Thursday, May 30, 2013

Science Fiction Pioneer and Grand Master Jack Vance, 1916-2013 |

Science Fiction Pioneer and Grand Master Jack Vance, 1916-2013 | In his long and prolific career, Vance won many awards and accolades, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and inspired countless readers and fellow writers with his work in fantasy, science fiction, and mystery.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meet Earl, the Back-Country Android Tablet With a 6" E-ink Screen - The Digital Reader

Meet Earl, the Back-Country Android Tablet With a 6" E-ink Screen - The Digital Reader
the screen on the Earl is flexible, making it much more likely to survive rough treatment. This screen is also equipped with a frontlight and a glove/pointer friendly IR touchscreen.

And that’s not all. Earl can also double as a weather station – and then some. It’s equipped with a magnetometer, thermometer, barometer, humidity sensor, and an anemometer. Other sensors include GLONASS, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and an IR blaster for communicating with other gadgets.

Plus it can recharge itself with the solar panel conveniently mounted on the back.
This tablet is awesome.

I'm on my second tablet and I'm a bit disappointed by how fragile they feel. My first e-reader, the eBookwise, had a rugged form factor that I miss. My third tablet will probably be something like the Earl. Even the lanyard makes sense.

Illegal Aliens by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio

This is a disappointing example of humor in sci-fi and fantasy. The jokes are ham-fisted and the characters are two-dimensional. Everything is taken to the extreme of absurdity but there is no serious character or world building as a starting point so the humor falls flat.
It was horrible. It was madness. It was WAR! Worse, it was like an E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith space battle—only more so.
Satire can be a great deal of fun and a good way to deliver a message. Pollotta sets up and knocks down as many sci-fi tropes as he can fit onto a page. The problem is that he goes for quantity over quality.

Harry Harrison did the same kind of absurdist satire of sci-fi with his Bil the Galactic Hero series. Harrison was successful because he created a protagonist that we cared about despite many repulsive character flaws. All of the characters in Illegal Aliens are throw-away sock puppets for hack jokes and send ups of standard sci-fi themes.

I'm a big fan of humor in sci-fi and fantasy so I'm going to give his work another chance with the Bureau 13 series.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Killing Moon by N K Jemisin

Killing MoonIt took a while to finish The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin.

The magic system was interesting but not particularly fleshed out. One draws lifeforce energy from dreamspace or somesuch. The addition of magic stones from the sky was a sour note but the religious aspect was well thought out. The Egyptian parallels were well done but maybe overly researched at the cost of creating characters we cared about. The homosexual and slightly pedophilic undertones were uncomfortable but probably historically accurate.

The book has garnered a great deal of praise in the book world so I'm likely going to keep reading the series.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 2013 Locus Award Finalists |

The 2013 Locus Award Finalists | The Locus Science Fiction Foundation realeased the finalists for the 2013 Locus Awards. Winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 28-30, 2013.

  • The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
  • Caliban’s War, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Redshirts, John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)
  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
  • Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Hide Me Among the Graves, Tim Powers (Morrow; Corvus)
  • The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
  • The Drowned Cities, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown; Atom)
  • Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen)
  • Railsea, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
  • Dodger, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends; Much-in-Little ’13)

My picks in bold.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

14 by Peter Clines

Peter Clines said he took some time off from writing about superheroes and zombies to try something a little different. Good choice. 14 is a great sci-fi/horror novel. By the time the monsters come out of the proverbial closet we have a cast of believable characters whose fate we care about.

Clines is the poster boy for authors who has come out of the self-publishing world to become a success. I look forward to reading the next books in his zombie apocalypse series Ex-Communication and Ex-Purgatory (2013) and hope he continues to offer more standalone novels.