Archive for science fiction

Harrow the Ninth [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2022 by xi'an

After rushing through the fabulous Gideon the Ninth over a weekend, I attacked the second volume of the Locked Tomb trilogy, Harrow the Ninth, with much enthusiasm! But then very quickly hit a (tomb) wall as the story did not seem to make much sense, although I remembered quite vividly (or sepulchrally!) the previous volume and this one involved some of the earlier characters plus some, including God (also called John). The character seemed to change radically from one chapter to the next and sounded mostly insane. While the writing style was great and kept a tiny fraction of the earlier, I kept plodding on a few pages at a time, until the Season break, when I spent a day in front of the fireplace and finished the volume in one go. As it started making some sense after circa page 400…. This is such a weird book, even when considering the unusual mix of necromancers and space opera, horror novel and thriller, teenage love and immortal lust, dealing with trauma and holding bone magic, having tea and biscuit with God John and living full time with a ghost! The main character Harrow or Harry appears to be insane and the writing is trying to reflect this impression while making her definitely compelling and attractive.

“It is wickedly challenging to read, deliberately impossible to comprehend in full and, frankly, I still feel like I only got about 80% of what actually happened. But there’s just something so gorgeously Baroque about it all.”

Some readers complained that they understood less than 80% of the book, but I am rather leaning towards 30%. And still I find the book quite compelling, if less funny than the first volume. )And too much of a space opera.) I may have to read it anew, though. Even with the help of this great NPR review.

Hugo Awards 2021

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2021 by xi'an

Martha Wells received another Hugo Award this year for the fifth installment, Network Effect,  which I enjoyed as much as the earlier ones. And yet another one for the entire series! A radically new translation [or rather a retelling] of the epic and Old English poem Beowulf translated by Maria Headley also won the best related work Award. (Tolkien wrote a modern version of the poem in 1926.) With the Old Guard being (disappointingly!, imho) the recipient of the best film.

Velimir Chlebnikov [Велими́р Хле́бников]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on December 30, 2021 by xi'an

the calculating stars [book review]

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2021 by xi'an

This fist sounded like an interesting attempt at alternate history, when a massive meteor strike obliterating the Washington DC region in 1952 forced the World to change shift towards space exploration and the eventual evacuation of Earth. The story is told from a computer (or computress) viewpoint, who is a wunderkid, a mathematician, a physicist, a war (WASP) pilot, and more, with a strong will and an independent mind, hoping to become a female astronaut. If the setting reminds you of Hidden figures, a (great) movie about the true story of NASA black female mathematicians, it is no surprise and I wonder how much inspiration the author got from these historical facts, if not from the 2016 book itself. Despite receiving many awards, like the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards!, The Calculating Stars is somewhat of a disappointment to me, because of the highly single-minded perspective,  where everything (related to solving the forecast extinction) seems to happen with a small group of people, because of the confusion between a mathematician and someone who can do complex arithmetics by head, to the near-perfection of the central character, who can also hotwire a car, because of the anachronisms, incl. the prescience that the asteroid crash was going to cause a deadly rise of temperatures when the dinosaur extinction was not yet linked with a similar event, because of a rosy depiction of the World uniting towards racing against the Great Extinction, and, cherry on the pie, because French sentences found throughout the book mostly make no sense as literal translations of English sentences!

“Elle va le faire mais Dieu sait ce qu’elle va parler.” [She’s going to do it but God knows what she’s going to say.]

“Il est l’ordre naturel je pense (…) Il n’y a rien de naturel.” [It’s the natural order of things I think (…) Nothing is natural.]

“Ce ne fut pas une explosion ou nous aurions senti.” [It wasn’t a blast or else we would have felt.]

Locus awards 2021

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , on July 15, 2021 by xi'an

After the Hugos, the Locus(es)! Here are the winners for different categories

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