e a m harris

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Archive for the tag “sci-fi”

June reading

Thanks to The Little Red Reviewer for interesting and insightful reviews. I haven’t read any of these books, but might be tempted – if I ever get the time.

the Little Red Reviewer

June, where did you go? Last I checked it was June 2nd, how is it already July??   I didn’t post many reviews in June, but I did get a lot of reading done.  Some of these I’ll write reviews for, some of them will get a capsule review in this post.  Here’s what I was up to this month:

I finished this fun little gem:

Spock Must Die is the famous novel where thanks to a transporter malfunction, the Enterprise now has two Spocks. Which one is the “real” one? What will they do with the other one? When war breaks out at the Klingon border, the importance of solving the mystery ratchets up. Even when Kirk is sure which Spock is the true, original Spock, he insists on calling his friend “Spock Two”. When questioned why, Kirk responds that by saying “two” every time he says his friend’s name…

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Happy birthday Quatermass

Today is the 60th anniversary of the BBC sci-fi series, Quatermass, which ran intermittently from 1953 to 1979.

It was not only about an experiment, but was one – a British written for TV sci-fi aimed at adults rather than children.973445

It was very popular and had lasting influence – there was a remake as recently at 2005.

As a sci-fi fan I regret that I’ve never seen it. I think the original would seem a little quaint by now, but the later serials and remakes are more modern and hopefully, around this anniversary, they will be available in some form.

It’s fitting that this anniversary falls in the same year as the 50th anniversary of Dr Who. Without the success of Quatermass would we have the Doctor?

Cover art from Goodreads.

Ben Bova – ‘Mercury’

Cover art MercuryThis is the second of Ben Bova’s ‘Grand Tour of the Solar System’ series that I’ve read. The other one was ‘Jupiter’ and I think this one is better. This is definitely a story about people.

It is about how Saito Yamagata, business tycoon, achieves his dream even as he fails his life; about who Dante Alexios, engineer, is and why he sets out on a path of vengeance; about Victor Molina’s fall from a position of respect as a scientist. The mighty mostly fall on Earth, but find their true ends on Mercury.

The planet is more than just a background. It’s natural features provide many of the various characters’ motives and explain how these people come together to move through their story.

The writing is readable with good descriptions and explanations and the complex backstory is well handled.

At the basis of the novel is a love story, coming from the story-past into the story-present and on into the future. Unfortunately this is the thing I found somewhat difficult. I know there are people whose desire to possess the love object takes strange and dangerous routes to the goal, but I didn’t think this was made totally convincing in this book. That there should be two people doing the strange and dangerous made it even harder to accept. I think one of the reasons for this is that the loved one did not have a strong enough role to make the excessive desire believable. I won’t say more about this as it would give too much away. On the whole this didn’t spoil the book for me – it’s introduced far enough along in the story for empathy with the characters to have developed anyway.

The book is straight sci-fi – space opera even – no ‘steampunk’, ‘science fantasy’ or other sub-genre. Most science fiction fans will be familiar with Bova’s work. Any who aren’t and would like to make his acquaintance would do well to start here.

Cover art from MacMillan.

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