Saturday, September 27, 2008

Accelerando by Charles Stross

A collection of closely linked novellas. The central theme of the stories is a approaching, and in the later stories, passing technological singularity. The book follows one very special family through three generations, more or less. The real central character who is a major influence (at least behind the scenes) in most of the stories is a somewhat of a surprise, and is revealed only somewhere through the halfway of the book. That character is also by far the most interesting one in the book, even though its’ significance might be hard to recognize, or even believe after a first few stories.

By definition what happens after the singularity can not be known. The stories and characters are not exactly taking part of the singularity, but rather they are close to it, or it could be said that they are riding on the wake of it. The real postsingularity beings are mainly hinted at, and it/they are something with incomprehensive motivations and actions even for main characters who are almost post singularity beings themselves, they are “evil offspring” of humanity, who are slowly - or not so slowly - dismantling the whole solar system and changing its’ total mass to the computronium, to all powerful microprocessors. The stories grow more chaotic story by story, as the speed of change increases by the passing time, and it hard, or even impossible to tell which events happen in the “real world” and which are computer simulation of the real world. However, that distinction has little meaning for story, even less for the characters in the story. There are enough ideas and new concepts for several books. The readability suffers a bit in some stories due to chaotic manner of concepts and change. However, the book is almost always entertaining and intriguing, well worth of read.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Norman Spinrad - Iron dream

Read as a Finnish translation - an overview in finnish is included.

A book Hitler might well have written if he really had moved to US.
Not one of the most uplifting reading experiences I have had. This was a book I had to read in pieces as the overtly racists attitudes and “Tom of Finland” style of latent gay porn (every other sentence describes well fitting, handsome uniforms, and blond handsome young men marching in them). Writing was also intentionally bad and clumsy, and larger doses of it at one time were a bit hard to for that reason, also. The most interesting part of the book was postscript written by “literature professor”. This not a book which can be enjoyed (if you really enjoy the contents of this book, I wholeheartedly recommend contacting the nearest psychiatrist - sooner rather than later. ) but nevertheless it is very interesting read as a whole.

Kirja jollaisen Hitler olisi hyvinkin voinut kirjoittaa mikäli olisi muuttanut Yhdysvaltoihin. Ei mikään piristävä lukukokemus, kirja piti lukea paloissa, kun mutanttien halveksunta ja piilohomous jatkuvine mainintoineen upeista, ryhdikkäistä, uniformuista alkoi välillä pursua korvistakin ulos - tuntui, että kirjassa ei ollut yhtäkään lausetta jossa jompaakumpaa - mieluummin molempia - ei olisi korostettu. Kirjoitustyyli oli myös tahallisen kömpelöä, joka sekin suurina annoksia pyrki aavistuksen rasittamaan. Joistain arvosteluista olin saanut sen käsityksen, että Hitlerin “kirja” olisi ollut vain osa kokonaisuutta, jonkinlaisen kehyskertomuksen sisällä, joten pieni yllätys oli, että loppusanoja lukuun ottamatta muuta sisältöä ei sitten löytynytkään. Kirjallisuustutkijan loppusanat olivatkin ne kaikkein kiinnostavin osa koko kirjaa. Tämä kirja ei ole ihan heti uudelleen luettavien listalla, mutta on kyllä yleissivistykseen kuuluva kaikille sci/fantasia-faneille.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Analog November 2008

Average issue. I haven’t yet read the serial written by Robert J. Sawyer (Wake), as I am waiting for at least one or two more installments before starting on it.

64 • Greenwich Nasty Time • novelette by Carl Frederick
An experiment on quantum mechanics and multiworld theory goes wrong.
Good, exiting story. ****-

81 • Cold Fire • shortstory by Alan Dean Foster
A man lost in the artic night is rescued by a trapper who lives with his teenage daughter. Short, nice ”mood” piece. Not too much happens, but nice story anyway. Makes one wish a bit more. ***+

90 • Bug Eyes • shortstory by Richard A. Lovett
Io exploratory rover sees a bug eyed monster. Someone has obviously hacked the data stream - or something. Also nice, entertaining simple story. ***½

99 • Mea Culpa • shortstory by Stephen L. Burns
Writing by using doping. Short short, told as a letter to the editor. Not much of a point, after all. **

106 • Re\Creation • shortstory by Oz Drummond
Antics in the virtual world. A bit jumpy, a bit clichéd story. Not much happens. Writing is fine, but the plot is quite lacking with no real surprises. **

116 • Unburning Alexandria • novelette by Paul Levinson
Trying to save scrolls from Alexandria’s library - and trying to find a cure for Socrates who is apparently somehow, for some reason, somehow been moved a few hundred years to the future. Story doesn’t give enough back-story - it is based to a novel published earlier. It doesn’t really stand on its’ own, there are too many characters for a shortish novella, and it is very hard to understand the motivations of the characters without any prior knowledge of them. Also the idea that a cure for a brain disorder of Socrate’s (which can’t apparently be cured by future medicine) might be found from some ancient scroll is by far more unlikely than time travel itself. **

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Analog Science Fiction December 2004

One of the less good issues.
• 8 • Baby on Board • novella by Kenneth Brady
Man hijacks SUVs and drives cross-country with them, to show AIs in those cars what that kind of cars are really meant to do. He is also running a kind of net site for gaming - meant mainly for car AI:s. Quite strange and illogical story. I can’t think any reason why someone would equip cars with self-conscious AI, or would want their cars to speak - as seems to be a norm in this world.. I had to give up at about half way. Writing was not too good, plot stank, I found myself really hating the car stealing, holier than you, extremely unlikeable main character, who is supposed to be a conservationist, but likes SUVs. *+

• 48 • Fruitcake Genome • shortstory by Carl Fredrick
A SETI scientist finds signal from space that seem artificial. He tries to convince his superior that transposing the signal to sound might be useful. It sounds like music - but so does fruit fly genome he uses as comparison when testing method used for sound transposition. ***½
• 56 • The Bambi Project • shortstory by Grey Rollins
Bambis - or at least gene modified deer - strike back. Fun little story. Hunters get what they ask for. ****
• 61 • The Test • [Probability Zero] • shortfiction by Kevin Levites
Aliens take Randi^H^H^H^H^H Mystical Michael challenge. OK, not one of the best prob zero stories. ***
• 68 • Savant Songs • shortstory by Brenda Cooper
AI and its’ owner trying to contact other dimension. A bit confusing, not engaging. **
• 78 • Small Moments in Time • shortstory by John G. Hemry
A timetravel story. A time traveller collecting seed samples from 1918 finds an another time traveller, who seems to be spreading Spanish Influenza. Pretty good, well told story, not too fresh, but well worth reading. ***½
• 90 • A Plague of Ruins • novelette by Joe Schembrie
A group is studying a planet where civilization was destroyed for unknown reason a few millennia ago. Suddenly their technology starts to fail. Too bad there are a lot of extremely ferocious cat-like animals who just love to have nice snack every once a while. Good story, could have been even a bit longer, ends fairly easily, after all. ****-
• 110 • What Wise Men Seek • novelette by Mike Moscoe
Missionaries are trying to make contact to very strange aliens, whose customs are poorly understood, and who take any insult with bloody seriousness. As such I am heavily biased against missionary work, but this is after all fairly good story. Even a bit longer one could have been possible. ***½

My reading diary

I have kept a reading diary in Librarything since January this year. I am transferring it to blogger, as I want more variety and flexibility. I might also comment some movies, TV-series episodes and whatever comes to my mind.