Tag Archive | Novella

The Memory Hacker by JT Lawrence

Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This is the second novella in the futuristic visionary collection “2054” from a diverse quartet of authors.

It’s the year 2054 and Talia lives a quiet, mundane life. Required to go for a standard medical checkup, she does so. Everything is fine until the AI examining her indicates that she has had children. The problem is, she has no recollection of ever having had a baby. Vacillating between believing the AI is malfunctioning and wanting to uncover the truth, Talia must follow the trail of breadcrumbs. But where will it lead her?

No, I don’t give spoilers, but I will say that I loved this vision of a future South Africa. Already a dab-hand at creating a grungy dystopic hi-tec future vision for the region, Lawrence adds a new twist to her repertoire with this story. And it’s good. There were surprises around many corners in this story, and a whole load of heart. A lot of fun was had here.

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Deep Ocean Blues by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This is the first novella in the futuristic visionary collection “2054” from a diverse quartet of authors.

It’s the year 2054 and fossil fuels are scarce. So the world turned to thorium, an atomic fuel that is non-weaponisable. Below the waters of the Bay of Bengal, some four kilometres down, are the rigs of the Bay of Bengal Corporation, an Indo-China concern, busily mining the thorium-containing monazite deposits. Unfortunately, an automated system above a certain size requires a human presence. Enter Parul Anand, human operator of Rig #443. 3D-printed on the rig while her real body is put on ice Topside (or is it?), with brain patterns transferred, and extra mechanical arms installed. Speaking of which, I never uncovered the reason for the extra mechanical arms, except their role as stabilisers after a hard night’s drinking was clearly illustrated. Maintaining the rig along with her is an army of cephalopods – octopuses, to be precise – called OctoPods and given unit numbers as businesses are wont to do, who have been bioengineered for their maintenance role – able to receive and follow instructions, and carry out basic repair and maintenance tasks.

In this cyberpunk vision of the near future, Wijeratne explores the relationship between humanity and nature, as well as that between humans and AI. I really liked the underwater setting, and the envisioned technologies used in the story. Especially the way in which current technologies are utilised and extended within the setting. In some ways, the underwater setting of this story reminded me of The Abyss. A lot of fun, with some dark elements too. And a very endearing octopod.

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Source: Own Collection
Format: Paperback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This book is a hilarious juxtaposition to the ordinary children’s book. In normal books, the children have adventures and the grownups don’t believe them. In this book, those roles are reversed with hilarious consequences. And no, I won’t be mentioning Professor Steg, the pirates, the space aliens (not to mention the space police) and a wonderful cast of other characters.

Highly inventive and beautifully chaotic, this tale is a romp. A very quick read for an accomplished reader, it will entertain.

Windwalker: Forbidden Flight by HG Chambers

Source: The author
Format: Ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

So. Kiva has two older brothers, the younger of whom has yet to challenge a sect to join. Kiva, however, has dreams of being a windwalker, something that is forbidden to women. They are not even allowed to go as far as challenging the sect. Kiva isn’t one to take “no” lying down, though. She’s pretty sure she has what it takes. And so, on the day of her big brother’s own challenge, she sets off to complete the windwalker challenge – unannounced.

What she doesn’t bargain on is the sidi (leader) of the sect’s unbending nature, and the necessity that is reality. As she begins her illicit training, she learns of a great threat to the Bowl she lives in.

This is a fun story that is quick and easy to read. It was good to see a different part of the world of the Aeternum Chronicles, and I can only hope that I see more of the windwalkers in the next series novel Chambers writes. I also want to know whether the troubles this Bowl are dealing with have any bearing on the issues the rest of the world is having, as read about in the main series. Having read Anne McCaffrey’s PERN series, I wondered how Chambers would deal with the bonding with the kiraeen in this story, and I felt he handled it very well, really. It was clear what was happening, he set out the rules clearly, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Waitabits by Eric Frank Russell

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Oh my goodness, but this story made me laugh out loud. There aren’t that many that get to through to my expressed emotions these days, but this one… definitely made it.

In this extraordinary take on time, Russell puts two groups together whose sense of time just runs differently. When one species meets another, the latter being a breed apart in that they live life in the slow lane quite literally, the results are utterly comical – if one stands far enough away to view them for what they are. Recall the scene where Judy Hopps meets the sloth in Zootropolis, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Going in, I was scratching my head rather, as Russell typically drops one in the middle of a normal day with zero explanation as to what’s really going on. That’s ok – neither does the main character. But this story really hots up when one lands on the planet of the Waitabits and the inter-species interactions begin. Extremely well written with great setting and characterisation, this was one of my best reads this year.