Friday, November 09, 2007

Sky Horizon by David Brin, Scott Hampton (Illustrator), Scott Hampton (Illustrator)

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Interesting near-future SF pondering a "what-if" possibility regarding First Contact: what if a bunch of brainy High School students got their hands on the first alien? Not bad speculation and, in this short YA novel Brin's takes a lot of interesting turns... and THEN ends it with a cliff-hanger! Not bad, but.... geez! I want more and I want it NOW!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

1634: The Ram Rebellion by Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce (With)

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What do you call a book about 17th century history. And about ballet? And animal husbandry. Not to mention theology and railroad expansion across Europe? Well, Science Fiction, of course.

*THIS* is why I love science fiction - it covers EVERYTHING! (This is, in fact, part of my argument that ALL fiction is SF - some just speculates more extremely from "real life").

I read this book in e-form on a palm device over a long number of months - worked okay, since the book is very episodic, all around the thread concening an ill-bred ram, nicknamed "Brillo" becoming the hero of folk stories, ballet, and eventually the emblem of a peasant revolution.

I really like the 1632 books - fun speculation in its long term "what if" instead of a Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, it was a whole West Virginia coal mining town, and they dropped into the 1630's where they set about jump starting the American Revolution over a century early. It's great stuff, and it (for me) is an inspiring tribute to Real American values - not the shabby pretenders who hold the reins today.

It's also nice to have some SF that comes from a non-libertarian non-indivualistic mindset.

On to the next book - The Cannon Law - already loaded on my PDA!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A War of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card

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Charming story - I'll let the publisher's blurb speak for me...

Card returns to his Hugo and Nebula award-winning Enderverse saga (after 2005's Shadow of the Giant) with a heartwarming novella for the holidays. When Zeck Morgan, the young son of a puritanical minister, qualifies for admission into the International Fleet's Battle School, he is brought to the school against his will. Citing his pacifist religious beliefs, Zeck refuses to participate in any simulated war games, but when he sees a Dutch student give a friend a small present in celebration of Sinterklaas Day, he reports the violation of the school's rules against open religious observation and sparks an uproar over religious freedom and the significance of cultural traditions. Meanwhile, Zeck becomes a pariah until series hero Ender Wiggin finds a way to show him the real meaning of the holidays. Exploring themes of tolerance and compassion, this story about stuffing stockings is, fittingly, a perfect stocking stuffer for science fiction fans of all ages.

Jumper by Steven Gould

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What if you could go anywhere you'd ever been - just by thinking yourself there? And what if you were an abused teen who just discovered this talent? Gould takes that "what if" and creates this story about Davy who discovers this talent and uses it to escape his alcoholic father. Then he sets about using it to create a new life.

The story takes a good number of turns, and does a good job of exploring just how a person might cope with such a talent and use it to solve problems. There's a good understanding and sensitivity too - going far beyond a wish-fulfillment fantasy. And it's a real pageturner - I couldn't put it down!

Star Wars: Death Star by Michael Reaves, Steve Perry, Steve Perry

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This is an interesting novel - essentially it fits *right* in before the FIRST Star Wars movie - aka "A New Hope," aka episode 4 - and tells a lot of the backstory of the construction of the Death Star.

It answers the question "was Luke a mass murderer?" (Yes) by humanizing the crew working on the massive space station. As we follow the interlocking lives of a variety of people (cantina operator, thief, pilot, guard, architect, scholar, and doctor), Reaves and Perry create a hard SF story in the fantasy SF world of Star Wars. Engaging, interesting, and worth reading - even if you don't generally touch Star Wars books.

Faith and reason the philosophy of religion

by Peter Kreeft;

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Peter Kreeft is always a joy to listen to - he has an engaging presence, and just helps you feel smarter as you he illuminates a point.

This set of lectures on the philosophy of religion covers a tremendous range of arguments in religious discourse and, I think, sympathetically reports on and analyzes the the positions of various faiths (and no faith as well). It's no secret that Dr. Kreeft is a Christian, and a Christian apologist at that, but I think he manages to avoid coming down too heavily for that position.

This is part of the Modern Scholars lectures available from Recorded Books - pricey stuff, but if you're lucky, you can find it a library - well worth a listen!

(and if you just want to hear him - a variety of his talks are available at