Tag Archive | Science Fiction

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.

Time Telephone by Adam Roberts

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This was a bit of a weird story. So, by diverting calls around the worldwide telephone network in a certain way, people figured out how to send the telephone calls into the past. One could even make a telephone call into the future (so I guess they figured out how to do that too).

I found this story incomplete. Sure, it ended abruptly, but that wasn’t the problem. Or was it? I didn’t feel the premise was really set up well enough for the ending it got. But I guess there would be no explanation, really.

An interesting concept, but I would have liked there to be a bit more to it.

The Sigma Surrogate by JT Lawrence

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

I just spent two hours of my day reading this, and I can tell you, every moment was well worth it.

What starts out as a simple investigation for resourceful journalist Keke takes twists and turns she doesn’t foresee until she’s in way over her head. In a world where infertility is rife, those who are fertile are well-protected (or are they?) – and used as surrogates. Of course, surrogacy has its opponents, cue the Sigma surrogate. Also seen in this book is Kirsten, heroine of Why You Were Taken.

Full of action, suspense and with a few more twists than I could keep track of, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Lawrence paints a vivid picture with her words, drawing the reader easily into Keke and Kirsten’s world.

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.