This is the best trailer yet but it does seem to give the whole movie away. I feel like I’ve seen it already.
Clifford Simak‘s City won the 1953 International Fantasy Award, which was awarded to a science fiction or fantasy book. This book is more the latter, despite its later inclusion in later collections such as the SF Masterworks, Easton Press Masterpieces of Science Fiction, and the Locus Best SF Novels of All-Time.
Yes, this book is science fiction, and contains references to space and dimensional travel. Despite one of the stories being set on Jupiter, these are only references. This book focuses more on human development over a very long scale. It was originally published as a series of short stories in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. These stories are collected with interspersed brief commentaries from scholars of a future dog civilization.
Packed into his landing module and jettisoned from an interstellar spacecraft, Kris Kelvin heads towards Solaris. Solaris is a watery planet that has been under Earth’s observation for over a century. The consensus opinion holds that the ocean covering its surface is a single intelligent life form, but any detail of its nature or of the possibility of human communication with it has remained open to question. Over the past decade or so, interest in the planet has cooled among all but the most dedicated or obsessed Solarisists. The observation post on the planet was designed to house dozens of scientists. Kelvin will add a fourth to the three that are currently on board.
Kelvin lands on a strangely desolate facility. Even the robots are inactive. His one friend among the scientists on board has committed suicide. The others he believes are possibly insane. And they are not alone. A caricature of an African tribal woman stalks the hallways and the living scientists appear to hide living beings in their quarters. I associate Stanislaw Lem with the brainy comedy of his short fiction, but the opening chapters of Solaris are as unnerving as any horror novel I have ever read.
Intended Audience: Adult
Sexual content: Explicit
Ace/Genderqueer characters: yes
Rating: R for heavy sexual violence, suicidal characters and disturbing imagery
Writing style: 5/5
Likable characters: 4/5
Valerie has never met a Gammadian bland before, but when Tedla is found half-dead in an alley, Val is called in to make sense of this sexless being. Tedla’s life has not been easy, not least of all because blands are treated as a nonhuman slave class by the males and females of Gammadis.
I had misgivings about this book when I first heard the synopsis. Would this be another story in which a sexless asexual “non-human” would become human through discovering sexuality and gender? Given that so many becoming-human stories have such a discovery or relationship as an important milestone, I was worried this would be the same, and thus invalidate Tedla’s identity. I also balked at the name “bland”, since this seemed like just another instance of thinking that nonsexual means boring. And yes, this is another story in which the sexless characters are referred to as “it”. This serves the double purpose of not sexing the blands but also illustrating their nonhuman status in the eyes of the other Gammadians.
Gail Carriger‘s The Parasol Protectorate novels are like delicious, ridiculously decorated little petit fours of books. I read Blameless in under twenty-four hours, mostly in two sittings. I went through two cups of lavender Earl Grey tea, one glass of wine, two espressos, and one cup of vanilla black tea while reading it. The espresso is not very Parasol Protectorate-ish, but Alexia was in Italy for that portion of the book.
I was a little afraid going into this book, because the end of the last book was very heavy, and also Conall was absolutely terrible, so I was afraid that in order to provide conflict throughout this book, he would continue to be a jerkface and then I wouldn’t be able to be happy about him and Alexia getting back together (which was basically the inevitable ending). Luckily, things weren’t as bad as I feared on that front, since (a) the book only takes place over a few weeks, and (b) apparently Conall deals with his feelings by getting sloshed off formaldehyde and then the mess he created continues because he can’t sober up for weeks, not because he is continuing to actually have dumber-than-a-brick opinions about the whole mess.
The Telling (2000) is Ursula K. Le Guin‘s eighth (and currently last) novel in the Hainish series. It won the 2001 Locus SF Award. I recently read a 2013 interview with Le Guin in which she says “Maybe, as I’ve gone on, what I’ve learned as a writer is that you do as little as possible. And part of it is leaving a lot of it up to the reader. And a lot of it is realizing you don’t have to do that much if you do the right thing. That’s enough. So my writing has tended to be shorter and more allusive than it used to be.”
Le Guin follows her own advice in The Telling. In this age of enormous page counts and authors who are now “too famous” to be edited, the hardback edition of her book is 264 pages (with a nice, big font and very comfortable margins). In many ways this book reads like an Eastern koan: Le Guin never explains; she never tells the reader what to think. She presents contrasting ideas in beautiful language and lets the reader decide what it all means.
The February Roll-Your-Own Review Poll is closed and we have our three winners! Congrats to Alix, Rhonda and Nadine and thanks to everyone for all the great reviews! Our winners will find an Amazon.com gift card waiting for them in their email inbox for $25, $15 and $10 respectively.
This is Alix’s second 1st place win – congrats to her! We also had a tie for 3rd place between Nadine and Stephen Poltz for his review of Down Below Station but the tie breaking vote went to Nadine. Better luck next time, Stephen. I have no doubt you’ll be in the running again!
A look at the stats shows us that the RYO is still going strong with a nice jump in all areas except for the number of challenges. I’m going to post a new challenge in April that I think will be a lot of fun. It’s going to be interesting to see how many people can find time for yet another challenge but it will be a short one so I’m hoping to lure out a few adventurous souls.
This contest ended yesterday but I was out of town and couldn’t make the announcement until now. Anyway, we’ve just had our re-tweet contest prize drawing for Miles Cameron‘s The Red Knight and The Fell Sword, books one and two of his Traitor Son Cycle from Orbit!
There were 204 entries for the contest and here are our 5 random winners:
Congrats to all our winners! If you are one of our prize winners please send your full name and snail-mail address to us at “info [at] worldswithoutend [dot] com” so we can send your prize right away. Be sure to mention The Fell Sword in your email so we know which prize you’re claiming.
Our thanks to Orbit and Miles Cameron for the excellent contest and to everyone who participated! We’ll be back with another giveaway soon so keep an eye open!
Hey, remember that first trailer for Jupiter Ascending? Yeah, me neither, but THIS one looks pretty cool, no?
The six shortlisted books for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel for 2014 were announced earlier this week. They are:
- God’s War by Kameron Hurley (Del Rey)
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
- The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann (Gollancz)
- Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
- The Adjacent by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
- The Machine by James Smythe (Blue Door)
The winner will be announced on Thursday May 1st at an exclusive award ceremony held at the Royal Society, London, and taking place as part of the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival. The winner will be presented with a check for £2014.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend. See the official press release for more details.
Ancillary Justice keeps rolling along, garnering a 4th award nom with God’s War just behind with 3 noms to it’s credit. So what do you think of this list? Any surprises for you? Which is your pick to win?