Monday, August 11, 2014

Anne Holt: Julkkismurhat


A police procedural about a serial murderer killing celebrities. The beginning of the book was a little disjointed and had far too many hard to keep track characters, but it got much better by the end. A nice summer read.

Tunnettu TV-julkkis kuolee kotonaan omituisella, ritualistisia piirteitä omaavalla tavalla. Parin viikon kuluttua kuolee toinen julkisuuden henkilö ja jälleen murhassa on mukana erikoisia piirteitä. liikkeellä vaikuttaa olevan sarjamurhaaja. Poliisipariskunta on juuri saanut lapsen, ja Inger Johanne Vik on äitiyslomalla. Hänen miehensä on yksi murhaketjun päätutkijoista, ja lomalla ollessaankin Inger hän alkaa selvittää murhia. Koska selvää motiivia ei vaikuta olevan, näyttää siltä, että tutkimuksesta tulee pitkä ja hankala. Ja niin tapahtuukin.
kirjan alku vaikutti hiukan liian löysältä ja henkilömäärä suurelta. (Miksi kirjoissa ei aina voi olla henkilöluetteloa, helpottaisi onnettoman nimimuistin omaavan lukijan lukemista huomattavasti). Loppua kohden kirja jäntevöityi ja ylineuroottisen lapsenhoidon vatvominen vähentyi ja tarina oli kovinkin mukaansatempaava. Viihdyttävää kesälukemista. Yhden mielenkiintoisen faktan neurologi kirjasta oppi: MS-tauti ei kuulemma vaikuta aivojen toimintaan. Mihinköhän sitten?

419 s.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1955


A really bad issue with really badly dated stories. Plots were very ridiculous and in a bad way.


Helpfully Yours • novelette by Evelyn E. Smith
The first female of an alien species which has contacted earth has arrived. She goes to work on a newspaper which contains a help column for aliens who are baffled by earth customs. A very strange story with strange characterization. Extremely old fashionable attitudes, especially female ones. The alien looks like a bird, and behaves like a stupid "chick"; she is for example very flattered when her boss is hitting on her. Apparently, the aliens who come to earth know nothing about earth customs and human apparently have almost no interest at all for the aliens or they customs. I even thought if the story was meant as some sort of clever parody, but the writing was so bad, that it is hard believe that the author would have been able to try something so complex. **
The Cave of Night • shortstory by James E. Gunn
Americans have launched the first space ship in secret. It comes to public knowledge after the lone astronaut sends a distress signal - there has been an accident and he can't return to earth. There is a widespread sympathy around the world and a scramble to build a new ship for the rescue effort, which eventually turns out to be futile. The ship is left back as a tomb and mausoleum. Eventually space exploration gains huge popularity and it is truly international effort, which combines nations and eventually leads to world peace. An optimistic story, the end reveal could be seen for miles away, though (it was a scam, just a recording on a ship). ***+
Dead Man's Planet • shortstory by William Morrison
A widower and his son land on an alien planet. They are trying to find animals for a zoo and try to cope with the loss of wife/mother. They find a wild dog on a planet no human is supposed to have visited. The dog seems to be very wild, but the son would like to have it as a pet. A nice, melancholy story, with a small bitter sweet twist. (The dog is immortal, hundreds of years old and has lost all his memories of living with humans, guarding the grave of his master.)***
Open House • shortstory by J. T. McIntosh
Aliens come and bring gifts. No one can really remember what they look like, but things they give were pretty fabulous devices which give limitless energy, dresses which are durable, always warm and comfortable and nicely see through. And a fabulous reading device which can store two million words. (that’s not so impressive today…) But there is a hidden agenda. But as humans are _special_ as almost always in the 50s science fiction, they are able to show to the aliens who is the boss. Moderately readable story, probably made more so by all the stinkers in the issue. ***-
Pythias • shortstory by Frederik Pohl
A secret service agent has killed a man in cold blood, a man who was an old friend of the agent. He is waiting for a trial and almost sure execution. There was a good reason for what he did - the murdered man had made a discovery too powerful to exist. A well-written food story, however, if what the man did were so easy it would have been discovered centuries ago. ***
Blind Spot • shortstory by Bascom Jones, Jr.
Earth has colonized Mars and has established some sort of racist apartheid culture. All dissidents are sent to penal colonies from the slightest offense. A man how works for an office which purpose is namely to increase co-operation but apparently is to mainly keep up the status qua, is dating a beautiful girl. He goes to meet her father, but somehow doesn't notice his is an alien and goes to a forbidden zone and gets punished. Silly and stupid story. I wonder why Martian men would be so enthralled by freakish looking human women with only two eyes? **
Rich Living • novelette by Michael Cathal
A small group of rich people goes to a little planet which reverses aging. You just have to live there for a few weeks, and you are young again. Guess what, as everything is extremely poorly planned they have an accident and are marooned. And they grow younger and younger...another so stupid and badly written story, that it hard to believe. Really rotten plot and almost as bad writing. *½

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Steven Hall: Haiteksti (The Raw Shark Texts)


A story about a man chased by a conceptual shark, which eats memories. A surreal, but fun book, which offers many possible ways to interpret what happens. Not a book you should think too much while reading, that would just cause headache. Just jump in the boat and enjoy.

Mies herää kotoaan muistamatta mitään entisestä elämästään. Hän löytää kirjeen, jossa kehotetaan soittamaan tiettyyn numeroon. Numeroon vastaa psykiatri, joka kertoo, että mies on menettänyt muistinsa jo useampaan kertaan ja nyt sama näyttää tapahtuneen jälleen. Taustalla on traumaattinen tapaus, jossa miehen tyttöystävä menehtyi lomamatkan aikana. Kotoa löytyy myös kirje, jonka mukaan psykiatria ei pidä uskoa ja häneen ei tule luottaa, eikä hänelle missään nimessä saa kertoa tulevista kirjeistä. Myöhemmin päivittäin kotiin tulee kirjeitä, joita mies on nähtävästi itse kirjoittanut. Heti hän ei niitä lue, mutta kun lopulta niihin perehtyy paljastuu, että hän on kontekstuaalisen hain uhri. Hai ahdistelee ihmisiä ja syö heidän muistonsa. Ja kun hain uhriksi on kerran joutunut, ei enää pakoon pääse. Hai lopulta ui jopa kirjan sivuille, kirjaimellisesti.
Hyvin erikoinen kirja, jonka voi lukea monella eri tasolla, dekkarina, fantasiana tai kirjallisuusteoreettisena metafiktiona. Kaiken kaikkiaan kyseessä on hyvin surrealistinen teos, jota ei lukiessa liikaa kannata miettiä, tulee vain pää kipeäksi. Parasta on hypätä vauhtiin mukaan ja antaa mennä ja näin luettuna kyseessä on hieno ja kiinnostava lukukokemus, joka tuntuu paranevan metatekstuaalista loppuaan kohden. Mikä mahtaa olla hainmetsästyksen kultturaalinen idiomi nykyään? Tappajahai-elokuva tietenkin, jota kirjan loppu kopio/varioi hyvin yksityiskohtaisesti. Nopeasti luettava, ajatuksia herättävä kirja.

518 s.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, April 2004


A pretty good issue with entertaining stories.

Tea with Vicky • novelette by Pete D. Manison

A female scientist uses without permission a transdimensional device to have discussions with her daughter, who never was born in this reality. They get along pretty well, until the daughter learns that in the mother’s dimension she was aborted. In the daughter’s reality, an abortion is punishable by death. (I believe that for a such major differences between the realities, everything should be SO different, that it would be impossible for the daughter's counterpoint to exists. Also, a death penalty for an abortion? Not very consistent.) Eventually, the scientist runs into a trouble as her clandestine use of the machine is discovered. But there is more than one way to play this game... A fairly nice story in spite of some antiabortionist tendencies and some logical faults. (if one country would gain an absolute, overpowering technological superiority, how would that lead to a nuclear holocaust?) ***½
In Spare • [Harrison Chuff and Florenzia Higgins] • novelette by J. Brian Clarke
Very much a rip off of the MIB franchise. An agent of an agency which handles Earth's extraterrestrial affairs has started to suspect that his boss is an alien. He turns out to be right, and his boss (who appears to be a fat middle-aged woman) turns out to be a small rat-like creature driving a “meat-suit". He soon finds himself as a part of events involving two alien species. A pretty fun and lighthearted story in spite of less than original premise.***½
Dibs • shortstory by Brian Plante
A man gets an email. There is a second hit for his tissue type by people who are on the organ transplant list. If there is a third hit, he will be broken to parts, as his life would save at least three other lives. Using his government contacts he finds out who the people waiting for transplants are, fully expecting to kill those greedy bastards, who are graving for his organs. But the reality is something else...a far-fetched premise, but nice story.***+
The Liberators • shortstory by Scott William Carter
Earth's military forces are fighting a war against vicious enemy. With a new very advanced full body military suit, it has been lately massively successful and enemy's efforts have been pitiful. Then at one battle one soldier takes his helmet off against the strict regulations. Next day he is found to be a traitor and he is executed. Would he really be working for the resistance, a fringe group which is working against the war? A pretty good story. Maybe slightly too huge conspiracy to be really believable. ***+
The Aztec Supremacist • shortfiction by Sheralyn Schofield Belyeu
Time travelling Aztecs try to influence Columbus that he wouldn’t start his journey to America. Another group tries to undo the damage. Seems to continue an earlier story, but there does not appear to be any precursor for this. Not bad, but starts from nowhere and ends to nowhere. **½
Misunderstanding Twelve • shortstory by Carl Frederick
Trade negotiations with an alien race can be hard, especially when the only translator available works by using another alien language as an intermediator language. A pair of business emissaries have a tough time and manage to get a psychiatric evaluation as the aliens assume that they just HAVE to be crazy to behave like that. A humorous story, not bad at all in its' class.***+

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tommi Kinnunen: Neljäntienristeys



An excellently written novel about the life of one family spanning over hundred years by a first time author. The story of the family is told by short glimpses from pivotal moments, or often just before the pivotal moment. The writing is excellent and the book was one of the best reads this year.

Runsaasti positiivista huomiota saanut esikoiskirja, joka myös tuntuu ansaitsevan saaneensa huomion. Kirja kertoo yhden perheen elämästä useiden perheenjäsenten näkökulmasta, kattaen pitkän ajan, noin 100 vuotta. Luvut kirjassa ovat lyhyitä, ja monet niistä loppuvat juuri siihen vaiheeseen, kun dramaattiset tapahtumat varsinaisesti alkaisivat, ja kertovat enemmän siitä miten tilanteeseen päädyttiin. Perheenjäsenillä on salaisuuksia ja kaikki eivät tule toimeen keskenään kunnolla, mutta eri henkilöillä on eri näkökulmat asioihin ja jokaisen näkökulma on aina ymmärreltävä ainakin jossain määrin. Tärkeä osa kirjaa ovat ihmisten väliset suhteet, se kuinka ihmiset eivät saa kunnolla yhteyttä toisiinsa, vaikka asuvat samassa talossa. Kirjan ehkä merkittävin henkilö on kunnan kätilö, joka aloittaa työnsä 1800-luvun puolella pienessä maalaiskunnassa, ja joutuu ansaitsemaan itse kunnioituksensa seudulla, jossa naiset saavat runsaasti lapsia uskonnon kieltäessä senkin vähän perhesuunnittelun, mikä tuohon aikaan mahdollista olisi ollut. Kätilö saa aviottoman lapsen, ja kantaa ylpeänä ja ympäristöstä piittaamatta vastuunsa. Aikanaan aikuistuttuaan tämä lapsi alkaa myös odottaa lasta ennen avioliittoa. Hänellä taas on miehen löytäminen tärkeää, ja sellainen löytyykin, mies, jolle vieraskin lapsi on äärimmäisen arvokas. Yhteinenkin lapsi parille myöhemmin syntyy. Parin yhteiselo, eikä myöskään taloon myöhemmin tulevan miniän ja anopin toimeen tuleminen ei mitään ruusuilla tanssimista sitten myöhemmin ole.
Kirja oli mukavaa luettavaa ja se oli kirjoitettu nautittavalla ja hienolla, mutta silti helppolukuisella kirjoitustyylillä. Yksi parhaista kirjoista mitä vähään aikaan olen lukenut. Hämmästyttävää, jos kirja ei ole Finlandia-palkintoehdokkaina tänä vuonna, hyvin suositeltava lukuelämys.

335 s.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, October 2014


A slightly above average issue.

"Opportunity Knocks", Joyce and Stanley Schmidt (Short Story)
Apparently continues some earlier story. The first quarter is a very heavy and dense infodump, which was hard to understand. The later part was okay and involves some Halloween trick and treaters meeting an alien. The story might have worked better as a separate one, omitting the force feeding of the details (most of which weren’t even important for the story itself anyway) and slightly rewriting the end part. Even then more of a prequel than an actual story. ***-
"Threshold", Tony Ballantyne (Novelette)
A guide on an alien planet is hired to take a group of three women to see a special feature of the planet: floating swarms, which are “insect” colonies which are on flight all the time and often reacted to environment in fairly predictable manner. It turns out that the women have a more sinister agenda. A pretty good and well written story. I must wonder though: how lax immigration is on the planet if the group was able to get all those things through customs? ***½
"Chrysalis", David Brin (Short Story)
Biologists have been able reprogram human cells, first to produce new organs to replace diseased ones, later grow back limbs. What is the next step? The story is told mainly by expository dialogue, where people tell what they have done or plan to do. It feels more like a transcript than a real story. Readable and even thought provoking, though. ***+
"Each Night I Dream of Liberty", Andrew Barton (Short Story)
A some sort of agent examines shady medical research on some sort of planet. A lot of exposition, some very strange leaps of logic. Someone has aphasia - oh, he must have been a victim of weaponized aphasia some terrorists were using years ago. Someone hasn't slept; oh she must have fatal familiar insomnia - an extremely rare disease with an incidence of something like 1:10000000. I found it hard to keep track what was going on. **
"Unfolding the Multi-Cloud", Ron Collins (Short Story)
A woman misses her loved one, who works in extremely well paid work, where he uploads his consciousness to net to find new or forgotten things. He might not come back as whole. Very well written and good story heavy with metaphors. Better than most of this year’s Hugo - nominees in the short story category, which were also heavily loaded with metaphors, but that is not saying much, though. ***+
"The Hand-Havers", Mary E. Lowd (Short Story)
Underwater intelligent beings give live apparently pretty American style life with central families and strong sex taboos. The unfertilized pregnancies (for both sexes?) produce "hands", some sorts of telepathically controlled beings which help in everyday life. Adulthood comes after the birth of the first hand. A young female creature is fascinated by an older male creature, who has six hands and is very smart and resourceful. He works as a kind of inventor for the community. An ok story, somewhat rushed and too short. Also, the very middle class American values on an alien species felt pretty stupid and irritating. ***+
“The Jenregar and the Light", Dave Creek (Novella)
Continues an earlier story. Insect like aliens are invading earth. The solution which was discovered at the end of an earlier story isn't working well any more. The story is split: one half tells about an attack to Nairobi and devastation the alien hive is causing there, the other half tells about Mike Christopher, artificial man who runs in to another alien infestation. Interspaced are segments about a scientist who is discovering a new method to destroy the aliens. Is total genocide justified? Not bad, but the parts didn't much to do with each other’s. Might have worked better as two separate stories. ***+

Monday, July 21, 2014

Analog Science Fiction -> Science Fact, January 1967


A pretty bad issue with overlong and dated stories.

Supernova • [David Falkayn] • novella by Poul Anderson
A star has gone nova. A some sort of federation, where earth is apparently one of the leaders, tries to help the inhabitants of a relatively close solar system, which will be hit by the nova in a few years. The inhabitants have only spread to a few planets. A lot of political scheming and story concentrates more in how the help is accepted, if it is accepted, than to the actual impact of the catastrophe. Ok, somewhat overlong. ***
A Criminal Act • (1966) • shortstory by Harry Harrison
After you get too many children you are declared to be an outlaw for a day. Someone may volunteer to kill you by any means possible. How many stories with an approximately similar premise are there? Hundreds? This has some semi interesting semi intellectual discussion about if something, which is completely legal, is also automatically a moral thing to do. The main character couple seems to be idiots. Wouldn’t it be easier just use some birth control? **½
The Old Shill Game • shortstory by H. B. Fyfe
A few friends have robovendors, who sell things to people on the streets and on subway. They first star to use robot shills, so that the vendors seem more popular and there would be more customers. In addition there are other schemes, also. Boring as hell, a badly overlong story. *½
The Last Command • [Bolo] • shortstory by Keith Laumer
An old battle robot wakes underground. It has been deactivated after a war. But a mining operation wakes it up. It believes the war is still going on, and it starts to approach inhabited areas...but one old veteran might recognize what is going on. A slightly overlong, but readable story. ***+

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Speculative Fiction 2012: The best online reviews, essays and commentary



A collection of essays, which have been published online 2012 with a wide variety of subjects, which start with book reviews and ending to critical essays and opinion pieces. I had already read a few of them, but a vast majority was unfamiliar. As can be expected some were interesting and some of the essays were less so. Probably the least interesting were a few long critiques about books I hadn’t even heard, while the most fun were a few trashings of apparently rotten books which have written by people who don't have the slightest about the culture there are writing books about (Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, review by Cynthia Martinez; Fey and Fallen by Stina Leicht, review by Martin Mcgarth). Other memorable assays were “Are Elves Gay?” by Gav Thorpe and “sour grapes” lamentation about the Clarke Awards 2012 by Christopher Priest . There were a few that I disagree with, even when I like them (But, But, But, -Why Does magic Have to Make Sense? By N.K. Jemisin - if it works, it MUST somehow make SOME sort of sense). A few were about subjects I didn’t really understand or care (e.g. The Circus as Fantastic Device – Who cares?). As a whole pretty interesting book. I wonder if there will other collections like this?

340 pp.