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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


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Happy New Year

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022 from over here in Japan.
Japanese temple fireworks

The only prediction I'll make about his new year is that I'll still be reading some great science fiction, both old and new, just like every year. I hope you guys will too.

When I got my first universal remote control I thought "This changes everything!"

Shatner In Space

Star Trek

I grew up with Captain Kirk and Star Trek so seeing William Shatner ascend to space on Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket really got to me.

Do make a point of watching the Amazon Prime video "Shatner in Space" to get the full effect. Well done, William.

Two muffins in the oven.
One says "Boy, it's hot in here!"
The other says "Wow! a talking muffin!"

Time as measured by clocks

An interesting article on the New Scientist website reports on how clocks, because they are not the perfect clocks assumed in special relativity, may be causing us to misinterpret the meaning of time. Unfortunately I'm too busy to pay any real attention to this but I do worry it may be a ticking time bomb.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Best of the reviews

There are five books from the last set that I really enjoyed reading

  • "A Case Of Conscience" by James Blish
  • "Martian Time Slip" by Philip K. Dick
  • "Magellan" by Colin Anderson
  • "Breakers" by Edward W. Roberts
  • "Melt Down" by Edward W. Robertson
  • "Future Of Another Timeline" by Analee Newitz

Blish's "A Case Of Conscience" is a recognized classic and it really is an extremely good novel. Reading it once again, I savoured every word knowing how cleverly and carefully Blish was leading me to the arresting but elegant conclusion.

I read Dick's "Martian Time Slip" so many years ago and had, embarrassingly, largely forgotten it. However on reading it once more it knocked me out once again. He was such an incredibly good writer, so exceptionally good at portraying ordinary people in challenging circumstances.

"Magellan" is a novel I loved as a teenager. I would like to have read more by Colin Anderson but alas I believe this was his only novel. It left me with a love of computers and a residual distrust of virtual reality.

As I mentioned in the review, I was dubious about reading Edward Robertson's "Breakers" series. I thought eight or nine volumes were a bit much. I was wrong as usual. I've read the first two books, "Breakers" and "Melt Down", and they are engrossing, heart-rending and uplifting. I expect to devour the third volume "Knifepoint" over the next few days.

"Future of Another Timeline" is just brilliant! Annalee Newitz's earlier work "Autonomous" was, if I recall correctly, pretty good (I'll have to reread it and write a review real soon now). With "Timeline", however, she's reached a higher level. I'm certainly looking forward to her forthcoming "The Terraformers".

Chemistry? It's like cooking. Just don't lick the sppon

Terraforming the Red Planet

And on the subject of terraforming, I've just been reading Futurism's article about NASA's Jim Green and his plan to terraform Mars.

Artist's conception of the process of terraforming Mars (Wikipedia)

I have mixed feelings about the terraforming. I'd quite fancy having a terraformed planet right next door. More habitable space seems like a good thing. I could certainly do with a little more. Lots of job opportunities as well of course. Of course, it'd have to remain red. On the other hand, it'd be a shame to lose the unique characters of our neighbouring planets.

I guess I'd be absolutely fine with terraforming planets in neighbouring star systems (if we could get there).

I might even be willing to ignore the odd little patch of alien fungus when deciding whether or not to terraform. Obviously I'd react with horror at any suggestion of terraforming a planet inhabited by conscious beings. But they'd have to prove they were conscious. You can't have philosophical zombies standing in the way of progress.

I bet the Earth makes fun of othe planets for having no life

ICT and the Climate Crisis

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the world's oldest computer society, founded in 1947 and I'm proud to be a member. I was reading their rather excellent TechBrief on the effect of IT on Climate Change. Here are some numbers:

  • 3% of global energy supply is used by datacenters, double from 1.5% 10 years ago.
  • 1.8% to 3.9% global carbon emissions are attributable to the ICT sector

These are surprisingly large proportions. The report notes that the carbon emissions from datacenters are similar to those from all aviation globally.

On the other hand, what it doesn't show is by how much ICT is reducing energy usage and carbon emissions in other industries, whether in automation, CAD, improved efficiency and precision and any other areas.

I needed a password eight charaters long. So I picked Snow White and the seven dwarves

Worst of the reviews

  • "Star Wars" by George Lucas
  • "Camouflage" by Joe Haldeman

Yes, of course, the original Star Wars movie was tremendous but this novelisation of the movie wasn't.

"Camouflage" is far below Joe Haldeman's normally excellent output. I felt indignant, almost cheated, while reading it.

You can safely skip both of these books, saving your valuable reading time for more worthy material.

Last night my wife gave birth to my son at the hospital. Another father there said his daughter was born the day before and maybe they'll end up getting married.
Sure, like my son is going to marry a women twice his age.

James Webb Space Telescope

JWST launch

I'm really happy to hear the good news that the JWST sun shield has deployed successfully. So far everything seems to be going smoothly. Fingers crossed until we start to see the pictures. Keep track of what's happening at NASA James Webb News.

I've got a pen that writes underwater.
It writes other words as well of course.

The reviews

I bought a thesaurus but all the pages were blank. I have no words to describe how angry I was.

Next Month's Reviews

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.

They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They're not laughing now!

Take care




    Uploaded on the 30th December 2021
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    Uploaded on the 14th November 2021
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