Tag Archive | Science Fiction

At Dorado by Geoffrey A Landis

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

Dorado is a wormhole, one of three in the nexus, and the POV character, Cheena, lives on the port station that orbits Dorado. She is married to Daryn Bey, a navigator.

When news comes in of a wreck, Cheena realises the possibility that her husband could be gone. and regrets the argument they had before he last left – caused by a passing remark that Bey has a wife/woman in every port, something Cheena is unwilling to accept. And then the news is that the wreck is that of the ship he is out on.

However, when you’re dealing with wormholes, nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and this tale is no less convoluted for it. Between upspin and downspin and past and future, it’s no wonder the port is a neutral zone where no-one talks, and dead ships’ names are never mentioned. One cannot change the past or the future…

Given that this was quite a short story for its complexity, the temporal entanglements to be expected…. I felt as though something was missing… but perhaps that’s more a symptom of the silence the port station holds on certain topics. So for that reason, I think this was really well-written, as the sense it conveys to the reader is really that experienced by the main character.


Tangled Up in Blue by Joan D Vinge

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

Set before events in The Snow Queen, Tangled introduces us to the greengrass Gundhalinu, fresh on the Hegemony’s police force in Carbuncle. When a vigilante raid, conducted by junior police officers frustrated at the restrictions placed on them by the relationship between the Hegemony and the Tiamatan Queen, goes south leaving one survivor with no memory of events, and two powerful factions of Survey hunting an Old Empire artifact collide, two police officers find themselves the focus of attention.

I really enjoyed reading this final chapter of The Snow Queen Cycle – it’s been a long enough time coming. It was invaluable, in a way, to have the insights given by the other three books – one understands more of the importance of events in this book that way, and the fragility. I found it a quick read, as exciting as the other books, and as vividly written. Definitely well worth the time spent reading it.

The S.K.A. at Carnarvon – A TROJAN AFFAIR by Michael Smorenburg

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

It has taken me a very long time to knuckle down and write this review – much to my chagrin. The fact that it has bothered me for so long (not least because I haven’t sat down to review it) is testament to the accuracy of the viewpoints Smorenberg investigates in this book. This was probably one of the most difficult books I read in 2016/17.

The book tackles many topics – racism, bullying, abuse, science, religion, fear, terrorism, prejudice… Yeah. It’s a very complex book. And what drives it home even more painfully – even as a reader who is an English-heritage, white, Christian, South African – is just how realistic it is. In oh-so-many ways.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a Christian in the previous paragraph, so let me tackle that. For me, science and my belief/trust/faith/knowledge of/in God are not incompatible. Historically, it was Christians – protestant Christians, note, NOT Roman Catholic – who were the forerunners of today’s scientists. Isaac Newton being one I can think of off the top of my head – and I know he doesn’t stand alone. These men were free – a freedom granted by their belief in God – to question the world they lived in and seek to understand it. That is the essence of science. So. To bring this back to me, personally… For me, science has always reinforced my knowledge of the God as revealed to us in the Bible. No, I don’t always agree with the interpretation many scientists (the non-Christian ones) put on the evidence at their disposal, but by the same token, I don’t always agree with the interpretations scientists who are Christians put on the same evidence. And likewise, the fact that I believe in God does not make me fear science or, for that matter, interpretations scientists place against the evidence they find.

Simply put, I do not, as a Christian, hold to the anti-science prejudices characterised in this book. That said, I will in no way dispute that there are far too many Christians of whom the anti-science Christian characters in this book are wholly representative of. In that, Smorenburg’s portrayal is entirely accurate and extremely well conveyed.

This book is really a melting-pot of a complex state of affairs that drives the narrow-minded, racist, bullying leadership in a rural town to confront the modern world, with disastrous consequences. I appreciated that Smorenburg treated all aspects of the topics he tackled very well, enabling each side their moment in the spotlight, with a very clear illustration of what behaviour is acceptable, what drives people to do all sorts of things, and yet he enabled each party to maintain dignity as far as was possible. Not an easy task, for sure.

This book is not an easy read, as it includes some graphic descriptions of violence. That said, I would go so far as to say that it’s an important book.


Hell Divers II: Ghosts by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This book is hands down Nick’s best yet. A quick read, I was spellbound from the first sentence.

Once again we’re pulled in to life on – and off – the Hive, an airship that’s been aloft for well over two centuries. Familiar characters are present, but as the events occur ten years after Hell Divers I, there are new ones to love – and hate. Oh, and new monsters too. Nick’s always good with the monsters…

This is my favourite quote: ‘There was only one thing left for Michael to say. He bumped his comm pad to open a private channel to Captain Jordan and yelled, “We dive so humanity survives!”‘

This is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2017. Absolutely fantastic stuff.

I can’t wait for Hell Divers III.

The Clock that went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

What a lovely short story, asking an excellent question: if time can go forwards, surely it can go backwards too?

The story is about two cousins who visit a ‘great-aunt Gertrude’ (I had to chuckle at that – just how many great-aunt Gertrudes are there?) who has a notable clock: the clock neither ticks nor tocks. Then one night they witness their great-aunt Gertrude winding the clock up, and it then going backwards – something great-aunt Gertrude appears to be happy about, until she falls down, apparently dead.

Then comes one of the funniest lines I’ve read in a while, speaking of experiences in military school: “…and a good deal of the art of standing with our noses over our heels”. That really had me chuckling for a while.

Either rate, so the two cousins – well, Harry being the main recipient – inherit the clock, and get finances to go and study at the University of Leyden, which just happens to be in the town the clock originates from. They go, taking the clock with them, and there they meet a philosophy scholar who is into metaphysics, and is quite happy to accept the concept of time going backward just as much as it goes forward. At which point the theory gets a little hairy, if one can follow it at all!

How fantastic that this story was written almost 140 years ago, and is pretty complex in its consideration of time and time travel. A groundbreaker indeed – and it certainly came onto the stage with a splash. It has the whole time paradox question, which leaves one chewing over it for a good while after reading, and is really, on the whole, quite complex.

An excellent, accessible read that is not – to me, at least – stilted by the language of 140 years hence, and for what it is, a prime example of time travel.