Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hannu Luntiala: Ihmissyöjän päiväkirja


An absurd and surrealistic tale of a body louse, which comes to Finland on clothes of members of Finnish parliament who were visiting Kosovo. The louse then jumps from a person to person and observes the strangeness of everyday human life.

Kertomus vaatetäistä joka hyppää Kosovossa vierailevan suomalaisen kansanedustaja ryhmän mukaan ja saapuu Suomeen, jossa sitten kokee monenlaista hyppiessään vaatteesta ja taskusta toiseen. Varsinaista jatkuvaa klassista juonta on melko niukasti, enemmänkin kirjassa ihmetellään ja ironisoidaan erilaisia nykypäivän ilmiöitä ja varsinainen referointi ei ole ihan helppoa.
Absurdin surrealistinen tarina, jossa on monta, ehkä liiankin monta kertojaa. Useamman ihmisnäkökulman lisäksi tapahtumia seurataan täin näkökulmasta ja myös täiden elämästä kirjan kirjoittaneen näkökulmasta. Vilahtaapa henkilöiden joukossa Jumalakin, ainakin täiden jumala(?). Monennäköistä tapahtumaa ja ajattelua yksinkertainen vaatetäi reissuillaan kohtaa. Mielenkiintoisen kummallinen kertomus, jossa tosin hajanaisuus ja hypähtely hiukan haittasivat. Hyppiminen tietysti kirppumaiseen elämään sopii luonnollisella tavalla, joten eipä tuo niin iso ongelma ollut.


235 s.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mauri Sariola: Minä Olavi Susikoski


Inspector Susikoski investigates a murder of a country doctor who was found shot behind locked doors. At first it seems like a suicide, but soon it is apparent that it was a set-up, and the doctor was murdered. But how, and why? He didn’t have any apparent enemies. A pretty nice police procedural with quaint details of the past: smoking everywhere, and lobster as lunch on airplanes.

Susikoski on jänismetsällä paikallisen nimismiehen kanssa, kun nimismiestä tullaan noutamaan. Jo aika iäkäs, taidoiltaan ihan pätevä mutta käytöksensä vuoksi ei mitenkään kovin pidetty kunnanlääkäri on ampunut itsensä. Paikallinen hammaskipuinen nuori isäntä oli ollut aamutuimaan kolkuttelemassa kunnanlääkärin ovia ja kuuli talon sisältä laukauksen. Kaikki talon ovet olivat lukittuja ja kun kotiapulainen saapuu paikalle avaimien kanssa kunnanlääkäri löytyy sisältä päähän ammuttuna. Nimismies pitää tilannetta selvänä itsemurhana, mutta Susikoski huomaa heti, että kyseessä on kömpelö lavastus. Mutta kuka on tappanut vanhan miehen ja miksi? Ja miten? Asiaa selviteltäessä löytyy toinenkin hämärä kuolema: hyvän uimataidon omaava kirkkoherra oli hukkunut kalareissulla pieneen ja matalaan lampeen. Seuraavana päivänä hänen oli ollut tarkoitus tavata joku seurakuntalainen jokin vakavan asian vuoksi.
Vaikka alku näyttää vaikealta asiat ratkeavat vähitellen, osittain aika onnekkaasti, mutta sitä ennen Susikoski joutuu matkustamaan Espanjaan asti.
Kirja toimi ihan vetävänä salapoliisikertomuksena, mutta myös mielenkiintoisena ajankuvana, jossa tupakoitiin kaikkialla lentokonetta myöten. Ja siellä lentokoneessa ilmeisestikin ihan turistiluokassa syötiin maittava hummeripäivällinen viehättävien lentoemäntien tarjoamana kauniin kanssamatkustajan seurassa. Ei mitään suurta kirjallisuutta, mutta oikein viihdyttävää bussilukemista (kirjan valitsin, kun kännykässä ei sattunut olemaan luettavaa ja tämä oli ohut ja kevyt – ja nopealukuinen. Edestakaisin keskustaan ja yli 80 sivua jo siinä).

220 s.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Leena Lehtolainen: Surunpotku


The latest book about Maria Kallio, a female head of a police department which was founded to solve unusual crimes. The department will soon be dissolved in spite of very good results, and Maria will soon be out of her job. But there is still one more crime to be solved. A dead body has been found in a very large pool of blood at a local church. It soon turns out that not all of the blood is human… A pretty nice, smoothly written book which is hard to put down - one of the better ones of the series.

Viimeisin Maria Kallio- kirja. Epätyypillisten rikoksien osastoa ollaan lopettamassa ja Marian työtilanne ei ole selkiytynyt. Hän uskoo jotain töitä löytävänsä, mutta varmuudella ei mitään vielä ole tiedossa. Mutta ainakin yksi rikos on vielä selvitettävänä. Espoon kirkosta on löytynyt kuoliaaksi puukotettu mies lasten vessasta. Verta on suunnaton määrä. Tarkemmissa tutkimuksissa osoittautuu pian, että kaikki ei ole ihmisverta. Murhattu on tunnettu jalokiviasiantuntija ja kansanedustajan puoliso. Liittyykö murhan miehen ammattiin ja onko häneltä ehkä ryöstetty jalokiviä? Vai onko murhalla poliittisia syitä? Vai onko kyseessä satunnainen, mieleltään järkkyneen henkilön tekemiä teko? Ja mistä ihmeestä ylimääräinen veri on tullut ja miksi?
Kirja oli vetävä, sujuva ja mukaansa tempaava – parhaasta päästä sarjaansa. Oikeataan sääli, että Maria Kallio-kirjoja ei ainakaan vielä ole enempää, ihan mielellään näitä lukisi. (Henkivartija-sarjan kirjoja taas en lukisi vaikka aseella uhattaisiin). Ainoita suurempia ongelmia kirjassa oli loppuratkaisu, jota lukijan oli kyllä aika lailla mahdotonta ennakoida tai mitenkään arvata syyllistä, sen verran puskasta tekijä ja hänen motiivinsa tulivat. Tavallisesti dekkarissa tämä on iso vika, mutta jotenkin tällä kertaa se ei haitannut, sillä sen verran sujuva ja mukavasti etenevä kirja oli eikä vaatinut klassisen arvoitusdekkarin rakennetta.

432 s.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Woman Who Died a Lot: Thursday Next Book 7 by Jasper Fforde


Thursday Next is becoming old. All the injuries she sustained in her earlier adventures are slowing her down. She is given a job as head librarian. She was hoping to be the leader of a new agency, but that went to someone younger and more fit. However, the library has a budget in the tens of millions of pounds and they store the most valuable manuscripts. Library workers have almost unlimited power including the use of lethal force to stop excessive noise in reading rooms or in retrieving unreturned library books. So perhaps that isn’t so bad a job after all. But she has many problems which complicate her life. The evil Goliath Company is trying to replace her with an android. Her son, who was destined to become the leader of the time travel agency is out of job as time travel was noticed to be impossible. That discovery caused the abolishment of the time travel agency retroactively. Everyone who was supposed to work at the time travel agency got two letters, one telling them what was supposed to happen and another telling what would happen in the new time line without time travel. According to the new time line, he will murder someone in just few weeks and will spend the next decades in prison. And God will be smiting her home town pretty soon. Her daughter is developing an anti-smiting shield, but she probably won’t be able to finish it in time. Her other daughter doesn’t actually exist, but is just a false memory caused by Aornis Hades, her arch enemy, who is able to control memories. These are only a few of the several plot lines the book has. The first half of the book was more of an avalanche of ideas and events which didn’t necessarily form a very coherent whole. Most of the ideas were intriguing and entertaining. Something which resembles a more traditional plot emerged slowly and the book came to a pretty satisfying conclusion. Even so, it was the weakest part of the series. I was missing the Bookworld, which wasn’t featured at all in this book. Hopefully the author doesn’t abandon that completely.

386 pp.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 2016


There were a lot of short stories in this issue, which is a pretty average one.

Prodigal • novelette by Gord Sellar
Dogs are being augmented for sentience and greater intelligence. A childless family gets a smart dog, but the wife gets pregnant soon after. The dog and the child first live as “siblings”, but then the dog starts to question certain things – like killing of the dogs in shelters. A fairly good story – the writing was okay. The radicalization of the dog was not portrayed well enough. The story happens to have some similarities to a Rick & Morty episode I just chanced to watch. ***+
Like the Deadly Hands • shortstory by Nisi Shawl
A woman is apparently uploaded to some sort of host body in a struggling colony or something. There is a shortage of food, stampedes of wild animals, and so on. A very fragmented and hard to follow story – I didn’t get it at all. **½
Fermi Meets Sagan • shortstory by Robert Scherrer
A short short about an alien invasion which was narrowly avoided. ***
Jewels From the Sky • shortstory by Brendan DuBois
A Company (which apparently is practically all-powerful) rescues derelict satellites and sends them to Earth for recycling. (A practice which doesn’t really make any sense – the amount of valuables certainly wouldn’t cover the costs. And as the company has a space station, it would make vastly more sense to recycle satellites in orbit. The cost of sending things into orbit is vastly more than the actual cost of the raw materials itself). The woman who is preparing the satellites is finishing her training. She used to live on Earth, but then something happened. A fairly good story, but the corporation was unreasonably and unnecessarily evil. ****-
In Boonker's Room • shortstory by Eliot Fintushel
An alien – or a god (?) plays a game with a high school kid. It is a simulation (?) where you can see everything anywhere in the universe and fiddle with all constants of the nature and see if life will exist. More of a treaties of things which have different sorts of effects on the universe. ***-
Evolution • shortstory by James C. Glass
A story of how robotic helpers slowly evolve to be more and more helpful for humanity, which is ultimately extremely helpful. Another very short story which is pretty good, but it might have been slightly more detailed and longer. ***+
Sister Loki • shortstory by Arlan Andrews, Sr.
Some sort of virtual reality battle is apparently going on. A lot of sketchy backstory in a pretty confusing and hard to follow story – I didn’t really get into it. ***-
Crowdfinding • shortstory by Eric James Stone
A new technology with cameras everywhere is used to solve a kidnapping (and another crime) by crowd sourcing. A very short story, but not bad at all. ***+
The Continuing Saga of Tom Corbett: Space Cadet • shortstory by James Van Pelt
When Tomika Corbet turned ten, she learned who Tom Corbet was. She became a fan, which wasn’t always easy: it isn’t common that preteen girls are interested in ancient TV-shows. She is neglected by her parents and she hopes she could join the Space Cadets. And then the story turns to a wish fulfillment fantasy, a pretty good one, though. ***½
Black Orbit • novelette by Martin L. Shoemaker
An undercover agent gets vital information from a space station at a high cost. However, her handler must get her hands on the information for it to be of any use. And that isn't too easy, as the information is on an ore ingot floating in space. More of a scene than as a story - as there was little background, it wasn't easy to really care about the characters. The story starts in the middle of the story and ends in the middle of the story. The writing as such was totally adequate. ***

Proofreading by eangel.me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Liza Marklund: Paikka auringossa (A Place in the Sun)


A pretty good mystery, where Annika Bengtzon tries to find out who murdered a Swedish family who lived on the coast of Spain – and why. Very readably, but there were a couple of stupid mistakes hinting on somewhat sloppy background research.

Annika Bengtzon selvittelee Aurinkorannikolla tapahtunutta siellä asuneen kokonaisen ruotsalaisen perheen murhaa. Perheen isä oli ex-NHL-jääkiekkoilija, joten murha kiinnostaa tavallistakin enemmän. Perhe oli kaasutettu kuoliaaksi - aluksi hän vaikuttaa siltä, että tavoitteena oli tehdä alueella aika tyypillinen ryöstö, mutta pian käy ilmi että ryöstö oli vain murhien peittelyä. Annika tutustuu rannikolla eläviin ruotsalaisiin, muun muassa kansainvälistä huumekauppaa selvittelevään poliisiin, mutta myös hänen ex-miehensä saapuu paikalle omalla työmatkallaan. Työssä Annikalla ei mene hyvin ja hän onnistuu riitaantumaan muutaman uudenkin työkaverinsa kanssa, tosin osa työkavereista on karikatyyrimäisen surkeita.
Kirja oli sujuva ja mukaansa tempaava ja oikein sopivaa kevyehköä luettavaa vatsataudista toipuessa. Jossain määrin ärsyttävän suuntaan Annikan persoonallisuus tuntuu kirja kirjalta kehittyvän. Joitain älyttömiä virheitä siinä löytyi, nähtävästi kirjailija ei ollut tehnyt taustatyötään riittävän hyvin. Hassista ei todellakaan tehdä hampun siitepölystä. Myös väite siitä että huumekauppiailla olisi käytössä huumeiden kuljettamiseen moottoriveneitä, jotka ovat niin nopeita että helikopterikaan ei pysy niiden perässä, ei ole uskottava tai sitten poliisin helikopterit ovat kovin hitaita. Kirja osittain pohjautuu hyvin vahvasti edellisten kirjojen tapahtumiin, joka oli siinä mielessä epämiellyttävää, että yksityiskohdista en juuri mitään muistanut. Kohtalaisen hyvin kuitenkin tapahtumien tausta kuitenkin selkiytyvät. Seuraavaan kirjaan ei kovin paljoa irtonaisia juonilankoja enää jäänyt, korkeintaan se mikä Annika ja hänen ex-miehensä suhde tulee jatkossa olemaan ja se, onko Annikalla enää työpaikkaa olemassakaan.

528 s.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Anthony Doerr: Kaikki se valo jota emme näe (All the Light We Cannot See)


A story of two young people during the Second World War. A Pulitzer prize winner. An extremely smooth book, both in language (very well translated to Finnish) and in plot. Perhaps even too smooth; there were no figurative “edges” to get hold on. Some plot threads like the one involving a mysterious jewel felt slightly superfluous, but good writing and deceptively short chapters made easy to read just a little more, so it was a pretty fast and ultimately enjoyable read.

Luettu lukupiirikirjana.
Kirja kertoo kahden nuoriksi varttuvan lapsen tarinan ennen toista maailmansotaa ja sen loppuvaiheessa. Kertomukset ovat erilliset loppuvaiheita lukuun ottamatta. Toisessa tarinassa seurataan sokeaan tyttöä. Hänen isänsä on Pariisilaisen museon lukoista vastaava henkilö. Sodan puhjettua he pakenevat rannikolle pieneen kaupunkiin, jossa asuu isän ensimmäisessä maailmansodassa henkisesti arpeutunut sukulainen. Tytön isällä on mukaan museossa säilytetty mittaamattoman arvokas jalokivi – tai ainakin sen kopio. Samanlainen kopio on muutamalla muullakin eri suuntiin matkaavalla miehellä, eikä kukaan heistä tiedä kenellä on se oikea jalokivi. Kaupungissa talon ullakolla on vanha radiolähetin ja sodan mittaan sitä käytetään antamaan tietoja saksalaisia vastaan taistelevalle vastarintaliikkeelle.
Saksassa nuori orpopoika on opettanut itse itsensä kunnostamaan radioita. Hän on teknisesti lahjakas ja tulee valittua natsien koulutuskeskukseen, jossa koulutetaan nuorisoa uuden uljaan opin saloihin. Koulutus on rajua, mutta hän selviää siitä hengissä. Sodan loppuvaiheessa hän on vastuussa vihollisen radiolähettimien paikallistamisesta ja on siinä tehtävässä erittäin hyvä. Kun ranskalaisessa pikkukaupungissa huomataan olevan salainen, tuntemattomassa paikassa oleva radiolähetin, hänet määrätään paikallistamaan se.
Nuorten elämää seurataan vuoroluvuin hiukan aikatasossa hypähdellen. Kirja on erittäin luettava, jopa ehkä hiukan liian ”kiillotettu”, niin kiiltävä, että siitä ei oikein tunnut saavan kunnon otetta. Jokainen lause, jokainen kohtaus vaikutti viimeiseen asti hiotulta sekä juonellisesti että kielellisesti. Paras osa kirjaa oli aivan loppu, jossa sitten lopulta oli sellaista särmää, josta tuntui jotenkin saavan paremmin kiinni. Kirjan luvut olivat hyvin lyhyitä – Kindlellä lukiessa osapuilleen joka luvun kohdalla jo lukua aloittaessa oli ”1 minute left”, joka houkutteli lukemaan vielä yhden luvun enemmän. Jalokivijuoni oli mielestäni jossain määrin turha ja kirja olisi toiminut ilman sitäkin aivan hyvin – ehkä se toimi jokinlaisena juonisäikeet yhteennivovana tekijänä läpi vuosikymmenten. Ympäristönkuvaus ja henkilöhahmot olivat erinomaisia, enkä oikein osaa kunnolla sanoa, miksi kirjasta jäi kuitenkin aavistuksen pettynyt ole. Kirjapiiriläiset pääosin pitivät kirjasta paljon, enemmän kuin minä.

543 s.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day


I bought an autobiography which I had hoped contained stories about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Dr. Horrible. No such luck, those were hardly mentioned. However, a web series I hadn’t even heard about, Guild, got several chapters. It sounded interesting so I checked it out. I am not a gamer (the series is about nerdy computer game players), but the episodes are pretty watchable nevertheless. The book was pretty good even if I had to be slightly disappointed due to lack of juicy tales about making of genre series. As usual, in author/actor biographies too much time was spent on the early years and too little on the creative process itself. The book was written in a light, fun, conversational tone and was mostly fun to read, but felt partly as promotional material for her internet content. Too little is revealed about her personal life after childhood and other acting endeavors.

260 pp.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Hugo Winners: Volume Two (1962-1970) by Isaac Asimov (editor)


The stories from the 60s mostly aren’t my cup of tea.

The Dragon Masters • (1962) • novella by Jack Vance
Humans who live on a colonized planet have captured hostile aliens and bred them to fight wars while the aliens have captured humans and bred them for the same purpose. The technological level is preindustrial and there are several human settlements that have fought against each other’s. It has been a long time since the last alien attack, and a new one seems imminent. But there is growing tension between human towns. Overlong and fairly hard to read story in spite of some nice ideas and interesting scenes. The language feels pretty dated and overly flowery. Not among my favorite stories. ***-
No Truce With Kings • (1963) • novella by Poul Anderson
Several factions are fighting in post-apocalyptic southwestern America. One of them are pacifistic “espers”. It turns out that there are aliens secretly working with them who try to influence things behind the scenes to prevent chaos and help humans become members of a larger galactic society. But everything seems to go badly... A bit overlong and very talky story with a strong 60s feel in it. ***-
Soldier, Ask Not • [Childe Cycle] • (1964) • novella by Gordon R. Dickson
An impartial journalist has come to observe a war where religious extremists fight against Dorsai mercenaries. It turns out that he isn’t so impartial after all. He has strong reasons to take part in the fight and he tries to do so. But he really doesn’t understand the mind set of either party, as religious fanatics and mercenaries turn out to be more complex and less black and white as people than he could have thought. The beginning of the story was pretty good, but the end where the main character explained what happened and why more or less as a lecture didn’t really work. Thematically very similar to the first two stories of this collection. Apparently military-style science fiction was popular at the time. ***
"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman • (1965) • shortstory by Harlan Ellison
Being late is punished by a “ticktockman” who subtracts the corresponding time from the life of the offender. But one man apparently wants to fight back. A pretty confusing non-linear story with experimental writing style. Not exactly my cup of tea. One of the best proofs that the “puppy lovers” don’t know what they are talking about as when they claim that only during the last few years that “literary science fiction” has gained too much influence. **½
The Last Castle • (1966) • novella by Jack Vance
Most humans live on separate castles around the world. Humanity has apparently lived for a long time on different worlds around the galaxy, but now at least some have come home. They have brought alien slave races for menial work and live “aristocratic” and pampered lives on castles. There are apparently original humans living in the wild, but aristocrats consider them to be savages. Everything seems to be comfortable, until the slaves revolt. They should not have been intellectually and psychologically capable of that, but several castles are stormed and all humans are killed. But together the humans might be able to beat the rebels. A bit overlong story with fairly flowery language. A decent tale, but nothing really especial. ***+
Neutron Star • [Known Space] • (1966) • novelette by Larry Niven
A man is hired to find what penetrated an impenetrable space ship shell and killed explorers who were studying a neutron star. A classic of hard science fiction and very good story - I still remember when I read this for the first time about 35 years ago. Well, actually the effect which was responsible for the deaths should have been crystal clear to anyone flying around in space, but the story is good anyway. ****+
Weyr Search • [Dragonriders of Pern short fiction] • (1967) • novella by Anne McCaffrey
A young woman is drafted by Dragonriders to bond with a dragon for life. At first, she has another agenda, but she turns out to be smart, confident and scheming. However, she doesnt really know what is in store for her. A fantasy story in the guise of science fiction - that is usually a style I am not a great fan of. It takes its time to get going - I almost abandoned it, when little seemed to happen and what happened was hard to understand, but the latter half was slightly better. Not really Hugo material though, if you ask me. ***-
"Riders of the Purple Wage" • (1967) • novella by Philip José Farmer
In a future welfare state, artists and art critics are famous. Everyone gets a “purple wage” from the state, which covers the essentials. If you are a malcontent, you might be transferred to another part to the world to increase diversity. The main character produces very controversial art, and his grandfather is a criminal who is hiding in an attic. It's a pretty experimental story which is influenced by James Joyce and references “Finnegan’s Wake” by name; another story which isn’t my cup of tea. ***
"Gonna Roll the Bones" • (1967) • novelette by Fritz Leiber
A loser who often beats his wife and uses his money on gambling goes, once again, to play craps. He is on roll and seems to be able to control the dice. Slowly, he wins a good amount of money in a strange game. Soon, he challenges a strange high stakes player who apparently seems to be a devil. The end of the story goes in a pretty surrealistic direction. The writing was pretty good, but a totally unsympathetic protagonist and dull description of a stupid game makes some pretty uninteresting reading. ***+
"I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" • (1967) • short story by Harlan Ellison
A computer has killed almost all people. A few survivors are changed into grotesque caricatures of their former selves and are scouring for food in a desolate world. There are rumors of cans filled with food, and they are trying to find that bounty. A fairly surreal and distressing story with one of the most agonizing endings ever. The writing was very good. ***½
"Nightwings" • [Nightwings] • (1968) • novella by Robert Silverberg
The story happens in a far future Earth, where apparently several civilizations have risen and gone. Humanity has reached the stars, but has withdrawn back to the Earth. A group of three friends is approaching an ancient city, Room, where relics of several cycles of civilizations which span millennia can be found. One of the group is a watcher, a kind of guard for an alien invasion which will come at some undetermined date in the future. The invasion has apparently been coming for centuries, but the exact date is unknown. One is a winged female, who is able to fly at nighttime; in daytime, the "pressure of light is too heavy". The third is a mutant who isn't part of any guild – practically everyone is part of some guild which protects the interests of its members. Not being a member of any is a severe handicap. After they have arrived at Room, they have an audience with the Emperor of Room. They get a permission to go to the Imperial Hotel, but then the aliens attack. A pretty good story, after I got used to a pretty pompous writing style. ****-
"The Sharing of Flesh" • [Technic History] • (1968) • novelette by Poul Anderson
After a period of a “dark age,” humans are exploring the universe again. There are human planets which have been separated for centuries or more. On one world, a man is killed and literally butchered by a native. His pregnant wife wants revenge and tries to find the culprit. It turns out that every culture in the planet practices cannibalism as a puberty rite. Should the planet with such vile customs be abandoned completely? A very good story with nice, well-rounded characters. ****-
"The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World" • (1968) • novelette by Harlan Ellison (variant of The Beast that Shouted Love)
Several story lines which are seemingly pretty separate and happen very far away in both time and space, but eventually turn out to be connected. A pretty experimental story which wasn’t too easy to read. ***-
"Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" • (1968) • novelette by Samuel R. Delany
A criminal rises in criminal world in a future where space flight is cheap and common. He competes with other criminals, and is chased by a special services agent while contemplating his past and his neurosis. The story is written in extremely hard and confusing language and it is hard to get into. I didn’t connect with the main protagonist at all. It is a far too experimental and fancy story for me – might be great art, but I had trouble getting through it. **

654 pp

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seppo Jokinen: Vilpittömässä mielessä


An inspector Koskinen book, where a police inspector solves crimes at my home town. This time he almost visited my home street. This book has a bit more social commentary than some of the others of the series. Man has been found in a river. There are conflicting eye witness testimonies about how he ended up in the water. Also, a refugee woman has been found strangled. Both crimes are solved, but the perpetrators are also victims themselves.

Komisario Koskinen selvittelee Tammerkoskesta kuolleena löytyneen miehen tapausta. Yhden silminnäkijän mukaan mies hyppäsi itse koskeen, mutta toisten, parin pikkupojan mielestä joku tönäisi hänet veteen. Pimeänä on myös kuoliaaksi kuristetun maahanmuuttajanaisen tapaus, onko kaupungissa tapahtunut kunniamurha? Koskista hiukan ihmetyttää myös se, että ex-vaimo ottaa häneen yhteyttä vuosien jälkeen. Yksi Koskisen lähimmistä alaisista on kovin uupuneen oloinen, lapsi sairastaa – vai onko se todella syy väsymykselle? Kirja on vähintään keskitasoinen sarjassaan. Ehkä tavallista enemmän kirjassa keskityttiin henkilöiden keskinäisiin suhteisiin ja ”taustatarinan” etenemiseen. Rikostarina hiukan säälittävästä ”päärikollisesta” oli oikeastaan sivujuonen asemassa, joka omalla tavallaan palveli henkilösuhteisiin liittyvän pääjuonen edistymistä. Kirjassa on jonkin verran ”Harjunpää”-tyyppistä sosiaalisiin asioihin painottumista kuin monessa muussa sarjan osassa ja molempien varsinaisten rikosten tekijöihin suhtauduttiin suurella ymmärtämyksellä.
280 s.



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Glen Cook: Musta komppania (The Black Company)


Story about a mercenary group who is working for the bad guys, seen from the ground level. A few of the group have some qualms, but most don’t care who they are working for as long as their wages are paid and there is looting to be done and women are available for raping. A fairly graphic story about what happens underneath the more common higher fantasy stories. Ok, but I am not sure if I liked this enough to read the next eight parts.

Musta komppania on palkkasoturijoukko, jolla on ongelmia. Palkanmaksu on epävarmaa ja näyttää siltä, että nykyinen isäntä tulee häviämään pian. Onneksi löytyy uusi palkkasotureita tarvitseva, joka kuljettaa joukon mukanaan pohjoiseen. Luvassa olisi taisteluita ja paljon ryöstettävää. Innostusta hiukan hillitsee se, että uusi isäntä, Lady, vaikuttaisi olevan Se Suuri Paha, joka huhujen mukaan on herätetty henkiin jokin aika sitten. Suurinta osaa miehistä tämä tosin ei juuri haittaa – kunhan palkka maksetaan ja etenkin jos ryöstettävää ja raiskattavaa riittää, niin eipä sillä kenen joukoissa taistellaan ole niin paljoa merkitystä. Tosin muutamalla joukon jäsenellä, etenkin joukon kronikoista vastaavalla puoskarilla, ajoittain omatunto hiukan kolkuttelee. Puoskaria tosin tuo myyttinen hahmo kiinnostaa ihan historiallisistakin syistä, minkälainen oikein on nainen joka joskus historiassa lähes valloitti kaiken ja nyt herätetty henkiin ja taistelee kapinallisia vastaan taikakeinojakin käyttäen?
Kirja, joka lähestyy fantasiasta tuttua hyvän ja pahan taistelua ruohonjuuritasolta katsoen, vieläpä pahisten ruohonjuuritasolta. Suuri määrä henkilöitä hankalasti muistettavine nimineen jonkin verran häiritsi lukukokemusta, vaikka kirjan alussa nimiluettelot löytyvät. Ei mikään huono kirja, mutta ei nyt mitenkään kovin vahvasti kolahtanutkaan. Sarjaa olisi lukuisa määrä lisää – saa nähdä olenko valmis lukemaan seuraavat kahdeksan (!) osaa. Sinällään on viitteitä siitä, että asetelmat hiukan muuttuvat: kirjan maailmassa on ennustus nuoresta naisesta, joka voittaisi pahuuden. Kuinka ollakaan sotilaat pelastavat maskotikseen nuoren kuuron pikkutytön. Tällähän ei varmaan voi olla mitään yhteyttä ennustukseen… mutta jos kestää kahdeksan kirjaa ennen kuin päästään suhteellisen ennustettavissa olevaan loppuun, niin se voi olla vähän liikaa.

284 s.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Riikka Pulkkinen: Paras mahdollinen maailma



A young actress, who was born in the same year the Berlin Wall fell down, is taking part in a play which covers the last days of the East Germany. Her father has had a stroke and will most likely die in the near future. Then the actress's imaginary friend from childhood seems to appear back in her life. A very well written book with an engaging plot (not much can be told about it without severe spoilers), it has several narrative voices and much of the events are told in flashbacks (which happen at the end of 80s).


Kirjan sisällöstä on vaikea kertoa kovin paljoa ja kovin tarkkaan ilman spoilereita. Aurelia on menestyvä nuori näyttelijä, joka on syntynyt samana vuonna kuin Berliinin muuri romahti. Hän pääsee esiintymään näytelmään, joka kertoo Itä-Saksan viimeisistä ajoista. Ohjaajana toimii lapsena maasta perheensä kanssa karannut mies. Aurelian isä on juuri sairastunut aivoinfarktiin ja hänen toipumisensa on erittäin epävarmaa. Tämä ja myös näytelmän harjoitukset (jotka ovat erittäin kaoottisia – mitään käsikirjoitusta ei ole, vaan ohjaaja ja näyttelijät yrittävät saada jotain aikaan lähinnä improvisoiden jotain teemaan liittyvää) herättävät muistoja Aurelian mielessä. Hänen lapsuusaikainen mielikuvitusystävänsä näyttää palaavan hänen elämäänsä ja melkein vaikuttaa siltä, että hänen persoonansa olisi hajoamassa. Mistä on kyse? Ja mitä nyt puhekyvyttömältä isältä jäi kertomatta ennen sairastumistaan? Mistä perheessä ei ole puhuttu? Kertojaääninä myöhemmin toimivat myös Aurelian äiti ja ohjaaja Joachim, jotka kertovat menneisyyden tapahtumista omilta kannoiltaan. Vähitellen sitten palaset loksahtelevat ihan tyydyttävästi paikoilleen.

Liityin uuteen lukupiiriin ja tämä on ensimmäinen kirja siihen liittyen - sopivasti vain pari kuukautta sen jälkeen kun luin/kuuntelin saman kirjailijan aikaisemman teoksen. Tässä kirjassa oli aika paljon samoja teemoja kuin ”Totta”-kirjassa: vanhemman sairastuminen ja kuolema, menneisyyden salaisuudet ja puhumattomuus niistä. Myös monen kertojahenkilön ja aikatason käyttäminen oli aika samankaltaista; tosin koska itse pidän tämän tapaisesta kerrontatekniikasta se ei haitannut yhtään. Kirja toi tunnelmaltaan ja osin tapahtumiltaan vahvasti mieleen Kieslowskin Veronikan kaksoiselämä- elokuvan. Tämä tuskin on sattuma, sillä kirjaan ilmaantui Veronika-niminen henkilö, vieläpä roolissa joka sopii elokuvan teemaan erittäin hyvin. Toinen elokuva, joka muutamassa paikassa tuli vahvasti mieleen on Aronofskyn Musta joutsen. Siinäkin kuvataan nuoren naisen psyykkistä hajoamista harhoineen taide-esitystä harjoitellessa. Hämmästyisin suuresti, jos Pulkkinen ei näitä elokuvia ole nähnyt, ainakin tuo ”Veronika” nimen käyttö on varmasti tietoinen teko. Pidin tästä kirjasta aika lailla, enemmän kuin Totta-kirjasta. Osan kirjapiiriläisiistä mielestä kirjan alku oli hieman sekava, ja ohjaajaan liittyvät tapahtumat olivat osittain turhia. Omastakin mielestäni ne olivat heikommasta päästä kirjaa, eivätkä ehkä kokonaisuuteen antaneet kovin paljoa. Kokonaisuutena kuitenkin kirja oli mukaansatempaava ja nopealukuinen, ja omassa asteikossani sijoittuu esim. Finlandia-palkinnon voittaneiden kirjojen joukossa selvästi puolenvälin paremmalle puolelle.

358 s.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2016



An average issue.

Novelette "One Man's Dignity" by Mark Niemann-Ross
An elderly welder is working on a space station, mainly training new welders. The company rules state that he is supposed to retire. He does not want to return to the earth. The station commander is able to extend his job until the current project is finished. The welders use a derelict cargo container, the ownership of which is tied up in the bankruptcy court for welding practice, and makes a clandestine bar/man cave out of it. Ultimately, the welder moves to the container, but the day his retirement will be mandatory is approaching... A pretty standard story about an old man who is at odds with the establishment. Not bad at all, though. ***½
Short Story: "Love Pops!" by Genevieve Williams
A policewoman is pretending to be a contestant in a “American Bachelor”- type reality show, where people may use virtual reality style equipment to see things from the perspective of the participants. Someone has made threats against the show host/bachelor, who is the “prize” the participants are trying to win. It is a bit of a disorderly story in places, and the ending somehow did not feel right, but not bad at all. ***+
Short Story: "The Tattling Tats" by Jerry Oltion
A short amusing story about tattoos, which can move (and contain tracking devices) and how teens use them. ***+
Short Story: "The Salesman" by Garrett Ashley
The story happens in the 2060s. Apparently, nothing has changed except shops use anthropomorphic robots with AI capabilities and army uses mechas. There are gasoline cars, laptops, ordinary mobile phones (and even land lines!) and people apparently watch ordinary TV, chatting apps work exactly like those today, and so on. A young boy living in the countryside with his mother and stepmom, finds a discarded, partly broken robot. His stepfather does not like the robots and the boy does not tell his parents what he has found. He contacts the manufacturer and they eventually pick up the robot. The story has some shades of Huckleberry Finn at the beginning, but then the story just ends – the ending is unsatisfying. The world was not believable at all, and was far too similar to the present. **-
Short Story: "In the Absence of Instructions to the Contrary" by Frank Wu
An undersea autonomous AI research robot has fallen in love with its designer. It has collected a lot of samples and named most of them by the said woman. It starts to study an unusual octopus and makes some progress, but then something drastic happens, and the robot is facing some important choices. A pretty nice story, which could have been longer. ***½
Short Story: "The Desolate Void" by Jay Werkheiser
A woman has spent her life trying to find extraterrestrial life. Her parents had the same dream and even abandoned her while she was growing up to pursue that dream. Now she is in the Enceladus, moon of Saturn. A local man is more or less ordered to help her, but she is very determined and not too co-operative. ***
Novella: "We Side with the Free" by Gary Rinehart
The "Trojans" have sent an asteroid to Earth on collision course. A ship is sent to stop it. This story shows how the attempt is planned and accomplished, and not much more. I was waiting for some clever subverting twist at the end, but it did not come. The writing in itself was OK, but the story was too long for the content. ***-

Friday, October 14, 2016

Joël Dicker: Totuus Harry Quebertin tapauksesta


A well written and entertaining Twin Peaks -like novel about a murder of a young girl decades ago. Everyone in a small town had secrets and motives – but who did it?


Kirjailijan ensimmäinen teos on ollut suuri menestys. Nyt kustantaja painostaa toisen kirjan nopeaan valmistumiseen, mutta kirjailijalla on hankala kirjoittajan blokki. Hän palaa oppi-isänsä Harry Quebertin luokse. Aikanaan aloittelevana kirjailijana hän sai tukea tältä yliopistossa kirjallisuuden opettajalta, joka oli nuorempana kirjoittanut yksittäisen erittäin menestyneen kirjan onnettomasta rakkaudesta. Vanhempi kirjailija yrittää tukea nuorempaa ja innostaa tätä aloittamaan seuraavan kirjan kirjoittaminen. Tästä ei kuitenkaan oikein tule mitään ja nuori kirjailija palaa takaisin kotikaupunkiinsa masentuneena odottaen sitä, että kustantaja perii jo maksetut ennakot seuraavasta kirjasta oikeusteitse takaisin.

Pian tämän jälkeen Harry Quebertin puutarhasta löytyy nuoren tytön ruumis. Tyttö on ollut vuosikymmenet paikallinen arvoitus. Hänet nähtiin pakenevan metsässä outoa miestä. Poliisi tuli nopeasti paikalle mutta tyttöä ei enää näkynyt, mutta poliisi löysi lähellä yksin asuvan naisen – joka oli poliisille pakenevasta tytöstä ilmoittanut - kuoliaaksi ammuttuna. Tytöstä, Nola Kellerganista, kukaan ei tämän jälkeen kuullut mitään, ennen kuin nyt kun hänen ruumiinsa löytyi matalasta puutarhahaudasta. Tyttö oli ollut kaunis 15-vuotias, josta kaikki kaupungin asukkaat pitivät – tai ainakin niin kaikki nyt muistaa. Onko vanha kirjailija murhaaja? Vai miten ihmeessä tapettu tyttö löytyi hänen puutarhastaan? Nuorempi kirjailija alkaa selvittää mitä tapahtui kolmisenkymmentä vuotta sitten puhdistaakseen ystävänsä maineen. Pian selviää, että 15-vuotiaalla tytöllä ja tuolloin kolmekymppiselle kirjailijalle on ollut rakkaussuhde. Onko niin, että arvostettu kirjailija ei olekaan arvostuksen arvoinen?

Mitä enemmän hän tutki, sitä enemmän alkaa näyttää siltä, että pikkukaupungissa kaikilla oli salaisuuksia ja oikeastaan kaikilla oli jokin motiivi tappaa tyttö. Eikä tämä ollut ehkä niin viaton ja aurinkoinen mitä jälkipolvet muistavat.

Rakenteellisesti kiinnostava kirja, jossa osittain tapahtumat tapahtuvat nykyajassa, jossa minä henkilönä toimiva kirjailija kamppailee uuden kirjansa kirjoittamisvaikeuksien kanssa ja saa idean kirjoittaa seuraava kirjansa Nola Kellerganin tapauksesta. Kirjassa on runsaasti takautumia, jotka kerta kertovat siitä mitä vuosia sitten tapahtui, tosin kaikki takautumat eivät ehkä ole todellisia. Lisäksi kirjassa on lainauksia Harry Quebertin kirjoittamasta menestyskirjasta ja myös uudesta kirjasta, jota päähenkilö kirjoittaa. Alkupuoli kirjasta oli ehkä hieman liian hidas, mutta kun juoni alkoi kunnolla rullata oli kirjaa vaikea laskea kädestään. Ehkä hieman tekemällä tehdysti käytännössä ihan jokaisella kirjan henkilöllä oli salaisuuksia, kukaan ei oikeastaan ollut viaton, eivätkä kenenkään kädet olleet ihan puhtaat. Ehkä hieman pienemmälläkin sivumäärällä olisi selvitty, mutta todennäköisesti itseään viitaten kirjan viimeisiä lauseita on, että hyvä kirja on sellainen, jota haluaisi lukea aina vain ja toivoo että se ei lopu. Ihan sitä tämä ei ehkä täyttänyt, mutta viihdyttävä ja lukemisen arvoinen se kyllä oli.

809 s.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth) by N. K. Jemisin


The second part of a series. The book continues pretty much straight from the end of the earlier part, and some chapters happen simultaneously with some of the events of the first book. Now we learn what happened to Essun’s daughter and husband as they traveled to the Polar Regions and find a society of watchers and roggas/orogenes. The other part of the story tells how Essun reunites with Alabaster, who is turning into stone. Alabaster tries to teach her the ultimate secrets of oromancy, how it affects the smallest things, and not just quell earthquakes. Those secrets might be the only way anyone can survive the coming catastrophic “season”. At same time, at the underground city of Castrima, where at least some orogenes have been able to live in peace, is threatened by enemies.

The plot is pretty complicated and a lot happens, or at least a lot of back plot is explained. People (and other beings) have different, and somewhat unclear motivations who apparently try to achieve different things, but I don’t think ultimately that their goals might be similar - or then not. And it isn’t entirely clear at all which faction is the right one or “good guys” and which one is wrong or “evil”. The book mixes science fiction and fantasy. I usually prefer science fiction - and most things in the book might be explained scientifically as relics of the past and advanced civilizations, who mastered nanotechnology and similar technologies, but Earth itself, having an apparently real and spiteful consciousness, doesn’t really feel right. Also, the amount of backstory felt overwhelming at times – and at the same time it is hard to really know what is going on. The writing was very good, but otherwise this a slight letdown from the first part – but that is something which almost always happens in the middle parts of trilogies.

448 pp.

Proofreading by eangel.me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Leena Lehtolainen: Rautakolmio


A police procedural about Maria Kallio, female leader of a police department which specializes in untypical crimes. So far they have been able to solve all their cases, but this time they are investigating a double homicide. Smooth storytelling and interesting plot. Nice light reading.


Maria Kallio -romaani.
Mereltä löytyy muoviin pakattuna kaksi ruumista. Alaston nainen ja mies, jonka kasvot on runneltu ja sormenpäät poltettu kuoleman jälkeen. Naisen henkilöllisyys selviää aika nopeasti. Kyseessä on sekalaisilla mallintöillä itsensä elättänyt jo hiukan mallin/seuralaisen töitä ajatellen vanhentuva nainen, jolla osoittautuu olleen taloudellisia vaikeuksia. Hän on aktiivisesti puolustanut ruotsinkielen asemaa, vaikka on täysin suomalaissukuinen ja on joutunut nettitrollien ahdistelemaksi tästä syystä. Liittykö kuolema tähän? Suuren osan ajastaan nainen on asunut jonkin verran aikaisemmin haimasyöpään menehtyneen siskonsa perheen kesäasunnolla. Siskon mies on entinen jääkiekkoilija, nykyinen sijoitustoiminnalla itsensä elättävä varakas liikemies. Kesäasunnolla viettää paljon aikaansa myös perheen lapset, mm. jääkiekko-ottelussa aivovamman saanut alkoholiongelmainen poika.

Kirja oli ihan sujuva ja alan vähitellen päästä yli Leena Lehtolaisen Hilja Ilveskero – romaanin Henkivartija aiheuttamasta voimakkaasta inhoreaktiosta. Tämä kirja on huomattavasti parempi kuin tuo – mutta huonommaksi olisikin ollut vaikea päästä. Sujuvaa kerrontaa, mielenkiintoisia henkilöhahmoja ja kiinnostava juoni. Tosin naimisissa olevan, perheellisen, Maria Kallion koulutyttömäinen typerä säätö komean purjehtijamiehen kanssa oli varsin ärsyttävää ja oikeastaan ihan tarpeetonta.

352 pp.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lines of Departure (Frontlines #2) by Marko Kloos


The book continues the story which started in the first part. Giant, practically indestructible aliens are attacking human colonies and work in the space navy is starting to become pretty dangerous. Humans are retreating towards Earth as colonies are destroyed. The living conditions on Earth, with its overcrowded welfare cities, are deteriorating. But humans are still using resources to fight against each other. The upper leadership of the Commonwealth Defense Corps seems insane (even the characters are noticing it...). As a possible trouble maker, the main character, Andrew Grayson, is sent to a barren base as a member of a pretty shabby force with unclear/secret instructions. There they are ordered to overtake the civilian production faculties and stores. As that could be considered an illegal order, a faction of the troops starts a mutiny. But that mutiny is slightly hampered as the aliens appear.
The plot on its own was engaging. The problem were the overly long, poorly written battle descriptions which took pages and pages to get through. Personally, I am not interested in the slightest in how the battle happens exactly. At places it seemed that every single shot was described in loving detail. There are some problems with believing this could be realistic also. I wonder what explains the extreme over population in the North America? There are supposed to be cities of tens of millions of people in extremely bad living conditions. Why would the birth rate would be so high under those conditions? On the other hand not a single child is shown in the book, and there are no special longevity methods mentioned, either. The technology also seems strange; apparently the humans not only have jump point technology to travel faster than light, but also rocket engines which are able to accelerate huge and heavy spaceships with several g:s for prolonged time. I wonder what the engines use as an energy source? And what functions as reaction mass? In spite of having all that technology, the military is using ordinary nuclear weapons against the aliens - knowing full well that simple nuclear weapons work pretty badly in a vacuum. And even I can think of several weapon technologies which could use nuclear devices better than just lobbing bombs at intruders (using a nuclear explosion to speed up shaped charges of something dense and heavy like depleted uranium) to extreme velocities? Single use lasers powered by nuclear explosion?
In spite of its faults the book was entertaining for the most part. I might pick up the next part if I saw it discounted somewhere. I really hope that it will have more focus on plot and less on boring battles.

315 pp.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Astounding Science Fiction, July 1953


Only three stories in this issue – most of the space is taken by the last installment of Mission of Gravity – one of the classics of hard science fiction.

Enough Rope • [Wing Alak] • novelette by Poul Anderson
An Interstellar League encounters an alien race which is militaristic and is trying to conquer nearby solar systems. They are located pretty far from leagues area, but some of the threatened planets are asking for help. And the projections show that in just a few centuries the race might turn out to be a real threat. What to do - without risking lives? The League sends parties to strategic solar systems nearby and establishes military bases. The aliens threaten the bases, but the League withdraws. (But establishes a new base on another strategically valuable planet). But the League withdraws from there, without resistance, and establish another base. And so on. A pretty nice story with a wry humor prevalent. ***½
Solution Delayed • shortstory by Mark Clifton and Alex Apostolides
A group of people decides to steal a spaceship. They have been involved in building it, but they are not supposed to be among the colonist. A security man gets wind of that plot and tries to stop them, but something more is going on... A pretty bad story with a LOT of lecturing both at the start and the end with pretty bad and pompous writing. **-
Survival • novelette by Don Green
A passenger space ship has an accident on way to Mars. It hits an unknown asteroid which is large enough to have about 1/10 g gravity and has in spite of the light gravity an oxygen atmosphere - which is dense enough for breathing. And accidents apparently happened so suddenly that the crew wasn't able to prepare for it in any way or even warn passengers. Apparently, the only survivor is a businessman who tries to find survival equipment from the wreck. There a lot of weapons (for what?), but it takes some work to find a single flashlight. The writing was well below average and the plot surely must have been preposterously silly already in 1954. From today’s viewpoint, it is unbelievably bad. *

Nightwings by Robert Silverberg



The story happens in a far future Earth where apparently several civilizations have risen and gone. Humanity has reached the stars but has withdrawn back to the Earth. A group of three friends is approaching an ancient city, Room, where relics of several cycles of civilizations which span millennia can be found. One of the group is a watcher, a kind of guard for an alien invasion which will come at some undetermined date in the future. The invasion has apparently been coming for centuries, but the exact date is unknown. One is a winged female, who is able to fly at nighttime; on daytime, the "pressure of light is too heavy". The third is a mutant who isn't part of any guild – practically everyone is part of some guild which protects the interests of its members. Not being a member of any is a severe handicap. After they have arrived at the Room they have an audience with the emperor of the Room. They get a permission to go to the imperial hotel, but then the aliens attack.

In later parts of the book, the watcher who has lost his purpose (as there is no need to be on guard for an alien invasion anymore) finds a new quilt. He joins the historians at Parrish, another ancient city. There he finds out why the aliens had decided to invade earth - and it turns out that they had a pretty good reason for it. The aliens turn out to be pretty benevolent rulers, perhaps better than the humans themselves were. Later the protagonist continues his journey and finds a new purpose for his life.

A pretty good book, after I got used to pretty pompous writing style (which seemed to lighten a bit at the later novellas - the book is a fix-up of several stories which were originally published separately). I am not sure if they are more stories which happen in this world, but I should find out. Good writing and novel ideas make this a deserved classic and it hardly feels dated.

192 pp.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Kristina Carlson: Maan ääreen


A short novel, which won the Finlandia award in 1999. Bulk of the book consists of diary of a young Finnish man who worked as a secretary of a wealthy businessman. He was mugged with serious consequences and only barely survived. Who hit him with a brick and why? My feelings about the book were lukewarm; it didn’t engage me at all. The description of time and place didn’t seem to work, I didn’t feel at all that the book was supposed to happen in the farthest reaches of Siberia; it could have happened in a generic small town anywhere. Below average of Finlandia winners.

Finlandia palkinnon voittaja vuodelta 1999. Kirja (tai taitaisi angloamerikkalaisessa luokittelussa olla pikemminkin novella/pienoisromaani) tapahtuu Siperian itäisellä äärilaidalla sijaitsevassa kaupungissa, johon on perustettu siirtokunta. Nuori suomalainen työskentelee siellä kirjanpitäjänä ja sihteerinä. Joku on pahoinpidellyt hänet lyömällä tiilellä päähän ja paikallinen lääkäri on leikannut hänen kallonmurtumansa pelastaen hänen henkensä. Kuka hänet pahoinpiteli ja miksi? Toipuessaan hän yrittää selvittää ”murhaajaansa”. Kyseessä on aluksi kuvainnollinen murhaaja, mutta hän ei ehkä toipunutkaan päävammastaan ihan niin hyvin kuin aluksi näytti ja murha onkin konkreettisempi kuin aluksi vaikutti olevan. Kirja koostuu pääosin hänen päiväkirjamerkinnöistään, jotka kirjan lopussa muuttuvat taudin edetessä vähitellen sekavammiksi.
Kirja oli kirjoitettu kauniilla kielellä, mutta kirjasta en muuten erityisen suuresti vaikuttunut. Paikalliskuvaus ja ajankuvaus eivät olleet kovin vakuuttavia, tapahtumapaikan piti olla uudisasutus Siperian äärilaidalla, mutta aivan yhtä hyvin kyseessä olisi voinut olla vaikkapa Kouvola. Ilmasto ja maantiede eivät näkyneet kirjassa käytännössä mitenkään ja elämä oli hämmästyttävän pikkuporvarillista ja tavanomaista: kutsuja, viatonta (ja vähemmän viatonta) seurustelua. Tarinakaan ei oikein tempaissut sisäänsä, jotenkin kokonaisuus jäi erittäin haaleaksi, en oikein suhteellisen laimeasti kuvattuun ihmissuhde peliin osannut samaistua tai siitä innostua. Jää Finlandia voittajista keskitason alapuolelle.

192 s.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1973



This issue contains the first part of a serial which I haven’t read. As a whole, it is a fairly adequate issue, but many of the characters were irritating and stupid.


Forty Days and Nights • novelette by Rob Chilson [as by Robert Chilson ]

A woman works as a researcher at a gene-tech firm. They develop far-fetching gene and germ-based solutions. They are discussing killing all rats. Her husband is an artist of sorts. There is a lot of description of the world, and of fairly unconnected events (such as, among other examples, a totally unconnected visit to a semi-independent black state inside New York or wherever the events happened since I don’t remember anymore). A pretty disjointed story as such. ***-
The Sweet Smell of the Past • short story by Lawrence A. Perkins
A man is finishing his time machine. He is able to send things to the future and bring back things from the past, but the transfer breaks everything on a molecular level, so everything is just a pile of dust. He, or rather his wife, finds a way to use the invention in an extremely polluted future. The possible problems the solution has aren't investigated though. (Bringing back clean air and water from the past would surely backfire spectacularly.) ***
The Epoxy Goat • novelette by David Lewis
A man a takes advantage of his friend by living at his place, eating his food and using his car; years before he stole his girlfriend and later abandoned her. He designs a “mechanical goat”, a machine which cleans roadsides and sorts all rubbish into recyclables portions. Of course it is very sensible to design the machine with half inch steel plates, with no external controls what so ever and a very bad AI with no provisions for the size of the “rubbish.” There is some trouble when the “goat” escapes and goes to the local airport looking for some juicy planes. A fairly fun story, but every single character was unbelievably and irritatingly stupid. ***
Stimulus-Reward Situation • short story by Gene Fisher
Humans have come to a planet with dog-like aliens. They are very passive and sleep most of the day and eat abundant fruits which fulfill all their dietary needs. The new leader of the human colony wants to educate the natives. They aren’t interested in following the teaching, as they don’t see how it would benefit them in any way. But if the natives could be motivated somehow, maybe they would start to learn. Certainly that can’t backfire. A mildly amusing story with an unreasonably stupid leader. ***
The Jungle • short story by Karl Hudgins
A mercenary who usually works for the military is drafted to take care of an internal problem in a slum, where a group of criminals have killed several people. The mission doesn’t go smoothly. A fairly nice story. ***+

Monday, September 5, 2016

Seppo Jokinen: Mustat sydämet



The police inspector Koskinen isn’t solving crimes at Tampere this time. He takes part to a marathon in Australia. There he is asked to find a young Finnish woman, who has mysteriously disappeared. Something strange is going on in the Australian Finnish community, but what? As usual a pretty good book with well described characters.

Komisario Koskinen osallistuu Australiassa työtovereidensa kanssa maratonille. Kohtalaisen hyvin onnistuneen juoksun jälkeen maassa pitkään asunut suomalaisnainen pyytää häntä selvittelemään selittämättömästi kadonneen nuoren sukulaistytön kohtaloa. Tästä sitten kehittyy matkustelua suuressa maassa tapaamaan ihmisiä jotka asuvat ihan lähellä 500 km päässä, eikun taisi olla 800 km, eipä sillä niin suurta eroa, äkkiäkös tuon välin ajaa. Samalla Suomeen jääneet työtoverit tutkivat pahoinpidellyn ja kummallisesti sairaalasta kadonneen nuoren pojan tapausta.
Kirja on vetävää kerrontaa taas kerran. Kuvaus suomalaisyhdyskunnasta Australiassa on aika uskottavan tuntuista. Kirjailija onkin asunut tiettävästi maassa hyvän aikaa, joten kirjalla oli autenttista taustaa - tosin sivuja ehkä hiukan liikaakin käytettiin paikkojen kuvailuun. Henkilöhahmot olivat hyvin kuvattuja ja ainakin kohtalaisen realistisen tuntuisia kuten tavallista ja henkilökemia lomittui dekkarijuoneen sopivalla tavalla. Paremman pään Koskisia.

297 s.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, October 2016



A pretty good issue mostly; better than average.

Progenesis – Novelette by J. L. Forrest
A biotech company is doing really far fetching research on human genetic modification. Religious fanatics, both from the Near East and Bible Belt are trying to destroy everything connected to the company and its main scientists. The company withdraws to "citadel", where they finish their research - which goes really far. A pretty good story, but bit too short. There would have been material for a novel - or for a pretty good movie. ***½
Angles of Incidence – Short Story by Nancy Fulda
A pretty strange alien race demands that the shadows of a series of sculptures must be "assimilated " before an important agreement can be done. In fact, they insist on it, right now. And if the negotiators don't succeed they will be eaten, as is the custom. A pretty nice story, a bit on a short side. ***+
The Blue Lady of Entanglement Camber 1 – Short Story by Ron Collins
The first pilot of a ftl-system, which uses quantum entanglement, has died in an accident. Something went wrong; it isn't really clear what. The system is in widespread use without any problems. But sometimes, the dead woman's ghost seems to roam in the laboratory. Is her quantum presence still around? A sort of detective story,. The writing was ok; the plot didn't really work for me. ***-
Mom in the Moon – Short Story by Muri McCage
This story seems to continue an earlier one. I am not aware of the first part; at least it hasn’t been published in Analog. It happens in a world with several moons. A mother has apparently gone to one of them by accident. A grandfather and a daughter go to the mountain to get a yearly radio connection to Mother. I wonder why the connection has happened on a mountain, why only once a year, and how in hell the mother ended up going to the moon by accident. The grandfather and the daughter aren’t completely honest when they talk with the mother. The writing was pretty good, but plot wise, there were the above mentioned problems and a lot of lack of continuation. Also, how a dust cloud can “suck away all water” from an entire planet? Wouldn’t the dust rather work as a condensation point and lead to heavy waterfalls? **½
Revenge of the Invisible Man – Novelette by Robert R. Chase
A some sort of secret agent, who apparently works for some sort private clandestine agency, is hired to find out how an invisible man has been able to attempt murders of key personnel of a firm that screwed him over. It is pretty baffling, as he has been imprisoned for weeks under pretty constant surveillance. A pretty good and entertaining story. ***½
The Soul Behind the Face – Novella by Adam-Troy Castro
A secret agent is on a mission. He hires a woman to be his wife – the woman uses mental conditioning and cosmetic surgery to really BE the imagined spouse. He has a mission which seems pretty nonsensical, but he is succeeding in it, and getting through the security checks – or at least it seems like it. A pretty good story, where the emphasis is on the person and in his relationship with the proxy wife rather than the plot. It continues a story which was published in Analog about a year ago, but works pretty well by itself. The story will most likely continue. Hopefully. ****

Proofreading by eangel.me.

Riikka Pulkkinen: Totta



A story about an old woman who is dying from cancer and her family. Interspaced with the events happening “now” are events from 50 years ago when the husband had an affair with a young woman who was hired as a nanny. A good book about family relations and secrets.

Kirja on kuunneltu äänikirjana automatkoilla.

Eläkkeellä oleva psykologian tutkija on sairastunut parantumattomaan syöpään. Hänen pitkäaikainen puolisonsa, kohtalaisen kuuluisa taiteilija, heidän lääkärityttärensä ja tämän lapset hoitavat sairasta naista kotona viimeisinä kuukausina. Nykyhetken tapahtumien lomassa kuvataan noin viisikymmentä vuotta sitten tapahtunutta. Tuolloin perheen isä ja nuori perheessä lastenhoitajana työskennellyt yliopisto-opiskelija rakastuivat toisiinsa. Kirjassa kuvataan vuorotellen nykyhetken tapahtumia ja menneisyyttä. Nykyhetkessä tytär muistaa pitkästä aikaa hoitajansa, ja vähitellen muistikuvat selkiytyvät. Toisin kaikki muistot eivät lapsuudesta ole ihan sellaisia mitä tapahtumat todellisuudessa olivat.

Hyvin kirjoitettu ja liikuttava kertomus perheestä, ihmissuhteesta ja salaisuuksista. Henkilöt ovat aidon ja uskottavan tuntuisesti kuvattuja, ja kaukana mustavalkoisista. Ei oikein ollut yhtä totuutta, kaikilla oli oma ymmärrettävä ja oikean näkökulmansa. Kohtalaisen kliinistä kerronta oli siinä mielessä, että juuri mitään kevennyksiä tai humoristisuutta ei kirjasta löytynyt. Kielellisesti sujuvaa kieltä, jota oli hyvä kuunnella. Ongelma äänikirjassa tosin oli aikatasojen hyppiminen; joskus oli vaikea tietää kuka on äänessä ja missä ajassa. Ehkä hiukan pidempi tauko lukijalta olisi ollut paikallaan näissä vaihdoksissa.

332 s.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

John Williams: Stoner


An excellent novel about the life a literature professor in the beginning of the 20th century. The story is told in very clinical, clear language which somehow paradoxically brings his life closer to the reader. A very good and memorable book.

Romaani yhden miehen elämästä, ei sen enempää eikä vähempää. Kyseessä ei ole mikään suurmies vaan aika tavallinen ja tavanomainen kirjallisuuden professori aika vähäpätöisessä yliopistossa tämän vuosisadan alkupuoliskolla. Hän syntyy maatalon poikana, lähtee yliopistoon opiskelemaan agrologiaa, mutta opintoihin sisältyneen kirjallisuuden kurssin jälkeen vaihtaa opintoalaa, väittelee lopulta kirjallisuudesta ja jää samaan yliopistoon työhön eläkeikäänsä asti. Hänen elämänsä on tasaista, ei mitään kovin onnellista, ilmeisesti kaksisuuntaista mielialahäiriötä sairastavan, emotionaalisesti kylmän ja seksuaalisesti estyneen vaimon kanssa, joka kanssa osa elämästä on oikeastaan kylmää, joskus aika kuumaakin, sotaa. Tunteita Stonerilla ei juuri ole, tai ainakaan niitä ei kuvailla, paitsi sen yhden lyhyen hetken ajan, kun hänellä, oikeastaan vihoviimeisellä ihmisellä josta tätä voisi kuvitella, on rakastajatar, nainen joka on älykäs, kaunis ja seksikäs. Mutta yhteisön paineet ovat liian kovat suhteen jatkumiselle. Tämän jälkeen Stoner kuroutuu kuoreensa entistäkin enemmän, hoitaa työnsä niin hyvin kuin jaksaa ja pystyy; elää vähäeleistä elämäänsä, saa maineen campuksella originellina persoonana ja lopulta kuolee yhtä vähäeleisesti kuin on elänytkin, kuitenkin tyytyväisenä siihen, että on saanut tehdä sitä mitä on halunnut: opettaa.
Koko Stonerin elämä kuvataan erittäin selkeällä, kylmän kliinisellä kielellä, joka paradoksaalisesti tuo hänen elämänsä ja tunteensa jotenkin hyvin lähelle, paljon lähemmäs kuin mikään runollinen ja monisanainen kuvailu ikinä olisi voinut tuoda. Erittäin vaikuttava kirja, jossa oikeastaan ei paljoa tapahdu, ei sen enempää ja kummallisempaa kuin todellisessa elämässä voi tapahtua. Ja sen takia kirja on todella vaikuttava ja mieleenpainuva – paikoitellen ahdistavakin – sen verran surkeaa Stonerin elämä ajoittain oli, etenkin kuvaus kuinka vaimo ”varastaa” Stonerin rakkaan tyttären ja käytännössä tuhoaa hänen[kin] elämänsä.

306 s.

Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1955



An above average issue. A combining theme on many of the stories seemed to be humor.

The Flat-Eyed Monster • novelette by William Tenn
A professor is kidnapped by aliens with a one-way matter transfer beam. The alien abhor the flat eyed monster who doesn't even communicate. They don't know that even when the professor can't send thoughts, he receives them very well and understands what the aliens are saying to themselves. And soon the flat eyed monster is on loose and rampaging through a peaceful city. A pretty fun subversion of a trope. Especially the ending was pretty surprising and refreshing. ****-
Whiskabroom • shortstory by Alan Arkin
A young man rents a room from an elderly couple. He tried to develop a time machine but actually manages to strip away the third dimension, not move in the fourth. A short amusing story, the humor doesn't work as well as in the first story. ***+
Country Estate • novelette by Daniel F. Galouye
Humans arrive on an alien planet. They try to civilize the natives who are beautiful people who live naked in the forest. Getting the natives to wear clothes is for some strange reason one of the most important priorities. It doesn't work well, not even at gunpoint. And aliens don't seem to eat at all. And they heal almost instantly. Maybe they aren't so undeveloped after all. The plot wasn't so bad, but the writing felt worse than average and some of the plot points were pretty strange. **+
A Gift from Earth • shortstory by Manly Banister
Humans arrive on an alien planet. This time, they sell first metallic kettles at a low price, pushing the clay pots away from the market. And then they bring in some new innovations like radios, roads, cars and debt. With an interest of course. It's hard to say if this story was meant as humorous or as a very dark one. It falls pretty much in the uncanny valley between those two. It is too depressing to be really fun and too light to be really dystopic. ***-
Twink • shortstory by Theodore Sturgeon
A telepath is facing a task: he must deal with Twink. He has a lot of trepidation and is at least partly afraid of what must be done. Slowly it is revealed what the actual task is: he must help his telepathic child – Twink -to be born. The writing was ok, but the story depends pretty much on the slow reveal of what is going on. ***


Proofreading by eangel.me.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Suzanne Collins: Matkijanärhi (Mockingjay)



The last part of the trilogy. The mutiny against capitol is growing. Most of districts have joined the battle lead by the 13th district. Katnis is needed as a poster girl for the propaganda effort and she is styled just like before the Hunger games in the earlier books…A very cynical and dark final part of the series. An unbelievable dark story for a YA-book. The writing isn’t among the best, but the plotting was very engaging.


Edellinen osa jäi niin kutkuttavaan tilanteeseen, että päätösosa piti lukea nyt hetimiten. Alue 12 on tuhottu. Katnis ja harvat muut alue 12 henkiinjääneet asuvat alueella 13 salaisissa luolissa. Alue 13 on käynnistämässä laajaa kapinaa Capitolia vastaan. Ja Katnissia tarvitaan kapinan keulakuvana luomaan yhteishenkeä eri alueiden välille. Pian häntä ehostetaan, vaatetetaan ja stailataan ihan samaan malliin kuin ennen nälkäpelejä tapahtui aikaisemmissa kirjoissa. Onko oikeastaan mikään muuttunut? Ja ovatko alue 13 asukkaat; ja etenkään sen johto; niin pyyteettömästi taistelemassa Capitolia vastaan kuin antavat ymmärtää? Joka tapauksessa kapina on vauhdissa ja taistelut lähestyvät pääkaupunkia….mutta pääseekö Katnissia ottamaan osaa niihin? Vai olisiko marttyyri alue 13 sodanjohdon kannalta kuitenkin hyödyllisempi, kuin aika epäluotettava, omapäinen ja arvaamaton hengissä oleva keulakuva?
Kirja oli yllättävän synkkä ja kyyninen nuortenkirjaksi. Tässä kirjassa ei ollut mitään helppoja ratkaisuita, ei puhtaasti hyviä henkilöhahmoja, ei mitään mukavan onnellista parisuhteiden miettimistä, vaan tylytystä ja ne harvat jotka hengissä selviävät arpeutuvat loppuiäkseen. Ja kaikki eivät selviä, muutama kuolema tuli kyllä niin yllättäen ja järkyttävinä, että GRRM pian häviää kisan tärkeiden hahmojen teurastamisessa. Juonellisesti vetävää kirjoittamista, kieliasullisesti ihan tukevaa keskitasoa, ei mitään unohtumattomia lauserakenteita, mutta eipä niitä kirjalta, joka kuitenkin on nuorisolle tarkoitettu niin odotakaan. Tosin vieläkään en oikein usko kirjassa kuvatun maailman taloudellis/poliittis/tekniseen toimivuuteen.

362 s.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2016


An uneven issue. Something pretty good, something pretty bad.

Progress Report • novella by Rajnar Vajra

Some sorts of animals slowly learn things day by day. Apparently, the food it eats gives it new information and even new memories. Memories of a strange alien creature, a human. And learning is interspaced by tests of character. Why is he getting alien memories and what are the tests for? An excellent story with interesting characters. ****
Detroit Hammersmith, Zero-Gravity Toilet Repairman (Retired) • novelette by Suzanne Palmer
An important diplomatic meeting is coming up on a space station and the toilets are clogging with strange frog-like creatures. What is going on? And what is most important, how can it be stopped so that the talks will not fail? Okay, humorous story, but it is nothing really exceptional and doesn’t really work for me. **½
Deep Waters Call Out to What is Deeper Still • shortstory by Sarah Frost
Fish in an aquarium are being taken care of in a virtual sea environment. A caretaker also somehow mends with their mind to evaluate if everything is going well. Then she is supposed to go into the mind of an octopus which is not adjusting. More of a scene than a real story. I would have liked more background and more details. I didn’t really care much for it. **½
Silhouettes • shortstory by Dave Creek
The old man is alone, observing strange animals on a planet with heavy winds. His health is failing and he ponders his life. It's a short bittersweet story. Apparently its the end of a character who has been in at least one earlier story by the same author. ***-
Dreams of the Rocket Men • novelette by C. Stuart Hardwick
A young man befriends an elderly man who builds and designs rockets. Together they design novel hobbyist rocket models and slowly that leads to a career for the young man. He eventually is part of a group who makes some real progress on a rocket design. A very good story which could have been longer. ****-
Nesting Dolls • novelette by Jacob A. Boyd
A slower than light generation ship is on its way to another galaxy (!!? A the author apparently doesn't have the slightest idea about distances between galaxies). For some strange reason the ship is built from concentric levels, so the oldest technology is used inside. When more advanced tech was designed on the Earth, a new ship was overtaken. The older and then the new level have been built over the old ship. (Hard to imagine the senseless and stupid approach). A child is kidnapped by inhabitants of a deeper level. Some stupid shit happens then and in the end the ship stops on different planets looking for a habitable one. Between galaxies? Usually the stories in Analog make some technological sense - I wonder if the current editor has any science education? The writing is slightly better than the plot and background, but it certainly couldn't have been worse. **-

Proofreading by eangel.me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey #1) by Jasper Fforde




Something has happened. The world has changed. People see only one color, and most often, even that isn’t perfect. (The color vision is a bit strange — people can usually see just one color, but there are “simulations” of other colors, which apparently can be seen by everyone). There is a strict social structure: some colors are more important than others, and inside a color group, the color percentage you are able to see determines your standing. The bottom class is “greys”, who don’t see any colors at all. Their obligation is to do most of the work everywhere. Colors also affect marriages — the good combinations are sought on eugenic principles, and there is one severe and unbreakable taboo: the complementary colors cannot marry. That is totally unthinkable and very perverted. The life follows a set of very precise rules. Some of them are practical, like normal laws, and forbid usual crimes. Some of them are nonsensical, like prohibition of making new spoons. The old ones can be used, and spoons are very sought-after and are family heirlooms. The rules are listed in a book, and are very precise, so it is often possible find loopholes in them to circumvent their actual meaning.

A young red, Eddie Russett, is being punished after he plays a practical joke for a higher color. He is supposed to make an inventory of all chairs on a remote village. His father is a healer (healing happens by showing different colors to the patients) who also goes to the village, as the village’s own healer has succumbed in mysterious circumstances. Some of the color cards the old healer had have disappeared. That is a potentially serious matter, as certain colors can be intoxicating or even dangerous. Eddie is looking forward to a very sensible and lucrative marriage with an “old blood” red, but then he meets a mysterious and very sassy grey who seems to be very interesting (and dangerous).

This is a very strange book about a very strange world. I am not sure what these creatures are, but they aren’t normal humans — the limited color vision is just a small facet of everything that is strange about them. They seem pretty breakable: a torn ear or an almost-detached finger are not much to talk about, a broken tight bone is a serious matter, and it may take up to two weeks to heal properly. I had some different possibilities in my mind: Androids? Uplifted humanoid dogs? (There is something doglike in pretty blind obedience of a set rules and in the personalities of some characters — and obviously, the color blindness angle itself.) Everything and everyone is a computer simulation? I really don’t know, but something funny is going on. The book doesn’t explain anything — all strange customs are encountered at their own pace, and mostly they are not explained. Not even the characters really know why the rules are what they are, and they know practically nothing about what happened to the earlier world. And the technological advancement is going backwards — in a planned way. Periodically, some inventions are restricted, and are not allowed to be used anymore. The book was pretty much an uphill battle in the beginning, but after some of the basic functions of the world become clear, the reading become easier. But there were new strange details, which took some pondering on almost every page. This is a very strange but extremely original and good book.

436 pp.

Proofreading by eangel.me.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July-August 2016


A few pretty nice stories – and a few pretty average ones.

No Strangers Any More • novelette by Ian Creasey

Aliens have arrived. They want to purchase the moon. Why? They are not telling and there is a lot of mistrust towards them. The princess of Great Britain befriends one of the aliens (a referendum of continuation of the Monarchy is closing and voting will be tight). They go together to art shows and so on and tabloids are having fun at their relationship. What is the agenda of the aliens? Somehow this story feels too short and too long at the same time. It is a bit sketch-like and fairly little happens, but at the same time it feels like there would be many interesting plots that could be told from this background. It wasn’t bad, but not something really exceptional, either. ***+
The Metal Demimonde • novelette by Nick Wolven
Highly sophisticated robots have taken over almost all jobs. A young woman manages an amusement park with robotic rides. She meets a young man who has a rare and at almost illegal non-self-driving car. But he has a secret agenda. Overly long story with too much irritating and boring teen romance. Writing, in and of itself, was pretty good. ***
Pleistocene Brains • shortstory by Christina De La Rocha
A professor gives a demonstration on making Stone Age flint tools. At the same times she speculates about human and Neanderthal genetics. And apparently she and at least some of the students are Neanderthals. Ok, but not really a story with a real plot. ***
A Violent Wind • shortstory by Andrew Barton
A research space ship is falling into a gas giant. The crew is abandoning the ship, but the captain is reluctant to leave. The writing was ok, but the background was very sketchy and the emotional involvement in characters wasn’t very deep.***
Story Night at the Stronghold • shortstory by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The survivors of a global catastrophe discuss what happened to them. Would never have been published if written by unknown authors. Possibly there is a point somewhere. **-
Mandalas on the 405 • shortstory by Elisabeth R. Adams
Remote-controlled cars start to form patterns. Perhaps the computer controlling them tries to communicate or something. Short and silly. ***-
The Battle of Ceres • novelette by Karl Bunker
The asteroid miners fall victim to the “low grade” war the mining companies are fighting with each other. One woman whose partner dies decides to do something. A pretty good story. The best so far in this issue. ***½
Fall • novella by Arlan Andrews [as by Arlan Andrews, Sr. ]
Continues an earlier story. A young adventurer has escaped with superconductive cloth. He meets new people and has new adventures. He draws attention from a spunky princess, who drafts him to fight in some sort of game with an important reward. Clearly better than a few earlier parts of the series –there is a bit more plot and not only sightseeing. ***½
Fallacious • shortstory by Sean Vivier
A man uses brain surgery to remove cognitive biases from his thought processes. It doesn’t end well. Another short and stupid story. **+
Death of a Starship Poet • shortstory by James Van Pelt
A poet on a spaceship has been killed. By whom? And why? Sshe doesn’t stay dead as her uploaded memory can’t be run on a computer. Unfortunately, she has been pretty lax and her last recording isn’t very recent. As she hasn’t made any notes, her last poems have apparently been lost. A pretty nice story but a bit too short; the ending was too impossible to guess due to insufficient data. ***
Cory for Coriolis • novelette by John Shirley
Cory wants to fly inside a hurricane in a near future where hurricanes are very common. His father is also a hurricane flier. An overly long story with not very believable plot points. ***-
Purytans • novella by Brad R. Torgersen
A member of social group “marriage” between future androgynous humans has gone missing. She is assumed to be dead, but then she is found on a protected planet that isn’t part of the “federation” which has stabilized practically all conflicts in human-inhabited space. The protected planets are kept separated from the rest of space and are considered technologically and socially backward. It turns out their friend has changed: she has been transformed to be physiologically female and horror of horrors, she is pregnant and living with a single man. Has she gone mad? A pretty good and well-written story in spite of some oldish attitudes. ****-

Proofreading by eangel.me.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Suzanne Collins: Vihan liekit (Catching Fire)


A very readable YA-book with engaging characters. Takes its time to get moving, but after it does the events are almost too frantic. The political and economic systems make no sense whatsoever, though.


Katniss on voittanut edellisessä kirjassa Nälkäpelin, taistelun jossa totalitaarisen valtion johto pakottaa eri alueilta kotoisin olevat nuoret kamppailemaan toisiaan vastaan kuolemaan asti. Normaalisti voittajana hän pääsisi elämään loppuelämänsä voittajien kylässä nauttien perheensä kanssa eduista, joista muut saavat vain haaveilla. Mutta hän on uhmannut presidenttiä ja tämä kokee hänet uhkaksi koko valtiolle. Hänen myös täytyy edelleen teeskennellä rakkautta peliin osallistuneen Peetan kanssa, jotta ei paljastuisi, että hän on huijannut systeemiä. Tämä ei kuitenkaan riitä totalitaarisen valtion johdolle. Julistetaan uusi nälkäpeli, johon kutsutaan edellisten kausien voittajat ja näin Katniss joutuu uudelleen kamppailemaan hengestään.

Sarjan toinen osa. Etenkin alkupuolella kirjassa on trilogioiden keskiosien ongelmaa, ensimmäisen kirjan ongelmat kun tulivat kohtuudella ratkaistua jo siinä teoksessa ja uusien taustoittamiseen kuuluu paljon aikaa/sivuja. Kirjan alkupuoli on varsin hidas ja puolenvälin jälkeen toiminta on sitten melkein liiankin vauhdikasta tapahtuen vyöryessä päälle. Kirjan lopun asetelma täysin erilainen kuin alussa ja oikeastaan aika avoin jättäen paljon tilaa seuraavalle osalle. Tilanne jäi paljon enemmän auki kuin ensimmäisen osan jälkeen ja päätösosa pitänee lukea nopeammin kuin vuoden kuluttua. Luettava kirja, vaikka taustamaailman poliittisessa ja taloudellisessa järjestelmässä ei ole pientäkään logiikkaa. Suuri, runsasväestöinen ja rikas Capitol tulee toimeen orjuuttamalla väestömäärältään nähtävästi aika pieniä ja hyvin köyhiä alueita? Mistä ihmeestä se kaikki Capitolin ylellisyys on peräisin? Ei kai niistä muutamista pikkuruisista kylistä? Ja mitä muualla maapallolla tapahtuu?

412 s.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Hugo award votes 2016, part 4: novels


The best novel category was good this year in spite of the voting slates. Most probably, the same books would have been nominated anyway, except for, The Aeronaut's Windlass. Only two of the nominees (Uprooted and Seveneves) were separate works which weren’t part of any series. Two were first parts of a new series. For me, the choice of first place was between two books. One was more imaginative, but it was part of a series; another was a separate book (always a major plus, when voting for an award). The Fifth Season was so intriguing and well written I decided to put it on the first place. Uprooted was a second by a hair in spite of engaging plot and characters. The Ancillary Mercy was clearly below those two and clearly, the overlong Seveneves was below that. As a whole a rather good year for novels.

My votes:

1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
3. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
4. Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher (Excerpt)


I read only the free excerpt, which was provided with the Hugo voters' package. If I would have liked the sample, I would have bought the book. I didn’t. It wasn’t good enough and I didn’t want to spend any money for a nominee that is on the list, only due to manipulated voting. I could describe my feelings about this book as massive disinterest. The book is the first volume of a new series. It apparently is some kind of cross of fantasy, steampunk and militaristic fiction. Airships are run by magic crystals, feudal houses are important and spend their time having duels over small slights; intelligent talking cats are kept in contempt, except by one minor house. All in all, pretty formulaic pulpish story which felt like it could have been written in the thirties. The writing itself was competent, but never, ever this would be worth an award.

116 pp.