Archive for thinker

EXPEDITION TO EARTH By Arthur C. Clarke – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Clarke is one of SF’s foremost thinkers, so it’s not a surprise to find his first short story collection to be filled to the brim with ideas. Originally published in 1953 this collection of eleven short stories is remarkable not just for the plethora of ideas it contains, but the fact that almost sixty years after its publication hardly any of it has dated.

Having never read Clarke before, but having heard of his collaboration on 2001: A Space Odyssey with Kubrick, I was quite looking forward to reading this short book (only 180 pages).

The first story is the longest, and the collection ends with “The Sentinel”, which is one of the stories 2001 was based on. Full of great ideas, Clarke writes with a clean, crisp style most SF writers nowadays tend to adopt, which leaves characters as mere pieces to discover or be endangered by the idea that is the heart of the story.

The perfect introduction to a legendary writer, this collection made me want to read more, and I’ll likely pick up Rendezvous with Rama before too long.

SLANT By Greg Bear – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Midway through the 21st century there is a huge reliance on psycho-therapy using nano-technology monitors to keep society sane and well-adjusted.

A billionaire commits suicide after spending an evening with a Yox (latest immersive technology) pornstar and escort.

A man is regularly visiting the Omphalos, a strange building filled with the dead who are waiting to be brought back to life when the technology arrives.

Jill is a Thinker, a massive super intelligent computer.

Mary Choy is a Seattle Police Detective trying to find out the truth about the billionaire’s suicide.

Then people’s therapy monitors start to break down, sending society in a paroxysm of depression and mental instability, a group of criminals plans to invade Ompholas and steal the treasures within, the pornstar is attacked, Jill is hacked, and Mary Choy starts to literally fall apart.

This is what SF is all about. Great ideas and good plotting. The characters are merely there to give us some focus, not really to get attached to. There are some really good ideas, most of which aren’t outdated despite this book being ten years old. The plotting is where the book really shows its strength, as the various separate strands come together in a complex climax. OK, so you can see where most of this is coming from before the end, and there aren’t really any surprises, in fact there nothing really spectacular at all. This is good solid SF, some nice ideas, some good plotting, decent characters, but nothing special, nothing memorable. All the right ingredients, but really nothing to make it stand out.