Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seppo Jokinen: Ajomies

A police procedural. A journalist, who has been fired from his former job, is found shot in execution style. He was investigating something as a freelance, but what story could have been warranted a murder? And what a bus driver who was a suspect years ago in a strange, apparently intentional traffic accident, and who was at the scene of the crime has to do with the murder? An entertaining book with very familiar surroundings – it happens in my home town.

Komisario Koskinen-sarjaan kuuluva kirja, joka edeltää aikajärjestyksessä viimeksi lukemaani. Kirja oli Helsingin Sanomien viikon kirjana ja pitihän sitä ilmainen tarjous hyödyttää hyväksi havaitusta kirjasarjasta. Aikaisemmasta työstään potkut saanut toimittaja löytyy teloitustyyliin ammuttuna. Toimittaja oli tiettävästi ollut jonkin kuuman jutun jäljillä, mutta mikä on voinut olla niin kuuma aihe, että se on aiheuttanut mafia-tyylisen niskalaukauksen? Vai onko kyse jostain toimittajan työhön liittymättömästä asiasta? Ja onko ruumiin viereltä löytyneellä bussikuskilla, jonka kymmenkunta vuotta sitten epäiltiin tahallisesti kiilanneen viattoman kanssa-autoilijan ulos tieltä, jotain tekemistä asian kanssa? Ja miksi aikaisemmin täysin nuhteeton linja-autonkuljettaja kiilasi auton ulos nähtävästi ilman mitään syytä muistamatta teostaan mitään jälkikäteen? Yksityiselämässä Koskiselle toisaalta kuuluu hyvää: hänestä on tullut isoisä – ja toisaalta vähän huonoakin: maratonilla kipeytynyt polvi vihoittelee, eikä konnien jahtaaminen sille ainakaan hyvää tee. Kirja on pääosin oikein onnistunut, joskin puolenvälin seutu olisi jonkin tasoisesta tiivistämisestä hyötynyt. Loppu tuli aika nopeasti ja vähän yllättäenkin (Hesarin kirjojen lukusovellutus ei näytä paljon kirjaa on jäljellä – joka on aika ärsyttävä puute). Kielellisesti kirja oli samaa ihan sujuvaa laatua kuin aikaisemmat lukemani saman kirjailijan romaanit. Pari ärsyttävää virhettä kirjaan mahtui – ehkä Seppo Jokinen tarvitsisi hiukan huolellisempia esilukijoita: ei ole olemassa mitään ”lain vaatimaa ilmoitusta teräasevammasta” ja Komisario Koskisen, joka ”esimiesasemassa olevana kyllä tietää, että sairaslomalla oleva ei ole työpaikan vakuutuksen piirissä” pitäisi kyllä esimiehenä tietää, että ko. uskomus on puhtaasti urbaanilegenda.

345 s.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, April 2015

A pretty decent issue, mostly.

SHORT STORY: TRANSFER POINT, Barry N. Malzberg & Bill Pronzini

A customs inspector at a lunar immigration station is told that the station will be closed, and the new one will be established on Mars. He starts his day a bit baffled about the news. He is also feeling somehow strange, strangely light headed or something. A short, light story with a fifties feel in it. ***+
A colony is facing internal struggle where the colonists have divided into factions. A leader of "moderates" is facing a capture and possibly trial. He and his female friend escape and find the ruins of a similar compound they live. Apparently due to problems in cold sleep they woke up without any memories. The old compound shows signs of a struggle. The story start without any background straight away in middle of action. At first that felt distracting, but it suited to the story- the protagonists themselves had woken in the middle of action without any memories. I am not sure if the factions would appear as fast and as rigid as in the story, but pretty good anyway. ***½
A guy discovers a way to send a copy of himself to the future. Soon there are a lot of copies with increasing deviating behavior compared to the original. And all copies are making more copies. That can only lead to serious problems. Light story about a possible end of the world. ***+
A story about the elevator operator of the most advanced space ship of the alliance. He drives the personal elevator of the ship's commander and his guests. The elevator goes from the bridge to the personal and guest’s quarters, nowhere else. Why would a super advanced and powerful spaceship have a lift which needs a person to operate it? Well, that IS the question. A pretty nice and fun story. Pretty bad job, though. ****-
An anthropologist gets a notification that his son is on the custody of the immigration officials. That's kind of strange as he doesn't have a son. As matter of fact, he hasn’t even had sex with the woman who is the mother of the child. He did know her and was in love with her, but sex - no. Especially surprising is when the DNA test turns out to be positive. A good and moving story. ***½
A city or large structure built on the coast of Norway (?) starts to fall into the ocean. The future is bleak, Yellowstone has apparently blown up and practically no communication is available from anywhere. A woman loses her son and must look for him in a falling building. Just an action scene. The more interesting parts of the story are missing. ***
Comets are being chased for their volatiles in a solar system which has been colonized by humans a few hundred years ago. A group which is hunting for them discovers the largest ever. Its’ trajectory seems strange; it is like something changed the orbit recently. The found that something seems to be eating comets. Is it a strange lifeform? Another story which feels like a third or fourth chapter ripped from a novel. ***
Usually I haven’t reviewed the Probability Zero stories, as they are very short fillers. Usually they are fun but forgettable stories. This time – I haven’t the slightest idea what happens in this story. I asked about it on Analog’s Facebook page, but didn’t get any answers. Could someone please explain to me WTF happens in this story?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July-August 2004

Mainly pretty long stories which are fairly nice, readable and though provoking.

To Emily on the Ecliptic • novella by Thomas R. Dulski
A poet with a writer’s block uses an alien magic tech device to get over it. The device is supposed to give an experience which helps the person who is using the machine. It takes so much power that the nearby suns dim when it is used (I wonder about the light speed limit). The poet meets Emile Bronte, and some other classic authors. Is the experience real? Does it matter? A pretty good and very well written story with a slightly too slow start and too mystical and magical device. And really, are they still using inches, grosses and other already antiqued measurements in the far future on another planet? But on the other hand, liters and meters are also being used. Probably they haven't made their mind? ***½
Clay's Pride • [Glass Ships] • novella by Bud Sparhawk
After a short prologue (which has practically no relation with the rest of story) a military vessel on a training run encounters a strange apparently alien vessel which is apparently made from glass. The space ships collide and the alien one is apparently completely destroyed while the human one is seriously damaged. After that fairly promising start, everything in the story goes downhill. The story goes from a first encounter to surviving in a damaged ship story to a trial of justice story to political scheming to romance to agent adventure. While the single most interesting detail, the aliens are largely forgotten warranting just a few mentions. And the military is apparently run by morons, who hire captains who are seriously offended by slight problems in the chain of command in the middle of disaster. And apparently they are not bright enough to equip their space destroyers with cockpit recorders of any kind to properly document what happens in accident situations or store visual recordings of surprising situations. A pretty bad story, which might have been a lot better, if it had concentrated on just one thing. Now it was all over the place with irritatingly stupid and fairly badly drawn characters. **
The Clapping Hands of God • novelette by Michael F. Flynn
Explorers from earth arrive at a new planet through a wormhole. They apparently appear by themselves to new places. The planet has life, and humans (who apparently are mostly Muslims) observe their life with miniature drones. They are starting some sort of military preparations, and soon there is an invasion by another alien race which is technologically on much higher stage. Should humans be neutral? Is they anything they could (or should?) do? A very well written story with some very huge coincidences. Very enjoyable and good nevertheless. ****
Moreau² • [Near Space] • novelette by Allen Steele
Reporters are covering a story about military action on the moon between the Earth forces and a Lunar colony. Their shuttle is shot down and they are rescued to a secret research facility. They find out that a shady scientist who goes by the name of Dr. Moreau has something even more newsworthy than the war. An ok story with some holes in it. I do wonder what was worth of an extremely costly military action in the first place? I the way the protagonist survives (or at least believes he will survive) was pretty contrived and uncertain. ***+
Fool Efficient • shortstory by Bob Buckley
An alien has an ingenious plan to invade the Earth and enslave all humans: he starts to market perfect cars which are supposed to run on the static left from the Big Bang. Alien military is getting restless and looking forward to using more drastic measures, but the plot seems to be working pretty well: humans are getting totally dependent of the new vehicles. The writing was ok, but the end was too fast and too easy. ***

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1955

At best average issue. Sheckley’s story was good, but the others were pretty mediocre.

The Servant Problem • novelette by William Tenn
A dictator of the Earth has finally achieved the total control of the people of the Earth. After through psychological conditioning 100% of the younger generations are totally loyal to him. He is very happy of that achievement. But his main aide is the person who really is in control. But he is controlled by his psychiatrist. But he is totally controlled by a young assistant, who has perfected hypnotic techniques. But the aide is totally controlled by the dictator - or at least he is totally loyal to him. A fairly nice, but badly overlong story. ***
Don't Shoot • shortstory by Robert Zacks
An inventor tries to invent a 3d movie camera and ends up inventing a matter transporter/size changer. A ruthless movie producer tries to benefit from it and ends up as an abominable snowman at the Himalayas. About as stupid and bad it sounds. **-
The Lifeboat Mutiny • [AAA Ace] • shortstory by Robert Sheckley
AA interplanetary service has acquired a new life boat for their terraforming activities. It was a war surplus bought at very affordable price. It turns out to be a very efficient and protective ship with effective AI, who is ready to protect all members of the Drome war fleet at any cost. Even those who are apparently mentally unbalanced and claim to be some strange beings called humans, and turn the temperature of the ship up to unhealthily warm temperatures. A fun and amusing little tale. ****
Target One • shortstory by Frederik Pohl
A group murders Einstein with a time machine of sorts and hope to prevent a nuclear war. And someone else makes all the same inventions less surprisingly. Simple and short. **½
Man's Best Friend • shortstory by Evelyn E. Smith
A man is told that he has been elected as the dictator. As the custom is, he is supposed to assassinate his predecessor. He is more than a little dumbfounded, but he decides to talk with the former dictator, who seems pretty calm about it all. A pretty talky and overlong story without any major surprises. The writing was average. **½
Hurricane Trio • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
A man has been rescued by aliens and rebuild as something similar but better. We learn that after several pages of description of pretty pedestrian vacation where there is some sort of disconnect between the husband and wife. Fairly little happens and the husband seems more than a little stupid even when he was supposed to be "enhanced ". The writing was ok. **½

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Isaac Asimov: Toinen Säätiö (Second Foundation)

The third part of an old classic. The writing was worse than I remembered from the last time I read this over thirty years ago. It was an entertaining, fast read though. Not as good as the second part, but vastly better that the first instalment.
Kolmas osa vanhassa klassikkosarjassa. Edellinen osa painottui Muuliin, joka järkytti Hari Seldonin suunnitelmaa valloittaen ensimmäisen säätiön. Tässä osassa etsitään mystistä toista säätiötä. Ensin etsijänä on Muuli, myöhemmin itse ensimmäinen säätiö. Molemmat löytävät etsimänsä, mutta eivät siitä löydöstä hyödy - tai edes tiedä mitä todella tulivatkaan löytäneeksi. Nopeasti luettava, hiukan vanhahtava kirja, jonka tekstin ja henkilöhahmojen jäykkyyden huomaa nyt aika paljon paremmin kuin kirjan viimeksi yli kolmekymmentä vuotta sitten lukiessani. Sarjan uudelleen lukemisen myötä vaikuttaa siltä, että kakkososa oli paras ja tämä kolmonen toiseksi paras. Jatko-osista olen varmaan pari lukenut aikoja sitten, juuri mitään muistikuvia niistä ei ole jäänyt mieleen ja tuskin ovat ihan heti lukulistalla. Taisi olla, että toinenkaan säätiö ei ollut niin suvereenisti vallassa kuin kuvitteli. Hm, pahus pitäisiköhän ne jatkot kuitenkin lukea?

286 s.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jussi Valtonen: He eivät tiedä mitä tekevät

The winner of this year’s Finlandia award, the most prestigious literary award in Finland. A book which covers extremely wide variety of subjects ranging from medicalization, medical publishing, ecoterrorism, ethics of animal experiments, relations between parents and children, and role and significance of new communication and information technologies. As can been guessed the book feels slightly disjointed, but that might been partly intentional considering that the incoherence of modern life is one of the messages of the book.

Tämän vuoden Finlandia-palkinnon voittaja. Paksu kirja, jossa on paljon monenlaisten asiaa. Kirja kertoo amerikkalaisista tutkijasta, joka aikanaan ihastui suomalaiseen aloittelevaan naistutkijaan, ja yritti jonkin aikaa tutkimuksiensa jatkamista Suomessa. Suomalainen jäykkä ja epäsosiaalinen ilmapiiri ei kuitenkaan häntä motivoinut, eivätkä hänen tutkimuksensa oikein tuntuneet edistyvän. Mies palasi sitten aika nopeasti takaisin Amerikkaan jättäen tyttöystävänsä ja juuri syntyneen poikansa Suomeen. Myöhemmin hän luo loistavan tutkijanuran, tutkien perusfysiologiaa. Hieman yllättäen hän ja hänen tutkimuskeskuksensa joutuvat eläinaktivistien vainon kohteeksi. Samaan aikaan Suomessa hänen poikansa on pettynyt teinirakkaudessa ja radikalisoitunut ympäristönsuojelupiireissä – ja on koko elämänsä kaivannut isäänsä haluten samalla miellyttää äitiään, joka ei ole ollut ilahtunut pojan yrityksistä ottaa yhteyttä isäänsä. Tämä on vain pääjuoni, kirjassa on hyvin paljon erilaisia sivujuonia, yhtenä niistä aika scifistinen uusi suoraan aivoliittymään pohjautuva kännykkä/nettiselain sekä uusi tavallisten koululaisten ”sosiaalista dysfunktiota” hoitava lääkeaine. Kirjan teemoja ovat medikalisaatio, lääketieteellisten tutkimuksien julkaisemisen kaupallistuminen, mainonnan muuttuminen kohdennetummaksi ja toisaalta hienovaraisemmaksi ja toisaalta julkeammaksi, sekä tietenkin ihmisten väliset suhteet. Kuten jo käsiteltyjen asioiden suuresta määrästä voi epäillä, tiettyä hajanaisuutta kirjassa kyllä on. Toisaalta ehkä tämän hajanaisuuden ja sivujuonien määrän voi ajatella liittyvän osittain kirjan yhteen teemaan, eli internetaikaan ja sen aiheuttamaan yleiseen keskittymisen hajaantumiseen ja sivupoluille harhautumiseen tarkoituksellisesti liittyvää. Tosin kieltämättä jonkin asteista tiivistämistä kirjaan olisi ollut varaa tehdä, paikoitellen kirjoitustyyli oli liian löysä ja jopa hiukan naivin tuntuista. Kokonaisuutena kyseessä oli kuitenkin oikein mainio ja selvästi Finlandia-voittajien keskitason ylittävä kirja.

559 s.