Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ghost Grandma in Space: Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds has been on my to-read list for years.  I've liked some of Reynolds's stuff, like last year's Hugo finalist Slow Bullets (although I honestly didn't love his much beloved Revelation Space).  What struck me about Blue Remembered Earth was was that it's SF set in about 150 years in a world where African countries are basically running things with a little help from India and China - I'm intrigued!  I'm glad I finally got to it, although it's not quite what I expected.

Reynolds starts slow and takes a long time to get going, but somehow this slowness didn't make me feel bogged down.  It took me awhile to get through this, but that's because I had to put it down for awhile to get through a couple library books and my Hugo packet.  This novel definitely could have been shorter, but I didn't mind the leisurely ride.

The plot begins with Geoffrey Akinya, a biologist in Tanzania who just wants to be left alone to study his beloved elephants.  But Geoffrey happens to be a member of a rich and powerful family.  When the matriarch of the family dies (Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother), his cousins send him to the moon to pick up his grandmother's safety deposit box.  Also, while he's there, he visits his sister, Sunday, who is an artist on the moon.  This trip leads Geoffrey and Sunday on a bit of wild goose chase across the solar system that I don't want to spoil.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Root for the Apes: War for the Planet of the Apes

The thing I've always loved about the Planet of the Apes movies (as well as Pierre Boulle's novel) is how deeply subversive it all is.  Stories about "a planet where apes evolved from men" turn so many of our self-assured certainties on their heads when it comes to evolution, "progress," intelligence, race, and the place of humans in relation to our fellow animals and the universe.  If you didn't read "a planet where apes evolved from men" in Charleton Heston's voice, I must insist that you go back and do so immediately (see the clip at the end if you need help).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

2017 Hugo Ballot, Part Two

Hugo ballots are due TODAY (Sat. July 15, 2017).  See my previous post for part one of my ballot as well as my three principles of Hugo voting.  That post includes my votes for the main written fiction categories: novel, novella, novelette, and short story.  Here's what I think about the other categories!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Principles of Hugo Voting/ Hugo Ballot, Part One

Hugo ballots are due TOMORROW (Sat. July 15, 2017).  If you'd like to vote, you can do so from the Worldcon 75 website.  I had a great time at last year's Worldcon in Kansas City, but unfortunately I won't be attending Worldcon in Helsinki this year.  If you can't make it to Helsinki, either, you can still purchase a supporting membership for 35 euros, which entitles you to vote.  But do it soon!

There were a lot of great finalists this year.  You can see them all on the official Hugo Award site.  Way to go, science fiction and fantasy creators and fans!  There were so many good finalists, I thought of some handy principles to help.  Here are my three principles of Hugo voting (riffing a bit on Asimov's three laws of robotics just for fun).

Three Principles of Hugo Voting

  1. Works that are more ground breaking in the field in their construction, plot, characters, setting, ideas, etc. are to be preferred as are works that are neither sequels nor works by authors who have won Hugos in recent years.
  2. Works that delve more deeply into philosophical content are to be preferred.
  3. Works that are just plain fun and enjoyable are to be preferred as long as such preference does not conflict with the first or second principles.

Much like Asimov's three laws, I'm not sure it's possible to coherently follow these principles, but I did the best I could.  So without further ado...

My 2017 Hugo Ballot, Part One 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

CONvergence 2017 Report

Last weekend I attended CONvergence in Bloomington, MN, which is, according to the website, "an annual convention for fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy in all media: a 4-day event with more than 6,000 members, and the premiere event of our kind in the upper mid-west."

CONvergence is also special for me personally as it was one of the first cons I ever attended back in 2001.  I attended every year up through 2005, and I've been meaning to go back ever since.  So this year's CONvergence was 12 years in the making for me!  (What happened?  Short answer: I moved away from the Twin Cities in August 2005 and never quite managed to get back to visit during CONvergence ... until this year!).