Archive for February, 2013

“Think Like A Dinosaur”, by James Patrick Kelly

February 28, 2013 2 comments

“Think Like A Dinosaur” is a 1995 science fiction novelette by James Patrick Kelly.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1996, and won.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Think Like A Dinosaur” is the story of a man who is helping a woman through the difficult process of teleporting to the stars, and the conflict between his humanity and the . . . dinosaurity of the aliens who actually control this gateway to the universe.  And they haven’t decided it we should have it yet, because we don’t think like them.

Why should you read it?

The old Campbell chestnut: “Write me an alien who thinks as well as a man, but not like a man.”  What if the price for humanity joining aliens in the stars. . . is thinking like them?  What do we give up by changing ourselves to match the way they think?  Would it be an individual decision?  An offer that can be accepted by one person alone?  Or would it be forced on the unwary by others?  And what’s left of the core of humanity inside a person once they’ve looked at this change?

This is an amazingly good story that I am hampered in recommending because I can’t answer any of these questions for you.  If you can, read it.  I have rated over a thousand stories in my database; this got the thirteenth 10 out of 10.

Where to find “Think Like a Dinosaur”

There is no free online version. [UPDATE: there is!  It’s at Mike Resnick’s new Galaxy’s Edge!]  The story can be found in several anthologies.  There is an audio version available online, which I have not listened to.

_Diverse Energies_, edited by Buckell and Monti

February 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Remember last year when I was all about being a real boy? Well, I’m a real slow boy, as I’m just now reviewing the book they sent me, Diverse Energies. It’s an anthology of original SF stories with protagonists who are diverse, non-white, POC–whatever your favorite term is.

Here’s my short review: this isn’t one of my Hugo reviews. Yet. I strongly suspect that when the time comes, this will be. I know there are several stories in here that I’ll be putting on my ballot, and the only reason I might not vote for the whole anthology is that I won’t have read enough anthologies this year to be making a fair comparison. So, yes: thumbs up. If an original hardback anthology is something you may be interested in, I’d like to suggest this one.

The stories contained within are from Ellen Oh, Daniel Wilson, K. Tempest Bradford, Ken Liu, Greg Van Eekhout, Rahul Kanakia, Malinda Lo, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cindy Pon, Rajan Khanna, and Ursula LeGuin. Unfortunately, the bok starts off with Ellen Oh’s “The Last Day”, which might have been more effective in the middle of the book, as it deals with the oppression of a nation by its leaders instead of the oppression of individual peoples. That, however, is about the only misstep in the book.

Ken Liu’s “Pattern Recognition” is already on my preliminary Hugo ballot–a sad but thought-provoking story that reminds of me Ted Chiang. Rajan Khanna’s “What Arms to Hold Us” actually had me crying at the core revelation. “Blue Skies”, by Cindy Pon, was also very effective. Greg Van Eekhout’s “Gods of the Dimming Light” was apparently a teaser for his novel NorseCODE, which I am now looking very much forward to.

As usual, however, Paolo Bacigalupi’s contribution was extremely notable. The images of the two different cities, one grown over where the first was built, was almost hallucinogenic for me. This is another item I expect to be voting on for the Hugo.

Overall, the book is well worth your time and money. It’s available already–I took that long to review it–and you should give it a look.

Categories: Recommendations

“Four Short Novels”, by Joe Haldeman

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

“Four Short Novels” is a 2003 science fiction short story by Joe Haldeman.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2004.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Four Short Novels” is four pieces, condensed in the J.G. Ballard style, talking about immortality in four different futures.  What if love made you immortal?  What if money did?  What if immortality led to a desire to return to childhood?  What if if led to a desire to not be?

Why should you read it?

Haldeman is one of my favorite authors; I reread some of his works, including The Forever War, every few years.  “Four Short Novels” isn’t one of these works.  It is consistently amusing, but not something that yields wisdom on repeated examination.  Fortunately, it only takes fifteen minutes to read, so I can recommend that you spend the time unreservedly.

Where to find “Four Short Novels”

The story was recently reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine, which still has it available online.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 fantasy movie.  It won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation of 2002.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Eight assorted people help a short guy go on a trip to get rid of some jewelry.  (Seriously, I’m not summarizing this one.)

Why should you watch it?

I’ve recently watched most of this series with my boy, who is eight, so I’m focussed on a lot of details that I wasn’t absorbing in 2001, when I first saw it.  Joshua makes a lot of “why?” questions, that really help me see the movie for what it is.

And what that is, is an introduction to a larger story.  There is so much to set up in this movie that it is almost entirely prelude to the events of The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

However, it is so lovely.  To see these characters visualized and inhabited so vitally by the actors. . . there is no hint in my mind of machete’ing this movie out of the trilogy.  It is lovely, even though it is largely setup for the events of the later movies.

And to see Bilbo’s 111th birthday party visualized, to see Gandalf on the screen for the first time, were delights as WETA and Peter Jackson proved that this movie wasn’t going to be a disaster.  That it was going to be a delight.

Where to find The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The movie is not available freely, but at this point, even the expanded editions can be had on used for $8.