Science Fiction

Jasper Scott's First Encounter: A First Contact Nightmare

I love old paperbacks but am beginning to think I'm allergic to them. While I was recovering from a Defcon 1 sinus attack that might have been caused by a yellowing 1993 Francesca Lia Block fantasy novel, I dusted off my Kindle Oasis and read Jasper T. Scott's First Encounter, a science fiction novel about humanity's first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The book begins with the sunny utopian optimism of early Star Trek and then proceeds to crush the hopes and dreams of the ... (read more)

The Walking Dead Ends Unexpectedly

The Walking Dead issue 193 is worthy of a Hugo Awards nomination next year. It is a conclusion to the comic sprung entirely by surprise on the readership. To keep it under wraps, they solicited fake issues 194, 195 and 196 and made issue 193 a giant-sized finale at the regular price. Orders for those fake issues have been refunded. Without spoiling the content, it's a time jump that is intriguingly ambiguous about the proper lesson to take from the zombie apocalypse. I often find Robert ... (read more)

Review: 'Eternity Road' by Jack McDevitt

This post-apocalyptic novel occurs long after the fall of civilization. Humans in an agrarian society along the Mississippi River yearn to learn more about the Roadmakers, so named because of the enormous network of roads left behind. Little else survives other than six books and a lot of garbage impervious to decay. Ten years after a quest to learn more ends in tragedy, the lone survivor's death leads to a discovery in his belongings. This sparks a dangerous new quest by a small band to cross ... (read more)

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

This book was highly recommended by six avid readers on File 770 and they were right. Hailimi Mercedes Jaya Bristol, a gunrunner who left her family 20 years ago and never looked back, is brought home when the assassinations of her sisters and niece leave her heir to the empire. The story mixes palace intrigue with well-spun action as Haili struggles to survive long enough to figure out who's behind the attempted coup. The India-inspired, far-future society Wagers has created is richly drawn ... (read more)

Star Wars: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston

As a fan of Aaron Allston going back to his earliest RPG designs for Car Wars and Champions in the 1980s, I liked this book but felt like his creativity was constrained by the plot requirements required of the 12th book in a 19-book series (which I haven't read prior to this installment). The novel follows the fall of Coruscant to the Yuuzhan Vong. Starfighter squadrons and Jedi commanded by Wedge Antilles must take and hold the planet Borleias to help Coruscant refugees escape and regroup. ... (read more)

Everything About You by Heather Child

An engrossing novel that explores where Amazon Echo, Facebook, AI and VR are taking us. I kept waiting for something big to happen in this near-future science fiction thriller, but I learned later it already had and I didn't recognize the significance. A twentysomething grieving for her missing and presumed dead sister begins using technology called a smartface that can mimic the personality of anyone through data mining their entire digital footprint, producing an effect so compelling that ... (read more)

Brad Torgersen's 'Science Fiction Civil War'

Since 2008 I have voted in the Hugo Awards, the science fiction/fantasy honors that have the most prestige. The ballot for this year's awards has been hijacked by three right-wing authors -- Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen and Vox Day -- who ran bloc-voting campaigns that put their nominations all over the ballot to the exclusion of everyone else's. For months, they campaigned for people to vote for their slate of nominees by saying this act would stick it to a secret cabal of "social justice ... (read more)

Frederik Pohl Remembers Jack Vance

Frederik Pohl, one of the founders of science fiction, is still writing novels at age 93 and has a blog he updates regularly. The Way the Future Blogs recently noted the death of another legend of the genre, Jack Vance. Pohl recalls being editor of Galaxy magazine in the early '60s when a Vance manuscript came in: ... "I've got a new story from Jack Vance that I love. It's called The Dragon Masters, and it's about a race of dragon-like creatures from a distant planet who are at war with the ... (read more)

The World Already Has Enough Artists?

I maintain a list on Twitter of all Hugo Award-nominated best novel writers who use the service. A lot of cool stuff comes over the relatively low-traffic list, particularly related to science and creativity. At a Connecticut Forum event for high school students, the comics and science fiction writer Neil Gaiman was questioned by a teen who had been discouraged from being a director because there are "enough artists in the world." Gaiman's answer is perfect. ... (read more)

Two Science Fiction Novels I Didn't Finish

I hit a bad streak reading novels this month. My house is overflowing with books I've been meaning to read, so I will give up on a novel when I've abandoned all hope of being entertained. I figure if I'm not enjoying a book after 50 to 75 pages, it's time to bail. I reached that point with Wilson Tucker's The Year of the Quiet Sun (1970) and Philip K. Dick's The Divine Invasion (1981). Quiet Sun is a Nebula Award-nominated time-travel novel by the late Wilson "Bob" Tucker. He was an active ... (read more)