Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rupetta by N.A. Sulway

Rupertta is a clockwork woman, who was built by an inventive woman hundreds of years ago. Her heart must be “wound” be a human and the two are closely attached after that. During centuries, she has many different wounders, with different approaches and aims. The story is told from two different viewpoints; from a point of Rupertta herself and from the perspective of a young scholar who examines Ruperta’s life in the “present day” of the story. A strange intolerant religion has risen on the perverted philosophy of the worse winders which doesn’t think twice on destroying “heretics”. But what has happened to Ruperta herself?
The writing is excellent, and the story is fascinating cross between fantasy and steampunk. The ending was by far the weakest part of the story; it was too long and slightly confusing. The first few chapters were some of the best -written things I have read and the story might have worked better as a longish novella rather than a complete novel.
352 pp.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2014

Average issue, there is nothing really memorable.

Flow • novella by Arlan Andrews [as by Arlan Andrews, Sr. ]
Continues an earlier story, which happens apparently on a post apocalyptic earth or on another planet. A man who earlier sold ice goes to visit a larger city with slightly higher level of civilization. The story consists mainly from sightseeing and how the “hero” is trying to find things to steal. There is practically no actual plot at all. The world as itself is fairly interesting, but a good story should be some kind of real plot going on. Little happens here other than descriptions of the world. I didn’t like the first installment and I didn’t like this one. **
Persephone Descending • novelette by Derek Künsken
How to survive on Venus after there has been an attempt against your life and you are stranded in sulfuric acid atmosphere. A very detailed story about survival. The background and possible aftermaths seemed interesting, but there was too little about them and too many details on different ways to use Venusian floating plants. And oxygen tanks with hand pumps as standard? Really? (The given examination seemed stupid, as no pumps are usually used to transfer gases from lager containers with high pressur to small ones with low pressure) ***-
Mercy, Killer • shortstory by Auston Habershaw
An AI is on trial on the murder of several other AIs. It seems clear that he/it is guilty. An attorney is supposed to be on the defense team, but his job seems impossible. He meets the Ai and has a discussion. There are motives of course but not really interesting or surprising ones. The writing was ok but somehow pretty lackluster plot. ***-
An Exercise in Motivation • shortstory by Ian Creasey
An invention makes it possible that autists can change their interest, for example from remembering train tables to analyzing stock market information. ***
Habeas Corpus Callosum • shortstory by Jay Werkheiser
A man is in prison for life for a murder. But immortality treatments have been invented. Should he be released after one lifetime? There are pressure groups advocating the both sides and one case is used for the legal precedent. Nice writing, but I really don’t understand the vindictive process concerning more on revenge that possible rehabilitation. ***
Conquest • shortstory by Bud Sparhawk
Short humorous story about invasion which is slightly delayed. The mighty imperial warship encounters very efficient and powerful immigration bureaucracy. There is only one solution available. A very short fairly amusing story. ***
Elysia, Elysium • shortstory by V. G. Campen
There have been several famines in the world and food is very scarce. A young man inherits a trade route from an older man, who is dying from melanoma. He is supposed to transport some pills to another village. There is a secret which might change the world. A pretty nice but slight too short story, I would have liked to learn more of the world and characters.***+

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Green Mars (Mars Trilogy) by Kim Stanley Robinson

The second part of the Mars trilogy. The first Martian revolution failed in the previous book. People are picking up the pieces, both the rebellious colonists and the giant transnational corporations of Earth. But who will control the future Mars – greedy corporations or people who live there? And how Mars will be terraformed, will there be any areas with original geography left – there are some very bitter disagreements about that even among the colonists. Slowly, Mars turns more hospitable, and slowly the secret organizations of the colonists gain more supporters and more power. But how could they win the giant, all powerful and rich corporations with large private armies? Will the new rebellion end as badly as the first one?
The book has fairly little actual plot. It mainly describes the changes, which happen on the planet - and boy - it describes them in detail, in mind numbing detail. Different characters move around the planet, apparently for no other reason than enabling the author to describe the different features of Martian landscape and terraforming methods very carefully. Omitting the descriptions the page count could have been cut by something like 85-90%. The writing as such was pretty good, but at places it was more than a little dull. The events there were, happened in kind of bursts, followed by a hundred pages of sightseeing trips around the planet. The Martians itself are fascinating – how living on another planet changes people? Are there other ways of organizing society as the traditional free market capitalism while giving wide personal freedom? Those were the interesting parts of the book, not the details of the planet.
The scientific knowledge of Kim Stanley Robinson was slightly suspect, again. According to him the Martian work crews use dowsing to find water on Mars. Really? Why not astrology as well? The prior book had devices which worked against the laws of thermodynamics – this is about as stupid mistake.

I have now read 92% of all novels which have won the Hugo award.

784 pp