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Worlds Without End Blog

RYO Review: The Dervish House by Ian McDonald Posted at 2:30 PM by Megan AM

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The Dervish HouseRYO Reading ChallengeWe choose our friends, not our family… but what of our neighbors? Those non-blood non-friends with whom we share geography and often nothing more, who force awkward small talk at the mailbox, whose kids’ bike tires streak the driveway, who happen to be there when the ambulance arrives. We hold them in an arms-length intimacy– ‘I hate cleaning after your messy pine tree, but I might need you if I sprain my ankle on my jog.’ (But how many ugly pickups do you really need?)

The Dervish House is a story about neighbors: a small, diverse Istanbul community, which populates an aging, neglected plaza that once housed an order of dervishes. Its inhabitants are as varied and complex as the city itself, where a cataclysm of worlds, cultures, and ideas collide and spill over the Bosphorus strait. At Adem Dede, the dervish house, rival tea houses stare each other down, old Greek immigrants gossip and argue, an art dealer prowls for religious artifacts, a pothead hides from his family, and a precocious nine-year-old with a heart condition explores the world through his bitbots (the coolest toy ever!).

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Megan AM (couchtomoon) first discovered she was a SF nerd when a group of nerd boys sat near her friends in the school cafeteria and she overheard them talking about her favorite books and movies. Her friends noticed, too. Nowadays, when she is not managing crises at work, or hanging out with her gorgeous husband, you can find her curled up on the couch reading SF novels. She posts her reviews of these novels on her blog From couch to moon.

RYO Review: Time is the Simplest Thing by Clifford D. Simak Posted at 2:27 PM by Megan AM

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Time is the Simplest ThingRYO_headerClifford Simak has an important message for all wannabe McFly’s and TimeLords: Don’t bother. Life moves with time. It doesn’t hang around to be observed by time travelers. The past is deserted of life, and the future is a void.

More importantly, Mr. Simak also has a message for NASA: Stop what you’re doing. Humans are too frail for space. If we want to explore space, we must do so with our minds (cue wobbly theremin music).

That’s the basic premise for Simak’s 1962 Hugo-nominated novel Time is the Simplest Thing (a.k.a. The Fisherman). Shepherd Blaine, telepathic space explorer for Fishhook enterprises, embarks on a mental journey to a planet 5,000 light-years from Earth and encounters the Pinkness (not a sexual metaphor!), an equally telepathic creature. The creature automatically shares its mind with Blaine, without so much as a hello, (well, it shouts “Hey, Pal!”– because every planet shares a lexicon of wholesome epithets), and Blaine, fused with his new alien mind, returns to Earth and flees Fishhook’s greedy desire to collect alien life in any form.

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Megan AM (couchtomoon) first discovered she was a SF nerd when a group of nerd boys sat near her friends in the school cafeteria and she overheard them talking about her favorite books and movies. Her friends noticed, too. Nowadays, when she is not managing crises at work, or hanging out with her gorgeous husband, you can find her curled up on the couch reading SF novels. She posts her reviews of these novels on her blog From couch to moon.

RYO Review: The Forever Machine by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley Posted at 7:28 PM by Megan AM

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The Forever MachineRYO_headerThere might be a story somewhere underneath all this twaddle, but Clifton and Riley chose to tell the wrong one.

You would think the combined effort of two authors would enhance the narrative, correct the mistakes, and plug the plot holes. Two perspectives, two brains, two sets of eyeballs… it should amount to a more perfect work, but instead, like all classroom group work, the product fizzles with a fragmented story, cut-and-paste wisdom, and retroactive elaboration. And one writer probably did most of the work, while the other guy flirted with some girls at another table.

Well, that’s been my experience with group work.

The Story:  Professors Billings and Hoskins are on the run after creating Bossy, a controversial supercomputer with powerful, yet untested potential. The professors depend on telepathic student, Joe Carter, to help them evade the government until they can test out Bossy on a human being. But Joe may have other interests in Bossy that he isn’t revealing.

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Megan AM (couchtomoon) first discovered she was a SF nerd when a group of nerd boys sat near her friends in the school cafeteria and she overheard them talking about her favorite books and movies. Her friends noticed, too. Nowadays, when she is not managing crises at work, or hanging out with her gorgeous husband, you can find her curled up on the couch reading SF novels. She posts her reviews of these novels on her blog From couch to moon.

WoGF Review: Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente Posted at 11:18 AM by Megan AM

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WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeMegan AM (couchtomoon) first discovered she was a SF nerd when a group of nerd boys sat near her friends in the school cafeteria and she overheard them talking about her favorite books and movies.  Her friends noticed, too.  Nowadays, when she is not managing crises at work, or hanging out with her gorgeous husband, you can find her curled up on the couch reading SF novels.  She posts her reviews of these novels on her blog From couch to moon.


PalimpsestLewis Carroll meets Anne Rice (the erotica years) in this surreal urban fantasy about four individuals who travel to the city of Palimpsest via a sex portal. Yes, you read that correctly: In order to visit the city, instead of going down the rabbit hole, you need to go down someone else’s hole.

Sorry.

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente is an adult fairy tale in every sense, and not for the pearl-clutchers who may accidentally pick up this book expecting a story about medieval manuscripts. But, that’s not to say that this is a one-handed read either. Fans of the recent boon in erotic fiction probably won’t be satisfied, either. The sex happens in the real world, among ugly, destitute characters who view sex as an mere gateway, and sometimes obstruction, to their dream city. There may be a few titillating phrases here and there, but this is not erotica. Sometimes, the sex seems incidental, as if all the good portals have already been taken.

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