Monday, December 30, 2019

Haruki Murakami: Komtuurin surma (Kishidancho Goroshi #1-2, Killing Commendatore)


Muotokuvien maalaamiseen erikoistuneen taiteilijan puoliso ilmoittaa haluavansa eron. Mies lähtee ensin vanhalla autollaan matkalle, jossa ajelee ympäri Japania umpimähkään. Palattuaan hän muuttaa pois kotoaan ystävänsä isän vanhaan, vuoristossa sijaitsevaan, eristyneeseen taloon. Isä on aikoinaan ollut hyvin kuuluisa taiteilija, joka sairastuttuaan dementiaan asuu hoitolaitoksessa. Talossa on taitelijalle sopiva studio ja on hyvä, että joku asuu siellä, jotta talo pysyy kunnossa. Kyseessä on siis molempia osapuolia hyödyttävä sopimus. Kun taiteilija on asunut talossa jonkin aikaa ja hänen elämänsä on asettunut urilleen, hän on saanut työtä läheisessä kaupungissa opettamassa piirustusta ja hän on saanut itselleen rakastajattaren, hän herää yölliseen kellon soittoon. Ääni ei näytä tulevan mistään talon sisältä. Seuraavana yönä kello soi taas samaan aikaan. Tästä alkaa ajoittain surrealistiseen vivahtava ja fantastinen varsinainen kirjan tarina, joka on taattua (mutta toisaalta niin tyypillisen tavallista) Murakamia. Kirjan teemat ja osa yksityiskohdista ovat jossain määrin tuttuja muista kirjailijan kirjoista: yksinäinen, itseään etsivä mies; talo yksinäisellä paikalla vuoristossa; fantastisen surrealistiset tapahtumat, joille ei ole kunnon selityksiä; niin raju seksiuni, että unen näkijää mietityttää oliko se jollain tasolla totta. Teemojen ja yksityiskohtien toistumisesta huolitta kirja oli hyvin kiehtova ja mukaansatempaava, etenkin taiteeseen ja taiteen tekemiseen liittyvä pohdinta oli kiinnostavaa ja nautittavaa. Kyseessä oli erittäin lukemisen arvoinen teos sivumäärästään huolimatta.

A thick, but an enjoyable book which has many tropes Murakami uses in his other books; but that doesn’t spoil the book, not too much at least. A lot of happens in the book, some of the things are fantastic, bordering surrealistic without any actual reasons given, but somehow the author manages it without irritating the reader – at least I, who usually is sensible about such things, wasn’t [too] irritated.

821 pp.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Joe Abercrombie: Puolikas sotaa (Half a War)


Continues the earlier story. The good and bad gets murkier, the book turns to post-apocalyptic science fiction, there still is irritating teen love, and it was a pretty fast; fairly entertaining read. Not necessarily something I can 100% recommend for adults.


Viimeinen osa sarjaa. Tarina jatkuu osapuilleen siitä, mihin edellinen loppui ja osittain tarinaa jatkavat uudet päähenkilöt. Edellisten kirjojen henkilöt ovat kyllä mukana, mutta taas enemmän taustahenkilöinä, siten että ensimmäisen kirjan sankarit ovat vielä enemmän taustalla kuin toisessa osassa.

Lopulta on tulossa sota, joka on ollut kehittymässä pitkään. Vihollinen vaikuttaa ylivoimaiselta mutta päähenkilöillä on takataskussa juoni, jos toinenkin – se kuinka eettisiä nämä juonet ovat onkin sitten ihan toinen juttu. Loppua kohti kirjaan tulee runsaasti harmaan sävyjä ja oikeastaan jää auki kuka nyt sitten lopulta oli ”hyvä” ja kuka ”paha” – tai ainakin sen voi sanoa, että kumpikaan osapuoli ei ollut selkeän ”hyvä” keinoiltaan eikä välttämättä edes päämääriltään. Sekin selvisi miksi kirjasarjassa ei ole ollut lainkaan taikuutta – kyseessä kun ei ollut ollenkaan fantasia, vaan tarkkaan ottaen science fiction. Ihmeen hyvin ”haltia”aseet olivat vuosisatoja (?) säilyneet, on taitanut olla hyvät varastorasvat käytössä. Kirja oli ihan samaa tasoa kuin aikaisemmat osat, vaivaannuttavaa nuorta rakkautta oli ehkä vähän vähemmän, mutta ihan riittävästi tai vähän liikaakin kuitenkin, nyt tosin jäi vain surulliseksi rakkaudeksi. Sarjan taso ehkä hiukan kuitenkin laski loppua kohden.

520 s.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Sinun silmiesi kautta by Peter Høeg


A book where a group of friends from kindergarten meets as adults. One of two men has attempted suicide, and the other man brings him to a clinic that offers experimental treatment. The woman who runs the clinic is a childhood friend of the men, but she has lost all memories of her early childhood. She has developed a method to go inside others’ minds and memories. It turns out that, as children, they apparently had that ability already and were even able to travel in time. And the cleaning lady who worked at the kindergarten and now works in the institute might have something to do with it all. The book left me pretty lukewarm. I didn’t hate it, but I found it pretty hard to really be interested in it, either.

En Peter Høegin kirjoja aikaisemmin ole lukenut, vaikka joku hyllyssäkin on odottamassa.
Kirja kertoo jo lapsena toisensa tunteneista ystävyksistä, kahdesta miehestä ja naisesta. Toinen miehistä on yrittänyt itsemurhaa ja on sairaalassa hoidettavana. Lähettyvillä on neuropsykologinen tutkimuskeskus, josta toinen mies hakee ystävälleen apua. Osoittautuu, että keskuksen vetäjänä toimii heidän lapsuudenaikainen ystävänsä, joka on kehittänyt kokeellisen hoitomuodon, jolla voidaan päästä toisen ihmisen mielen sisään. Tämä ystävä, Lisa, on menettänyt muistinsa eikä aluksi muista lapsuudestaan tai ystävistään mitään. Vähitellen muistot lapsuudesta palautuvat ja näyttää siltä, että lapsuudessa kolmikko on jo pystynyt jakamaan mielensä ja jopa siirtymään ajassa.
Kirjassa on tiettyä hajanaisuutta, sillä kerronta hyppelehtii aika vapaasti menneisyyden ja nykyisyyden välillä. Yksi teemoista on kärsimys: monet tutkimuslaitoksessa tutkittavat ovat kokeneet kovia, ja uusi tekniikka osoittaa, että koettu kärsimys leviää laajalti, koko maahan ja koko maailmaan. Mutta mikä yhteys tarinaan on lastentarhan ystävällisellä siivoojalla? Oikeastaan aika paljon jää auki, kun tarina oikeastaan vain hiipuu loppuun ilman mitään erityisen järisyttävää päätöstä.
Kirja jäi pienoiseksi pettymykseksi, se tuntui jotenkin yksikertaisesti kirjoitetulta, mutta samalla sekavahkolta. Lukiessani mietin, että tarina olisi voinut toimia paremmin elokuvana, jolloin juonen puutteet ja tekniikan epäuskottavuudet olisi voinut häivyttää näyttävien efektien alle. Kirja oli kirjapiirin kirjana saaden ehkä hiukan haalean vastaanoton.


326 pp.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Pekka Hiltunen: Vilpittömästi sinun


A crime book where a Finnish woman solves a gruesome crime in London with another Finnish woman who runs a mysterious office taking unusual tasks. While solving the crime, they are trying to stop the success of a very shady and racist politician. Not a very good book, as there were many very strange and stupid errors – the writer apparently didn’t even know how the voting system works in the UK. The pacing and writing were both subpar.

Pienehkössä lehdessä graafisena suunnittelijana työskentelevä nainen tapaa baarikierroksella toisen suomalaisen naisen, psykologin, jolla on oma, erikoislaatuinen firma, joka suorittaa erilaisia aika erikoisia projekteja. Yhtenä kirjan alkuvaiheen projektin kohteena oli matkapuhelinfirma, joka oli nostanut liittymiensä hintaa. Tarkalla suunnittelulla firma nolattiin pahasti, sen pörssikurssi romahti ja se joutui peruuttamaan hinnankorotukset. (hiukan jäi auki mikä tämän kaiken, ilmeisen kalliin projektin, taustalla oli - tuskin halpojen puheluiden tarjoaminen ihan hyvää hyvyyttään, ei kai sellainen yhdestä firmasta kiinni olisi. Ihan täydellisen ilmiselvään mahdolliseen syyhyn - osakekurssikeinotteluun + sisäpiirikaupankäyntiin ei kirjassa vihjattu lainkaan. En tiedä oliko tässä kyseessä kirjailijan oveluus ja asioiden oman hoksaamisen varaan jättäminen vaiko juonenkehityksen naiivius takana. Epäilen vahvasti tuliko kirjailijalle edes mieleen kyseisen kaltaisen tempun aivan jättimäiset taloudelliset keinottelumahdollisuudet. Sopivilla futuurikaupoilla olisi todennäköisesti voinut tienata helposti satoja miljoonia. Sen verran suuria idiotismeja ja tietämättömyyden osoituksia kirjassa oli, että on todennäköistä, että kyseessä ei ollut mikään kirjailijan ovela juoni.

Muitakin erittäin ärsyttäviä typeryyksiä kirjasta löytyi. Kuinka kirjailija, joka kirjoittaa kirjan, jossa osajuonena on Englannin politiikka, voi olla niin pihalla Englannin vaalijärjestelmästä, että kuvittelee suositun hyvän äänisaaliin saavan poliitikon vetävän mukanaan muita ehdokkaita? Tai että puolueella, jonka kannatus on viiden prosentin tietämissä, olisi mitään käytännön mahdollisuuksia edes yhteen parlamenttipaikkaan, etenkin jos ajaa hiukan kiistanalaista ohjelmaa – jokaiseen paikkaan kun pitää saada omalla alueella enemmistö äänistä. Myös asetekninen tietämys oli kovin kyseenalainen, tuskin kovimmatkaan konnat sentään konekivääriä olisivat käyttäneet siten kuin käyttivät, konepistooli tai enintään rynnäkkökivääri olisivat olleet todennäköisempiä vaihtoehtoja. Kirjailijan tietotekninenkään tietämys ei ollut häikäisevää, keyloggerin asentamiseen ei kyllä tarvitse vaihtaa koko näppäimistöä, pelkkä simppeli ohjelma tai pieni välikappale näppäimistöjohtoon kyllä riittää mainiosti. Myös lääketieteellinen tietämys oli samalla tasolla, paniikkikohtauksen saaneelta otettiin päivystyksessä keskellä yötä EEG ja kaiken lisäksi se kuvattiin poikkeavaksi.

Kirjan tahdituksessa oli myös melkoisia ongelmia; kirjan alku oli erittäin hidas ja kohokohta tuli kovin varhaisessa vaiheessa, jonka jälkeen oli sitten pitkään tyhjäkäyntiä. Kirjan rikosjuoni oli hiukan kumma, toinen päähenkilö innostuu aika heikosti perustelluista syistä rajun murhan selvittelystä. Tapausta selvittelevä poliisikin viitsi tämän ihan satunnaisen maallikon kanssa käymään asiasta pitkän neuvottelun. Joo, varmaan. Plus täysin häikäilemättömän useita ihmisiä kylmäverisesti tappaneet konnat pitivät paria henkilöä vankina ilman mitään järkevää syytä – oikeastihan vanhempi olisi tapettu lähimpään katuojaan ja nuorempi nainen laitettu tienaamaan rahaa prostituutiossa.

Kirja aikanaan oli jossain vuoden parhaita listoillakin ja taisi voittaa vuoden dekkari palkinnon. En kyllä oikein käsitä, kyseessä oli selvästi keskitason alapuolella oleva dekkari sekä juonellisesti että loogisesti, eikä kielellinen asukaan mitenkään häikäisevää vaikutelmaa antanut.

424 pp.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley


The book begins at pretty much the same starting point as Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Aliens (Martians) have attacked Earth and destroyed a city. The protagonist is full of patriotic fervor, and wants to kill some aliens and get revenge. Also, the military service grants citizenship, which offers many benefits. After the normal grueling basic training phase, the new recruits are ready for the war. The solders are changed to light and beamed to the battle. It is a new technology that isn’t really understood, and accidents where soldiers either materialize inside a tree or come back badly deformed are common.

The main character goes for her (the gender is actually revealed only at the end of the book) first battle, but she comes out in a totally different place from where the actual battle plan was. When she returns, she seems to return to a place which is different from where she left. Soon it turns out that she is unstuck at the time, and goes on her battle missions in more or less random order. She also returns, sometimes in the future and sometimes to the past. At first, she tries to discuss with her superiors what is going on, but the advice she gets is to always stick to mission briefing, and don’t discuss what you really experience. There have been other people like her, but most of them disappeared after they told what was happening to them. Slowly it turns out that literally nothing she was thought to be true is actually true. The battles aren’t against the evil aliens; the enemy they are fighting is something else.

This is an extremely good book that takes an all too familiar starting point and turns it to something totally new, refreshing, and interesting. The writing was also excellent. The main character was interesting, as her personality and way of thinking change, and her gender is kept secret in a very effortless way for most of the book – I hardly noticed that it wasn’t stated anywhere. This book will be on my Hugo nominations list.

356 pp.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Analog Science Fiction -> Science Fact, May 1966


8 • The Wings of a Bat • [Lake Possible] • novelette by Pauline Ashwell [as Paul Ash]
A group of miners has traveled to the Cretaceous period. They raised together (with the lead of a medic, as he had more free time than the others) a young orphaned Pteranodon and released it into the wild once it was grown enough. During a storm, there is a threatening situation when the medic seems to be chased by a full-grown lizard bird. There was nothing really surprising, but a well-told version of a familiar story. ***
31 • Call Him Lord • novelette by Gordon R. Dickson
Nebula winner and a Hugo finalist.
The future emperor of a galactic empire arrives on the Earth, which is a backward planet compared to others. But according to tradition, emperors must tour the Earth before their coronation. There is a family who has always acted as their bodyguards. It turns out that the guard is actually guarding something even more valuable than the life of the prince he's supposed to look after. An excellent story. ****+
72 • Two-Way Communication • short story by Christopher Anvil
Someone has invented a device that not only can receive any radio transmission, but also send audio back to the microphone which is emitting the sounds. A very stupid story which is apparently meant as humorous but really isn't. **+
84 • Under the Wide and Starry Sky... • short story by Joe Poyer
The story happens approximately at the time of writing. An astronaut is marooned during a spacewalk, his oxygen system is damaged and he soon won't be able to breathe anymore. The spaceship (strangely) has almost no fuel left, and can’t be maneuvered to pick him up. A pretty standard rescue story, but orbital mechanics and orbital speeds don’t really add up. At one point, the speed of the space capsule is mentioned to be 138.000.000 feet/sec, which corresponds to about 151 million kilometers per hour. That is more than 10% of the speed of light... **
101 • The Alchemist • [Conrad Patrick] • novella by Charles L. Harness
Another Hugo finalist and was also nominated for Nebula.
A chemical reaction that should not have taken place actually does, after a strange man messed with the vials. It turns out he might be an alchemist. Pages of description of imaginary chemical reactions and intricacies of patent law ensue. An extremely slow story in which practically nothing seems to be happening. Such an unbelievably boring story that I gave up about halfway. I glanced at the last half - apparently, everything was due to some psi-powers. Totally unbelievable that this story has received the nominations it has. *

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime #1) by Jasper Fforde


A murder mystery which happens in a world where the creatures of the fairytales really exist. There are also some other differences. Solving crimes is considered as entertainment and a finding out who committed a murder too soon is often considered as unfortunate and boring: it isn’t possible to write an exciting story this way. Here, Inspector Jack Spratt is in charge of the nursery crime division of the police department. His track record hasn’t been too good after a recent failure to get a conviction for three little pigs for the brutal murder of a wolf because a jury of pigs gave an acquittal for the crime. Now a new crime has happened: Humpty Dumpty has fallen down from the wall he used to sit on. It soon turns out that it wasn’t an accident, it was a murder. But who did it? It appears as if Humpty was a quite the womanizer. He also played in the investment market, but with very poor results. Soon they find who the murderer was – a written confession before a suicide is a pretty good proof of evidence, but what if it turns out that it must have been someone else?

An avalanche of ideas and events – not all very sensible or coherent – ensues, but what else could be expected about a book which deals with crimes committed by characters from nursery stories? At times it looks like there are too many ideas. At times, the story slows down and examining the ideas for a little while might have been a better idea itself. A pretty good book, but not as good as most of the Thursday Next books.

420 pp.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Christian Rönnbacka: Kävikö käry? Vakuutusetsivien parhaat tarinat


Vakuutusetsivän kertoma ja keräämä kokoelma enemmän tai vähemmän hupaisia tarinoita ihmisistä, jotka ovat yrittäneet huijata vakuutusyhtiötä. Osa huijausyrityksistä on lähinnä surkuhupaisia, osa hyvin pitkälle harkittuja ja suunniteltuja ja ovat usein jääneet kiinni vain ahneuden vuoksi – ei kannattaisi tehdä samanaikaisia vakuutuksia moneen vakuutusyhtiöön, firmat kun saattavat verrata tietojaan. Kevyesti kirjoitettu mukava välipalakirja, josta muutama kertomus oli jo entuudestaan lehtien otsikoista tuttuja.

A light collection of cases an insurance detective has encountered during his career. Some attempts were laughable, some were pretty conniving, but, usually, the excessive greed was the downfall of the scammer. A nice and entertaining read.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Lasikaupunki (New York Trilogy #1) by Paul Auster (City of Glass)



Ensimmäinen osa trilogiaa, joka on julkaistu myös yhtenä teoksena. Tämä kirja/novelli ainakin vaikuttaa itsenäiseltä teokselta. Kirjan eräänlaisena teemana on identiteetti ja identiteetin omaksuminen. Tarina on ulkoisesti eräänlainen jännityskertomus, mutta tämä rakenne on enemmän vain hahmo, mihin tarina on rakennettu.
New Yorkista kotoisin oleva jännityskirjailija, Daniel Quinn, joka kirjoittaa salanimellä sarjaa salapoliisista ja joka kokee kirjojensa salapoliisin jonkinlaiseksi alter egokseen, saa yöllä puhelun, jossa etsitään yksityisetsivää nimeltä Paul Auster. Hetken mielijohteesta hän päättää teeskennellä etsivää ja sopii tapaamisen Peter Stillman nimisen erikoisen miehen kanssa, joka uskoo isänsä, Peter Stillmanin, aikovan murhata hänet ja haluaa yksityisetsivän varjostavan tätä isää. Daniel Quinn, joka siis teeskentelee olevansa Paul Auster, varjostaakin Peter Stillmann vanhempaa, joka tuntuu harhailevan kaupungilla päämäärättömästi. Lopulta Daniel Quinn tapaa myös oikean Paul Austeren, joka on kirjailija, mutta ei salapoliisi ja koko kaupungista ei löydy Paul Austeria, joka olisi salapoliisi. Kirjan lopussa on vielä pieni tarinankerronnallinen jippo, joka vielä niksauttaa kertomuksen hiukan eri suuntaan. Kyseessä on varsin monimutkainen kertomus pituisekseen, josta on kyllä mahdollista nauttia pinnallisellakin tasolle, mutta jonka täydellinen ymmärtäminen todennäköisesti vaatisi useampia lukukertoja.

A very complex story which plays on identity in many levels, where assumed names, pretending to be some else and complex actions by the characters are the main point. A book which should be read a few times before it really can be understood.

144 p.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November-December 2019



An Eye for an Eye • [The Ascension (Jerry Oltion)] • novelette by Jerry Oltion

A human spaceship lands on an alien planet with aliens who apparently are near to an industrial revolution. A convoy of caterpillar-like aliens approaches the ship. One of them breaks off his eyestalk and gives it to the humans. The expedition is a bit baffled but takes it, and the aliens leave. The aliens seem to lose their interest, and even seem irritated when they meet the humans again, and when the humans refuse to eat a severed finger offered by the aliens, the aliens seem offended. Meanwhile, the severed eye seems to contain surprisingly complex and extensive neuronal structures. The story continues an earlier one, this time from the human viewpoint. A pretty good one, even if there were shades of an idiotic plot – it was painfully obvious for the reader what was happening even when characters were in the dark. ****-
Formless • novelette by Gary Kloster
A soldier approaches a planet. It has been invaded by the “formless”, who are disgusting creatures who have destroyed humans on Earth and have apparently followed them here. The soldier’s ship is hit and he falls on the mercy of the formless. But not everything is what it looks like. A pretty nice story. ***+
Moon Santa Mongo • short story by John Edward Urh
A shop owner on the moon has had some hard times. There are not many tourists and his assistant left suddenly. He hires a veteran who seems homeless and apparently has memory problems. A fairly warm-hearted Christmas story. ***½
The Prince of Svalbard: A Saga of the Thaw • short story by Louis Evans
A Viking saga of a raid to Svalbard seed vault. Ponderous language and I didn’t really get into it. I wonder what is the timespan after the accident - at first, it seemed like centuries and then there was someone alive? **
Filaments of Hope • short story by Marissa Lingen
A Martian colony was canceled. The developer of a lichen suitable for the production of food there is invited to Iceland. They want to use the lichen for food production. A pretty sketch-like story. **+
Just a Guy and Some Aliens • short story by Michael Carroll
A probe is sent to a star with a planet on the goldilocks zone. It can analyze DNA and send it to Earth, where it can be used to build the creature it is from. It turns out that something went a little wrong. A stupid story on so many levels. All the science sucks heavily – alien life forms with exactly similar DNA structure? No pre-analysis of DNA whatsoever? DNA enduring decades in space? **
Wolves • short story by Edward Ashton
An employee/slave/pet is sent to track a lone woman he saw digging through trash. He is supposed to kill her. The setup is shown slowly and it would be a spoiler to describe it in detail. There are apparently alien invaders who use humans for menial tasks, but there are also still a few “wild” ones around. A very nice short story. ****-
Binary • short story by Rajan Khanna
A recording of a person is used as a mind of a bot which is sent to study a possible alien artifact. She seems to have hallucinations of the past events of her life. There also seems to be something strange about the AI which governs how her ship behaves. The idea was fairly good, but the story was too short, there was no real emotional attachment to the main “character”. ***½
Sojourner • short story by Craig DeLancey
A man is trying to help an AI which apparently is threatened by a government man who wants to hunt it down and destroy it. He escapes a raid with the AI but gets caught. The government man has an alternative explanation about what is going on. A very good story which turns around very nicely. ****-
Martian Fever • novelette by Julie Novakova
The first Mars expedition is financed by a billionaire. After they start the exploration, one member gets sick with a Martian bug. According to the pre-agreed rules, that means no one can go back home, to prevent bringing back infections to Earth. That isn’t something everyone is too happy about – and if they don’t find the cure, their chance of living on Mars isn’t very good, either. A pretty good story which concentrates more on people than on events. And the people seem real and behave in a fairly consistent and logical way. ****-
Keep the Line Tight But Not too Tight, or Esteban and the Moon • short story by J. M. McDermott [as by Joe M. McDermott]
Workers on the Moon who build generation ships are stressed about the pressures. I didn’t really get into the story, it seemed mainly to be bitching about living on the Moon and about other people. The main character felt like a very irritating and unhappy person. And I didn’t get some of the technology: habitats on the Moon are spun for artificial gravity, but they stopped for the night? Why in hell? Wouldn’t that be extremely uneconomical? There are some other questionable details, also. The writing felt somewhat clumsy and hard to get. **-
Yamadori • short story by Stephen R. Wilk
A man who builds miniature robots is asked to build a small human-looking robot with moving capability, with hollow arms with room to stick meat into. As the builder is more than a little baffled, he wants to see what his robot is used for. (For feeding a miniature version of a man-eating plant.) The writing was fairly nice but there wasn’t really much plot, just a demonstration of the robot and its use. ***½
Follow, Past Meridian • short story by Mark W. Tiedemann
A group of youngsters goes for some sort of initiation quest in a post-apocalyptic world where there seems to be a lot of working tech still around. They have heard rumors that an “American” might be around and they want to see it. Along the way, they meet a mystery woman. Far too sketchy and short, it feels like a short prologue for the real story. ***
Empty Box • short story by Allison Mulvihill
A man has a discussion with his girlfriend, whom he has never seen in person. The girlfriend’s name is Eliza and they talk about artificial intelligences which are better than just passing a Turing test. Oh, I wonder what the girlfriend really is? A short and simple story. ***-
The Quarantine Nursery • short story by Aimee Ogden
A well-to-do family's small children are taken care of by robots in a germ-free environment. Influenza is especially considered as horrific. I wonder if the story happens in some sort of alternate world where there are no vaccines and social norms are from the fifties. Women are at home cooking for their husbands and wear something pretty when he comes home. As a matter of fact, the story feels exactly like it would be at home in Galaxy magazine from 1954 or something. Otherwise, it is a pretty good and well-told story. ***½
Kamsahamnida, America • novelette by Guy Stewart
An elderly astronaut is testing a spaceship with simulations when news breaks out: Koreans have sent a ship to the Moon. All space-capable nations scramble to send their own ships to be first on the Moon since the 70s. The Korean ship seems to approach the Moon at an impossible speed. As the other ships approach the Moon, there is even some attempt to sabotage other “contestants”. Extremely stupid story: apparently everyone had a ship which was able to go to the Moon, but couldn’t be bothered. When one nation goes there, it suddenly is imperative to be there first. It doesn’t make any sense. If it is so important, why wait if it almost trivial to launch an expedition in a few hours? And hitting another ship with a passive “missile” would be a billion-to-one chance. The writing is OK, but every aspect of the plot is pedestrian. **½
You Must Remember This • novella by Jay O'Connell
Runaway AI has destroyed a part of town and “archived” many people who were living there. It is possible to rebuild and wake those people, but it is expensive, and will not be done unless someone will sponsor it. A woman who was pretty maladjusted has been awakened. Her sponsor wants to remain unknown. Her ADHD can be cured, and after some trepidation, she takes the cure. But can she adjust to a new life in the future, and with a slightly different personality than what she was used to? A pretty nice and well-told story. ****-

Monday, November 4, 2019

Syvä uni (The Big Sleep) by Raymond Chandler,



A classic detective story. In fact, it is so classic that the plot felt familiar, even though I haven’t ever read it before. I saw everything in black and white in my mind’s eye, and there are plenty of movies with a similar plot. And there’s plenty of movies from this book. It’s smoothly and well written with an appropriately convoluted plot.

Klassista klassisempi yksityisetsivätarina, kertomus, joka oikeastaan aloitti oman genrensä, noir-tyyppisen dekkaritarinan. Tarina on kerrottu minämuodossa kyynisen yksityisetsivän Phillip Marlowen näkökulmasta. Rikas, vanha, ja sairas mies palkkaa hänet tutkimaan miksi hiukan hämäräperäisen maineen omaava kirjakauppias on kiristämässä miehen tytärtä. Tarinassa on lopulta monta mutkaa, mutta ruumista ja monta kohtalokasta kaunotarta. Marlow itsekin loppua kohden joutuu pahaan pinteeseen, mutta mistä ei ylimielisellä käytöksellä, huulenheitolla ja naisten viettelemisellä kuiville selviäsi?
Vetävää tekstiä, mutta tarina oli aika tuttu, sillä samankaltaisia elokuvia on melkoisen monta – ja ihan tästä samasta kirjasta olevia elokuvia on varmaan ainakin pari kolme. Itse olen varmasti jonkin niistä kyllä joskus nähnyt. Kirja näki koko ajan sielunsa silmin mustavalkoisena 4:3 kuvasuhteella kertojaäänen kera – kirjan kertojaääni sopi hyvin siihen mielikuvan elokuvan kertojaan.

238 pp.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Fields of Fire (Frontlines #5) by Marko Kloos


The series continues pretty much from where the last book ended. The main characters can take a little breather before the next battle, but that one is going to be huge. Humans are going for the offensive for the first time. They are going to take Mars back from the aliens. The first parts of the battle go almost as planned and the alien seedships guarding Mars are destroyed. When the ground troops land, things start to go worse. Apparently, the aliens have finally learned some tactics and don’t just blindly run to the gunfire anymore.

The book is as entertaining as the earlier parts. The main characters feel real and someone one can root for. They are not Übermensch who can always do everything without second-guessing themselves.

The book has still some technical problems. The author seems to imagine that high-speed railguns have an effective range in space. No, they don’t. There might be some targeting issues, but there is no limit to their range. Their speed (and their explosive effect) doesn’t get any slower, ever; not even after light years. Those were small things though; the book was entertaining and easy to read on a mobile phone during lunch hours and commutes.

293 pp.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Donna Tartt: Jumalat juhlivat öisin (The Secret History)


A classic book, which is a mixture of a literate novel, a detective story and a book of human relations. It was fairly interesting, but pretty verbose. There is some interesting character development, but I didn’t really understand the motivations of many characters; just boredom and too much money? And most of the characters didn’t really have vast, disposable income anyway.

Tunnettu ja kuuluisa (ja paksu) kirja, joka on ollut kirjahyllyssä jo pitkään odottamassa. Köyhähkö, vanhemmistaan vieraantunut nuori mies, Richard, lähtee toiselle puolelle maata opiskelemaan arvostettuun kouluun. Jostain mielestäni äärimmäisen huonosti perustellusta syystä ja yrittää päästä ja pääseekin lopulta aika erikoisen professorin johtamaan aika erikoiseen porukkaan, joka erikoistuu antiikin kreikan kielen opiskeluun ja oikeastaan muiden aiheiden opiskelu on lähes kiellettyä. Porukka on aika erikoista ja paljolti eri yhteiskuntaluokasta lähtöisin olevaa kuin kertojahenkilö, jolla ei käytännössä ole lainkaan rahaa käytettävissään. Ryhmä on erittäin. kiinteä, etenkin sen alkuperäiset jäsenet. Kuinka kiinteä ja mitä kaikkea he yhdessä tekevät selviää Richardille vasta vähitellen.
Kirja alkaa murhalla. Siihen, miten tähän päädytään (ja toiseen, jo edeltävään, murhaan) kuluu useampia satoja sivuja). Kirjan aloittavan murhan kohteena on yksi ryhmän jäsenistä, jonka psyykkinen tila on epävakaa. Hän tietää ryhmän jäsenten ensimmäisestä murhasta (tai mahdollisesti taposta, yksityiskohdat ovat jopa mukana olleille hiukan epäselviä) käytännössä kiristää rahakkaampia ryhmän jäseniä ja vaikuttaa sekoavan koko ajan enemmän. Ei siis ole mitään muuta keinoa, kuin päästä hänetkin hengiltä. Ongelmat eivät tällä ole ratkaistu, sillä syyllisyys teoista jää jäljelle ja se vaikuttaa eri hahmoihin jokaiseen omalla tavallaan.

Kirja, joka on sekoitus jonkinlaista dekkaria, ihmissuhdekertomusta ja ”korkeakirjallista” romaania. Se tutkii henkilöiden eroavuuksia ja ajatuksia aika kiinnostavalla tavalla, vaikka onkin paljolti kovin hidasliikkeinen, eivätkä henkilöiden motiivit ole välttämättä ihan kunnolla ymmärrettävissä. Kirja oli ihan kohtalainen ja hyvin sinällään kirjoitettu, mutta en sen klassikkomainetta ihan täysin ymmärrä.

745 s.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Christian Rönnbacka: Operaatio Troijalainen


A nice police novel about an officer who infiltrates a vicious criminal gang which is smuggling drugs. An interesting main character who is ready to go slightly on the sidetrack of the law. The book has a pretty good balance of tension and sometimes wry humor.

Äänikirjana kuunneltu dekkari. Etukäteen kyseessä oli itselle aika tuntematon teos, kirjailija oli kyllä nimenä jotenkin tuttu.
Antti Hautalehto on rikosylikonstaapeli, joka päättää vaihtaa työpaikkaa avioeronsa jälkeen. Pienen paikkakunnan rauhallinen työtahti katkeaa, kun tarvitaan peiteoperaatioon ruotsinkielentaitoista, hyvät erätaidot omaavaa ja uskaliasta poliisia. Antti soluttautuu huumejengiin, joka pelaa sen verran kovilla korteilla, että kiinnijääminen olisi varma kuolemantuomio. Juuri ennen jengiin soluttautumistaan Antti oli kohdannut kiinnostavan naisen, joka oli tullut tekemään rikosilmoitusta jo jonkin veran aikaisemmin tapahtuneesta raiskauksesta. Asia oli tullut uudelleen ajankohtaiseksi, kun raiskaaja oli alkanut lähetellä uhkaavia tekstiviestejä naisen puhelimeen. Ja kaiken lisäksi joku hajottaa viattomia puutarhatonttuja ihmisten pihoista, kun näin julkeaan tekoon voisi syyllistyä?
Hyvin vetävää tekstiä, jossa pari kertaa kuuntelu loppui todella täpäriin paikkoihin, kun matka loppui vähän liian aikaisin. Pieniä ylläreitäkin normaalin dekkariformaattiin verrattuna kirjassa oli ja kerronta tasapainotteli rajun ja humoristisen välillä pääsääntöisesti aika mukavasti. Ehkä sarjan lukemista pitää jossain vaiheessa jatkaa.

349 p

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Olli Jalonen: Merenpeitto


The book continues the story which began in the first installment (it won the most prestigious literary award in Finland). Angus is an adolescent who has traveled a long journey at sea, from the island of St. Helens to Britain. At the end of the last book, he reacquainted with Edmond Halley, the famous scientist he met as a child. In this book Angus helps Halley and desperately wants his acceptance and even gets it on some level – but he – an uneducated boy – can never really be on the same level as Halley. Eventually, Angus follows Halley on his sea exploration to evaluate magnetic variations. The book was well written but lacked a clear focus the first part had. It was a nice and interesting read in spite of that.


Jatko-osa Finlandia palkinnon voittaneelle Taivaanpallo-kirjalle. Tarina jatkuu käytännössä lähes suoraan siitä, mihin edellinen kirja loppui. Lontooseen päässyt Angus työskentelee Edmond Halleyn suojattina. Hän auttaa Halleytä hänen tutkimuksissaan, on melkein perheenjäsen ja saa jopa syödä perheen kanssa samassa pöydässä, jos paikalla ei ole vieraita. Jos illalliselle osallistuu vieraita, hän joutuu tyytymään ruokailuun palvelijoiden parissa.
Anguksella on toiveita ja suunnitelmia, mutta Halley ei häntä ihan täysin vakavasti ota ja kohtelee oikeastaan loppuun asti osittain lapsena ja jonkinlaisena perheenjäsenen ja palkollisen välimuotona - hän ottaa perheen elämään osaa silloin kuin se on soveliasta, tekee työtä, mutta ei saa siitä mitään korvausta, ja tämä alkaa lopulta Angusta kiusaamaan. Hän yrittää saada Halleyn huomion ja hänellä on ehkä hiukan jopa epärealistisiakin haaveita tulevaisuudestaan, mutta ei lopulta ihan onnistu tavoitteissaan. Tämä todennäköisesti on osasyy hänen ratkaisuunsa kirjan päätöksessä.
Angus vaikuttaa aika naivilta vielä kirjan lopussakin, jolloin hän ilmeisesti jo lähestyy 30 vuoden ikää, eikä hänen persoonassaan vaikuta tapahtuneen oikein mitään kehittymistä. Hänen kertojaäänensä kirjassa kuulostaa täysin samalta koko kirjan ajan. Toisaalta, jos kirjan tulkitsee jälkikäteen kirjoitetuiksi muisteluiksi, niin silloin tietysti kertoja kuulostaakin samalta, mutta silloinkin vaikutelma tulee murrosikäisestä, ei aikuisesta kertojasta. Kieli sinällään oli hienoa ja soljuvaa, helppoa ja nautittavaa lukea.
Kirja ei ollut yhtä hyvä kuin ensimmäinen osa, sillä siitä tuntui puuttuvan selkeä jännite ja juonikaari. Ensimmäisessä osassa Anguksella oli tavoite – nyt hän oli enemmän tapahtumien virran passiivisesti kuljetettavana. Silti oli mukava viettää vielä hetki hänen seurassaan ja nähdä mitä tulevaisuus hänen kohdallaan toi eteen. En kyllä tiedä kyllä miksi kirjailijan piti Angusta niin väkivaltaisesti parissa kohtauksessa kohdella, ne vammat tuntuivat vähän kohtuuttomilta.

462 p.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai



Tom Barren lives in a ”Jetsons” world, where there are flying cars, abundant energy, unparalleled wealth, and equality between the sexes and the races. All that changed in 1965, when professor Lionel Goettreider discovered the secret of limitless free energy. He and all who observed the experiment died soon afterwards because of the radiation produced by the “Gottreider engine.” The radiation problem was easily fixed, and as Gottrieder gave up his invention to the public domain in his will, everything was changed everywhere. Tom Barren’s father is an inventor who is working on the time machine, is very focused on his work, and is not very interested in Tom. His mother was killed in an air-car accident. Tom is pretty neurotic and hasn’t really accomplished anything in his life. As he has little to do in his life, his father hires him to be part of the time-travel experiment. Due to some unfortunate circumstances and chance happenings, Tom is the one who travels back in time. As apparently everyone in the project is a moron, the destination of the first journey is the most important event in history: the test drive of the Gottreider engine. It was supposed to be impossible to influence past events, but it turns out that it is indeed possible. And the future is changed to our own very dystopian (in comparison) present. But not everything is bad: his mother is still alive and a happier person than she ever was; his father is nice and not an egomaniac; and he has a little sister who is smart and fun. Until that point, he himself has been something of a prick, though – but now he surprises his family by showing compassion towards them. And the woman he loves is still alive in this timestream and is also a better version of herself.

At first the book seemed irritating and slow-moving – it really took its time to really start. And there was a lot of repetition, even short chapters which were only a condensed version of what had happened until that point. There was some sort of very poor explanation for that, but it was unneeded and irritating anyway. Talking about irritating, the main character was very passive at the beginning of the story, irritating and even lethargic. After the time travel, he seemed to change; apparently, he was some sort of amalgamation of the personality traits of the person he was in the disappeared reality and the person he was in our reality, and he got the best parts of both of them. The end was a bit hurried, especially when compared to the first third of the book. A bit more detailed examination might have been a good idea. On the whole, it was a fairly good book.

400 pp.


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