Thursday, April 30, 2020

Love, Philosophy, and Cosmic Melancholy: The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

The Songs of Distant Earth is not my favorite Arthur C. Clarke book, but it has its moments. Since he's my favorite of the Big Three 20th century SF writers (Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein), I've been meaning to check it out. What spurred me to do so now is that I just finished Adrian Tchaikovsky's Arthur C. Clarke-Award-Winning Children of Time, which is a much newer and different book, but one with some Clarke-style Big Ideas (multiple waves of far future space exploration, hibernation, animal intelligence, etc.). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Tchaikovsky was influenced by this book.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Humanities in Space: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time is some of the best science fiction I've read recently. I love everything about this book: far future space travel, both human and non-human protagonists, a classicist as an essential crew member, deep thoughts about history, time, society, gender, intelligence, violence, biology, religion, science, and so much more.

I've put off writing a full review, because there's just so much going on in this book that I'm afraid I'll forget something important. At around 600 pages, it's not a short book, but it created a sort of time dilation in my reading experience: I read it fairly quickly (most of it in a weekend), but I feel like I traversed enough material for three or four novels in the time it took me to read one.

But I really want to review this book, so I figure I'll risk it. There's a lot more cool stuff going on in this book than I can hope to discuss in a review, so I'll focus on a few things under the theme "humanities in space" with a playful nod to "humanities" both as a plural and as a domain of intellectual activity encompassing history, philosophy, religion, rhetoric, literature, art history, languages, etc.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Journal, Part Six

I'm introducing a bit of a ret-con and calling this a "COVID-19 Pandemic Journal." See the previous entry here. Read more about the point of this journal in the first post. And as usual, I'm putting in lots of amusing memes, so come for the memes, stay for the journal.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Hypatia the Time Traveler: Unburning Alexandria by Paul Levinson

Unburning Alexandria by Paul Levinson is an enjoyable read, all the more fun because I teach a bit of Hypatia and Augustine in some of my philosophy classes.

This is a sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates, which is also fun, but there's a recap in this one so you could probably read Unburning Alexandria without having read the first one.

Sierra Waters is a mid-21st century grad student and time traveler who has (through a complex series of events) taken on the identity of Hypatia of Alexandria circa 400 AD. She's in search of her lover Alciabiades (yes, that Alcibiades) whom she has lost in time. It turns out there are other time travelers, including the mysterious Heron. Oh, and Augustine of Hippo shows up just for good measure.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

COVID-19 Journal, Part Five

My COVID-19 Journal continues with Part Five: First Week of April Edition. You can see Part Four here. I'm thinking of changing the name to Pandemic Journal. I don't know. Anyway, here it goes.

Wed. 1 April 2020

Can a joke be more sad than funny? Let’s see.

Everything is fine. … April Fools’… 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Dogged Persistence of Fate: Cujo by Stephen King

Cujo is not my favorite Stephen King novel, but not my least favorite, either. This is vintage 70's/80's King. The characters are a bit less vivid for me than his characters usually are, but there's a heavy meditation on fate and chance, cause and effect. And that ending... it's a gut punch, and Uncle Stevie does not pull his punches here.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Weird Retail: Stay Crazy by Erica L. Satifka

Yeah, things are weird and scary right now, but I'm still reading books. And I'm still reviewing them. Stay Crazy by Erica L. Satifka was just what I needed right now.

I purchased the book from the author at Worldcon in 2016, and I wish I had read it sooner. Maybe in another dimension some other version of me did. Or maybe it's good that I waited until I needed a funny, weirdly-compelling book to read in this dimension.