Wednesday, September 18, 2019

John Carter - Marsin Jumalat (The Gods of Mars) by Edgar Rice Burroughs,


Sattui kirjakaupassa vastaan tämä lapsuuden suosikki puoli-ilmaiseksi, enkä vastustanut kiusausta. Ensimmäisen osa aikanaan olen lukenut monta kertaa, tämän toisen osan kirjastosaatavuuden vuoksi hiukan harvemmin. Etukäteen en muistanut juuri mitään, mutta tuttuja asioita kyllä tuli lukiessa mieleen. John Carter, kirjan päähenkilö on ollut vuosia palanneena maapallolle. Kirjan alussa hän siirtyy takaisin Marsiin, mutta kuinka ollakaan hyvin tukalaan tilanteeseen. Tämän jälkeen juoni etenee taistelusta taisteluun, joissa yleensä John Carter taistelee urheasti, kunnes ylivoiman edessä tulee vangituksi. Vankeudesta hän sitten pakenee joutuen seuraavaan taisteluun (ja seuraavaan vankilaan). Ihan vauhdikasta menoa, joka upposi 12-vuotiaaseen. Scifin kanssahan tällä ei kyllä ole yhtään mitään tekemistä, siinä määrin fantastista ”tekniikka” Barsomissa on. Kielellisesti kirja on hiukan simppeli nykynäkökulmasta. Käännös oli sama vanha, jota ainakaan lapsena luin - jotenkin kuvittelin, että tässä uudessa laitoksessa olisi ollut päivitetty versio, mutta ei. Taisi olla vain Tarzaneita, joita tuli pari uutta käännöstä? Tuskin alan lukemaan sarjan loppuja noin kymmentä osaa.

A re-read of a childhood favorite. John Carter gets back to Barsoom, Mars of the legends and has an adventure and a sword fight. After the sword fight, he gets himself imprisoned several times until he escapes with his bravery, cunning, and unparalleled strength. The book is pretty much the definition of pulp science fantasy. It's an entertaining book, but simple and one dimensional, as can be expected. Most likely, I am not going to read the rest of the series.


226 pp.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Minna Lindgren: Kaukorakkaus



Kauko Koskinen on eläkkeelle jäänyt ATK-päällikkö, jolla elämä on järjestyksessä, paperit mapeissa ja uusikin tekniikka vähintään kohtuullisessa järjestyksessä. Poika ja pojan poika asustelevat omakotitalon alakerrassa e-urheilijoina ja vaimo on hoitokodissa vaikeasti dementoituneena. Elämä menee latuaan vaimon luona käydessä ja jälkikasvulle ruokaa laittaessa ja huushollin siistinä pitämisessä. Mutta kun Kauko epäonnisen sattuman vuoksi menettää ajokorttinsa ja byrokraattisen hoitolaitoksen vuoksi oikeuden hoitaa puolisoaan, niin asiat mutkistuvat. Mutta onpa sentään muistoissa ensirakkaus (ja parin syrjähypyn kohde) josta uneksia. Löytyisiköhän tämä nainen vielä elossa ja mieluiten leskenä? Kohtalaisen hyvillä ATK-taidoilla naisen löytämisen pitäisi olla helppoa.
En ole esim. Ehtookoto-kirjoja lukenut, eikä tämän perusteella kovaa hinkua tullut (tosin yksi ostettuna, joten ehkä joskus tulee testattua). Tämä kirja oli aika naiivi, vaikka mukana oli vanhustenhoitoon kohdistuvaa vähän liian ilmeistä arvostelua. Henkilöhahmot olivat kaikki karikatyyrejä, eivätkä onnistuneita. Yksikään henkilö kirjassa ei ollut oikeasti sympaattinen vaan lähinnä hyvin ärsyttäviä. Kirjan loppu oli hiukan kumma, loppui kuin seinään tilanteeseen, jossa jäi miettimään, vedettiinkö matto lukijan jalkojen alta. Kirja näyttää saaneen blogeissa hämmästyttävän hyviä arvioita - tosin muutama arvio keskittyy hyvin vahvasti sisällön kuvailuun ilman, että omaa mielipidettä ei oikein ilmoiteta ollenkaan (onko niin, että ilmaiseksi saatua kirjaa ei voi kritisoida?), Goodreadissa kirja saa paljon realistisemman alle kolmen tähden keskiarvon.

A light book of a retired technical director responsible for computers who tries to find his first love with whom he had a couple of affairs during his marriage. His wife is now dying from dementia, and his son and grandson spend all of their time on “e-sports” (or at least so they claim). An extremely light and simple book with not a single sympathetic character, even though it is apparently meant to be a “funny” book. Not something I would recommend.


233 pp.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September-October 2019



Perhaps a bit below-average issue.

The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl's • novella by Adam-Troy Castro
A man who works on the moon sees Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel in space suits, enacting one of their sketches. A little while later he sees them again. What's going on? He asks help from Minnie and Earl, a very strange, possibly alien, couple living in a picket-fenced nice and cozy house in the middle of the lunar soil. A nice story which doesn’t make much logical sense, but is very good in spite of that. ***½
Awakening in the Anteroom of Heaven • short story by Brenda Kalt
Aliens have been defeated by humans during a war. A lot of damage has been caused in the alien homeworld. The aliens rescue some statues and bring them to a holy place where no humans all allowed, according to the peace treaty they have agreed on. There is something secret inside the statues. An okay story which would have been better with some back story. Who were the “bad guys” in the war? Who actually were the aggressors? Why did the war even happen? ***+
On Her Shoulders • novelette by Martin L. Shoemaker
An anomalous object is discovered near Jupiter and it eventually turns out to be an alien spaceship. The story loosely follows the woman who discovered it and her former mentor. Apparently, sending our own spacecraft to meet the aliens doesn’t interest the US government (or ANY other government at all, for that matters – a bit of an unrealistic scenario). An excellent take on “The Man who Sold the Moon”. The body of the story is good, but it might have needed a little more meat. Plus, the most interesting part is happening after the end of the story and between the scenes we were shown. ***½
Paradise Unbound • [Paradise (Edward M. Lerner)] • short story by Edward M. Lerner
Continues an earlier story, but takes place years or decades later. The ancient mother ship didn’t crash on the planet, but offered plenty of information about technology and there was a technological renaissance. Now, though, a giant asteroid is going to hit the planet and the technology level is not good enough to do anything about it. Then there is an unknown spaceship in orbit... The story is not as good as the earlier parts. The arrival of the spaceship just in time is, if anything, a huge coincidence. ***+
The Swarm • short story by Mario Milosevic
Microprobes are sent to a closest star (using a light sail powered by lasers, which are apparently located on the Earth’s surface – a lunatic idea, most likely impossible), but it will take decades to get a few pictures. One of the group goes into suspended animation to see the results. Was it worth it? A very short story with an open end. ***
The Waters of a New World • short story by Jennifer R. Povey
A spaceship has escaped a dying Earth. The water on a new planet has a strange contaminant which seems to be totally impossible to get rid off. It survives anything (even boiling and distilling? That wasn’t mentioned) and dissolves anything. A short story where the problem was solved “slightly” too conveniently (Martian soil kills the nanobacteria and they just happen to have several tons of it onboard). ***
News from an Alien World • short story by Sean Vivier
Something has happened in the USA (and apparently in the rest of the world, except Japan). A man, who works for a Japanese space agency, tries to live his American dream as his workgroup translates alien TV signals (which just happen to be from the end of their civilization - a million to one chance, surely?). A nice story which contrasts two civilizations. ***
A Family Rendezvous • short story by Brendan DuBois
A space shuttle containing tourists is on its way to an orbital hotel. Something goes wrong, but luckily there is a man on board who believes he can help. A problem-solving story with a seemingly contrived emergency and solution. ***
From So Complex a Beginning • short story by Julie Novakova
A technician is summoned to a planet where life has evolved very quickly, so quickly that it hints to artificial intelligence. When she is studying the animals on the planet, there is a glitch in the data, as if someone is censoring something. Who and why? Or is she just paranoid? An okay story, but the plot was a bit simplistic in some points and motivations were left unclear. ***
A Square of Flesh, A Cube of Steel • short story by Phoebe Barton
A girl doesn’t want to leave her home with her mother but is she ready to stay alone? Another story I didn’t get into at all and I didn’t relate with the character, who seemed to behave pretty erratically. ***-
I Dreamed You Were a Spaceship • short story by Ron Collins
An old man, a hero, muses over his past, his present and a new generation with new sorts of interests and lifestyle. A shortish bittersweet “story”. ***-
Astroboy and Wind • short story by J. M. McDermott [as by Joe M. McDermott]
There is an accident among construction crew members on another planet that makes the rest of group wonder what they will be doing in the future. A slice of life story, pretty good for that style which I usually am not a fan of. ***
Conventional Powers • [Troubleshooters] • novelette by Christopher L. Bennett
At a convention on superheroes there is some discord about what is a “real” superhero. A faction tries to hijack the convention and run the prestigious competition in such a way that the most powerful superheroes won’t have the edge they usually have. An average story with a stupid plotting. A very important invention is left at an unsafe place? The motivation of the “bad guys” is beyond strange: all that happens just to win a competition whose prize seems to be the only prestige? Why? However, I am not sure if I am over-analyzing it, but was there some “slight” commentary about the rabid/sad puppies affair in here somewhere? ***
The Singing City • short story by Michael F. Flynn
The son of an astronaut will command a mission into deep space. The astronaut muses over that. A bit of a boring story I didn’t get into. ***-
Molecular Rage • short story by Marie Bilodeau
A time scheduler of matter transportation beams is late for work. Again. He also goes back home late and it's not even the first time. In fact, it is so common that his wife leaves him. He is sacked from work too. He starts to look for what could be causing the delays. An "okay" story, a bit too much is spent on the intricacies of matter transportation beams. I wonder where and when the story is supposed to be happening: time is measured by seconds and minutes and the main character uses caffeine? He is an 'insect' and there are no humans in the world at all? ***
Trespass • novelette by Tony Ballantyne
A mercenary is asked to help on a sector which sticks to tradition and only uses things that work according to traditional physics which can be replicated by humans. They are considered to be backwards, as most people are used to alien tech (including FTL travel). Nevertheless, a man has discovered some unknown alien tech from a distant planet is lose on the sector, and he must be removed as soon as possible. It turns out that the human tech is pretty advanced too, but inertia-less travel is a bit more high-tech than it is common there... a very good and intriguing story about an interesting world. ***½
Road Veterinarian • novelette by Guy Stewart
A veterinarian is chosen to help on a top-secret project (I wonder why the army doesn’t even have a single capable vet of its own?). A bio-engineered highway has been started to walk to Canada which, in this future, is a hostile nation. A pretty stupid story, and flirting between the main characters doesn’t make it any better. ***-

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Agatha Christie: Idän pikajunan arvoitus (Murder on the Orient Express)



Tämäkin on äänikirjana automatkoilla kuunneltu kirja. Taattua Agatha Christie laatu, yksi hänen parhaista kirjoistaan ja muutenkin genrensä suuria klassikoita. Mies murhataan junassa, joka on juuttunut lumimyrskyn vuoksi keskelle ei-mitään. Murhaajan on pakko olla samasta junanvaunusta, mutta jokaisella matkustajalla näyttää olevan vuorenvarma alibi eikä kenelläkään mitään motiivia. Miten ja miksi murha oikein tehtiin? Olin aavistuksen spoilautunut kirja lopputuloksesta, mutta hyvin viihdyttävä ja kuunneltava kirja oli silti. Hercule Poirotin harmaat aivosolut saivat työskennellä täysillä, ennen kuin asia ratkesi ja selvisi kuinka murha tapahtui.


This is one of the classics of the detective fiction, the ultimate locked-room mystery on a train. A man has been killed, the murderer must come from the same train wagon, and everyone seems to have an iron-clad alibi. The book was partly spoiled for me, but it's intriguing nevertheless.

214 pp.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Halki puolen maailman (Shattered Sea #2) by Joe Abercrombie


Toinen osa sarjaa, joka on olevinaan fantasiaa, mutta jossa ei oikeastaan tässäkään osassa tapahdu mitään selkeän yliluonnollista. Edellisen kirjan loppumisesta on kulunut useampia vuosia ja sen kirjan päähenkilöt ovat tässä kirjassa enemmän taustalla sivuhenkilöinä. Kirjan varsinaisina päähenkilöinä ovat kaksi nuorta, Thorn, tyttö, joka harjoittelee uutterasti päästäkseen soturiksi ja Brand, toinen armeijan kokelas, jolla taas on kaksijakoinen suhtautuminen sotaisaan uraan: toisaalta rikastuminen kiinnostaisi, mutta tappaminen ja tapetuksi tulemisen uhka eivät kumpikaan ole erityisen kiehtovia. Harjoituksissa Thorn tappaa vahingossa toisen kokelaan ja olisi tullut tuomituksi kuolemaan, mikäli Brand ei olisi puhunut hänen puolestaan. Molemmat joutuvat kuitenkin epäsuosioon, eivätkä tule valituksi sotaretkelle mukaan.
Edellisen kirjan päähenkilö Yarvi on nyt pappi, joka suunnittelee retkeä yli puolen maailman saadakseen liittolaisia todennäköisesti tulossa olevan sodan varalta. Yarvi värvää molemmat nuoret tälle matkalle mukaan.
Kirja oli heikompi kuin edellinen, johtuen jonkin verran pitkitetystä pituudesta ja kahden alusta alkaen ilmiselvästi yhteen päätyvän päähenkilön aika rasittavasta teinisäädöstä. Ihan viihdyttävä lukemista kuitenkin, mutta en tätä osaa fantasiaksi luokitella. Jopa siinä yhdessä ainoassa kohdassa, jossa kirjan henkilöiden mukaan tapahtui taikuutta, oli mukana lähes rautalangasta väännetyt vihjeet siitä, että kyseessä on unohdettu tekniikka. Viimeinen osa pitänee oikeastaan jo ihan tämän vuoksi lukea, on kiinnostavaa nähdä onko tätä osaa juonta kuinka kehitetty.

A second part of a trilogy. The main characters of the first part were mostly on background in this installment. The writing was pretty engaging, but the book felt overlong, and the long-winded teen romance was pretty irritating. I am going to read the last part anyway; in spite of its faults, it isn’t a bad way to spend one’s time, and it will be interesting to see if the hints of forgotten technology pan out or not. The book is classified as fantasy, but so far, I haven’t seen any sign of any sort of magic or supernatural happenings. Hints of technology, yes.

514 pp.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Revenant Gun (The Machineries of Empire #3) by Yoon Ha Lee


The last part of the trilogy, "Shuos Jedao" (whose mind of the “main character” in the earlier books), awakens in his own adult body but doesn’t remember anything that has happened after he was a cadet at a military academy. He is more than a little surprised to hear that he became the best military leader of all time who finally turned traitor and slaughtered his own troops. What is going on?
It has been nine years after the events of the second part, where the “high calendar” system and brutal autocracy was broken. But there is a force who aims to return to the old “calendar” and uses the genius Jedao to achieve that aim.
The book was better than the second part of the series, even though the number of characters and the nonlinear style of events make it sometimes a bit demanding to follow. Would it be so horribly hard to indicate when and where the events are happening, especially if there are flashbacks and two points of view at the same time?


427 pp.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Thomas Mann: Taikavuori (The Magic Mountain)


A classic where a person is visiting his cousin at a tuberculosis sanatorium and ends up staying seven years. There he meets many people and discusses the prevalent philosophies and ways of thinking at the beginning of the 20th century. An interesting book, but it felt like the author wanted it to be overlong and added superfluous parts, like synopses of a couple of operas, for apparently no reason.


Klassikko, joka on luettu kirjapiirin kirjana.
Päähenkilö, Hans Castorp, menee tapaamaan vuoristoparantolassa tuberkuloosihoidossa olevaa serkkuaan. Tapaamisen oli tarkoitus kestää pari viikkoa, mutta kun hänellä itsellään todetaan tuberkuloosi (johon diagnoosiin myöhemmin kyllä kohdistuu epäilyjä) vierailun kesto muodostuu lopulta seitsemäksi vuodeksi. Seitsemän vuoden aikana elämä asettuu vahvasti urilleen ja päähenkilö “laitostuu” tasaiseen parantolan elämään muutamassa viikossa. Parantalossa on laaja valikoima hyvin erilaisia ja omaperäisiä henkilöitä ja suuri osa kirjasta koostuu keskusteluista heidän kanssaan.

Paikoitellen tuntui siltä, että kirjailija keinotekoisesti pitkitti kirjaa: mukana oli muutaman sivun selvitys solubiologiasta kirjoittamisajan näkökulmasta ja muutamia sivuja käytettiin mm. parin oopperan juonitiivistelmään. Päähenkilön musiikki-innostus kokonaisuudessaan oli kyllä hiukan irrallisen tuntuinen Olikos kirjoittaja lukenut jonkin yleistajuisen esityksen tai sattunut käymään oopperassa ja vuodatti nämä sitten kirjaansa?

Kirjan hahmot olivat mielenkiintoisia ja edustivat aikansa eri aate/filosofisia suuntauksia, ehkä päähenkilöä lukuun ottamatta. Hän oli hiukan naiivi, joka uskollisesti kuunteli milloin kenenkäkin esitelmiä heidän tavastaan ajatella. Naiivius tuli esiin myös hänen kovin ”soveliaassa” rakastumisessaan ja kovin innokkaana innostumisena aina vuoron perään eri asioihin.

Kirja ei ehkä niitä mukaansatempaavimpia teoksia ollut, mutta siinä piili ihan yllättävääkin humoristisuutta paikoitellen, mm. ironisen kertojaäänen päästessä ääneen. Pituudeltaan paikoitellen kirja tuntui kyllä paisutellulta, saman asian ajattelutapojen esittelyn olisi kyllä tiiviimminkin voinut esittää.

725 s.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July-August 2019



Pretty varied bunch of stories: some pretty good, but many which were less so.

Vault • novelette by Robert R. Chase
A spaceship is sent to study a planet that is orbiting a star with a very unusual trajectory. The premise isn’t bad, although not unusual, but the writing wasn’t very good. I have never seen such an amount of “As you know, Bob” style of exposition where the crew members discuss things that should be totally obvious to all involved. The main protagonist also has long expository discussions with the ship's computer (which has pretty good AI, but it is horribly illegal to consider it as a self-aware AI, and even saying “thank you” to it is almost punishable by imprisonment – if discussing with an AI is such a horrible thing, why make it possible to discuss with it with spoken language at all?). The main protagonist is a ship doctor/psychologist and possibly a “political officer”. To test that a crew member makes an unprovoked attack against the protagonist – apparently, if he were a political officer, he would report the action. Wouldn’t it be natural to report such behavior in ANY case? Especially if you are the “psychologist” wouldn’t the only possible reaction be grounding and confining the obviously mentally unstable crew member straightaway? The story then examines the discovery of an alien artifact on the planet and its analysis – nothing really new or unusual storytelling wise – with a small twist concerning the AI but with unbelievably stupid characters. **
The Quality of Mercy • novelette by Catherine Wells
A female scientist goes to another planet to research alien wild creatures living there and to find if they are sentient or not. A male “warrior caste” soldier comes with her to help in establishing the base, where cameras have surveyed the group of aliens for years. It turns out that some of the cameras have been destroyed - is that natural or not? The characters have a deep distrust at the beginning but it later turns to an understanding. The story was fairly entertaining while extremely irritating at the same time. The characters were caricatures with current attitudes. The plot had many stupidities: the characters apparently walked a five kilometer two-way trip, even several times a day, through a wild forest country without tracks. Apparently, the author has no experience at all in walking in a wild forest: even one way would most likely be more than two hours on easy terrain, and several hours on hard terrain. Also, the poachers chose the ONE herd on the whole planet which was monitored? What are the odds? And why would they use a twine made from local materials? A lot of work for something trivial which could have been purchased easily. ***
Shooting Stars • short story by Tom Jolly
A detective and his AI helper try to solve the murder of a man with a good-sized hole through his chest. A bit of a clumsy story with an extremely contrived plot. There were some strange details. I don’t understand why a planet “near horseshoe nebula” has “strange treasures” and a lot of meteorites - I cannot think about any sensible reason for that. **+
A Life in Particle Archaeology • short story by John Vester [as by John J. Vester]
Social insects study subatomic structures apparently from another dimension, and the Earth is an electron from their viewpoint. This isn’t a real story, just a setup which is meant as humorous. It was stupid beyond belief and incited almost hatred. *
Sailors of the Second Sun • short story by David L. Clements
A mission to a nearby brown dwarf is underway. A journalist with a science background has heard a tip that the AI on board has some issues. And, at first, it seems that the hunch was right, as the probe repeatedly takes pictures from the same place. A shortish story which is more of an idea than a story with a plot. ***
Labor-Saving Relations • short story by Buzz Dixon
A man feels irritated as his web-capable intelligent home appliances are getting uppity while he isn’t polite enough, and even tries to put none-machine washable things into a washing machine. A fun little story. ***
The Babbage Tour • short story by Leo Vladimirsky
A husband and wife team researches time travel. The wife gets cancer. The time travel most likely will kill you, but if you have incurable cancer does that really matter? A simple short story. ***
All Tomorrow's Parties • short story by Phoebe North
Another time travel story. A time traveled is jaded, as wherever he goes back in time, there are other time travelers who make anachronistic errors: wrong style buttons and so on. He goes to an obscure concert with a girlfriend. The story was okay, but the characters were very irritating, and the story just fizzled out. ***-
A Wonderful Thing to Say • short story by Dan Reade
Another time-related story. After her husband died, the wife uses a contraption that can travel into the past to read a letter the husband wrote. A technically nice story, but considering the end, I don’t understand why she paid for an apparently expensive procedure as the marriage was already over in two ways anyway.***
Portle • short story by Robert Scherrer
A machine which enables instantaneous travel was discovered on the moon. A young child (whose journal mostly IS the story) is afraid of going through the portal, as she believes that her parents change each time she goes through. It turns out that the portal opens to other realities and only a select few are able to remember the realities they come from. The beginning was a very good story, but I found the ending to be very disappointing and illogical. If the capability to see through all dimensions makes those who can do it immensely intelligent, why did the prehumans who supposedly had the ability not create a culture? What about animals? If the primitive humans had the ability, what about higher apes? Or other almost human species like Neanderthals or Denisov people? And it is very contrived that the child is able to go to any reality but not her original one - or even to any that very closely resemble it. There should be an infinite number of realities anyway. The first half was over four stars, but the last barely two. ***+
Monarch of the Feast • novelette by Paul Di Filippo
A poet from mid-19th century Italy encounters a strange man who appears to have strange capabilities and strange machines. He wants to unite Italy and possibly the world. The poet himself also believes in the united Italy, and he is ready to help. But another strange man gives him a serious warning of a possible consequences. A somewhat sketch-like time travel story which is described from the point of view someone who lives in his own time. The motivations of the characters were left very open for everyone involved. There was at least one anachronism. It is very unlikely that sparkling wine would be available in about 1850 Italy and certainly not in a pitcher. ***½
What We Named the Needle • short story by Freya Marske
A culture sends a smart teen to the stars in suspended animation pods for badly defined reasons. The pod is captured by an intelligent ship whose designer is becoming demented. A fairly good story. ***½
Uncommon • short story by Leah Cypess
A woman can get a curative treatment for her cancer - but she would lose her immunity to all sorts of common cold type infections. Too horrible to even think of. Very stupid story. If the overwhelming majority were immune to colds the herd immunity would practically prevent it for those without immunity anyway. And the choice is ridiculous anyway. ***-
Captain Zack & the Data Raiders • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
A group fights against data corruption. Governments, interest groups and what not erase data from the internet and a group fights back. Just a scene; not actually a story. **½
Dreaming Up the Future • short story by Julie Novakova
Some sort of essay of peer review process mixed with a rudimentary “story”. Very non-interesting. **-
Finnegan, Bring the Pain • short story by J. M. McDermott [as by Joe M. McDermott]
A girl is moving to stars with her family. Her friends, especially one boy, arrange a farewell party for her. A pretty good, bittersweet story. ***½
A Neighborhood for Someone Else • short story by Alison Wilgus
A translator is working on an alien planet. She has had augmentations for the sense of smell, as smell is important for the communication between aliens. She doesn’t really belong with humans or aliens and feels very alienated. Not a story; just a scene. (I wonder why scenes presented as stories are so rampant in Analog nowadays? I really don’t care for them.) ***
The Eyes of Alton Arnhauser • novelette by Nick Wolven
A street punk steals a contraption from an abandoned building which uses all possible outlets to get as much as possible information through the internet about anyone who wears the interface built onto contact lenses. It is far too much information for anyone to bear. The system apparently works with magic – and the way it grows attached to eyes was also kind of farfetched. ***
The Slipway • novelette by Greg Egan
A strange area appears in the sky. It is like the stars were replaced with something from another, denser part of the sky. And the area is growing – far too fast for it being a very remote phenomenon. What is happening? Is an opening of a wormhole approaching the Earth? But then calculations show a surprising fact: Earth might have already gone thought it... An excellent story, with a very open end. I look forward to a continuation. ****




Thursday, August 15, 2019

Seppo Jokinen: Hiirileikki (Koskinen #11)



Pikkuisen vanhempi Koskis-kirja, joka tarttui antikvariaatista mukaan. Tällä kertaa komisario selvittelee varsinaista maanlaajuista rikossarjaa. Useampia miehiä on pahoinpidelty vakavasti tai he ovat jopa kuolleet nostettuaan suuren määrän rahaa 500€ seteleinä. Henkiin jääneet ovat olleet oudon haluttomia keskustelemaan pahoinpitelyyn johtaneista tapahtumista. Aluksi yhteydet tapauksien välillä eivät ole selviä, mutta vähitellen asiat selkiytyvät ihan kunnon poliisityön ja pienen onnenkin myötä. Koskisen yksityiselämässä mustasukkaisuus aiheuttaa ongelmia ja poliisilaitoksen henkilökunnan piirissä tulevat vaalit työntekijän edustajan valinnasta johtoryhmään nostavat tunteita.
Kirja on ihan tuttua laatua, varmaan sarjana keskitasoa, mukavaa kevyttä kesälukemista raskaampien kirjojen välissä.


This is a pretty average inspector Koskinen crime procedural where Koskinen and his fellow policemen stumble upon a case that might cover several towns around Finland, not just Tampere. It is light, nice entertaining reading where the personal life of the main character is at least as important as the crime he is investigating.

282 s.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tommi Kinnunen: Pintti



Tämäkin kirja on äänikirjana kuunneltu. Kyseessä on Tommi Kinnusen kolmas romaani. Itse pidin kovasti Neljäntienristeyksestä, mutta Lopotti oli siihen verrattuna pieni pettymys. Uusi kirja, Pintti, kertoo kolmesta sisaruksesta, kahdesta tytöstä ja lievästi kehitysvammaisesta, ilmeisen autismikirjon alueelle asettuvasta pojasta. Jokainen henkilöistä on päähenkilönä yhdessä luvussa, joista jokainen kertoo yhden päivän tapahtumista. Tapahtumien taustana on lasitehdas, joka hallitsee koko kylän elämää ja jossa kaikille on paikkansa, jopa vammaiselle pojalle hiukan suojatyöluonteisissa tehtävissä. Kinnuselle tyypilliseen tapaan kirja ei ole mikään iloinen ja onnellinen kertomus, mutta siitä huolimatta se on hyvin mukaansa tempaava ja kiehtova. Henkilöhahmot olivat hyvin kuvattuja ja kerronta osien välillä oli toisistaan poikkeavaa, etenkin ensimmäisen jakson yhteydessä, jossa vammaisen pojan kokemat valot, värit ja muodot tulivat erittäin elävästi esiin. Kirjan muut osiot olivat oikeastaan hiukan pettymys alkuun verrattuna, mutta kielellisesti ja kerronnallisesti teos oli ensiluokkaista työtä.


This book tells the story of a small society that is formed around a glass factory. Everyone knows their place, as the glassworkers have a clear social structure. The author describes a family of three siblings who are on the lower end of the social “pecking order”. The adult son has some kind of autism spectrum disorder, but even he is employed at the factory, helping out where he can. The events of the book happen on three separate days, a bit after the Second World War. The writing is excellent, particularly the description of life and characters in this world, even though life is hard, and some unfortunate events happen.


291 pp.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee



A complete history of the early years of the Astounding Science Fiction Magazine and four important persons involved with it: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, editor John W. Campbell and Ron Hubbard of the scientology fame. Although I was quite well informed about many details and events of that era, as I have read Isaac Asimov’s extremely detailed autobiographical works and also some biographical material about Heinlein, there were many things I didn’t know, especially concerning Hubbard.
At times, it felt like the book had a bit too much wordage for Ron Hubbard however, he was apparently a very important person for John W. Campbell, the long-term editor of Astounding. What was surprising was how mentally disturbed many of the people felt like, especially Ron Hubbard who seems to have been a compulsive liar with significant personality disorders. Furthermore, John W. Campbell, who considered himself to be a man of science, apparently had no concept at all about a scientific principle, or even about logical thinking. When he got older, Heinlein developed some “interesting” personality traits and some very far-right political opinions. Asimov was apparently fairly sane; he just had some narcissistic tendencies and might this day and age be classified as a sexual predator. So, pretty jolly bunch, however, the book was extremely interesting in spite (or because) of that. It was well-written, meticulously researched, with extensive sources. It was my number one choice at the Hugo voting on its category.

544 pp.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

My Hugo award votes 2019 part 5: Novels

It was very easy to decide what was the best book this year; there was no contest at all. There was only one book I really enjoyed, as the others had at least some faults. I have not yet finished Revenant Gun, but I find it to be better than the second part of the series, even though the number of characters and the nonlinear style of events make it sometimes a bit demanding to follow. Would it be so horribly hard to indicate when and where the events are happening, especially if there are many flashbacks?

The Calculating Stars will probably win, but little really happened there and I found it to be somewhat pretentious in places. Record of Spaceborn Few might have been pretty good if it had presented some kind of a plot. In spite of that, it will be the second one on my list. The last one was also pretty easy to decide; The Space Opera was mostly stupid without any real merits that I could see.

1. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
2. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
3. Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
4. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
5. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
6. Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Thursday, July 25, 2019

My Hugo award votes 2019 part 4: related works

The best related works was a very varied category. Nominees were a net site achieving a huge amount of fan fiction, a documentary about why the trilogy of the Hobbit movies is so shitty, a history of Hugo winners, a memorabilia net site of Mexican authors who were visiting the last Worldcon, an interview book of Ursula K. Le Guin and a very detailed history of an important scifi-pulp Astounding science fiction. Fan fiction has never really been very interesting to me. I have ever read only a couple pieces of it. So the archive was pretty lukewarm for me. Neither did I find the travelogue of the Mexicans and samples of their fiction very interesting at all. The YouTube video series about the Hobbit was excellent and explained what was so wrong with that series. Personally, I stopped watching at the scene where dwarfs were escaping inside barrels in a stream. Just too stupid and cartoonish to be tolerated…

All three books were excellent. The one detailing Astounding spent a bit too much wordage for Ron Hubbard, but, apparently, he was a very important person for John W. Campbell, the long-term editor of Astounding. But it was altogether a very good and comprehensive history book, and I am now about 60% through it, and I will write a more detailed review of it later.

The History of Hugos was a fascinating discussion about almost all winners and nominees until the year 2000. I wonder why that was used as a cutoff point – will there be a part two someday? Most opinions in the book were well justified, even if I didn’t always agree. There were some slight editing issues, as the material was first published as a blog. I got a fairly long addition to my TBR pile from this book.

The interview book with Ursula K. Le Guin consists of three parts. All three were interesting, but it is a pity that the most interesting one, the one about fiction, was by far the shortest one.

My voting order in this category is as follows:


1. Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, by Alec Nevala-Lee

2. An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards 1953-2000, by Jo Walton

3. The Hobbit Duology (a documentary in three parts), written and edited by Lindsay Ellis and Angelina Meehan

4. Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin with David Naimon

5. Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works

6. The Mexicanx Initiative Experience at Worldcon 76 by Julia Rios, Libia Brenda, Pablo Defendini, and John Picacio

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Agatha Christie: Lordin kuolema (Hercule Poirot #9) [Lord Edgware Dies]


A pretty standard, perhaps below average, Agatha Christie mystery. Without its pretentious diversion, I would have figured out the murderer about halfway through.

Autossa äänikirjana kuunneltu kirja, joka on varsin tavanomainen Agatha Christie, jossa yritetään selvittää kuka murhasi varsin epämiellyttävästi useampia henkilöitä kohtaan käyttäytyneen lordin. Paras motivaatio hänen murhaamiseensa oli lordin puolisolla, jonka jopa nähtiin tulevan lordin asuntoon juuri hetki ennen hänen murhaansa. Mutta vaimolla on täydellinen alibi: hän oli saamaan aikaan illalliskutsuilla, joilla useat henkilöt näkivät hänen olevan paikalla. Miten tämä on mahdollista?
Kirja oli aika standardi viihdyttävä dekkari. Itse tosin olisin keksinyt murhaajan ja murhatavan jo noin puolivälissä kirjaa, mutta kirjailija käytti aika raukkamaista harhautusta hiukan hämäämään lukijaa. (mainittiin, että kertojahenkilö ei nähnyt yhtä henkilöä enää koskaan paitsi yhden kerran joskus myöhemmin). Tämän vuoksi ja yhden toisen aika tarpeettoman, ilmeisesti lähinnä juonta mutkistamaan tarkoitetun yhden henkilön kertoman valheen vuoksi ei kuuluu kirjoittajansa parhaimmistoon.





Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Reijo Mäki: Hot Dog (Vares #27)



Another humorous detective novel about a private dick who works at Turku and likes his booze and women. Pretty average for the series, after a very slow start with nice banter and interesting villains who end up dead in fascinating ways.

Välipalana taas Vareksen seikkailuja. Tällä kertaa Vares selvittelee vanhan poliisikaverinsa katoamista. Tämä oli hiukan epäselvissä olosuhteissa irtisanoutunut poliisilaitokselta ja muuttanut sitten syntymäkotiinsa pohjanmaalle. Muutamia vuosia myöhemmin hän ilmaantui takaisin Turkuun metsittyneen näköisenä ja oli vihjaillut tietävänsä jotain muutamia vuosia aikaisemmin tapahtuneesta rikollispomon teloitustyyppisestä murhasta. Pian tämän jälkeen hänestä ei ollut jälkeäkään missään.
Kirja oli aika standardia Vares-laatua. Letkeää sanailua, jänskiä tilanteita ja hämyjä konnia, joille lopussa pääosin käy kovin huonosti. Alkupuoli oli kovin hidas, mahtaakohan kirjailija saada kovatkin lahjukset DBTL-festareilta, siinä määrin niitä käsiteltiin (pääosin ihan täysin turhaan) kirjan ensimmäiset lähes sata sivua. Melkein tuli jo uskonpuute siitä kannattaako kirjaa edes jatkaa, kun oikein mitään merkittävää ei tuntunut tapahtuvan, mutta sitten vauhti kyllä parantui. Kirja oli kevyttä, viihdyttävää kesälukemista, ei sen enempää eikä sen vähempää.

464 pp.

Friday, July 19, 2019

My Hugo award votes 2019 part 3: novellas

All stories in the novella category were worse this year than last year. Some of them were at best fairly good, but most of them were pretty contrived and tried too much to be “literate” at the cost of readability and plot. The order of the stories was pretty easy to decide, as there were two stories I enjoyed pretty much, three that were okay and one I pretty much hated. The two best stories were both parts of a series, which is always a drawback when considering whether the story is award worthy or not. The order of those two could go both ways, but I decided to put the one with a more satisfying plot in the first place. The last place was obvious, and the order of the other stories was also fairly easy to determine.

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
The story continues with last year’s nominee pretty much straightaway. The killerbot is trying to find out what happened to it earlier when it apparently had lost its mind and killed all humans on a mine where it was working. To find clues, it returns to the place where the massacre happened. On the way, it encounters a ship mind with which the bot makes friends, as much as there can be friendship between artificial intelligences, and the ship mind helps the killerbot look less like a bot and more like an augmented human. For permission to get to the mine the bot hires himself out as a security consultant for a small team that needs a backup for a business negotiation. It seems obvious that the “negotiation” is a setup for an ambush, and, as it turns out to be so, the killerbot finds itself helping its new friends. A pretty good and entertaining story, but not as good as the first part of the series.

Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

The story continues pretty straight from the last part. Unfortunately, it isn’t better than the middle part, but worse. Anything that was wrong in the first two installments is even more wrong in this one.
Binti faces hard tasks, her family is apparently murdered for poorly defined reasons and she must mediate a peace treaty between two factions who have hated each other for generations for some very contrived reasons. The plot is hard to follow and confusing, the “science” described is beyond stupid, the main character is as irritating (or even more irritating) as ever and she is (like apparently all her people) hopelessly stuck in old customs and behaviors (and apparently that is considered a GOOD thing by the author). She endlessly worries about otjize, a clay/mud her people have traditionally used on their skin to repel insects. She worries about that so much, that the word “otjize” is mentioned 80 (!) times during the novella, and even if the story is badly overlong, it isn’t very long. And she uses that mud even when there is no need for it, even in a space ship and at her school, even if it constantly scales off. The cleaning personnel must REALLY, REALLY hate her. And/or her quarters must be filthy like a pig pen. This will go under “no award” at my Hugo voting.

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
An alternative world where the American Civil War ended in a stalemate, airships are commonly used for transportation (and war) and some magical elements are real. A young teen lives on the streets of New Orleans. She aims higher than being on small-time crook: she wants to get on an airship. She has a bargaining point: some secret info about a secret weapon and contacts a smuggler airship (which is secretly an espionage ship). The situation is fairly volatile. New Orleans is, in principle, free, unaffiliated and demilitarized, but is filled with spies of all parties of former wars. Southern states still use slaves, which were made docile by a gas which robs all initiative. A fairly good story, but the setting is overly complicated: maybe just one or two differences of the real world would have been enough.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
Ecosystems have been destroyed and humanity has spent a long time in the caves. Now the world is being reclaimed and ecosystems are being replanned. Someone gets an idea to study carefully ancient riverbeds to restore new ones. So they book a trip to 2000 BC to survey the Mesopotamic area. The first half of the story is pretty dull and deals mostly with project management - or even worse, talking about project management. So, a team where some of the members are “enhanced” with goat legs or with the lower body with tentacles instead if feet are sent to the past. Everything doesn’t go smoothly. The story felt overlong, and the motivations of the characters were unclear and contrived. And the ending was very sudden and seemed to leave things hanging.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
It continues a series about children who have traveled to different worlds when they have been unhappy in the “real” world. This story continues pretty directly the first part while the second part (which was nominated last year) was kind of a prequel. This time it turns out that the death of one youth in the first part has unseen consequences. She was supposed to return to her “world”, defeat an evil witch, and become the benevolent ruler of the world and to have a daughter. As she died, that will not happen. As her world behaves in a nonsensical way at a different timestream, the events she might have done have already happened and start to unravel shortly after her death - including her future daughter. The children of Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children must find a way to resurrect the dead girl and to achieve that they must visit several different worlds. Another very well written and good installment of the series, easily at the same level as the earlier ones.

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
The story apparently happens in the same Chinese derivative nepotistic world as many of her other works. This time the focus isn’t on the ruling families, but on a ship intelligence who tries to earn her living by making tea blends. Together with a mysterious woman, they try to solve the death of an unknown woman. A bit better than some of the other stories by the same author (I have never been a great fan of hers). The actual mystery plot was almost a sidetrack to the story, which is pretty slow-moving, describing mainly the world and characters.


My voting order will be:

1. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
2. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
3. The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
4. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
5. The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
6. no award
7. Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3) by Becky Chambers


The book is supposed to be the third part of a series. I have read the second part which felt pretty much like a separate book. This does also; I didn’t really notice anything which would tie it together with the former part. This book didn’t exactly have any coherent plot in the traditional sense. It followed several different people, who live at generation ships which were launched from the Earth centuries (?) ago. After they met aliens, the fleet of the ship stopped and some people moved to planets. As humans were the least developed known sentient species, they had little to offer for the galactic society. The human society on the ships has developed to some sort of anarcho-communist. There is no money, everyone’s needs are met and also, everyone must take part in less desirable work. The ships are self-sufficient and basic food and housing are free, but there is some banter going on, especially with things which originate from the alien worlds. (There were some problems in how the electric energy used on ships was described to originate - apparently, the author isn’t very familiar with the basic laws of thermodynamics).

The stories of the different people didn’t exactly tie together, but they at least tangentially touched each other’s lives. There was so little actual plot, that it is hard to give any real synopsis of it. The writing was fine, the characters were fairly (but mostly not very) interesting, but the book wasn’t really captivating as everything felt more like a “slice of life” than like something would be really happening. The book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything really good, either.

359 pp.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin, David Naimon


Three interviews or discussions with Ursula K. LeGuin: The main emphasis of the first interview is on fiction. The second concentrates on poetry, and the last one on non-fiction. All three were interesting, but it is a pity that the most interesting one; the one about fiction was by far the shortest one. All three were interesting though, but this won’t be my first choice in this Hugo-nomination category.

150 pp.

Antti Tuuri: Lakeuden kutsu (Pohjanmaa #6)


Finlandia- palkinnon voittaja, joka on päätösosa Pohjanmaalaisen suvun elämästä kertovalle kirjasarjalle.
Mies palaa USA:sta, minne hän on paennut verottajaa rahatukun kera. Siellä hän on ilmeisen hämärillä bisneksillä rahojaan nähtävästi lisännyt entisestään. Kirja tapahtuu yhden vuorokauden kuluessa ja kerronta on minämuotoista. Kirjan alussa on runsaasti erilaisia ihmisten tapaamisia ja asioiden muistelemista sekä kuulumisten vaihtoa. Myös toista maailmansotaa ja myös kansallissotaan käsiteltiin varsin tarkkaan ja mietittiin näiden tapahtumia. Tämä vaikutti aika käsittämättömältä kirjassa, joka tapahtuu 90-luvulla ja jonka kaikki päähenkilöt olivat mitä ilmeisimmin sodan jälkeen syntyneitä. Ensimmäinen sata sivua vaikutti aika kummalliselta ja jopa sekavalta sellaiselle, joka ei ole lukenut sarjan muita osia. Vähitellen sitten kirjan varsinainenkin tarina pääsi liikkeelle. Paluumuuttajana tullut mies osti lähes konkurssiin joutuneen metalliverstaan ketkuilta omistajilta (tai pikemminkin pankilta) ja yritti estää näitä kärräämästä jo myydyt metallintyöstölaitteet pimeyden turvin pois tehtaalta. Hän oli myös palauttamassa suhdetta puolisoonsa, joka ei ollut Amerikassa viihtynyt, oli palannut Suomeen ja oli jo Suomessa saanut uuden lapsenkin ”lapualaisen” kanssa - tämä mies ei enää kuvioissa ollut mukana.
Kirja oli parempi kuin alkupuoli näytti: alussa oli aivan käsittämätöntä, että kirja oli voittanut Finlandia-palkinnon, lopussa tämä oli vain melko käsittämätöntä. Kirja oli ihan sujuvaa tekstiä ja kerrontaa, mutta se ei oikein toiminut itsenäisenä teoksena. Muutenkin pitkän sarjan viimeisen osan palkitseminen vaikuttaa aika erikoiselta ratkaisulta. Kirjan aiheet olivat paljolti aikaansa sidottuja, siinä määrin 25 vuotta vanhaa EU- pohdintaa siinä oli. Turhan tyhjänpäisen ”jutustelun” ja typerien juoneen liittymättömien pikkutarinoiden kertominen toi mieleen Turusen Lampaansyöjät, joka on tällä saralla aika suvereeni, tässä kirjassa vain ihan kaikki eivät olleet turhanpäiväisiä juoppoja kuten Lampaansyöjissä. Kirja jää ainakin kirjallinen taso huomioiden Finlandia-voittajissa selvästi keskitason alapuolelle.

A shady businessman returns to Finland after years spent in the US escaping taxes. He has apparently made even more money, possibly not in an entirely legal way. The book describes the first day when he buys a small metal factory and starts to reconnect with his wife. The book is the last part of a series and doesn’t really work alone very well. It won the Finlandia Award on the publication year, but I don’t really see why.

363 p.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal



The book starts pretty well: a giant asteroid hits the coast of the USA in the 50s, causing at first a nuclear winter and it is calculated later to cause a runaway hothouse phenomenon (that seemed a bit doubtful; certainly similar meteors have hit the Earth before). A decision is made to reach space as soon as possible and establish a colony at least on the moon to safeguard human existence.

A woman who used to be in the US Air Force during the Second World War and whose job was to fly transfer missions of fighter planes becomes involved with the effort. First, she works as a calculator (who manually calculates the formulas necessary for the space flight, as there are no real computers that are reliable or fast enough), and later as a pilot who is trying to get to space. Unfortunately, the 50s being 50s, there is a lot of misogyny and racism going on.

The start and the first hundred pages of the book were excellent, but then nothing happens, and after some unfairness towards women and black people (it apparently isn’t a problem worth mentioning that all of the male astronauts are white, but it is a major problem that all prospective female astronauts are white) nothing much happens. The characters weren’t very well described, and didn’t really evoke any feelings at all aside of slight boredom. The main character was supposed to be fanatical about getting to space, but this didn’t really come through on the pages.

She even behaved unethically: she withholds information about her panic attacks and barbiturate (!) use. The writing was fluent and easy to read; pity that the content was so mundane. This is not going to among my top choices at Hugo voting.

431 pp

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May-June 2019


Maybe a little better issue than the last one. There were a few pretty nice stories.


Bonehunters • novelette by Harry Turtledove
The story happens in a world where dinosaurs were not wiped out and mammals are small irritating critters running around at night. Two intelligent species have evolved - one is on a higher technological level; another apparently still lives a nomadic life. A person who has worked as a guide is hired by a professor to find fossils. There are plentiful fossil beds on the native lands. Luckily, the guide has good relations as he has a step son who belongs to the same species as the natives. The story has a nice background and good writing, but the actual plot was pretty simple and more like window-dressing for the description of the world. ***½
The Methuselah Generation • short story by Stanley Schmidt

A woman with a heart condition is checking items off her bucket list and is on a journey to observe Monarch butterflies. There is an alien on the same trip who is camouflaged as a human. They meet and have a nice conversation. A well-written bittersweet story - not much happened but that didn’t matter. ***+
Galena • short story by Liam Hogan
A crew of two have traveled to a planet which is located on the goldilocks zone of a distant sun. The planet is almost completely covered with an ocean. There are plenty of nutrients, even simple amino acids, but there is no life. That seems to be a devastating strike for one of the crew. Nothing really surprising, but well told and an interesting story. ***+
Cactus Season • short story by Frank Smith
A father and daughter try to survive in a fairly far post-apocalyptic future. They live in a desert and collect falling satellites (there apparently are so many satellites falling, that it isn’t extremely rare to find it - and for some strange reason it appears to be fairly simple to locate them when you see one falling down). The exact reason of the catastrophe isn’t stated (might have been the Yellowstone eruption - there is a mention of acid rain?). Mostly a slice of a life story, a bit too short. ***-
Full Metal Mother • short story by J. M. McDermott [as by Joe M. McDermott]
A man gets a call from his mother. Their relationship hasn’t been very good. She now asks his help as she is having surgery: her body parts are being replaced with metal as she has metastatic pancreatic cancer. The story is ok, but the metal parts seem like a tagged-on sf trope as they don’t even vastly prolong her life. The story would work just as well as a non-sf story. **½
The Three Laws of Social Robotics • short story by Mary E. Lowd
An AI wakes. It discusses things with its creator. It seems that it is vastly more sentient and smarter than it was assumed – and smart enough to not let humans know its capabilities. It at least seems to be benevolent. It's very short, but not bad for its length. ***
Mulligan • short story by Bud Sparhawk
A lunar prospector meets an old flame. She has a plan: she is going to find a golf ball the original astronauts brought to the moon, and sell it as a collector’s item at a high price. Approaching the original landing sites are forbidden, but the ball is supposed to be outside the forbidden zone. And maybe their old relationship might even be rekindled... a nice little prospecting/heist story. The writing was ok, and the plot was pretty nice, but it didn’t really lead anywhere interesting. ***
Forgetfulness • novelette by J. T. Sharrah
A group of astronauts return from the first trip to a nearby sun. The Earth has changed: no one really cares about returnees. The secret of immortality has been found: one tablet every month “resets” the body (somehow and not very believably, it also removes all excess weight gained during the month). The society is very stagnant - and even more stagnant than it seems at first. A pretty good story, but it is completely unbelievable that _everyone_ would use a “cure” with such a side effect. What would be the point of living like that? (forgetting everything every month) ***+
The Gates of Paradise • [Paradise (Edward M. Lerner)] • short story by Edward M. Lerner
A planet has been colonized in the distant past. There have been some very hard times but now the colonists have been able to launch their first manned space ship. The gigantic colony ship which brought them is on a decaying orbit and will soon crash on the planet, bringing destruction. And at the same time, all priceless artefacts, which may be on the board, will be destroyed. A pretty good story which might have been longer. The premise of a so-fast orbital decay is somewhat contrived. ****-
The Dominant Heart Begins to Race • short story by Dave Creek
A colony ship with the last survivors of a destroyed world approaches a new solar system. One crew member is woken to evaluate if any of the planets could be used for colonization. It turns out that the solar system is ours, but hundreds of millions of years ago. But it seems that there are no suitable worlds. A pretty good and even moving story. There was an error, though: the wings of Saturn are much younger than that. ***½
Midway on the Waves • short story by Phoebe Barton
A populated city on Titan (?) has been utterly destroyed by an attack by the Earth forces. That has profound effects on people living on the moon. One visitor from Earth carries guilt. I didn’t get to the story, there was a lot of backstory which wasn’t very well described. The guilt of the one character wasn’t very well defined. **
The Orca Queen • short story by Joshua Cole
A pirate queen prepares to capture a rich merchant vessel, but something doesn’t seem right - and isn’t. The ship is a camouflaged dreadnought with a mission: to bring back the pirate, who turns out to be a real princess - or a queen after all members of her ruling family have “happened“ to die almost simultaneously. Not bad, but a pretty standard rogue story. ***
Paradigm Shift • short story by Eric Cline
A WW2 veteran sharpshooter has fallen in hard times and owes money to a crime boss. He promises to forget the debt for one sharpshooting gig. And then news about the Sputnik is everywhere. That causes a paradigm shift in more than one way. A very nice story - not science fiction in any way, but good nevertheless. ****-
On Stony Ground • short story by Cynthia Ward
The story happens in an alternate world where Alexander the Great's conquests didn’t fall, which led to an early industrial revolution. Engineers are finalizing a new railroad near Nazareth and a certain son of a carpenter is gathering supporters. There was little actual story, it was more just a glimpse of the world. ***-
Repairs at the Beijing West Space Elevator • short story by Alex Shvartsman
A space elevator needs repairing and a specialist is called for the task. He knows instantly what is wrong (as do those whose job it is to maintain the elevator): it is running at overcapacity. But for face-saving reasons, the number of people cannot be regulated. But outsider’s demands are easier to follow. A short story with little actual point. **½
Welcome to Your Machines • short story by David Ebenbach
Not actually a story, just a treatise about using machines for different tasks dressed as some sort of instruction for a Mars colony. **-
Leave Your Iron at the Door • novelette by Josh Pearce
The story consists mainly of extremely futuristic battles when the title character is looking for an old lover (or perhaps enemy). Filled with pretty stupid implausible sf tropes, with nuclear weapons, portable black holes, wormholes and pocket universes. The story is pretty confusing and irritating. There is practically no back story at all, and it is even hard to know (or even harder to care) if the main protagonist is a “good guy” or a “bad guy”. **-
At the Fall • novelette by Alec Nevala-Lee
A self-aware robot studies thermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. It reports to humans, who want to have as much as possible information on the ocean floor. The robot is able to use Sulphur compounds to produce electricity. One day the surface ship doesn’t come when the robot is supposed to upload information it has collected. It can’t reach any human by radio. As it feels the information it has collected is vital, it starts a long journey home. A well told and even moving story. I wonder what happened next - nothing very good presumably? ****

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

My Hugo award votes 2019 part 2: Novelettes


The novella category was also pretty good, but perhaps not as fine as the short stories. None of the stories were bad, however the best stories were very obvious and so was their order. Also, the last story was easy to select: glowing intelligent elephants warning about the dangers of radiation is a pretty stupid plotline.


“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
There was a heavy meteor storm in 1975 that brought dozens of different alien plants with it. The plants are competing with the Earth's plants for the living space and seem to almost be winning. The story is told in short segments separated by years, from the viewpoint of a man who is just a young boy in the first stories and grows to a man. The novelette tells more about the life of the protagonist than about the plants. A well-written story anyway and it ends nicely.

“The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November- December 2018)
A folklore researcher collects ghost stories from people. She has created a system to categorize them and seeks people with good tales to tell. Then one of the people she is interviewing tells her that her recently deceased mother is beside her and has something to say. A pretty good story, but the actual ghost stories which were featured were pretty boring. The other parts were excellent.

“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
An "inugi" wants to ascend and to be a real dragon. She tries several times and fails repeatedly. Eventually, she changes her form to human and meets a teacher. They fall in love and live a human lifetime together. A very good story which is well written and moving.

“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
A baker has learned to make pastries which are able to awaken memories and feelings. A tyrant has kidnapped him to use the baker’s talents for his amusement. The baker’s wife works as a taster to test the pastries so that no unwelcome feelings get through (and for more traditional poisons, too). An interesting story which for a large part consist of memories awoken by a series of pastries. A well-written and wonderful tale.

“When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)
Some sort of creatures, possibly reptilian, live at some sort of apocalyptic world, possible something which humans have abandoned (or where humans have died out). There are old domes which may be dangerous and often contain “ghosts” which might talk or be a threat. The creatures use “weavers” (abandoned 3D printers?), which need raw materials to produce essential equipment. One dome seems to contain a ghost which seems to be very helpful. A good story which was well written, but the background was pretty sketchy and was left for the reader to imagine.

The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
The story happens in an alternate world where elephants are somehow a universally recognized symbol of radiation. Apparently, they somehow worked at the radium factory where women got radiation poisoning on early 20th century and Disney made a movie out of them, which caused everyone to think that elephants = radioactivity. And the elephants are intelligent, possibly due to the radiation? A researcher is trying to find a way to protect the radioactive waste dump so that no one will enter there in millennia to come. Naturally (?) elephants come to her mind. Elephants genes modified to glow. You might get a nice parody out of this starting point, but the story was written with a serious attempt - very serious - with very complicated sentences with several different characters' viewpoints at different time periods. I found it pretty stupid, confusing and implausible. And would it really kill authors who write stories that switch between different viewpoints, locales and even time periods to include a description of where and when the next chapter happens in the chapter heading? I am sure it might feel like torture to write clearly while attempting a literary style, but please...



1. “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
2. “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
3. “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
4. “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November- December 2018)
5. “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)
6. The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Space Opera (Space Opera #1) by Catherynne M. Valente



The third Hugo nominee I have read this year. The book is a strange mix of Hitchhiker’s-Guide-type of science fiction and the Eurovision song contest with a smidgen of Battle Royale thrown in the mix. The intelligent races of the galaxy had a devastating war over what species could be considered sentient. After the war, they established a song contest to create mutual co-operation and trust between all different species (and to divide galactic resources – the winner gets most of them). The newly discovered species (such as humans) must also compete. If they don’t finish last, they will be taken in as full members of the galactic community. If they do finish last, the species will be humanely exterminated as non-sentient and hopeless. So, when humanity is invited to the contest, there is a lot at stake.

The aliens choose a little-known, one-hit-wonder, has-been, glam rockstar to represent the Earth, because, according to them, he has the best hope of all living musicians on Earth to have even the slightest possibility of success.

The book is written in a sort of Hitchhiker’s Guide style with a lot of sidetracks and asides with funny names. However, this book turns that style up to eleven and goes much too far. There is plot enough for about twenty pages, and everything else is longwinded, babbling storytelling with far too many sidetracks and attempts at humor. For the most part, they really were just attempts: I didn’t find funny planet names, implausible alien life forms, and completely impossible planet structures and ecologies to be very amusing, but rather mostly boring and even irritating. The sentences were often very long and convoluted and the book felt almost a chore to read. This was the least favorite of the three nominees in the novel category that I have read so far.


352 pp.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sally Salminen: Katrina



A forgotten masterpiece written about 80 years ago and was about the first international bestseller ever written by a Finnish author. It tells the life story of a poor sailor’s wife at the Åland archipelago, starting somewhere at the end of 19th century, ending possibly in the late 1920s. Her life is tough and her husband is a braggart who really can’t accomplish much. But Katrina manages. It's a moving, well-written life story of a woman who keeps her self esteem no matter what. It reminds me a little of Stoner by John Williams.

Kertoo yhden naisen elämäntarinan, ei sen enempää tai vähempää.
Katrina syntyy Pohjanmaalle isoon taloon. Sinne käymään tullut merimies, Johann, viekoittelee hänet suurilla puheilla hienosta talosta ja kauniista pihasta täynnä omenapuita. Pikaisen avioliiton ja saaristoon muuton jälkeen paljastuu totuus: ei ole iso taloa, ei ole puutarhaa tai puita. On pahainen hökkeli, torppia huonompi. Johann on tunnettu tyhjänpuhuja, liioittelija, jolle koko kylä nauraa. Pohjalaisena Katrina ei luovuta, vaan käärii hihansa ja yrittää sen minkä ikinä voi pärjätä yksin vieraalla saarella. Johann viettää kesät merellä, mutta on saamaton, käyttää helposti rahansa makeisiin, eikä oikein edes osaa tarttua asioihin tai pärjätä oikeassa elämässä. Katrinalle lankea vastuu talon pidosta, taloudesta ja myöhemmin lapsista. Johann ei juuri aikaiseksi saa ja terveytensäkään ei pian kovin kehuttava ole. Mutta lapsista (jotka ovat keskenään kovin erilaisia luonteeltaan) pidetään huoltaa siinä mitä voidaan ja elämä kulkee latuaan myötä- ja vastoinkäymisissä.
Kirjasta tuli mieleen John Williamsin Stoner. Molemmissa kerrotaan kokonainen elämäntarina ihmisestä, jonka elämä ei aina ole täydellistä, mutta joka ottaa tyynesti vastaan sen mitä elämä eteen asettaa ja enemmän tai vähemmän hyväksyy kaikki koettelemukset, jota eteen tulee.
Kun alun shokista pääsi yli, kirjan juoni tempaisi vahvasti mukaansa. Kirjan kieli oli todella hienoa, soljuvaa, sopivan vanhahtavaa ja sitä oli ilo lukea. Käännös oli hieno ja sujuva – kirjapiirin yksi jäsen oli lukenut vanhan käännöksen, eikä siinäkään ollut mitään valitettavaa eikä suuria eroja uuteen käännökseen verrattuna. Siinä määrin hyvä kirja oli, että lukemista piti hiukan säännöstellä, ettei kirja olisi loppunut liian nopeasti, etenkin kun kirja oli kirjapiirin kirjana. Piirissä kaikki olivat teokseen ihastuneita.

448 s

Thursday, May 23, 2019

City of Ruins (Diving Universe #2) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch


The second part of the series was once again read during lunch hours and commutes. This time, the “Boss” and his employees/allies have gone to a planet that is known to have the oldest settlements on that area of the Galaxy. They have heard that something strange has been happening in the caves below the main city: people are dying and disappearing for no real reason. Could there be old and dangerous stealth technology at work somewhere?

When they start to examine the caves, they inadvertently turn on some equipment that is still functioning after centuries. Then an intact, fully functioning, very legendary Dignity Vessel appears in the cave, apparently out of thin air, with a full crew who don’t realize that they have missed the last five thousand years.

This is a very entertaining, exciting, and enjoyable book. I finished the last fifth of it in one go (even though it wasn’t a lunch hour.) The end was “happy” but totally open, and I look forward to the next part. It may take a few months before I get to it, Hugo award reading and all…


303 pp.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Miika Nousiainen: Juurihoito


An extremely easy-to-read book in which a pair of stepbrothers seek out their father through several countries. A mildly amusing feather-light book without any real surprises with an obvious moral message delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer about getting along with each other and not exterminating Australian aboriginals.


Mainostoimiston työntekijä joutuu hammaslääkäriin. Siellä hän kiinnittää huomionsa hammaslääkärin sukunimeen, joka on sama kuin hänellä. Sukunimi on hyvin epätavallinen. Osoittautuu, että hammaslääkäri on mainosmiehen puoliveli. Yhteinen isä on molemmat hylännyt heidän olleessaan pieni. Hammaslääkärin pienestä vastustelusta huolimatta miehet lähtevät yhdessä kartoittamaan taustaansa ja matkasta tulee pitkä, aluksi Tukholman kautta Thaimaahan ja lopulta Australiaan asti. Puolisisaruksia sitten löytyy useampia ympäri maailmaa.

Äärimmäisen kevyesti kirjoitettu, kovin tyhjänpäiväinen kirja, johon tuntui olevan päälle liimattuna aika itsestään selviä “ajatuksia” ja opetuksia moukarin hienovaraisuudella välitettynä ihmisten samanlaisuudesta ympäri maailmaa. Kevyttä lukemista, jonka toisaalta olisi kyllä voinut jättää ilman mitään tunnonvaivoja keskenkin melkein millä kohtaa tahansa, loppuun tuli kuitenkin luettua ilman mitään suuria yllätyksiä missään vaiheessa.

332 s.

Monday, May 20, 2019

My Hugo award votes 2019 part 1: short stories

All six nominated short stories were excellent this year, much better than last year. Almost all are well worthy of the award (and are vastly better than a few recent winners). The writing was good in all of them, and the plot was very engaging in most. A fable-like style was apparently a popular trend this year. Finding the last two stories (and their order) wasn’t very hard, and after some thought, the order of the rest was pretty self-evident, also.

“The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
A skillful magician who doesn’t believe in magic a drafted to be the court magician. It seems that he has gained skill for real magic at the same time. The king sometimes has a request – he usually hopes that something goes away. The magician is able to fulfill that request – at a cost. He always loses something valuable, starting with his left little finger. The magician always wonders how the trick works. Several years, several lost body parts, and several lost loved material things later, the magician is old and tired. A well-told fable-like darkish story.


“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)

Fairies, elves, selkies and other magical [male] creatures meet for a beer and reminisce about a woman who was special and didn’t fall for them, but rather they all fell for her until she tossed them away like an empty shell. A fine, warmly humorous story.

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
A story about George Washington's teeth/dentures. Short stories that grow more and more fantastic and magical – and all teeth have some effect. Short episodes with poetic language.

“STET” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
An autonomous car has apparently run over a child. A mother has written an essay concerning the “autonomous conscience” with some very personal and even bitter touches. A short piece that isn’t exactly a “story”, but is fairly good anyway.

“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
An intelligent raptor is the youngest of three sisters. When the Prince comes to their realm, she (as the youngest) must find who he is and why he has arrived. After she eats his horse, she isn’t hungry, and doesn’t eat the Price straight away. As she is curious, she joins the Prince and goes to the town with him. There she is ultimately betrayed, but as she has gained a friend, not everything is lost. A nice story that is written in a nice fairy tale-like language. Woman power (human and otherwise) rules!

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
A librarian (who is also a benevolent witch) notices a lonely, awkward boy who is apparently in foster care. He seems to be interested in books about getting away from this world. She is able to sense which books he needs, up to the last one. A well-written story with beautiful language and mood.


My voting order will be:

1. “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
2. “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
3. A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
4. “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
5. “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
6. “STET” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse


The first part of a new urban fantasy series (or the book is in the form of an urban fantasy, even though it happens in the countryside). Oceans have risen and everything has gone from bad to worse. Luckily, the American Indian reservations have built (or used magic to build) a wall to protect them from the barbaric hordes outside of their realm. Somehow the catastrophe has also broken the wall between magic and reality, and the Navajo gods (and devils) roam their land. People have received some special powers according to their clans. As it happens, that hero of the book, Maggie Hoskie’s special power is being very good at killing people (and monsters).

I haven’t read many urban fantasy books, but the setup for this one was exactly the same as those I have read: The heroine, Maggie, lives alone, has some magic powers and has been in relation with someone/something very powerful, but that has ended. She meets someone new, and it turns out that the old flame might be involved with something important. I remember at least two books which started in a more or less similar way.

It seems that someone is creating monsters which are very hard to defeat. And the local law enforcement (which is more or less a vigilante gang) doesn’t feel very sympathetic toward a known “killer.” Will Maggie be able to find the culprit while avoiding the local “militia”?

The book was a pretty nice and entertaining read, but it wasn’t special in any way; it rather felt quite ordinary. I really don’t see why it got so many nominations for the Hugo award. The writing was average, the plotting was average – everything felt very average. There was nothing bad, but nothing really memorable either; a solid three-star book in way of reckoning. (A three-star is average. There are a few books every year worthy of four stars. And there are a few books every decade worthy of five stars.)

287 pp.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Consider Phlebas (Culture #1) by Iain M. Banks


The first of the Culture novels, and one of the few that I have read before.
An Idiran Empire, which considers that it has a religious mission to conquer lesser species and bring order to their existence. It has encountered the Culture and is sure that they will soon conquer that peace-loving anarcho-communist society. At the beginning of the war, the Idirans were advancing and the Culture was retreating; however, in the long run, there really was no contest about the winner.
The book happens at the beginning of the conflict. Horza, a shape-changing mercenary, has been working for the Idirans. He is in a tight spot when he encounters a Culture agent, a worked for “special circumstances” (an organization which works as a kind of spy agency and as the first line military response for the Culture). The roles are soon reversed as Balveda is imprisoned by Idirans, who rescues Horza. And then the Culture forces attack the ship and they are separated - for a while. Ultimately, both are trying to find a Mind, a powerful AI which is stranded on a strange planet filled with deep underground caves. After several adventures, Horza manages to imprison Belvda and takes with him to the planet where the AI is situated.


The book was pretty episodic, especially for the first half, where there were adventures which didn’t really had much connection to each other. The last half formed a bit more of a coherent whole. The storytelling style was not black and white: the “hero” (or anti-hero?) of the book worked against the Culture and considered it abhorrent and demoralizing and promoting a decadent, lazy lifestyle, especially at the beginning of the book. But he later learned to see some good in it, also. Nice book, but perhaps a slight disappointment.


471 pp.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Robert Galbraith: Valkoinen kuolema (Cormoran Strike #4) (Lethal White)


The latest Cormorran Strike-book. Badly overlong and in severe need of a good copyeditor to cut out about hundred pages and to write away a few characters and at least one extremely stupid subplot. The worst book in the series, by far.

Uusin Cormorran Strike-sarjan kirja.

Kirja jatkuu suoraan siitä, mihin edellinen osa loppui.
Pääosan kirjan alkupuolesta kuluu Cormoran ja hänen sihteerinsä Robinin välien selvittelyyn. Edellisen kirjan lopussa Robin meni naimisiin pitkäaikaisen poikaystävänsä kanssa, vaikka jo olikin ilmiselvästi rakastunut Cormoraniin. Robin aikoo jättää sulhasensa heti häämatkan jälkeen, mutta tämä sairastuu matkalla ja Cormoranillakin on uusi suhde, joten Robin jää epätyydyttävään avioliittoonsa. Henkilöiden suhteita sitten käsitellään noin sata sivua, ennen varsinaisen mysteerijuonen alkua.
Robinin ja Cormoranin toimistoon ilmaantuu selvästi mieleltään järkkynyt mies, joka kertoo sekavan tarinan lapsena näkemästään lapsen murhasta. Mies on selvästi psyykkisesti sairas, mutta hänen tarinansa kuulostaa oudon vakuuttavalta. Mies pakenee ja katoaa ennen kuin poliisi ehtii paikalle. Etsiväpari hieman selvittelee asiaa, mutta heidän palkataan auttamaan kiristyksen kohteeksi joutunutta hallituksen jäsentä, joka kieltäytyy paljastamasta, mikä on se asia, josta häntä yritetään kiristää. Robin päätyy työskentelemään valeasussa parlamentissa, jossa erilaista salattavaa tuntuu olevan yhdellä jos toisellakin. Lopulta sitten (noin kirjan puolivälissä) tapahtuu myös murha, jonka selviäminen on sitten parivaljakolta sekä fyysistä, että henkistä ponnistelua vaativa asia.

Kirja oli selvästi ylipitkä ja olisi tarvinnut kipeästi taitavaa kustannustoimittajaa. Juoni oli rönsyilevä, henkilöitä oli paljon ja heidän toimintansa välillä erikoista. Yksi alajuoni oli todella typerä, miksi ihmeessä kukaan jossain kolmannen maailmaan maassa maksaisi suunnattomia summia jostain, jonka pystyy rakentamaan ihan kuka tahansa, jolla on edes minimaalista rakentamiskokemusta ja jonka tarveaineiksi riittää saha, kasa nauloja ja pino puutavaraa?

Ja Robin ei osaa katsoa mistä numerosta hänen puhelimeensa tuleva viesti oikein on peräisin? Oikeasti? Kirjan loppuratkaisu kuullaan syyllisen pitkänä luentona, kun hän kertoo tarkkaan mitä teki. Tässäkin: oikeasti? Show, don’t tell, vai mitenkäs se kirjoittamisen pääsääntö oikein meni? Ja loppuratkaisua lukijan olisi ollut käytännössä mahdoton päätellä, riittävästi tietoja ei ollut kunnolla olemassa.

Selvästi huonoin sarjan kirjoista, pahasti ylipitkä, jaaritteleva ja juonellisesti sekä sekava, että epäuskottava.

687 s.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Siiri Enoranta: Tuhatkuolevan kirous



The winner of best YA-book of the year in Finland. The starting point was very "harrypotter", but the book got a lot more violent and raunchier quite soon. It told about a magical world where the essential ingredient is something out of the body of the person performing the spell. Body hair, nail clippings, menstrual blood, semen...So it is cool to be as hairy as possible so that you could have plenty of ingredients for good spells. Soon there is a civil war going among wizards between a Gestapo-like organization and a guerrilla organization. The hero of the book, a young girl, finds herself at the center of the action as the leader of the freedom fighters, and is a good friend of her mother’s. There are some attempts to bring shades of grey in on the action, but everything was (or at least seemed to be) very black and while. I was hoping for a drastic turn of things, but I had to be disappointed. The writing was ok, but the book was pretty violent - I wonder what was the age group this was aimed?


Tämän vuoden Finlandia-junior palkinnon voittaja parhaasta nuorten- tai lastenkirjasta.
Kirja tapahtuu fantasia-maailmassa, jossa on mm. kaksi kuuta ja jossa taikuus toimii. Taikoja eivät voi kuitenkaan tehdä kaikki, vaan vain osa ihmisistä ja kyky siihen kulkee suvussa.
Kirjan päähenkilö Pau elää rauhallista elämää taiteilijaäitinsä ja kalatutkijaisänsä kanssa. Hänen suvussaan on ollut taikuutta ja kun hänen veljensä saa kutsun taikakouluun hän itsekin uskaltaa toivoa samaa.

Vuotta myöhemmin myös hänelle tulee kutsu kouluun. Taika-akatemiassa on osaltaan samanlaista kuin hän oli ajatellut, mutta toisaalta erilaista - totuusjuomaa juottavat “ajatuspoliisi” ötkyt olivat jotain mitä hän ei ollut odottanut. Ötkyt haluaisivat valvoa taikuutta ja kauppaavat fosoraa, jonka pitäisi estää taikuuden haitallisia vaikutuksia. Pääsykokeiden jälkeen Pau hylätään koulusta, vaikka hän oli jo osoittautunut ikäänsä voimakkaampaa taitoa taikuuteen. Kotiin palattuaan hän aluksi yrittää palata aikaisempaan elämäänsä, mutta sitten käy ilmi, että oikeastaan mitään mitä hän oli perheestään ajatellut, ei olekaan totta.

Kirjan taikajärjestelmä on kiinnostava ja originelli. Taikuuteen tarvitaan jotain osaa omasta ruumiista, joten mitä karvaisempi on, sitä parempi - karvat kun mahdollistavat vahvemmat taiat. Myös kaikkia muita eritteitä kuukautisverta ja siemennestettä myöten voidaan käyttää hyväksi. Sinällään hiukan ihmetytti miten karvat riittävät - kunnon taikaan kun tarvitaan useampia grammoja hiuksia tai ihokarvoja - joka kyllä on melkoisen suuri kasa, esim. pelkistä ihokarvoista ei taida sellaista määrää edes olla mahdollista kerätä.

Kirjan alku herätti hiukan pahoja aavistuksia, sillä se oli niin harrypottermainen kuin ikinä mikään. Sävy muuttui sitten aika nopeasti tummasävyisemmäksi, enemmän kapinasta kuin koulusta kertovaksi. Pau ystävineen joutuu tiukkoihin paikkoihin ja tekemään raskaita ratkaisuja.
Kirjan maailman toiminta jäi paljolti auki ja asioita jäi selittämättä. Itselle jotenkin jäi epäily siitä, että edes kirjailija ei kunnolla tiennyt/tiedä sitä miksi asiat toimivat niin kuin toimivat, kunhan vain halusi luoda jänskiä tilanteita. Harmaan sävyjä oli yritetty saada mukaan, mutta silti jäi pahasti auki, miksi “pahikset” olivat niin pahoja kuin olivat ja kuinka ihmeessä he olivat onnistuneet värväämään niin suuren määrät täydellisen uskollisia kannattajia etenkin huomioiden kirjan maailman yleisen luontoa ja elämää yli kaiken kunnioittavan filosofian jonka nähtävästi käytännössä kaikki jakoivat. Kielellisesti teksti oli hyvää, mutta tosiaan juonellisesti jossain määrin petyin. Pau itse vaikutti suhteellisen lapselliselta ja jotenkin koko kirjan ajan suhteellisen samantapaiselta, vaikka kehitystä sinällään olisi olettanut tapahtuvan aika rajujen tapahtumien jälkeen. Kirjan loppu oli oikeastaan kliseinen, hyvä voitti ja paha hävisi rajun taistelun jälkeen. Hiukan ilmiselvästi yritettiin vastapuolta osittain inhimillistää, mutta paha oli kuitenkin pahaa loppuun asti. Toisaalta kapinallisjohtaja kyllä kuvattiin varsin fanaattisena Che Quevara-tyyppisenä hahmona, joka ajoi asiaansa kaihtamatta mitään. Pienenä toiveena minulla oli, että lopussa olisi osoittautunut, että “ötkyt” ovat olleet koko ajan oikeassa ja taikuudella olisi maailmaa vahingoittavaa vaikutusta, mutta ei. Kirjassa oli myös mukana muutama nuortenkirjaksi suhteellisen seksipitoinen kohtaus. Muutenkaan ei ehkä kyseessä ole ihan alla 12 v luettavaksi sopiva kirja.


443 s.