Archive for science fiction

Hugo Awards finalists 2022

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the finalists of the Hugo Awards for different categories, with some read, somne watched, and some to-read:

Best Novel

  • A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager / Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki (Tor / St Martin’s Press)
  • A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK)
  • Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey)
  • She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)

Best Novella

  • Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
  • Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom)
  • Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
  • The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
  • A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Dune, screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
  • Encanto, screenplay by Charise Castro Smith and Jared Bush
  • The Green Knight, written and directed by David Lowery
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, screenplay by Dave Callaham, et al.
  • Space Sweepers, screenplay by Jo Sung-Hee, Yookang Seo-ae, and Yoon Seung-min
  • WandaVision, screenplay by Peter Cameron et al.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Wheel of Time: The Flame of Tar Valon, written by Justine Juel Gillmer, directed by Salli Richardson-Whitfield,
  • For All Mankind: The Grey, written by Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi; directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
  • Arcane: The Monster You Created, written by Christian Linke and Alex Yee; story by Christian Linke, Alex Yee, Conor Sheehy, and Ash Brannon; directed by Pascal Charrue and Arnaud Delord
  • The Expanse: Nemesis Games, written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, and Naren Shankar; directed by Breck Eisner
  • Loki: The Nexus Event, written by Eric Martin, directed by Kate Herron, created for television by Michael Waldron
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: wej Duj, written by Kathryn Lyn, directed by Bob Suarez

Tierras Centro Americanas [journal of the NYC weekend]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2022 by xi'an

Upon my arrival at JFK, Queens, Andrew took me to have unbelievable tortillas in this Guatemaltec restaurant, soft and yummy, almost like pancakes! Along with great food altogether. We also had a pleasant stroll walking through Queens’ lively Jamaica district. Including coming upon a just extinguished fire in a row of shops! On the opposite, I did not see much of New Brunswick, apart from walking by the Harvest Moon brewery where I got a beer (and a tee-shirt) on my earlier visit there.

Read Truthwitch, another disappointment in the series (of recent books), as the universe building could have been great (despite being heavily inspired from Western Europe geography and culture, and in particular of Venezia. Again, I presume I was missing the YA label when I first picked this book! Scenario is rather terrible, full of last second rescues, new and convenient forms of magical powers, while interactions about characters are artificial and predictable, definitely not recommended. (And there are five books in the series!)

Watched The Silent Sea a short Korean TV serie taking place mostly in a Korean infected base on the Moon. While trying to solve the water crisis on a drying Earth (looking red from the Moon). The ending is quite disappointing while the original idea was most appealing. The science (fiction) behind the story is however terrible. (E.g., never use guns in space! And why would astronauts rely on cheap, handheld, lamplights to explore dark tunnels?! And how can you hide stealthy visits to a Moon basis from Earth?! &tc.)

Klara and the Sun [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2022 by xi'an

Klara and the Sun is the latest book of Kazuo Ishiguro. I am a big admirer of Ishiguro’s books and always moved by their bittersweet exploration of humanity (or humanness?!). The remains of the day is one of my favourite books, competing with Graham Greene’s The end of the affair,  and I deeply enjoyed When we were orphans, Never let me go, and The buried giant. While this latest book exhibits the same craftsmanship in depicting human feelings and incomplete (in the sense of unsatisfactory) relations, I feel like I missed some component of the book, too many hints, the overall message… Not that I rushed through it, contrary to my habit, reading a few chapters at a time during lunch breaks. But I cannot set the separation between the subjective perception of Klara [the robotic friend], which is very clearly limited, both by her robotic sensors [lacking a sense of smell for instance] and her learning algorithm, furthermore aggravated by her wasting (?) some material to sabotage a machine, and the real world [within the novel, a vague two-tiered USA]. Because the perspective is always Klara’s. This confusion may be completely intentional and is in that sense brilliant. But I remained perplexed by the Sun central episode in the novel, which I fear reveals a side of the story I did not get. Like Джозі в якийсь момент перетворилася на робота? [Using Ukrainian to avoid spoilers for most readers!]  (In a way, Klara and the Sun is a variation on Never let me go, both dealing with a future where copies of humans could be available, for those who could afford it.)

2021 Nebula finalists

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the five novels selected for the 2021 Nebula Award

two of which I read and (mostly) appreciated. (An interesting side item is that Volume 6 of the fantastic Murderbot series was nominated for the novella series and that the author withdrew from the list for having already been recognised by the award.)

a desolation called peace [book review]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2022 by xi'an

This book by Arkady Martine is a sequel to the Hugo Awarded Memory called Empire, which I appreciated, pverall. I also did enjoy this one, no matter how different the settings are.

“The statistical chance of imago-integration failure leading to irreversible psychological and/or neurological damage is 0.3%”

Indeed, this second (and last?) volume is much more space-opera-esque in that most of the action takes place on a spatial fleet trying to fight an incomprehensible and invading alien force (whose mindset is rendered through an initially obscure chapter!). And subject to internal tensions, despite its military hierarchical structure. While the attempts at communicating with this unknown enemy are central to the story, they echo the main theme of the Teixcalaanli series (duology?), which is on how to reach the delicate balance between complete assimilation into a rich and fascinating culture and isolationism in order to preserve one’s original culture and way of life, doubled by the dilemmas caused by falling in love with someone from this other culture. (This may be the strongest aspect of the novel.) The related theme is the opposition between collective and individualistic societies, even though power competition is described in both the Teixcalaanli and the space station societies. (All three groups have achieved a way to operate as a collective. I actually wondered whether the “desolation” in the title was itself an intended collective, as in a murder of crows, esp. since a major character is nicknamed Swarm, but I could not find this collective ever being used.) It brought back some memories of Ender’s Game, in the sense of facing a radically different but still sapient species and backing away from complete annihilation. (The futuristic component of the book is as sketchy as in the previous one, with USB sticks being carried by spaceships as the only way to communicate, for no clear reason… But this is far from being of importance.) As an aside, the author linked her Teixcalaanli construct with the Mixtec civilisation, from Oaxaca.

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