Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Worldwired by Elizabeth Bear

According to the advertisement on the last page of this novel Bears’ next book will not continue the story of Master Warrant Officer Jenny Casey. Why start my review with this fact? Because, in keeping with her first two novels Bear continues to give the reader interesting characters and situations but not neat tidy choices or actions, reflecting the large grey areas that occur in real life. When I reached the end of this novel it was ‘open’ enough that Bear could easily continue the characters story. In many ways the story is left more open than it is concludes. We do learn enough about the aliens, the Chinese, the ‘worldwire’ (as the alien nanotech spreads throughout the environment) and the characters that we are not left hanging. There is (just) enough closure that one can accept that the story will not be continued in Bears next novel without it driving the reader crazy. In its’ way the ending is in keeping with the world and characters created by Bear – no nice neat answers (or ending).

It is worth reading this novel just for the very interesting aliens Bear has written. Of course, the characters and Bears’ writing are worth reading the novel for. Finally, just enough answers to the questions left at the end of “Scardown” are provided so that anyone who read the previous novels will find it worthwhile reading this novel. So for those of you looking for some good hard SF: enjoy this novel. And join me in hoping that at some point Bear returns to this world, even 50 years into the future so that we can see and learn more of the aliens and the effect of them and their ‘gifts’ have on humanities future.

Migration: Species Imperative #2 by
Julie E. Czerneda

In reviewing the first novel in this series “Survival” I saluted Ms. Czernedas’ aliens and their alien biology. The aliens in this second novel are just as interesting, from both a biological and a character standpoint. Fascinating is not to strong a word to use about here aliens. The writing itself is impressive. I would not use grabbing you by the throat and dragging you along, but rather the image of a (salmon) river where the flow of the current carries you along by the power of the (water) flow.

I really do not want to say anything about the story and chance denying the reader the chance to enjoy the twists, turns and surprises the story and characters take. I will say: very interesting and entertaining.

My only real complaint about the novel is that it is to short and I am left (once again) waiting for the next novel.

Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson

This continues the story begun in ‘Forty Signs of Rain’. It continues to move with the stately grace of the first novel, reflecting the steady progress one associates with the seasons of the year. The pace of the book lends strength, or perhaps a feeling of reality, to the climate changes in the story, almost as if I should look outside and see the winter described in the novel. The climate changes of the novel are so realistic that the reader cannot help thinking “this is not wild eyed imagination, these changes are/could well be coming”.

One interesting of the novel is its’ ‘political commentary’ about how ill served the people are by the current political system and how people have to accept their share of responsibility for this state of the nation. I was reminded of Noam Chomskys’ writings, which raise many of these and similar points – in a much drier writing style. Mr. Robinson has written about climate change, the current political system, the need for changes to the system and the need for people to THINK when making choices about leaders and policies. All in the context of the story he is telling and an excellent story that is.

Perhaps it is necessary these days to take a lesson from our old oral story traditions, where lessons were taught by placing them into a story, fable or parable. In this manner those who heard (read) the story are exposed to the ideas and lessons, but since it is hidden in a story their rote responses (i.e. no such thing as climate change) can be bypassed and they may be able to entertain a new idea or concept – one can only hope.

This novel is worth reading for the story itself. The ideas, political comment and other hidden aspects of the story add thought provoking into the mix and resulting in a novel satisfying on several levels. I am certainly looking forward to next (to be hoped for) novel in this story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another quick movie review ......

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
Best Potter so far