Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1974

A pretty average issue, nothing especially bad, nothing especially good.

Hot Spot • novelette by Brenda Pearce
A trip to the day side of Mercury. A scientist is taking important measurements while the crew of the vehicle takes care of flying. There is some sight-seeing, and eventually a crisis situation. The writing is fairly nice but the plot offers nothing new and the main character comes across as irritating and whiny. ***-
The Time-Traveler • [Callahan] • novelette by Spider Robinson
A Callahan’s place story. A former missionary has been imprisoned for years in a Latin American dictatorship. After he finally has been released he is facing a severe future shock, and finds himself at the Callahan’s place. At first, he tries to rob the bar, but he soon joins the “society”. It's not exactly science fiction at all, and nothing really unusual happens. A good story, though. ***½
A Kind of Murder • [Teleportation] • shortstory by Larry Niven
A woman is found murdered in her ex-husband's home. He has a good alibi, but what good is an alibi in a world where instantaneous travel by matter transmission booths is the norm? It's a fairly good story but the solution of the murder mystery is mostly based on the intricacies of imaginary technology that the reader cannot be aware of. ***
Scholarly Correspondence • shortstory by Charles Eric Maine
A fairly stupid pseudo-scientific paper about ghosts and a few replies to it, which are written in pseudo-scientific language. A pretty insignificant story. **-

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling): Käen kutsu ( The Cuckoo's Calling)

The first part of a detective series which is written by J.K. Rowling using an alias. A pretty good book with very fascinating and interesting characters. The second book in the series is better, though.

Ensimmäinen osa J.K.Rowlingin salanimellä kirjoittamasta Cormoran Strike-kirjasarjasta, Sarja kertoo yksityisetsivänä toimivasta jalkapuolesta entisestä sotapoliisista. Toisen osan olin jo lukenut aikaisemmin ja nyt tämä ensimmäinen täytti mukavasti tästä kirjasta jääneitä pieniä juoniaukkoja ja täydensi mielikuvaa päähenkilöiden persoonallisuudesta ja taustatarinaa.
Cormoran tutkii rikkaan ja kauniin mallitytön kuolemaa. Poliisi piti kuolemaa itsemurhana, mutta tytön velipuoli haluaa että asiaa selvitetään tarkemmin. Hän alkaa tutkia tytön viimeisten päivien tapahtumia ja erikoisia sattumia näistä sitten löytyykin. Salapoliisityössä apuna hänellä on tilapäistyötä välittävästä yrityksestä lähetetty nuori nainen, joka juuri mennyt kihloihin. Nainen on aina salassa haaveillut salapoliisin työstä, ja huomaa että tuleva vakavammin otettava ja paremmin palkattu toimistotyö ei oikein tunnu houkuttelevalta, vaikku sulhanen kovasti paremmin palkatusta ja vakaamasta työpaikasta yrittää vihjailla. Yhteistyöllä asiat sitten vähitellen selviävät ja murhaaja on yllätys. (itse tosin oli vahvat epäilyt tekijästä jo aika pitkään, ainoa vain, että motiivi oli auki). Kirjasta huomasi jonkin verran, että Rowling yritti ylläpitää mielikuvaa siitä, että kirja on miehen kirjoittama. Sen verran usein vaatteiden läpi kuullottavat tai muuten vain vilahtelevat söpöt nännit kirjassa mainittiin. Toisessa osassa, jolloin kirjoittajan henkilöllisyyden salaisuus oli jo paljastunut, ei tätä niin paljoa tuntunut esiintyvän. Kirja oli oikein mainio, mutta ei ehkä aivan yhtä hyvä kuin sarjan toinen osa. Ehkä jonkin asteista pientä tiivistämistä olisi voinut tehdä. Päähenkilöt oli kuitenkin kuvattu erittäin hienosti, ja henkilökuvaus oli kirjan selvästi parasta antia. Seuraavaa, eli sarjan kolmatta osaa odottelen mielenkiinnolla.
463 s.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2016

A large double issue. Fairly average as such, but once more several stories which feel like just parts of a larger tale. That has been a common failing in Analog lately.

Wyatt Earp 2.0 • novella by Wil McCarthy
Wyat Earp is resurrected as a computer approximation which loaded to "printed" human body. He is supposed to help bring order to a Martian mining colony. He has some adjusting to do but eventually adjusts to future society. The writing is pretty good, but the concept is fairly ridiculous, even if it admittedly is entertaining and new. ***½
We Will Wake Among the Gods, Among the Stars • novelette by Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim
Apparently a planet has been colonized centuries (?) ago. Most of the settlements have lost the knowledge of developed technology and consider the remnants to be sacred gifts from the gods. An expedition is trying to find a mystical city, as to what happened to the earlier expedition, and especially what happened to the great amount of gold the expedition had brought with it for trading. They find what they were looking for, but it is not what they were expecting. A nice, well-written story but feels like a continuation of an earlier story and the background is too vague and the story isn't very original. ***-
Farmer • shortstory by Joe M. McDermott
A family of farmers produces organic food stocks. Apparently there are superbugs which are spread by food going around. One of their customers gets sick and they are facing a federal investigation and they might have something to hide. An average story with some irritating anti-GMO tendencies. ***-
Rocket Surgery • shortstory by Effie Seiberg
An intelligent and learning bomb turns out to be slightly too intelligent…A nice short story. ***+
Saving the World • shortstory by James E. Gunn [as by James Gunn ]
It turns out that reading science fiction alters the cognitive functions towards tolerance and creativity. Science has begun to be taught at schools and the world is saved. Ok story, I could have believed it before the rabid/sad puppies: if they read science fiction and are misogynist bigots, then apparently the science fiction doesn’t make people better. ***
The Persistence of Memory • shortstory by Rachel L. Bowden
Two nerdy young boys find a strange animal. Or do they? Nice writing, but not a lot of actual plot. ***-
Theories of Mind • shortstory by Conor Powers-Smith
A new recruit to the research base on a planet with really strange aliens runs into trouble on his first day. The concept of the alien’s language and thought patterns is very novel and interesting. On the other hand, the experienced leader of the research station should have been able to prevent the predicament in the first place. ***
Nature's Eldest Law • shortstory by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
An expedition is studying an extraterrestrial planet. They find strange plants which appear to simulate human thought processes, especially in decision making. One man isn't affected as strongly as others, as he has some dependency issues he is going through. But how is it possible that plants with such effects seem to appear so suddenly on an alien planet? A decent story, but far too short for all ideas. Once again, a little backstory is given, and the story ends when things become really interesting. ***
The Heat of Passion • novelette by Grey Rollins
A man is murdered. By chance, another man who is visiting his grandmother at an old people's home sees the murder. But there is a good reason why he can't contact the police. A pretty nice story in spite of some illogicalities. (If the genetic enhancements were so common among richer people, there would have been some powerful lobbying that the extreme persecution of the modified would never have happened). ***+
Woundings • shortstory by George Zebrowski
Men who live in space came down to stop coal fires used for energy, as that kind of pollution is apparently forbidden. The fire is used to power air conditioning of a library filled with original books no one can read anymore. More a philosophical discussion than a story. **½
The Shores of Being • novelette by Dave Creek
Continues an earlier series of stories where insectoid aliens with a hive mind have invaded Earth. Mike Christopher, who is an android, comes to examine an abandoned alien hive with a member of another alien species, a species that has also been invaded by the same enemy. They encounter some local militia men, who would like to keep the alien mound as a sacred place for those who died there. Ok story, not among the best of the series. Some of the attitudes of humans were more alien than most of the real aliens. ***
An Industrial Growth • novelette by David L. Clements
Feels like a second or third (or fourth) part of a series, but I am not aware of any previous installments. Earth has apparently been devastated by severe ecological catastrophes, and then by faulty nanotechnology, which was designed to overcome the first catastrophe. There is some sort of dangerous nanotech installation which should be destroyed. A group of people - two of them are people, who have mostly lived as computer uploads, go on the mission. The real humans blame them for the catastrophes as they did nothing to prevent them (that is not entirely logical at least from given scanty backstory). As such, a pretty decent story, but as there was no backstory it was hard to create any real emotional bond to any of the characters. If I don't know the world or the characters at all, why should I care about their mission or whether or not they survive? ***

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Eejit: A Tale of the Final Fall of Man by Andrew Hindle

This is the first book in seven or eight years I didn't finish. I got to 38%, I and feel really uncomfortable abandoning it, but it irritates the hell out of me every time I try to read it. Stupid characters have endless extremely rambling discussions which lead to nothing. The book is unreadable and boring as hell. Little happens, and what happens is stupid - and any book where a space ship which travels in interstellar space comes to "full stop" should be rewritten completely after the author has been taught some fundamentals of relativity of movement and I really wonder how the characters imagine they could be using a sextant to find where they are in middle of space. I wouldn’t be surprised, if the main characters were also defective clones - they were certainly idiotic enough.

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App. 119 pages read.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stephen King: 22.11.63

A Steven King book, one of the few I have read. A pretty nice read with descriptive writing style. The middle part might have needed some tightening, but not bad at all. I was expecting even grimmer ending.

Steven Kingin kirjoja en kovin montaa ole lukenut. Dark Tower-sarjan ensimmäisen kirjan luin jokin aika sitten, enkä ollut siitä ihan varauksettoman innostunut. Kun Elisa Kirjassa oli tarjous kirjailijan tuotannosta pikkurahalla, niin ajattelin vielä jotain kokeilla. Kohteeksi sattui tämä kirja “Kingin parhaat” -listojen lukemisen perusteella. (Ihan niitä parhaat arviot saaneita ei alessa ollut).

Jake, koulussa opettajana työtä tehnyt mies, on äskettäin eronnut vaimostaan. Hänen tuttavansa, hiukan nuhjuisen ja epäilyttävän halvalla pihvejä myyvän ravintolan omistaja, Al, vaikuttaa vanhentuneen silmissä. Hän väittää löytäneensä reitin menneisyyteen, vuoteen 1958 ja eläneensä siellä useita vuosia. Hänen tarkoituksenaan oli estää Kennedyn salamurha, mutta sairastuttuaan syöpään hän joutui palaamaan takaisin nykyaikaan. Hän oli halunnut odottaa lähemmäksi salamurhan päivää voidakseen olla varma siitä, että Oswald toimi yksin, mutta siihen hänellä ei sitten aikaa ollut. Nyt hän toivoo, että opettaja tekisi sen, mikä häneltä jäi kesken, eli estäisi Kennedyn murhan. (sinällään en ymmärrä, miksi Al ei vai suoraan tappanut Oswaldia - nykyaikaan paluun jälkeenhän olisi salaliiton olemassaolo automaattisesti selvinnyt.) Aikamatkailu toimii niin, että jokaisen matkan aikana tehdyt muutokset säilyvät, kunnes seuraavan kerran matkustaa menneisyyteen, jolloin tilanne “resetoituu”.. Joka tapauksessa Jake matkustaa pari kokeilun jälkeen menneisyyteen estääkseen salamurhan, joka Al:n arvion mukaan muutti kaiken huonompaan suuntaan. Sitkeyttä tarvitaan, sillä murhan tapahtumiseen on menneisyyteen saapumisajasta useita vuosia. Ja paljastuu, että aika ei pidä siitä, että tapahtumien kulkua yritetään muuttaa, vaan sattumat yrittävät estää asioiden muuttumisen. Aluksi aika pienet sattumat, mutta myöhemmin sattumat eivät enää ole pieniä eivätkä ihan tuskattomia.

Kirjan alku ja loppu olivat erittäin mukaansa tempaavia, kielellisesti teksti on erittäin luettavaa ja visuaalista – tapahtumat lähes näkee kuin elokuvaa katsoessa. Todennäköisesti tämä johtuu osittain TV-sarja tyyppisestä rytmistä jossa suvannot ja yllätykset sopivasti vuorottelevat toisiaan. Ongelmana kirjassa oli sen keskikohta, jossa elämää 50-luvulla kuvataan realistisen tuntuisesti ja kirjaimellisen realistisesti siinä mielessä, että muutamaan sataan sivuun tapahtui aika vähän. Tosin tämäkin oli kirjoitettu niin hyvin, että tapahtumattomuus ei hirveästi haitannut ja ihan mukava romanssijuoni siinä sivussa kehittyi. Kirjan loppu oli varsin tyly, tosin itse hiukan odottelin sen olevan vielä tylympi. Jonkinasteinen tiivistys olisi kyllä tehnyt hyvää, mutta kyllä sitä jonkin muunkin Kingin kirjan jossain vaiheessa voisi “pikaisesti” lukaista, taitavat kaikki olla suunnilleen tätä kokoluokkaa.

869 s.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Astounding Science Fiction, August 1959

Stories in this issue were fairly well written, but the attitudes were extremely strange from a modern viewpoint. By the way, I'll give away this issue. Ask for it in comments and I'll mail it to anywhere in Earth. If there are more than one asking for it after a week, the winner will be selected in random. (the copy in question is tattered – strictly a reading copy only)

The Aliens • novelette by Murray Leinster

A human spacecraft encounters an alien ship for the first time. The humans behave extremely paranoid and eventually fire torpedoes at another ship on the flimsiest of excuses. The aliens respond extremely violently—they deflect the torpedoes back to the human ship. The humans, at least, consider this a very violent and aggressive response....Luckily the self-destruct mechanism of the torpedoes still works. Somehow the two ships collide and fuse together. It turns out that the ship is built from brass and pure metallic sodium and potassium and it is inhabited by chlorine breathers. (Somehow that particular chemical combination doesn't sound most likely...) In spite of rampant paranoia and xenophobia among some of the human crew (apparently there is no psychological evaluation for members of the space navy), humans and aliens finally manage to work together. It is pretty strange when the aliens feel less alien than the humans...and I get the feeling that it wasn't meant to be like that. The writing was OK, but the attitudes were really, really strange. ***
Dead Giveaway • novelette by Randall Garrett
A man returns from a long journey. Several messages from his friend are waiting. The first few are pretty frantic and hint at a significant discovery, but the last one takes everything back, though not very convincingly. And the friend can't be reached. Is there some sort of fool’s play going on? A giant alien city which was found years before seems to be involved somehow; a city which was built for an unknown purpose. It was an overlong story, where the "payback" was pretty poor and everything was just explained as a lecture by the disappeared person, after he was not-so-surprisingly found. **½
The Outsiders • novelette by A. Bertram Chandler
The crew of a spaceship gets a salvage reward and decides to buy a spaceship for themselves. On the first voyage, one newly-drafted member of the crew is a drunkard, who is very afraid of going towards the less-explored regions. He hints that he has experienced something horrible there. Soon he drinks himself to death. The rest of the crew ponders whether they should try to find out what was so strange. They first decide against it, but years later, when there is a slow spell in the business, they still remember... It's a very long setup for a fairly small payoff. (The secret is an alien device that tests if visitors are psychologically worthy. If they pass the test, there is a technological bounty to be had.) The writing was OK for its time, but the story could have drastically shortened. ***
Familiar Pattern • novelette by A. Bertram Chandler [as by George Whitley ]
A ship on sea encounters a spaceship, which has landed on water for minor repairs. The captains befriend one another and start trading things. The aliens are willing to trade only luxury items; they won’t even talk about space drives or any serious scientific inventions. The aliens eventually establish a trading mission, but soon things go badly, when an alien church is looted for being far too open-minded (they preach that all earthly pleasures should be enjoyed as much as possible) and things go then very, very badly. It was an okay story, but the set-up is very slow and then the end comes very suddenly in a few paragraphs. ***+
Day of Succession • shortstory by Theodore L. Thomas
An alien spaceship lands. A general orders that as soon as the hatch on it is opened, all possible firepower is to be turned on it. The ship is completely destroyed. Then a second one lands and the same happens again. When the third ship lands, the president prevents the attack. Not so surprisingly the third ship attacks everything nearby - which naturally “proves” that the aliens were hostile to begin with. And as the president slightly hesitates at the launch of an all-out nuclear strike against the ship, (which would destroy a significant part of the country) the general must take leadership to his own hands. A jaw-droppingly strange story. Apparently it is meant as it is, not as parody or irony. **
A Matter of Proportion • shortstory by Anne Walker
A war is going on, apparently against aliens. During a mission a commander notices that one of his rookies is performing very well—in fact, suspiciously well. It turns out that he is a famous war hero, who was paralyzed in action. His brain was transplanted to a new body and now he was able to fight again. The rest of story is the soldier telling his story. A surprisingly dull and longwinded story. I had trouble finishing it and I retain no memories of it even though I tried to read it twice. It was a pretty bad story with not-so-good writing. **-

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Reijo Mäki - Siivellä eläjä (Reijo Mäen novellikirjailija Luusalmi)

A really rotten book, where a failed idiot author talks about stupidities with various people - mostly with his own delusions. Avoid at any cost. One of worst books I have ever read.

Wares- kirjojen sivuhenkilö novellikirjailija Luusalmi pääsee oman kirjansa kertojahahmoksi. Jostain käsittämättömästä syystä kustantaja on värvännyt hänet kirjoittamaan parisuhdekirjan.
Asia ei oikein etene pariin vuoteen, mutta mitäs siitä, pseudofilosofisia tyhjänpäiväisiä heittoja sentään voi raapustella.
Kuvittelin että kirja olisi ollut dekkari, vähän toisesta näkökulmasta kuin yleensä Wares kirjat ja odotin kirjalta aika paljon. Petyin pahasti. Kirja oli yhdenpäivästä turhaa lätinää, jossa varsin vastenmielinen minä-hahmo kävi typeriä keskusteluja eri ihmisten tyhjänpäiväisistä asioista, tosin paljolti kyseiset keskustelut tapahtuvat päähenkilön omien juoppohulluus harhojen kanssa. Ylivoimaisesti huonoin kirja mitä olen pitkään aikaan, ehkä muutamaan vuoteen lukenut. On typerää markkinoida tallaista kuonaa Vareksen ja tunnetun kirjailijan nimellä, tuli vastenmielisyys edes lukea Reijo Mäen kirjoja, vaikka niitä pari on hankittuna odottamassa. Tosin kirja laatu on niin surkea, että Reijo Mäen väitteet siitä, että kirjan on kirjoittanut joku muu vaikuttavat uskotavilta. Tosin ei kukaan täysijärkinen tätä kuonaa varmasti vapaaehtoisesti myöntäisikään tuottaneensa. Missään nimessä tätä ei kannata hankkia eikä edes ilmaiseksi lukea, elämä on liian lyhyt.

191 s.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The End of All Things (Old Man's War) by John Scalzi

This is the sixth part of an ongoing series. The earlier books have been fairly separate and have worked alone to at least some degree, but this continues the story pretty much from the last one and probably would be very confusing for a random reader. Humans have divided to two main factions: the colony worlds are ruled by a military colonial union, CU, and the Earth itself is governed by nation states more or less similar to today. The relations of the CU and Earth have gone very bad since apparently CU destroyed a space station in Earth’s orbit. At the same time, the Colonial Union is facing unrest on its’ own turf as several colonies are straining for independence. Also, a vast consortium of alien races, The Conclave, has gained influence and is trying to form a union of several different species, many of which have been bitter enemies and competitors. The relations between the Conclave and CU have never been very warm, but they are getting worse as they apparently attack each other’s ships. However, it turns out (or turned out in the last book) that there is a third group, a very secret organization called Equilibrium, with an unknown agenda that is working behind the scenes. At first, little is known about what its’ aims are, but by a fortuitous event, there is a chance to learn at least something. Is there time to prevent what Equilibrium is trying to do? Is it possible that former enemies are able to forget their differences and do the unthinkable – to trust each other?

It is a pretty good book, even better than the previous part.
There were a lot of shades of grey in most of the factions in the book– with the exception of the main villain, Equilibrium. Its’ motivations were left pretty unclear. It has always been refreshing to read military science fiction, where humans aren’t clearly the good guys, or at least not the only good guys. In this book and series, the single group with most identifiable agenda has been the alien Conclave, but now even the CU was less of a “bad guy” than in some of the earlier books. An enjoyable read and I am looking forward to next instalment – if there will be any. There weren’t any major cliffhangers left at the end of this book.

384 pp.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ursula K. Le Guin: Osattomien planeetta (The Dispossessed)

A good book even after over forty years. There are some problems, like the apparent lack of any social or technological change whatsoever in either of societies during two hundred years and some fairly caricature like characters. The writing was good and gradual “greying” of both societies from the initial idealized starting point was well done.

Edellisestä tämän kirjan liukukerrasta on kulunut varmastikin noin yli 30 vuotta. Muistikuvat olivat hyvästä, mutta paikoitellen hitaasta kirjasta. Jossain määrin muistikuvat pitivät paikkansa, tosin vähemmän hitaalta kirja vaikutti nyt kuin teininä. Toisaalta viat ja epäloogisuudet huomasi nyt selvemmin.
Urras on planeetta, jolla asuvat käytännössä täysin ihmisen kaltaiset asukkaat. (LeGuinin kirjoissa sama rotu on asuttanut tunnetut asuin kelpoiset planeetat kaukaisessa menneisyydessä, ja geneettisestä ajautumisesta huolimatta asukkaat ovat vielä hyvin toistensa kaltaisia). Noin kaksisataa vuotta sitten ryhmä anarkisteja perusti siirtokunnan Anarrekseen, Urraksen kuuhun. Siellä he ovat luoneet yhteiskunnan jossa ei ole lakeja, ei johtajia eikä omaisuutta. Yllättävästi systeemi toimii, tosin nälänhädät eivät huonon satovuoden sattuessa ole tuntemattomia, ja uusien, poikkeavien ajatuksien esittäjiä ei välttämättä aina kohdella erityisen hyvin ja suvaitsevasti. Urraksessa taas on vallalla lähinnä kapitalis-feodalistinen järjestelmä, ainakin siinä osassa mitä kirjassa nähdään. Muitakin valtioita planeetalla on erilaisine järjestelmineen, mukana nähtävästi myös perinteisemmin keskusjohtoisen totalitaarisen kommunismin tyylinen maa. Kirjan alussa Anarreksestä syntyisin oleva matemaatikko, joka on kehittänyt uusia, fysiikan perusteita järisyttäviä metodeja, matkustaa Urrakseen ensimmäisenä ihmisenä siirtokunnan perustamisen jälkeen. Päällisin puolin siellä on ylenpalttista kaikessa köyhään anarkistimaailmaan verrattuna, mutta vähitellen kääntöpuoli paljastuu. Lomittain Urraksen tapahtumien kanssa seurataan miehen aikaisempaa elämää Anarreksella ja kuvaillaan elämää anarkistisessa ”utopiassa”.
Kirja on erittäin hyvä, vaikka siinä joitain kummia puolia onkin. Osa henkilöistä on melkoisen karikatyyrimäisiä. Myös se, että kahteensataan vuoteen ei näytä kummallakaan planeetalla tapahtuneen käytännössä minkäänlaista yhteiskunnallista, teknologista tai sosiaalista kehitystä tai muutosta mihinkään suuntaan vaikuttaa enemmän kuin kummalliselta, normaalisti noin pitkän ajan kuluessa yhteiskunta kuin yhteiskunta muuttuu jo suuressa määrin. Luonnollisesti kirjan vastakkainasettelu ei olisi ollut yhtä vahva, jos asetelma olisi ollut vähemmän mustavalkoinen. Toisaalta mustavalkoisuus on aika kaukana kirjasta, vaan molempien maailmojen käsittelyssä löytyy runsaasti harmaan sävyjä, Urraksen luksuselämän takaa paljastuu sortoa, kun Anarreksen teoreettinen täydellinen yksilönvapaus ei aivan täyttä ja kaikkea koskevaa lopulta olekaan. Kirja on pysynyt varsin hyvin tuoreena, vaikka kirjoittamisesta on kulunut jo yli 40 vuotta, ja on Hugo-palkituista puolenvälin paremmalla puolella.

413 s.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 2015

A fairly nice issue, above average.

Builders of Leaf Houses • novella by Catherine Wells

A pair of humans are studying a kind of little known ”reservation” on an alien planet. After one of them breaks her leg, a young sentient alien takes them home as a “pet”. Her parent at first doesn’t even believe that the strange creatures are sentient, but slowly they are able to establish a connection. A pretty good story, but there is a lot going on, and even novella length might have been too short – or something, like the problems aliens were having, could have been left out. ***½
The Museum of Modern Warfare • shortstory by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A veteran of a bitter war who now serves as an ambassador visits an alien war memorial with unique qualities. It is rumoured that the exhibition is horribly offensive towards humans. Is it? A pretty good story which aims for emotions. ****-
Footprints in the Snow • shortstory by Bud Sparhawk
A lonely and fairly bitter male widow gets new neighbors: a family of refugee aliens. There is a fair share of resentment in the beginning, but slowly things change. A kind of science-fiction retelling of the Grand Torino movie. There are more than a few implausibilities and illogicalities, but the story aims more for emotion and succeeds pretty well. ***½
Paris, 1835 • shortstory by Bill Johnson
A time-travel story where a group time-travellers try to force history to a similar mold as their original timeline. It feels like a chapter from a larger story, and little backstory is given at first. The writing is ok, but is typical of so many Analog stories of late – it is just a fragment. **½
The Master's Voice • shortstory by Brendan DuBois
A young boy who lives in Mars has an initiation to adulthood. A story which is a sort of tribute to Heinlein and almost makes him a god-like figure. A pretty blatant story as such. Nothing really new. **+
A Case of Identity • novelette by Edward M. Lerner
An artificial intelligence gets a new, strange case. Another AI has disappeared after a row with his fiancée, an extremely rich heiress. The server the AI was living doesn’t show any activity. What has happened? Has the AI been murdered? There has been more than a little offence after the relation had become public. But how could the murder have happened? Or was it a suicide? A pretty nice story, but I guessed what was going on about half way. ***+

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Seppo Jokinen: Vihan sukua

Another police procedural from Tampere. This time it seems the terrorists have arrived to a smallish and peaceful town in the middle of Finland. A house beside the railroad was destroyed in a huge explosion and the train going past was derailed killing several people. The national security police takes over the investigation even when the local police starts to suspect that the reasons for events might be slightly less alarming, after all. A very good book, one of the best of the series.

Taas Komisario Koskinen kirja. Nyt mittakaava on suurempi kuin missään aikaisemmassa sarja kirjoista. Tampereella on tapahtunut terroriteko – tai ainakin siltä se näyttää. Junaradan viereinen talo on tuhoutunut räjähdyksessä täysin suistaen samalla raiteiltaan ohikulkeneen junan, jolloin useita matkustajia sai surmansa. Junassa matkusti kansanedustaja, jonka rasismin vastaiset mielipiteet olivat herättäneet Tampereella toimivan äärioikeistolaisen liikkeen vihan. Kun vielä naapuritalon asukkaat löytyvät kotoaan kurkku auki leikattuina, on Koskisella kaikkien aikojen tapaus selvitettävänä. Tai olisi, jos SuPo:n innokkaat tutkijat eivät olisi ottaneet vastuuta tekojen selvittelyistä – ja he ovat aivan varmoja, että taustalla on jokin suurempi suunnitelma. Mutta ovatko todella terroristit saapuneet Tampereelle? Vai onko takana kumminkin jotain muuta kuin suuri salaliitto ja järjestelmällinen terrorismi?
Kirja on paremmasta päästä sarjaa. Jännittävä ja paljon monenlaista ajateltavaa tarjoava teos. Oikeastaan ainoita heikkoja puolia oli se vanha poliisisarjojen klisee, jonka mukaan lähimmät johtajat ja/tai kilpailevan poliisiyksikön tutkijat ovat aina taitamattomia toopeja, jotka eivät käytännön poliisityöstä mitään tajua, vaikka kirjan loppupuolella pieniä käytännönjärjen liikkeitä näissäkin tahoissa on havaittavissa. Sen verran epäjärjestyksessä olen näitä lukenut, että poliisilaitoksen henkilökunnan yksityiselämän kaikissa koukeroissa on ollut vaikea pysyä mukana, mutta kyllä tärkeimmät kiemurat selviävät, vaikka jokin kirja olisi välistä lukematta jäänytkin.

340 s.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Andy Weir: Yksin Marsissa (The Martian)

An extremely entertaining survival tale about a man who was left behind on a Mars mission. A surprising fun and even funny book in spite of escalating emergencies.

Mars-retkikunta joutuu keskeyttämään tutkimusmatkansa jo alkuvaiheessa. Evakuoinnin aikana yksi astronauteista loukkaantuu ja koska hänen biomonitorointilaitteensa rikkoutuvat. Retkikunnan muut jäsenet olettavat että hän on kuollut ja pakenevat planeetalta. Kun mies myöhemmin tulee tajuihinsa, hän on yksinäisin ihminen maailmanhistoriassa, ainoana kokonaisella planeetalla. Mitä tehdä? Hänellä on käytössä retkikunnan varusteet melkein koskemattomina, mutta tulisi kulumaan vuosia ennen kuin avun saaminen olisi edes teoriassa mahdollista. Kunnon tiedemiehenä ja insinöörinä niin pitkään kuin on elämää, on mahdollista ainakin yrittää käyttää älykkyyttä, soveltamiskykyä ja tieteellistä koulutusta selviämisen pitkittämiseen. Kun saa lisää aikaa, saa lisää mahdollisuuksia kehittää ratkaisuja joilla saa lisää aikaa.
Kirja on kekseliäisyyden ja tieteellisen soveltamisen ylistystä – ja hyvin viihdyttävää sellaista. Paikoitellen tosin laskelmista tuli pientä yliannostusta, mutta minä-muotoinen yllättävän vitsikäs kerronta oli sen verran vangitsevaa, että tämä ei suuri ongelma ollut. Nopeasti luettava ja kiinnostava kirja, joka houkuttaa kirjasta tehdyn elokuvan menemään katsomaan. Suosittelen ehdottomasti, ainakin jos Mars-tutkimus ja Nasa yhtään tuntuvat kiinnostavilta. Virheitäkään en juuri huomannut, ainoa hiukan ärsyttävä oli väite siitä, että pakkanen tappaa bakteerit. Tämähän ei paikkaansa, jos pitäisi, niin pakastaminen olisi varsin kätevä keino ruuan steriloimiseen -mutta mitäs pienistä.

392 s.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2005

It is a pretty nice issue, above average. It contained mostly lighter stories.

Working on Borrowed Time • [Tom and Jeannie] • novelette by John G. Hemry
Some sort of contractor who travels in time and (usually) sets things right after other time travelers have changed something. Apparently, London was destroyed by an asteroid at the beginning of the century. That causes some not so slight changes in the time traveler’s present. He must go back in time and try to set things right. It is a pretty good story with a light writing style in spite of the subject matter (evil evils are trying to destroy London and the world). ****
This Little World • shortstory by Carl Frederick
In this story, a movie studio is using a space station for a movie shoot. They have built a miniature planet where they film ants with miniature cars. There are some far-fetched problems with locks and irritating characters with annoying banter which tries to be funny. It is a stupid story where the humor doesn’t work. **
The Policeman's Daughter • novella by Wil McCarthy
Matter transmission is commonplace. All travel is done by it and the same technology is used to create backups of people and even copies which perform duties the original doesn't have time for (the experiences can't be combined so the consciousness is essentially saved for both copies). A lawyer gets an unusual case. His school time friend has created a copy from an old backup, and that copy doesn't want to be assimilated as the personalities have grown too different. Do both of them have a right to live? It is a nice and inventive story. The protagonist makes a few stupid mistakes a person who is used to the technology in question should never have done, but it is a well written and enjoyable story. ****-
Improbable Times • [Bill, Greg and the Couch] • shortstory by E. Mark Mitchell
A man finds a living fish inside his suitcase instead of the presentation he was supposed to give. Then, things turn really weird – it is almost like reality is changing. This is a fun small story in the vein of Hitchhiker’s Guide and almost manages to work. ***+
NetPuppets • novelette by Richard A. Lovett and Mark Niemann-Ross
A couple of nerds stumble upon a very detailed computer simulation, which apparently simulates people in everyday life situations. They invent a couple with a streak of bad luck and then start to try reversing the situation. It turns out that the program is more complex - it finds actual people as close to expectations as possible and actually manipulates their lives. This is a very good story, well written. ***½
How Bears Survived the Change • shortstory by Uncle River
Aliens happen to take some bears and people for a joyride on their flying saucer and accidentally journey a few hundred years into the future where all larger animals and most of the people have died due to a stupid disaster. Now there are bears in the world again! This is a very stupid and badly written story. **-

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Friday, October 23, 2015

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

Nanotechnology is common and everything, including food is “printed” with matter compliers. They use “feed”, a sort of network for the raw materials and basis of created things. The feed pipes go everywhere much like the water pipes today. The society is based on “phyles” which could be called some sort tribes based on common culture, nationality or some other combining factor. The nations have apparently more or less disappeared.
Nanotechnological threats are common and the major cities have a sort of “immune system” to protect them from the worst of them.
The plot follows a young girl, who as a small child got a stolen copy of a book (or rather a computer with sophisticated teaching software), which is designed to raise children who are intelligent and ready to act when needed - and are not afraid to face adversaries. In the other chapters, the designer of the book and his attempts to get it back are followed. There are a few other subplots, too. And some of the events in the book happen in the fairytale-like fantasy world of the teaching book and some in the virtual reality.
The end result of many plot lines is a pretty confusing and hard to understand mess. There are some good and interesting parts, though.
Especially in the beginning there were a lot of expository descriptions of objects in everyday use, but mostly that was pretty unavoidable due to the strangeness of the world.
However, the beginning was better than the end of the book as it seemed to turn harder and harder read and follow when plots got more and more convoluted. The world itself was interesting and fascinating, but there were too many and too separate plotlines to follow.
This was the last of the Hugo-awards winners I hadn’t read, and it was clearly below average of the winners.
I am going to reread a few books I haven’t read in decades, and write some sort of wrap-up of all of them. Including a definite, almost official, ranking of all winners ever.
512 pp.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Haruki Murakami: Kafka rannalla (Kafka on the Shore)

A wonderful book, one of the best I have read. A fable like mystical tale with delightful characters which will stay in mind for a long time.

Kafka on 15-vuotias poika, joka karkaa kotoaan. Kafka ei oikeastaan ole hänen oikea nimensä, vaan hän on itse sen valinnut, koska halusi jättää taakseen vanhan nimensä lähtiessään kotoaan ja jättäessään taakseen vanhan elämänsä jonka haluaa unohtaa. Hänen isänsä on aina ollut etäinen, eikä ole oikeastaan ollut pojan elämässä läsnä koskaan. Kafka epäilee, että isältä tulee kestämään päiviä ennen kuin tämä edes huomaa pojan kadonneen. Kafkan äiti on lähtenyt kotoa jo vuosia sitten vieden adoptoidun isosiskon mukanaan. Kafkan yhtenä haaveena ja tavoitteena karkumatkallaan on löytää perheensä, tosin tavoite on vaikea kun hänellä ei äidistä ja isosiskosta ole kuin muutama hämärä muistikuva. Kafkan karkumatkan kanssa vuoroluvuin seurataan vanhaa miestä, joka on lapsena kummallisissa oloissa sairastunut ja parannuttuaan on menettänyt muistinsa. Hän on jäänyt heikkolahjaiseksi eikä enää koskaan oppinut uudelleen lukemaan, mutta sitä vastoin osaa puhua kissojen kanssa ja tienaa vähän ylimääräistä etsimällä karanneita kissoja. Näissä kahdessa tarinassa ei aluksi tunnu olevan mitään yhteistä, lukuun ottamatta pieniä aivan sattumankaltaisia yksittäiseen sanaan tai sattumaan pohjautuvia viittauksia. Vähitellen tarinat lähestyvät toisiaan enemmän ja enemmän ja tapahtumat muuttuvat kummallisemmiksi.
Kirjan tunnelma on koko ajan selittämätön, unen kaltainen, mutta se on kuitenkin selkeällä ja luettavalla kielellä kirjoitettu. Kaikki henkilöhahmot ovat koskettavasti ja persoonallisesti kuvattuja ja mieleen pitkäksi aikaa jääviä.
Kirjan voi luonnehtia olevan surrealistista realismia – ainakin jos sellaista näennäisesti mahdotonta kirjallisuuslajia ylipäätään voi olla olemassa, niin tämä kirja on sellaista. Kirja on täynnä viitteitä, joita kaikkia ei varmastikaan edes huomannut, mutta kirjallisuus, taide ja musiikki ovat antavat vahvan leimansa kaikkeen mitä tapahtuu. Myyteillä, sekä vanhoilla Kreikkalaisilla tarinoilla – etenkin Oidipus myytillä - sekä japanilaisella kansanperinteellä kaikilla on oma tärkeä osa kertomuksesta.
Kirjassa kaikki ei saanut selitystään, mutta kaikkea ei tarvitse selittää. Kirjailija on haastattelussa sanonut, että kirjan sisältää arvoituksia arvoituksien sisällä ja sen ymmärtäminen vaatisi useamman lukukerran. Harvoin luen kirjoja uudelleen nopealla aikataululla, mutta tämä voisi olla poikkeus. Loistava teos, kuuluu parhaimmistoon mitä olen koskaan lukenut. Menee helposti top 10 ikinä listalle.

639 s.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Seppo Jokinen: Viha on paha vieras

A police procedural from my home town. An entire block of flats seems to be targeted by someone. First one man is found strangled, later there is apparent trespassing in apartments and a poisoning. Who, how and why are all open questions. An easy to read and entertaining book.

Komisario Koskinen kirja. Tällä kertaa Mansen rikosetsivät selvittelevät kokonaisen kerrostalon vainoamista. Aluksi nuoren miehen kotiin ilmaantuu hirttosilmukka ja pian hänen naapurinsa löytyy hirteen ripustettuna. Poliisit toteavat lähes heti, että kyseessä ei ollut itsemurha vaan murha. Opiskelijatyttö epäilee, että hänen asunnossaan on käyty ja pian yksi asukas kiidätetään sairaalaan myrkytettynä. Missään lukossa ei näy tiirikoinnin jälkiä. Onko talon kimpussa vainoaja ja miten hän pääsee asuntoihin? Ja miksi aika tavallisen tuntuisen rakennuksen asukkaita näin ahdistellaan? Pikkuhiljaa salaisuudet sitten selviävät ja useammalla kuin yhdellä asukkaalla on jotain ainakin hiukan salattavaa taustassaan. Pääepäiltynä ehtii olla useampikin henkilö.
Aika realistisen tuntuisesti kuvatun poliisityön pohjalta syyllinen lopulta tietysti löytyy. Vetävästi kirjoitettu ja juoneltaan mukavan monipolvinen kirja, jossa päähenkilöiden kuvaus oli tuttuun tapaan hyvää, mutta osa sivuhenkilöistä oli ehkä hiukan karikatyyrimäisiä. Tuttuja ja taattua laatua kuitenkin, hyvää matkalukemista lentokoneessa ja –kentillä istuessa.

288 s.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gather in the Hall of the Planets by Barry N. Malzberg

An alien visits an almost-past-his-prime science fiction author and tells him that one of the visitors of the upcoming Worldcon is an alien in disguise. He is supposed to find out who the imposter is, or humanity is doomed as the aliens will then destroy humanity as unworthy. The alien is supposed to be someone he knows very well. Unfortunately, most people he meets at the Worldcon are pretty strange – but they are being their normal selves. How will it be possible to find the alien? Or since his career is nothing really spectacular, should he even bother? Why should he even care about humanity? A very cynical book with a cynical protagonist and cynical outlook towards fandom. The author seems to hate fandom and conventions and lets it show. On the other hand, the protagonist is clearly unstable and all events may only be figments of his imagination. A fairly short book, but could have been shorter – a novelette might have been the best length for this plot.

121 pp.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Robert Galbraith: Silkkiäistoukka (The Silkworm)

A detective novl which was written by J. K. Rowling with a pen name. A very good and smoothly running book – the writing was more adult and better that in the Potterverse. All characters were interesting with well-formed personalities. An enjoyable read.

J.K. Rowlingin salanimellä kirjoittama aika klassisen tyylinen dekkari. Kyseessä on toinen osa sarjasta. Ensimmäistä en ollut lukenut, mutta se ei juuri haitannut tarinaan sisään pääsemisessä. Afganistanissa jalkansa menettänyt sotaveteraani toimii yksityisetsivänä. Häntä avustaa tarmokas sihteeri, jolla on haaveita enemmästä kuin pelkästä sihteerinä olosta, vähintään avustavana etsivänä toimimisesta – ehkäpä ainakin tiedostamattomasti myös etsivästä itsestään – vaikka kihlautuminen poikaystävän kanssa on ihan tuore.

Hermostunut nainen palkkaa etsivän etsimään puolisonsa. Puoliso on kirjailija, joka kadonnut julkisuudesta kokonaan. Onko kyseessä julkisuustemppu ennen uuden kirjan julkaisua vai onko kyse jostain muusta? Pian paljastuu, että uusi tulossa oleva kirja on aiheuttamassa skandaalin, sillä siinä pilkataan armotta käytännössä kaikkia kirjailijan ystäviä ja muita kirjamaailmaan liittyviä henkilöitä. Ja sitten kirjailija löytyy kuolleena, erittäin kuolleena. Kuka ärtyi käsikirjoituksesta niin pahasti?
Erittäin hyvä ja hyvin kirjoitettu dekkari, jossa oikeastaan kaikki henkilöhahmot olivat persoonallisia ja kiinnostavia, kaikilla oli oma historiansa ja oma luonteensa sopivilla harmaan sävyillä. Toiminta on vetävää, paikoitellen yllättävänkin rajuja piirteitä omaavaa tällaiseen tyylillisesti aika klassiseen dekkariin. Rowling tuntuu kyllä osaavan kirjoittaa muutakin kuin nuortenfantasiaa – tämä on paremmin ja sujuvammin ja selkeästi aikuisemmalla kielellä kirjoitettu kuin Harry Potterit. Oikein viihdyttävä ja suositeltava kirja.

459 s.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2015

A pretty nice issue for a change.

Season of the Ants in a Timeless Land • novelette by Frank Wu
Ants are behaving strangely in Australia. They are forming large swarms with several species working together in an unprecedented manner. A pair of scientists are studying them and trying to defeat the apparent threat. The ants travel to autonomous areas governed by aborigines. There they start to build something. The story starts pretty well, but seems to decay towards the end. It is too hurried and eventually very implausible. The romance parts felt pretty awkward, but the participants were awkward people. ***½
Exit Interview • shortstory by Timons Esaias
An insurgent of some sort is kept in a super-secure prison in solitary confinement. One day the prison's automatic systems say that he should be ready for his exit interview. That sounds slightly ominous. Then the cell door unlocks. A pretty good and even haunting story. ***½
Baby Steps • shortstory by Lettie Prell
A recently deceased woman is being uploaded to a computer. There seems to be some trouble and a higher level of technician must get involved. After a fair amount of work, everything seems to be going smoothly, but…A short, pretty open ended story. ***
The Story of Daro and the Arbolita • shortstory by Shane Halbach
A man on an alien planet must go to trial, when he inadvertently destroys some trees, which are considered holy. The trial involves some stories. A very short, ok story, the writing as such was ok but the plot might have benefitted from a few more details. ***-
Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth • shortstory by Ken Brady
A BASE jumper jumps from a tall building. The building AI stops him midair as it is designed to prevent suicides. (By the way - you don't "feel the acceleration" when you jump from a building, that is by definition free fall.) They have a nice discussion about life and its meaning. Short, but pretty good story. ***+
Evangelist • shortstory by Adam-Troy Castro
Man who has had a lot of problems in his life lately seeks help from a missionary run by an alien species. They promise that he will be fed, no strings attached. But if he wants, he could help the aliens in their religion. He could just get a little brain stimulator which would create actual, real religious ecstasy for the alien god. A tempting offer... A pretty good story. ***½

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2004

A pretty good issue with nice stories.

The Ghost Within • novelette by Rajnar Vajra
A private detective is hired to find out if “a ghost” in a virtual reality really is a ghost or some sort of computer glitch or something. That is found out by uploading to the computer. The strange thing turns out to be something…something potentially very dangerous. The “problem” solves itself far too easily, otherwise a pretty nice story. ***+
Gun Control • shortstory by Edward Muller
A junior diplomat has some problems with an intelligent gun and a proud tribe of aboriginal warriors. There is a lot of backstory which just implied and the story feels like it were a part of a series. It works fairly well, though. ***+
The Strange Redemption of Sister Mary Ann • shortstory by Mike Moscoe
A woman is dying from cancer in a nunnery. The souls of children she miscarried start to speak to her. The writing as such is pretty good (vastly, VASTLY better that those over-religious stories which were nominated for Hugo this year) but I don’t really accept the ideology presented in the story – as I don’t believe in souls, especially not in souls which inhabit embryos at conception. ***+
Extra Innings • shortstory by Robert Scherrer
A man and his friend play an extremely detailed baseball simulation game. It is very slow to play, and they don’t finish even one season as children. But life turns out to be very long and there are chances to return to game at some point during the next few billion years. A well written and nice story. ***+
Paparazzi of Dreams • novelette by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A detective is working undercover. He is trying to find out if the dream recorders infringe copyrights. It is apparently possible to capture people’s dreams even from pretty far. Especially the celebrity dreams may be very valuable, but it is still in the grey zone actually owns the copyright to the dreams. The most famous male actor of (almost) all times seems to have a recurring dream of a murder. He used to live pretty crazy life as a young man. But did he commit a murder? Is it possibly to find out who was the girl in the dream? Should the dream even be used in such way? An excellent story in spite of some plausibility issue. ****

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1955

A pretty average or below average issue. Sheckley’s story was pretty fun.

The Necessary Thing • [AAA Ace] • shortstory by Robert Sheckley
Interplanetary decontamination service has acquired a new tool, which is going to save them a vast amount of money: a replicator which produces a copy of everything which is asked. No more buying things and carrying them around in expensive storing space! How convenient! Until they notice that the machine is able produce only ONE piece of everything. No repeats! Soon their food choices start to be fairly limited and very exotic. And the need of spare parts is getting severe. Fun and well-written story, even after 60 years. ****
The Princess and the Physicist • novelette by Evelyn E. Smith
A some kind of elected god with some sort of apparently supernatural powers takes care of a planet. Earthmen "guard" the planet in more or less colonialist way, but don't believe in the god of the planet. Some scientists come to study the native customs and supposedly powerful god, though. A pretty talky, disjointed and badly overlong story. **½
Picture Bride • shortstory by William Morrison
A young man falls in love with a girl from future. The story is seen from the viewpoint of a little brother. Very short and simple, more of an outline of an actual story. ***-
Grandy Devil • shortstory by Frederik Pohl
A family of immortals has some disagreements. The story is written in a light vein. Is very short and not very special or impressive. ***-
Inside Story • novelette by Richard Wilson
A newspaper man decides to make a scoop and goes to a colony where people with a severe communicable disease live. The sickness seems pretty strange as on the other hand it is described as something which is easily transferable, but on the other hand it described as something which is mostly due to laziness. The newspaper man has a new totally invisible and totally impenetrable shield against all disease. There are some strange lights floating around the "leper" colony, and it turns out that an alien attack is going on. A pretty stupid story with a fairly convoluted and hard to believe plot with average writing for its' time period. ***-

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

The last part of the Mars series. This book span a much larger length of time than the former ones. The terraforming of Mars is advancing. After initial discussions if it should go on or not – there is a sizeable minority who would like to preserve the natural Mars – the terraforming advances slowly until people and animals are able to live on the surface. At the same time, the ecological catastrophe on Earth is advancing and great numbers of immigrants want to move to Mars. Most of the Martians aren’t too happy about that, and partly to relieve that pressure they start to build asteroid cities and even terraforming of Venus is talked about. And the first starships with the intention of interstellar colonization are constructed.
The beginning of the book contained long discussion about political choices the Martians were facing. Some of that was even interesting. Towards the end, the book turned fragmentary and it was pretty hard and slow reading at places. The tendency of sightseeing was almost the same as in the previous instalments. There were several trips which apparently were done only to show the reader what different places look like. Well, the visit to Earth was actual interesting and it was perhaps one of the best parts of the book. This is probably my least favorite part of the series. The first third of this book was pretty good, possibly best of the series, but then everything went downhill and last parts were more or less struggle to get through. The world itself was extremely built with great detail (perhaps too great), but there might have been slightly more action. There has been talk about a miniseries based on these books – that would be something I would like to see, probably the events will be condensed in it for appropriate degree. As a whole interesting and well-written series, but probably this was below average among the Hugo winners.
And now I have just one novel to go before I have read all of them.

800 pp.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, October 2015

This is an average issue. There are a few ok stories, but, once again, at least one story feels just like a segment.

Stonebrood • novelette by Alec Nevala-Lee
A firefighter is trying to put out a long-lasting coal mine fire. He starts to get a strange feeling and eventually flashbacks from his childhood. He apparently had some very "interesting” experiences as a child. This is not exactly science fiction, aside from some nice bee-like semi-autonomous drones, but it is a well written and nice story nonetheless. ***+
The Daughters of John Demetrius • shortstory by Joe Pitkin
A man travels from village to village teaching elementary agricultural procedures. He encounters a strange girl and tries to help her - or something. This is very hard to get into. It feels just like a slightly condensed chapter ripped randomly from a book. Everything felt pretty cursory, and it was very hard to understand what was going on and why. **-
Butterflies on Barbed Wire • shortstory by Marie Vibbert
Romance in a tattoo shop. A new type of tattoos with unusual technology have arrived, and there is some drama between a son of the owner and a female tattoo artist. This was a bit short and not very interesting. I really hate tattoos, and I think that only people with a herd mentality take them. **½
The Philistine • shortstory by Ted White
An artist cleans up classic paintings before they are copied with a new 3D-copier, which makes perfect recordings of objects (and utterly destroys them in the process). He cleans up and restores the paintings before they are copied and destroyed. (I wonder why they had to be cleaned. If the copies are "perfect", the cleaning would be easier afterwards, when it would be safer to use a wider variety of techniques. He gets an offer which is hard to refuse: a LOT of money for copying the information of a couple of pieces of art. This is not bad, but nothing really special. ***
My Father's Crab • shortstory by Bruce McAllister
As young man protagonist's father is bitten by a strange crab, he fells sick. Sometimes something almost seems to be moving under his skin. This is a nice story, but not unusual. However, it is well written, and it could have been longer. ***+

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kaikki Finlandia-palkinnon voittajat paremmuusjärjestyksessä

(Listing of Finlandia award winners I have read, probably no interest to those who can't read Finnish)

Olen nyt lukenut kaikki Finlandia-palkinnon tällä vuosituhannella voittaneet kirjat. Vanhemmista näköjään on tullut luettua vain kaksi, mutta hitaasti ehkä ne loputkin jossain vaiheessa seuraavan noin 15 vuoden kuluessa luen. Tämä on täysin riippumaton ja täsmällinen ja täysin paikkansa pitävä paremmuusjärjestys lukemistani voittajista. Ainakin minun mielestäni, jollain muulla saattaa olla toisenlainen järjestys.

1. 2008 Sofi Oksanen Puhdistus
2. 2000 Johanna Sinisalo Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi
– kaksi parasta oli mielestäni täysin selvä. Molemmat kirjoja jotka ovat tehneet syvän vaikutuksen ja ovat niin selvästi ”viiden tähden” kirjoja, että harvoin tapaa. Kirjojen keskinäisen järjestyksen päättäminen ei ollut helppo, mutta ehkä kuitenkin näin päin tuntuu oikeammalta.

3. 2012 Ulla-Lena Lundberg Is (Jää)
– niukasti kärkikaksikon perässä. Tämäkin kerrassaan hieno kirja, vaikka masentava onkin.

4. 2014 Jussi Valtonen He eivät tiedä mitä tekevät
– myös todella hyvä, pieni jaarittelevuus laskee jonkin verran pisteitä.

5. 2002 Kari Hotakainen Juoksuhaudantie
6. 2006 Kjell Westö Där vi en gång gått(Missä kuljimme kerran)
– itseasiassa vaihdoin näiden kahden järjestystä ihan viime hetkellä. Molemmat ovat loistavia romaaneja, Juoksuhaudantie on ehkä kuitenkin jämäkämpi ja parempi kun Missä kuljimme kerran, joka olisi saattanut hyötyä pienestä tiivistämisestä.

7. 2007 Hannu Väisänen Toiset kengät
8. 2001 Hannu Raittila Canal Grande
– nämä ovat myös osapuilleen samaa tasoa ja keskinäinen järjestys voisi olla toinenkin.

9. 2004 Helena Sinervo Runoilijan talossa
– hyvin lähellä kahta edellistä. Jotkin henkilöhahmot olivat sen verran ärsyttäviä, että sijoitus putosi tälle tasolle.

9.5 Laura Lindstedt Oneiron (lisätty jälkikäteen)
- hyvä kirja, mutta ei ole huipun tasoa.

10. 2009 Antti Hyry Uuni
11. 1994 Eeva Joenpelto Tuomari Müller, hieno mies
12. 2011 Rosa Liksom Hytti nro 6
– tässä vaiheessa taso alkaa vähän laskea. Nämä ovat edelleenkin hyvin kirjoitettuja ja kiinnostavia kirjoja, mutta selvästi vähemmän minun makuni kuin listalla aikaisemmin olevat. Uuni on kirja, joka on kummallisen luettava kirjaksi, jossa ei oikeastaan tapahdu yhtään mitään.

12.5 2016 Jukka Viikilä: Akvarelleja Engelin kaupungista
Kaunista kieltä, hienoja ajatuksia, mutta juoni jäänyt oikeastaan kirjoittamatta. Siksi näinkin matala sijoitus.

13. 2003 Pirkko Saisio Punainen erokirja
14. 2005 Bo Carpelan Berg (Kesän varjot)
– nämä kaksi kuuluvat yhteen. Molemmat ovat kielellisesti aika samankaltaisia, oikeastaan enemmän runoutta kuin proosaa. Myös vaihtelevat aikatasot ja tilinteko menneisyyden kanssa on molemmille ominainen piirre. Saision kirja oli mielestäni näistä kahdesta se parempi, mutta ei Carpelanin huono ollut. Eivät ihan minun makuuni, koska olen enemmän juonipohjaisesta kirjallisuudesta pitävä, mutta eivät missään nimessä huonoja.

14.5 (täydennetty myöhemmin) 1999 Kristina Carlson: Maan ääreen
- sujuva, mutta jotenkin jossain määrin tyhjänpäiväinen teos, jossa kiinnostava tapahtumapaikka ei näkynyt oikein mitenkään.

15. 1995 Hannu Mäkelä Mestari
16. 2013 Riikka Pelo Jokapäiväinen elämämme
– nyt aletaan sitten menemään jo kärsimyskirjallisuuden puolella. Molemmat ovat samankaltaisia ylivuotavassa tajunnanvirtaisuudessaan. Aikamoisia koettelemuksia luettavaksi ja PAKSUJA. Pelon kirjan laitoin huonommaksi päähenkilöiden vuoksi, jotka ilmeisesti oli tarkoitettu ihailtaviksi ja samaistumisen kohteiksi, mutta olivat ärsyttäviä ja joutivat gulakille jos joku.

17. 2010 Mikko Rimminen Nenäpäivä
– vi**u mitä paskaa. Ihan ylivoimainen viimeinen tila. Väliä on noihin kahteen edelliseen aika reilusti. Ärsyttävällä kielellä kirjoitettuja äärimmäisen ärsyttävän ja tyhmän henkilön näkökulmasta kuvattuja epäuskottavia tapahtumia. Yksi huonoimmista lukukokemuksista ikinä. No ainakin onnistuu tunteita herättämään.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Seppo Jokinen: Koskinen ja raadonsyöjä

A police procedural which happens on my home town. A computer wizard of a large paper factory has been killed. Many people seem to have some sort of motive, but none one good enough for a murder. The case is solved by good old fashionable police work. An enjoyable and fast read.

Komisario Koskisesta kertovan sarjan alkupään kirjoja.
Paperitehtaan tietokoneosastolta löytyy murhattu mies. Häntä on isketty jollakin takaraivoon, mutta murha-asetta murhaajasta puhumattakaan ei löydy mistään. Jonkinlainen motiivi murhan tekemiseen näyttää olleen aika monella osaston työntekijöistä, mutta harvalla sellainen, että sen vuoksi ketään tappaa olisi kannattanut. Ja parhaalla ehdokkaalla – sillä kenen avainkortti sattumalta katosi juuri sinä päivänä on täydelliseltä vaikuttava alibi. Tutkimukset tuntuvat alussa pyörivän tyhjäkäynnillä, mutta vähitellen juttu alkaa ratketa.
Kirja oli mukaansatempaava, sujuvasti kirjoitettu ja juoni oli kiinnostava, etenkin paikallisuus huomioiden. Komisarion yksityiselämää oli mukana sopivasti, tosin kun aika monta kirjaa on sarjasta lukematta, eivät kaikki suhdekiemurat on aivan selkeiltä tuntuneet. Muutama pieni puute logiikassa kirjasta löytyi; ihmettelen että ylimääräisistä rahoista puhunutta henkilöä ei nopeammin otettu poliisin haastateltavaksi. Kiristys rahojen saamisen motiivina oli ilmiselvää, mutta poliisille tämä ei nähtävästi mieleen juolahtanut ainakaan kovin nopeasti. Sinällään tarina lopulta ratkesi järkevän tuntuisen poliisityön avulla, eikä kyse ollut mistään typerästä sattumasta, joka joskus vastaavissa kirjoissa on ratkaisun avaimena. Viihdyttävä teos ja samaa sarjaa varmasti pitää jatkossakin välipaloina aina välillä lukea.

288 s.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress) (Volume 1) by Annie Bellet

Not one of the most common books for me: Urban Fantasy which was apparently mostly aimed for women. I read it as the author was one of those laudable persons, who refrained from a Hugo nomination they got through one or another of the puppy lover's lists.
Jade Crow is a warlock, who is hiding from her former lover. He is a really, really bad guy, who would not love anything more than to eat his former lover’s heart. Jade owns a small comic and game store and has a wide assortment of friends – most of them very geeky. One day a very handsome magical enforcer arrives at the shop. He is a police, judge, jury and executioner of the supernatural world all rolled into one person. He has a premonition that something bad and important is going to happen. And Jade is closely connected to whatever is going to happen. And he has strong suspicions that Jade is going to do something bad. But luckily he is very, very hot. And then a shape shaping mother of some of Jade’s friends has apparently transformed to a stuffed fox. And something magical seems to be happening. They start to investigate what has happened and the cop is able to help. And did I mention that he is incredibly hot?
An interesting read in more ways than one. I certainly haven't ever read any of these types of books: erotic fantasy daydreams meant for female nerds. I don’t belong to the target audience, but the book was light, fun, and geeky with nice pop culture references and enjoyable, even with all the very detailed descriptions of those wonderful abs. Very short, maybe even too short a book. But there are more books in this series...

148 pp.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gillian Flynn: Paha paikka

Very fast moving and readable thriller. Practically all characters were irritating and unpleasant and were supposed to be like that. A good book, but some slight tightening might have made it even better.

Pidin saman kirjailijan Kiltti tyttö- kirjasta ja kun tämä kirja sattui vastaan niin pitihän se lukea – eikä se ollut huono, vaikutti ehkä jopa hiukan paremmalta kuin Kiltti Tyttö.
Libby Dayn perhe murhattiin kun hän oli seitsemän. Hänen veljensä tuomittiin elinkautiseen vankeuteen teoista, pitkälti Libbyn todistuksen perusteella. Tapahtumasta on kulunut 25 vuotta ja Libbyn aikoinaan lahjoituksina saamat rahat alkavat olla lopussa. Häneen ottaa yhteyttä erikoisia murhatapauksia harrastava ryhmä, joka tarjoaa rahaa siitä, että Libby alkaa selvittää neljännesvuosisadan takaisia tapahtumia. Pahassa rahapulassa Libby suostuu ehdotukseen. Vuorotahtia näiden nykyaikaan sijoittuvien tapahtumien kanssa kirjassa kuvataan murhia edeltäneitä tapahtumia neljännesvuosisata sitten. Oikeat tapahtumat ja Libbyn selvitystyö lomittuvat sopivasti toisiinsa. Vähitellen salaisuudet paljastuvat ja niitä onkin enemmän mitä Libby saattoi ajatella.
Tässäkin kirjassa oikeastaan kaikki henkilöhahmot olivat ainakin jossain määrin epämiellyttäviä. Toisaalta kirjan alun kuvaus pahasti mieleltään järkkyneestä naisesta, joka ei itse tunnista käytännössä lainkaan oireitaan on varsin hienoa ja muutenkin hahmot ovat hyvin kuvattuja ja onnistuneita – ärsyttävyys on täysin tarkoituksellista. Myös päähenkilön vähittäinen toipuminen asioiden selvitessä on mielestäni hyvin kuvattua ja hänen ärsyttävyytensä vähenee huomattavasti kirjan kuluessa. Juonellisesti ja kielellisesti kirja on varsin hyvä, ehkä pieni tiivistäminen puolestavälistä olisi ollut paikallaan. Yksi asia kyllä hiukan ihmetyttää: mitä Gillian Flynnillä on psykologeja vastaan? Kiltissä tytössä psykologivanhemmat olivat kasvattaneet tyttärensä hieman omituisesti; tässä kirjassa psykologit manipuloivat lapsille valemuistoja. Ja toinen asia: aika synkkiä naishahmoja näissä kirjoissa on – harvoin samanlaisia missään kirjallisuudessa on vastaan tullut.

381 s.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2004

Serial takes some space. Average or even above average issue.

Trophies and Treasures • novelette by Jerry Oltion and Amy Axt Hanson

A Martian aristocrat takes part in a camel race (with breathing apparatus on camels). They ran into trouble and meet some nomads who first steal their camels and later help them to win the race. A humorous story which does cause a few chuckles even if the characters are so one dimensional and caricatures. ***
The First Martian • shortstory by Joe Schembrie
A man who usually almost fails at everything is selected to be the first man on Mars from thousands of nominees. The mission is funded most by pay TV watchers. After several mishaps, he makes it and is able to establish a base until the real explorer arrives. Another amusing story about a marginally competent astronaut who is good for ratings. ***+
Viewschool • novelette by Rajnar Vajra
A school teacher teaches a special class, a "last change" project for pupils who haven't been able to cope in normal school. The teaching happens by an extremely advanced virtual reality system which interfaces directly with the brain. The beginning of the story is very good, but then the story goes pretty mundane where the teacher is trying to stop the suicide of one of his students. The premise was fine and interesting, but it was underused. A pretty nice story anyway. ***½
Unbound • shortstory by Dave Creek
A soldier is threatened by court martial after the risks he took to save his girlfriend. He is given a hard choice. Too short, not very believable. The writing is fine and the story was successfully agonizing, so it worked in spite of its faults. ***

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bo Carpelan: Kesän varjot

The winner of the Finlandia award in the year 2005. Very poetically written book which is based more on the feelings than on the plot. It tells about an old man who comes for the last time to see a farm he spent summers at wartime. Beautiful slightly bittersweet language, which worked fairly well. Personally I like more books which are based on plot, but this wasn’t bad at all. Below average of the awards winners for me, though.

Ilmestymisvuotenaan Finlandia-palkinnon voittanut kirja. Ikääntynyt mies palaa lapsuutensa kotiin viimeistä kertaa. Kirjassa lomittuvat aika saumattomasti nykyhetki ja vanhojen ystävien ja sukulaisten tapaaminen vuosien tauon jälkeen sekä haikeat ja ajoittain hiukan katkeratkin muistot sotavuosien lapsuudesta, joissa lapsuuden viattomuus, kesän kauneus ja aikuisten – ja lapsienkin - sodasta aiheutuva ahdistus poimuttuvat toisiinsa. Kirja pohjautuu selvästi enemmän tunnelmaan kuin juoneen, ja se on kirjoitettu hyvin runollisella ja kauniilla kielellä, paikoitellen teksti muistuttaa enemmän runoutta kuin proosaa. Itse olen enemmän juonipohjaisen kirjallisuuden ystävä, mutta tämän kirjan kielellinen nautittavuus, joka aika hyvin käännöksestäkin pääsi lävitse osittain paikkasi aika vähäisen juonen aiheuttamaa haittaa. Kuitenkin, jää omalla asteikollani Finlandia-voittajissa keskitason alapuolelle. Tämän kirjan myötä olen lukenut jokaisen Finlandia-voittajan vuoden 2000 jälkeen + muutaman edellisellä vuosituhannella julkaistun. Todennäköisesti tulen kirjoittamaan niistä jonkinlaisen yhteenvedon kunhan ehdin.

201 s.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1955

A pretty average or slightly above average stories for the time.

The Dreaming Wall • novelette by Gerald Pearce
The first man who has been evaluating new archeological findings on an unexplored planet has killed himself. For some strange reason it is customary that the first evaluation is done by one man. Now two men are trying to find out what happened. And then the dreams start... A pretty simple story which is badly overlong especially considering pretty lackluster payoff. A lot of space is used on discussions about psychological ratings. Every member of the space corps has a rating, and that is apparently public knowledge. The men spend a lot of time discussing those ratings and whose has gone down or up. ***
The Aggravation of Elmer • shortstory by Robert Arthur
A child genius has invented some extraordinarily inventions- it doesn't end well. A short and pretty stupid. **
The Middle of Nowhere • shortstory by Frederik Pohl
Humans have a few colonies on Mars. Martians wage a kind of guerrilla style war. The word comes that another town has been attacked. The main colony must send a rescue effort, but time is running out. Should they use the sandcars, which usually are attacked by the Martians? A readable story, but I was rooting for Martians who were fighting for their world and not for fairly stupid humans - I don't believe I was supposed to do that. ***
Sam, This Is You • novelette by Murray Leinster
A telephone repairman gets a call from his future self. He wishes to get rich, but he and his girlfriend seem to be morons without a slightest grasp of time. A light, but overlong, story with irritating and extremely childish characters who behave in baffling manner. ( for example, for the girl the fact that she once got a bug inside her dress is a huge secret and she gets very angry when her boyfriend’s future self knows about that. Really?)***
Competition • shortstory by James Causey
Explorers go to find out why a colony on a new planet failed. It seems everyone is dead after internal fighting. They start their studies, but don’t find any pathogens. They continue as it is imperative that there would be a new place for those who live in the overcrowded Earth. But somehow games start to take more and more of their times – but some members of the expedition seem to be cheating, which cause more and discord. And eventually fighting. And murders. The story is told as a diary, which makes the fairly worn idea work at some level. The writing wasn’t the best, though. ***-
A Woman's Place • novelette by Mark Clifton
A woman is travelling back to earth on a spaceship. The warp engine malfunctions and they end on an alternate earth with no human habitation. The men try to work towards returning home while the woman starts to prepare for living on the planet. She starts to plan for future generations, also. (and collects wild maize and tomatoes - both plants with no wild forms which would have anything to do with cultivated breeds) But they are able to return. The woman is dying from embarrassment as she already made a certain proposition to the men. It is SO horrible, what they must think! Luckily, she is able to explain that as a result of sickness, so everything is alright. But now she knows what the real purpose of women is! To bear as many children as possible at a new world! Pretty quaint little story. So dated it is pretty funny. The writing is fairly nice, as can be expected of Mark Clifton. ***

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Terry Pratchett: Carpe jugulum

A Discworld novel. I haven’t read these for a long time. I have enjoyed the books with Death, but this was too confusing – probably mostly because I wasn’t familiar with the characters. There were some good jokes and some nice wordplay, but this book was a disappointment.

En ole Terry Pratchettejä pitkän aikaa lukenut. Tämä sattui kirjakaupan poistomyynnissä eteen yhden (1) euron hinnalla, joten piti kerätä talteen. Vampyyrit ovat vallanneet paikallisen linnan. Ja nämä vampyyrit ovat uudenaikaisia, eivätkä usko vanhoihin taikauskoisiin höpötyksiin valkosipulin, auringonvalon tai uskonnollisten symbolien haitallisesta vaikutuksesta. Ja he ovat kohteliaita, eivät odota kuin täyttä tottelevaisuutta (joka tietenkin mielenhallinnan avulla on automaattisesti selvää) ja silloin tällöin jonkun veren imettäväksi. Mutta onneksi noidat pystyvät vastustamaan vampyyrien lumoa.
Kirja oli jonkinasteinen pettymys. Pratchetin Discworld-kirjoista eniten olen pitänyt Kuolema-sarjasta ja niidenkin lukemisesta on kulunut vuosia. En ole muita Noita-sarjaa kuuluvia teoksia tainnut lukea, sivuhenkilöinähän noidat ovat muissa, lukemissanikin, kirjoissa esiintyneet. Ehkä johtuen siitä, että hahmoja en kovin hyvin tuntenut, kirja vaikutti kovin sekavalta ja paikoitellen liian tajunnanvirtaiselta. Yksittäisiä varsin hauskoja heittoja kyllä löytyi, mutta kokonaisuus ei tehnyt suurta vaikutelmaa.
343 s.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Liza Marklund: Elinkautinen (Lifetime)

Annika Bengtzon is a criminal reporter in a Swedish tabloid. This book continues the story straight from the previous one. Her house has burned down, she has separated from her husband and everything seems to be shaken down. She is suspected from arson, as at first there doesn’t seem to any other way the fire might have started. Being a suspect draws her to examine a case where a policewoman is suspected of killing her husband and child. She was found behind a locked door in a very distraught mental state with a gun and a dead husband. Certainly she did it, didn’t she? Very smoothly written book, which was easy and fast to read. Plot had a few holes, but I didn’t notice them while I was reading. At least Annika found the culprit by real work and not by a freak accident like in some books of the series.

Kesän myötä pitää lukea kesädekkareita muutama. Aika pitkään aikaan en ollutkaan lukenut, johtuen lähinnä siitä, että sarjan seuraavaa kirjaa ei ollut sattunut vastaan soivasti tulemaan.
Kirja jatkuu aika suoraan siitä, mihin edellinen loppui. Annika Bengtzonin talo on palanut ja mies jättänyt. Ihan tarkkaan tapahtumien yksityiskohdat eivät enää olleet useamman vuoden takaa mielessä, mutta viime kädessä se ei haitannut, sen verran selvennystä aikaisempiin tapahtumiin kirjan kuluessa saatiin. Kirjan varsinainen rikosjuoni kertoo entisestä naisesta, jota syytetään poliisimiehensä ja lapsensa murhasta. Nainen löytyy sekavassa tilassa kotoaan, hänen miehensä on ammuttu ja hänen lapsensa on kadonnut. Hän on ilmiselvästi syyllinen, vai onko? Annika itseään epäillään kotinsa polttamisesta ja osittain kompensaationa hän haluaa uskoa toisen naisen syyttömyyteen.
Kirja oli mukaansatempaava ja kiinnostava, vaikka suurin osa henkilöhahmoista olikin ärsyttäviä tavalla tai toisella, päähenkilö mukaan lukien. Juoni toimi varsin sujuvasti, vaikka siinä olikin kyllä muutama suureko aukko, jotka huomasi vasta jälkikäteen. Miten murhaaja saattoi olla varma, että kukaan ei rappukäytävässä tai muualla nähnyt häntä? Miten hän saattoi tietää, että tapetun poliisin vaimo – itsekin poliisi – lamautuisi täysin toimintakyvyttömäksi ja menisi käytännössä psykoosiin? Juonen kannalta kyseessä ovat ehkä kuitenkin helpot ratkaisut, jotka eivät oikeasti ehkä olisi ihan toimineet. Hyvää oli se, että nyt rikosjuonen ratkeaminen tuntui tapahtuvan aika loogisesti ja oikean työskentelyn ja selvittelyn ansiosta, eikä vain onnellisten yhteensattumien tuloksena kuten joissain aikaisemmissa kirjoissa.
Hyvä, sarjansa keskitason yläpuolella oleva teos, joka oli hyvin lukemisen arvoinen.

413 s.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Hugo award votes 2015 part 4 – Novels

Two of the nominees of the novel category originated from the “puppy lists”; three got to the final voting list by people who probably actually have read the books in question. The difference between these two groups was pretty obvious. The three honestly nominated books were inventive, and at least in some way unusual, and they were mostly well written. The two others weren’t bad, but they weren’t special in any way either, and both come from the middle of a long series. In my opinion, the best book with least faults was Ancillary Sword, which was even better than the first part of the series. The only drawback is that it IS a part of a series – but so were all nominees, except one, The Goblin Emperor. However, Ancillary Sword stood pretty well by itself; it was very enjoyable and it was easily the best written of all nominees. The Goblin Emperor and Three Body Problem both have some fairly serious flaws, but they both were interesting in their own way. In my opinion, the flaws of Three Bode problems were worse – among them was a so ridiculous description of scientists, that it begs belief (Oh, my physics experiment produced unpredictable results – I must now go and kill myself. Really?). I won’t place Skin Game in my voting as I didn’t finish it (and no way a middle part of a pulpish series is worth a Hugo), but I won’t be using “no award” in this category – there have been worse nominees (and winners) than any of these books.

My voting will be:
1. Ancillary Sword
2. The Goblin Emperor
3. The Three Body Problem
4. The Dark Between the Stars


Friday, July 10, 2015

Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher

Only a sample of this book was included in the voter’s package. This nominee is the 15th in a series I hadn’t even heard before, but it is apparently pretty popular. The book got its’ nomination through the puppy lists. I read the sample, and if I would have been very impressed I might have bought the book. The sample was ok, and I got something about it, but being totally unfamiliar with the backstory and the characters, I didn’t really get into it. And I am reluctant to give money to a puppy favorite if there isn’t a compelling reason to do so, so I am not going to buy this book and finish it. The genre of the book is urban fantasy – something I am not familiar with at all (or have much interest). The hero is some kind of super powerful warlock / private detective. He has some sort of supernatural parasite inside his head, and he must perform a task which might be too much even for his powers. But he gets help for a few sexy women, who have magical powers themselves. The beginning felt extremely pulpy and straightforward with a hero who is throwing away cute quips and ogling beautiful ladies. Fun and stupid, but certainly not impressive. This wouldn’t be a Hugo worthy book even if it weren’t the 15th part of the series, which disqualifies it anyway in my opinion.

86 pp (the sample included in the Hugo package)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2015

Analog seems to go steadily downhill. This was a pretty bad issue. The serial (which I haven’t started) takes a lot of space, and stories are pretty mediocre. There seem to be more and more stories, which are just portions of the real tale – or seem to continue an earlier, apparently unpublished, story. A good short story should be self-standing, with a beginning, a middle and a real ending. Very often lately published stories contain only the middle part – at best. I have been reading Analog for decades – I am starting to wonder if it is time to stop.

Racing to Mars • novelette by Martin L. Shoemaker

A doctor who has been fired from her job after she blew a whistle on some shady practices finds she can’t find another job. She gets a job as a doctor on a spaceship running to Mars. The ship seems to be modeled very closely marine ships from the 19th century or so. Captain’s power is absolute, there are rich passengers enjoying the leisure on board, there is ample room and so on. A son of the owner of the shipping company is on the ship and behaves very obnoxiously. But the captain is able to enforce some discipline. ..At first the story felt very irritating as all characters very extremely unsympathetic. But the theme was personal growth and the characters changed during the story – perhaps even a bit too much to be believable. There was a slight feel of YA-fiction, but as whole not bad. By far the best story in the issue. ***½
Live From the Air Chair • shortstory by Maggie Clark
Seems to continue an earlier story, but I couldn’t find any installments in possible series, not from Analog at least. Ther background is pretty thick, but apparently most of the people are living on orbit in small ships very close to each other. So close that you can jump in a space suit from one ship to another and when you are traveling you can see people from windows and wave. I can’t exactly wrap my mind on how that could work considering relative distances and speeds. It sounds incredibly stupid and impossible. Some sort of relationship has ended, and a wife has moved out to live with her family. A bad man tries to extort her for some artifact and she asks her former husband for help. There is a ruthless group who are ready to do anything to get the item and including wanton murder. A very confusing story, which doesn’t really work alone. With a very strange and extremely hard to believe setting. The writing was pretty thick. **-
The Crashing of the Cloud • shortstory by Norman Spinrad
A hacker, who has wiped all the records of Internal Revenue Service, has escaped to Yemen. He fears for his life, but it is said that it is sure that no jury would sentence him. (I wonder why wouldn’t – his actions are clearly illegal, and most people agree that taxes are necessary. I also wonder why that wiping prevented the collection of taxes for that year – all IRS should have done was to ask again for the information – a lot of hassle but possible). A Taliban sheik asks him to take down the Internet. He explains that it is impossible, but he might be able to do something accomplishing almost as good effects. After some haggling about terms, they come to agreement – and then the story ends. The writing was as good as can be expected, this is just a piece of a tale, with a poor beginning and with no real end. ***+
The Limits of Belief • shortstory by Arlan Andrews [as by Arlan Andrews, Sr. ]
A pretty confusing story without much background. A rich art collector usually refuses all visitors, but someone manages to persuade him with an offer that is hard to refuse. Thick writing and scant background makes this story pretty hard to get. Some expansion might have made this easier to grasp. Now it just feels forced. **+

Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future by John Scalzi

I bought this book as a reaction to the boycott effort, which was called against the Daw books. The far right people who were demanding it seem to especially hate John Scalzi, so this book was an appropriate choice.
After a wide spread viral infection a number of people are left locked in, that is “imprisoned” inside their brains. Apparently, the lock-in which was caused by the virus isn’t similar to the ordinary lock-in syndrome, which is usually caused by damage of pons. At least the locked-in persons in the novel apparently retain some of feeling of their body, while the normal locked-ins usually do not retain any sensory functions.
Some of those who recovered from the disease are able to allow other people ride inside their minds. There are also sophisticated robotic bodies, which also can be used by the locked in people. To enable those, the lock-ins have a sophisticated intracerebral wiring with highly developed software attached to them. Most of the lock-ins practically live inside the robot/android bodies and their physical bodies are being taken care of in faculties designed for that.
A locked in person with a very rich and famous dad has just started working for the FBI. Her first case involves a lock-in person, who apparently was killed in pretty strange circumstances. Slowly a conspiracy is revealed.
The book is mainly a police procedural in the future with people with an interesting fictional disorder. I would have like that the symptoms and what it is to be a sufferer of the disease had been examined in more detail. The writing pretty straight forward and simple with nice, maybe too light banter, but the plot was engaging and interesting. The book was pretty fast read. Especially the beginning of the book had a lot of exposition, which wasn’t done very well – people were telling each other’s things there certainly knew, in the best “as you know, Bob” manner. Nice summer reading, not as good as “Old Man’s War” books. If this had been a Hugo nominee, it wouldn’t have been my first choice, but not the last, either.

337 pp.