba who works at the travel agency. He watches her from afar, he shyly says hello to her when she comes to unlock the business in the morning.   He begins to view himself as her protector. She politely engages in conversation with him, asks him how his day is going, says hello. Alba is the first person in his life who has ever shown him the slightest bit of unconditional kindness, so it’s no wonder his crush turns into infatuation.

 

Is it before or after Peter’s brother’s gang attacks Alba and tears her body apart at the seams that Peter realizes she is a Nexhuman?

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,134 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on WordPress.com

Archives

Categories

FTC Stuff

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.
Advertisements