Monday, April 25, 2011
Average, or somewhat above average issue.
Tower of Worlds • novella by Rajnar Vajra
The story begins when a man is facing execution. How and why aren't known. Suddenly, he seems to start transforming to a reptile, and manages escaped as he suddenly gains a set of very impressive skills, among other ability to stretch his body through unbelievably small openings. After that, he encounters strange creatures, diabolic plots and almost endless action (except for a very long stretch of exposition). The beginning of the story was excellent, but then it decays to pretty mindless action. The story feels more like fantasy than science fiction. (when an immortality treatment is reversed the person turns to a withered corpse - feels more like a magic spell than a scientific treatment). The first fifth was a solid four star story, the rest with all the exposition and boring action felt like a two star story. ***-
Boumee and the Apes • shortstory by Ian McHugh
Intelligent elephants and the first humans encounter each other, and a war leading to genocide seems imminent. A pretty good story, but I found unclear if the story was supposed to happen in an alternative past, or in the "real" past and the smart elephants were ultimately wiped out by the humans. The odds for that happening seemed fairly bad...***½
The Wolf and the Panther Were Lovers • shortstory by Walter L. Kleine
A kind of "tall tale" of a card hustler who came to a small wild west town. He encounters a pair of intelligent wolf and puma, and wonders if he is being scammed in one way or other. Pretty good, maybe somewhat too short a story. ***+
The Old Man's Best • shortstory by Bud Sparhawk
A pair of bored asteroid workers decide to brew some beer to lighten their days. They encounter a score of difficulties which they are able solve, but usually very poorly. A very light story without any deeper meaning, ok read. ***
Ellipses . . . • novelette by Ron Collins
An author start to wonder why his neighbors have a few freshly dug grave-like mounds on their backyard. He starts to investigate and finds himself as a prisoner. Pretty good start for a story - where is the rest of it? Very entertaining anyway. ****
Blind Spot • novelette by Bond Elam
A detective examines an extortion case. A formula for a memory wipe has been stolen. The examination can be slightly hard when everyone, eventually including the man who was extorted seems to have lost their memory. A pretty good story. ***+
Friday, April 22, 2011
A “lovestory” of the grandparents of a renown Finnish author. The story is mostly based on letters they exchanged during their fairly short marriage. Uno, the husband, was arrogant bastard, Emma, the wife, was a naïve country girl who later had to cope with taking care of half a dozen children. The story is told with very detached way with a narrative voice which is outside of the events.
Puolisoni piti tästä kirjasta hyvin paljon, ja sen takia otin sen omaankin lukupinooni.
Kirja kertoo Marta Tikkasen isovanhempien “rakkaus”tarinan. Kirja pohjautuu pitkälti säilyneisiin kirjeisiin ja osaltaan suvussa säilyneeseen perimätietoon. Emma oli viaton kartanontytär, joka ihastui silmittömästi vanhempaan, sivistyneeltä vaikuttaneeseen herrasmieheen. Unoa kiinnostaa ainakin odotettavissa oleva perintö, jota hän hehkuttaa kirjeessä omalle äidilleen. Sivulauseessa sentään muistaa mainita, että morsian on myös terve. Nopeaan tahtiin syntyy iso lauma lapsia, joita Emma hoitaa ja Uno viettää pääosan ajastaan Ruotsissa kansanopistoissa opettamassa ja kansanvalistustyöstä luennoimassa. Emmalle hän ei kirjeitä kirjoita, liittääpä kuitenkin äidilleen kirjoittamiin kirjeisiin terveiset puolisolleen. Emma kirjoittaa Unolle päin viikoittain ikävöiviä kirjeitä. Erohan siitä sitten lopulta tuli, suhteellisen lyhyen avioliiton jälkeen. Ihmetyttämään hiukan jäi, missä vaiheessa tämä pari sen puolen tusinaa lasta oikein ehti siittämään, sen verran etäiseltä vaikuttava suhde oli. Ja mikä oikein oli taustalla Emman niin suureen hullaantumiseen, sillä aikamoiselta ylimieliseltä ku*ipäältä Uno vaikutti - tosin taisi olla aika normaali 1800-luvun korkeamman sosiaaliluokan mies.
Koko kirja kerrotaan ulkopuolisen havainnoijan näkökulmasta. On olemassa paljon siteerattu kirjoitusohje: “show, don’t tell“. Tämä kirja ei noudata tätä ohjetta, vaan koko kerronta perustuu siihen, että vain kerrotaan mitä tapahtui. Henkilöiden mielenliikkeitä korkeintaan arvaillaan, ja sitäkin vain harvakseltaan. Sinällään tässä kerrontaratkaisussa on omatkin puolensa, mutta jotenkin kovin ulkokohtaiselta tarina tuntui, ja olisin itse kaivannut persoonallisempaa otetta.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The first part of Demolished Man takes about half of the magazine. There are classics among the rest of the stories.
Dead End • shortstory by W. Macfarlane [as by Wallace Macfarlane ]
Consciousness can be transferred to a “pseudo-life” body, which is otherwise perfect, but has no creativity at all. And the real humans are becoming extinct…Also, eating in public is considered horribly indecent. I really didn’t get why those two totally unrelated ideas were combined in this story. The writing was average. **-
The Girls from Earth • novelette by Frank M. Robinson
The colonies have few women, as many of the men have left the earth in search of adventure. The earth has a surplus of women. As men can’t make food, wash clothes or clean houses, and the ultimate goal of all women is to get as good a man as possible (and if they don‘t succeed in that mission, they turn to bitter spinsters who will want to forbid everything), things aren’t going well. Laughably old fashionable attitudes. **½
The Furious Rose • shortstory by Dean Evans
A man is facing execution (or rather personality stripping). His wife is going has a compulsory divorce after that act. There is some pointless ritual of giving a red rose for the victim before the execution. I didn’t really get the point of the story if there was any. The writing wasn’t too good, either. *½
The Addicts • shortstory by William Morrison
A couple lives on an isolated asteroid tending an important space beacon. Rock eating creatures of some sort have invaded the asteroid and there seem to be no chance of long term survival. The husband is using a drug that removes all troubles (supposedly having no effect at all to rational brain functions), and is almost looking forward to his death. The wife tries to convince her husband that without the drug he might be able to find a way to get rid of the creatures. There is a way: they give the “happy pills” for the aliens, and they practically line up to be shot. Felt a little like something by Sheckley, but worse. ***-
Hallucination Orbit • novelette by J. T. McIntosh [as by J. T. M'Intosh ]
Being alone in space causes "solitosis". That is a kind of psychosis with clearly defined hallucinations of different sorts. Ord has spent months on an asteroid, and he has been visited by several beautiful women, and he has always been able to find out that those have been only hallucinations. The latest beauty‘s spaceship seems surprisingly real. Could she be real? (yeah, she is, but she isn’t beautiful, she is an elderly doctor, who has come to check Ord’s health - her looks was the hallucination). ***
Sunday, April 10, 2011
A nice “detective” story about a newspaperwoman solving crimes. A popular TV anchorwoman has been murdered, and the best friend of Annika Bengtzon is among the suspects. Annika also faces some domestic difficulties. Very fluent and enjoyable mystery.
Annika Bengtzon dekkari, mukavaa hyvin kirjoitettua viihdettä tähän stressin keskelle.
Annika selvittää kuuluisan ja iltapäivälehtien kansissa viihtyneen TV-toimittajan murhaa. Murha oli tapahtunut eristyneessä hotellissa tehdyn kuvaussession päätteeksi, ja mahdollisia syyllisiä on klassiseen dekkarityyliin rajallinen määrä, ja useimmilla oli motiivi päästää juontaja päiviltä. Yksi mahdollisista syyllisistä on Annikan paras ystävä, joka antaa murhaan selvittämiseen tavallista henkilökohtaisemman sävyn. Tuttuun tapaan rinnakkaisina juonina kulkevat Annikan perhe-elämän ja työpaikan ongelmat. Annikan ja hänen miehensä suhde rakoilee taas kerran, ja kun Annika joutuu lähtemään töihin juuri ennen sovittua yhteistä Juhannuksen viettoa miehen pinna kiristyy pahasti. Työssä taas lehden päätoimittaja vaikuttaa olevan hukassa, siinä määrin että lehden toimituspäällikkö (?) ryhtyy omiin toimenpiteisiinsä asian suhteen. Molemmissa asioissa kirjan lopussa vaikuttaa valo pilkistävän tunnelin päästä.
Aika hyvä dekkari, selvästi parempi kuin vaikka saman kirjoittajan Paratiisi (jossa ilmeisesti kirjailijalle tärkeän asian herättämät tunteet heikensivät kirjan kirjallista laatua). Hyvin kirjoitettua, sujuvaa tekstiä, jota oli miellyttävä lukea. Käännöskin on ilmeisesti nappiin onnistunut.
Monday, April 4, 2011
A fairly average issue.
Swarming Korolev • [Mike and Linna] • novelette by Dave Creek
Mike Christopher tries to find out why an insectoid alien species with an apparent hive mind has invaded a space habitat, and how it would be possible to defeat them. An above average stories in this series. ***+
Blood Oath • novelette by Pete D. Manison
The asteroid habitats are at war with earth. Those earth citizens who live on the asteroid belt must prove they allegiance by shooting a prisoner of war. A pacifist immigrant (who has lived on the asteroid most of his life) is facing deportation which probably will kill him as he isn't going to kill anyone. A pretty good story with a twist in the end, not very logical twist, but an emotionally satisfying one. ***½
Crow's Feat • shortstory by John G. Hemry
An author travels back in time to meet Shakespeare. As usual, he isn't what was expected. (he considers that his plays are worthless "mid-list" works which aren't worth anything). Fairly worn out idea, execution is all right. ***
Check Flight • novelette by Michael F. Flynn
A part of series involving a female space pilot trainee. A lot of boring technical details of space ships and a crisis which happens during last few pages. The writing was ok, but otherwise fairly dull story. ***-
Tired • shortstory by Michael Bishop
The car tires have artificial intelligence. Perhaps somewhat too much of an artificial intelligence. Very short humorous story. ***
Funny Furry Fellows • shortstory by Mia Molvray
Humans and an alien race have some disagreements on an alien planet. I didn't really get this story. **
Kaddish for the Last Survivor • shortstory by Michael A. Burstein
The last survivor of the Holocaust is dying. That is a huge media event and makes a granddaughter reconsider some of her own choices. Feels like a fragment of a larger story. ***
Starstruck • shortstory by Grey Rollins
For years there have only been computer animated characters in the movies. One director decides to use real persons and causes a new fad in film-making. And his female lead is very attractive, and a friend of director falls for her. And that's about it. A very short and simple story, well told but too little “meat”. ***-
Dangling Conversations • [InterstellarNet] • novelette by Edward M. Lerner
The real message from an another star has finally been discovered. The story concentrates on political wrangling the message causes, and political and religious opposition for sending a reply. Ending is somewhat too neat. Otherwise more interesting that it might sound.***½
Sunday, April 3, 2011
A fairly well known and apparently fairly respected book. I picked this up because John Scalzi is going to publish a ”reboot” of this series and I wanted to find out what is so special about it.
A man is prospecting for rare jewels in a forest on an alien planet owned by a private corporation encounters fuzzy cute aliens and makes friends with several. The company controlling the planet gets very worried, because if the planet is found out to have sentient life the government will take over the planet and the company will lose its' lease. The bulk of the book is about preparing to the trial which will determinate if the fuzzies are sapient or not. Eventually the matter is decided in extremely easy, almost in deus-ex-machina way.
The writing is fluent and easy to read, but the characters are very black and white, and some attitudes are more than a little questionable. Even after the fuzzies are non-surprisingly shown to be “people” and sapient creatures, the “good guys” treat them as little more than as very nice and revered pets.
If I had read this when I was eleven, I would probably have loved this really, really much. Now it feels fairly childish and seems to be aimed for very young audience, clearly for younger kids than for example Heinlein's juveniles are. I wonder why this book needs a ”reboot”. Well, I might think otherwise if I had read this when I was eleven...