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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Tentacles The SF Reviews newsletter, 5th May 2004

The Big Three-Oh-Oh

SF Reviews has finally hit 300 reviews. Unfortunately it has taken over three years. I am not reviewing fast enough if I am to review my existing collection as well as new books. The current estimate for achieving real-time reviewing is June 2060. I have a cunning plan, however. I am developing my Automated Review Software project and it may be very big indeed. At present the software quite happily writes a review based on a plot synopsis and a couple of keywords from me, but the reviews lack warmth and tend, rather uncannily I think, to remarkably resemble each other, and have less references to Tequila.

If you can't say it in 50 characters, then don't b

The Nebula Awards

The Nebula awards are presented by the Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers America (SFWA). The nominations for Best Novel are:

  • "Chindi" by Jack McDevitt
  • "Diplomatic Immunity" by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • "Light Music" by Kathleen Ann Goonan
  • "The Mount" by Carol Emshwiller
  • "The Salt Roads" by Nalo Hopkinson
  • "Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon

As you know from the last newsletter, I was entranced by Moon's "Speed Of Dark". I have also read, but not yet completed the review, Goonan's "Light Music". I look forward to reading the other books, although so far only "Chindi" sounds promising.

The SFWA have now announced the awards for 2004 and the Best Novel award goes to the excellent "Speed Of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon.

He's dead Jim. Grab his tricorder. I'll get his wallet.

The Hugo Award Nominations

The 62nd World Science Fiction Convention, NORASCON 2004, will be held in September this year. Meanwhile, the NORASCON 2004 Hugo nominations have been announced. Here are the nominated Best Novels:

  • "Paladin of Souls" by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • "Humans" by Robert J. Sawyer
  • "Ilium" by Dan Simmons
  • "Singularity Sky" by Charles Stross
  • "Blind Lake" by Robert Charles Wilson

"Paladin Of Souls" is, I believe, fantasy so I can ignore that until I run out of SF to read. I am rather surprised that Robert Sawyer's "Humans" has been nominated. Clearly few of the voters paid attention to my recent review. Which is no bad thing, of course, one man's meat being another man's precious life cut off in its prime, but still surprising. Perhaps I should retrospectively update my review, or God forbid, read the book again and re-review. But not yet; I'll be busy reading "Singularity Sky" and "Blind Lake".

Save the whales; collect the whole set!

Mars Mystery

The Planetary Fourier Spectrometer on the European orbiter, Mars Express, detected signs of methane on the Red Planet. This follows on from a Goddard Space Flight Center report that evidence from two Earth-based infrared telescopes suggested the possible presence of this gas. It is believed that methane could exist in the Martian atmosphere for only 300 years before being lost. Therefore there must be some current, or remarkably recent, source of methane production. It is believed that methane could only be produced by volcanic eruptions (of which Mars suffers a noticeable lack) or by organic life. Now that is an intriguing thought.

But what I really want to know is: will the manned Mars mission will need to take a parrot with them?

Find out more at SpaceDaily.

Swords to Ploughs? Wouldn't they be small?

Chocks Away - Churyumov-Gerasimenko Here We Come

On 2nd March in French Guiana, an Ariane 5 rocket shot Rosetta, the 600m comet-chasing probe, successfully into space. If all goes well, Rosetta should touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.

Check ESA Rosetta for full details.

Dyslexics have more fnu

Sub-orbital 1 - SpaceShipOne

Scaled Materials, a successful developer of unusual flying craft, has received FAA approval for a sub-orbital flight test of SpaceShipOne.

As I've said before, I look forward to the arrival of commercial space ventures. Scaled Composites is one of the companies that may lead the way. Read more about the company, their White Knight aircraft and the SpaceShipOne itself here.

Dyslexics of the World: Untie!

Sub-orbital 2 Arthur C Clarke

I read in the Independent that Arthur C. Clarke has been hot-air ballooning on Sri Lanka's first commercial hot air balloon ride company "Adventure Centre Asia Balloons". Apparently not the most magnificent of balloon rides, but the great man said "The Wright brothers got it wrong. This is the way to fly."

Read more at The Independent.

'Hand me that solar-powered flashlight...'

Sub-orbital 3 X43-A

The NASA X43-A hypersonic scramjet-powered aircraft flew successfully on 27th March. This is so cool, such a lovely technology. Just in case you had completely missed this, a scramjet burns a hydrogen and oxygen mix, but takes the oxygen from the atmosphere. Unlike a rocket, it doesn't need to carry the oxygen, thus its weight is much reduced. However, such an engine works only if it is flying fast enough to collect enough oxygen and in the case of the scramjet, that speed is supersonic.

The full information is at NASA X43-A.

If you've seen one nuclear war, you've seen 'em all.

Best Books This Month

The best books this month were, in my order of preference:

I think I think, therefore I think I am. I think.

Worst Books This Month

Without question the most disappointing book this month was

I cannot bring myself to say anything about it. It is just too painful to remember. OK I'll say that if it hadn't been set in a theme park, and if the plot had possessed some significant relationship to Mars, I'd probably have thoroughly enjoyed it, after all Niven and Barnes are great writers.

I Wonder What The Big Red Button Does....?

This Month's Reviews

What good grammar you got! What school done you went at?

Next Month's Reviews

I am, predictably, still trying to finish reviews of "Deus Irae" written by P. K. Dick and Roger Zelazny (an odd combination of authors) and Gwyneth Jones' exhilarating "Bold As Love". Sadly the post-relocation mess is hindering my efforts to find the darn paperbacks.

That's all for now. As always, tell me what you think about the books, the reviews and the site. Do let me know if there are books you think I should review.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes - Frieda Norris

Take care




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