The Reefs of Space by Frederick Pohl and Jack Williamson

Reefs of Space Reefs of Space by Frederik Pohl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting collaboration between 2 greats of Classic Science Fiction, The Reefs of Space combines hard science fiction, according to Hoyle, with fantasy-like world building in the depths of space.

The theories of Fred Hoyle, father of nucleosynthesis in stars and advocate of a steady state universe, were cutting edge physics when this book was written. His science is used in this fascinating novel to create the reefs of space, and many strange creatures. The protagonist explores these reefs and their inhabitants to create a “jetless drive” and free humans from the oppressive Plan of Man computer.

The book is an enjoyable read and the 1st novel in The Starchild Trilogy

View all my reviews >>

Islam Joke: Don’t read if you’re easily offended

Obama dies and finds himself before the Pearly Gates.

He is very excited; all his life he’s had a secret wish and longed to meet the Prophet Mohammed. Having arrived at the Gates of Heaven, Barack meets a man with a beard. ‘Are you Mohammed?’ he asks.

‘No, my son. I am Peter. Mohammed is higher up.’ Peter then points to a ladder that rises into the clouds.

Delighted that Mohammed should be higher than Peter, Obama climbs the ladder in great strides, climbs through the clouds coming to a room where he meets another bearded man. He asks again, ‘Are you Mohammed?

‘No, I am Moses. Mohammed is higher still.’

Exhausted, but with a heart full of joy he climbs the ladder yet again, he discovers an even larger room where he meets another man with a beard. Full of hope, he asks again, ‘Are you Mohammed?

‘No, I am Jesus… You will find Mohammed higher up.’

Mohammed higher than Jesus! Man! Obama can hardly contain his delight and climbs and climbs, ever higher. Once again, he reaches a larger room where he meets a man with a beard and repeats his question: ‘Are you Mohammed?…’he gasps, as by now he is totally out of breath from all his climbing.

‘No, my son…. I am Almighty God. But you look exhausted. Would you like a cup of coffee?’

‘Yes! please, my Lord’

God looks behind him, claps his hands and yells out: ‘Hey Mohammed two coffees!’

Muhammad and the psychiatrist

Other prophets have followers with a sense of humor

The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure by Storm Constantine

The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure (Wraeththu Histories, #1) The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure by Storm Constantine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure fleshes out much detail of the original Wraeththu trilogy. I tells the story of Flick after he left Salrock to find what happened to Pell’s family and tells the stories of Pell’s siblings.

Much more detail is given about the ‘science’ of Wraeththu physiology, their origins and the nature of Wraeththuian Sex ‘Magic’. The nature of the Kamagrians is explored in detail. A Pagan bent is prominent in this new trilogy, hinted at in the original.

Much had been made of Storm’s Gothic fiction. But, I consider this a misnomer, at least as applied to the Wraeththu series. I find the world to be very positive and compelling, one in which I long to be a part. There is certainly romance, good and evil, but I do not find the horror, death, decay and such, that are such a part of Gothic fiction and subculture. White and beauty is much more a part of its world than black and ugly insanity. In simple terms it is about the fall of one civilization and the struggles of the rise of another. Its politics are timeless.

View all my reviews >>

Fools’ Experiments by Edward Lerner

Fools' Experiments Fools’ Experiments by Edward M. Lerner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A cyberpunk horror story about how stupid humans can be when it come’s to acquiring power. It gets 6.5 of 10 on my scale, a fun read, but purely escapist.

View all my reviews >>

Comfort and Joy by Jim Grimsley

Comfort and Joy Comfort and Joy by Jim Grimsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can certainly relate to this novel, as I suspect many males in long term spousal relationships can do. I too had to choose between my spouse (of 30 years) and my parents. This book ends with such a choice made by Ford, leaving the future to the experience of the reader. It took about 5 years before my parents came around to accept us completely and now give Chris their love, always ask about him. Sometimes, I even think they like him better than me 🙂 He has become like an adopted son to them. But we had to be persistent in our stance that we are a couple and do things together, even visiting out parents on holidays.

Grimsley is a wonderfully poetic writer, His words flow off the mind’s tongue making for a delightful readability.

Experiencing Ford and Danny’s developing relationship, and the “slings and arrows” of male-male relationships reminded me of all the work, ups and downs Chris and I have experienced over the last 30 years. It had the effect of reminding me how much I love him and really why. And, for all you out there who have trouble understanding Gay relationships, sex is a relatively minor part of long term relationships, whether gay or straight.

All in all, a delightful book relevant to Gay couples as well as relatives and friends of Gay couples.

View all my reviews >>

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

Dhalgren Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
to wound the autumnal city … I have come to

This is a difficult book to review, difficult to put one’s thought’s and feelings into words, the written word is perhaps insufficient to the task (a meme of this novel, I think). Following are some random thoughts.

Overall I found it engaging, for reasons I cannot express; I was compelled to get back to reading, as compelled, perhaps as The Kid was to writing.

I read Dhalgren from front to back, though one could open the book at random and just start reading without losing anything. It is like a large, deep, lake you can jump into anywhere and start swimming in any direction, enjoying the feelings and experience.

It is a circle or rather a sphere; one eventually returns to where they started, which looks and feels different each time, but is essentially the same.

Though the city of Bellona is set in a science fiction locus, it is not a science fiction novel. It is more like classical literature. I suspect those expecting to read a science fiction novel will hate it, throw it across their room, breaking their mirror. And, be less for their action.

There are many Classical references, Hellenic and pre-Hellenic, hidden throughout the novel, which may or may not have anything to do with anything, but provide a framework for one’s world-view, if recognized.

It is either one of the great American novels are a gigantic joke.

It makes me want to try, once again, to get through Joyce, Proust, Pynchon, Hofstadter … Perhaps enjoying this novel is a clue I have become experienced enough to enjoy their ‘difficult’ works.

The Kid is an engaging character. I want to read him, know him, join his nest, love him, be him.

I will likely read this again and perhaps read about the book.

William Gibson (the Father of Cyberpunk SF) wrote a new forward to this edition (the author’s favored edition), titled The Recombinant City. Read it! Several things stand out re-reading the Forward after experiencing Dhalgren. Most important to me are:

I place Dhalgren in this history:
No one under thirty-five today can remember the singularity that overtook America in the nineteen-sixties, and the generation that experienced it most directly seems largely to have opted for amnesia and denial

Reading Dhalgren is a cure for this disorder.

and the oft-quoted line from Gibson:

I believe its ‘riddle’ was never meant to be ‘solved’.

Its ‘riddle’ is meant to be experienced.

The Nitrogen Fix

The Nitrogen Fix The Nitrogen Fix by Hal Clement

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Classic Clement, as usual. This science was fascinating. I had never considered that there is enough nitrogen around to completely fix all of the oxygen in the atmosphere given the right catalysts. Is it inevitable, especially now that we are mucking with genetic engineering?

My problem with this Clement novel is that although it has many intriguing concepts, I did not find the story or the characters very interesting.

View all my reviews >>

The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Geography Club Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars The best thing about this book for me was the charm and wit of the protagonist, Russell. But, being decades away from the coming out process, there was really nothing new for me. This would be a good book for adolescents struggling with their sexual identity. There are better ones out there. The book is appropriate for inclusion in school libraries. View all my reviews >>

Ark by Stephen Baxter

Ark Ark by Stephen Baxter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ark is a continuation of Baxter’s apocalyptic Flood and tells the story of Ark 1 being built somewhere near Denver Colorado in the barely surviving USA, its launch and the struggles of its passengers as Ark 1 tries to save a small remnant of humans from extinction. Baxter tells for me what is a believable hard Sci-Fi story of multigenerational life in a container as its passengers hurtle towards salvation: good story, well developed characters.

It was coincidental and very fortunate that I had just read When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide, another hard Sci-Fi duology written in 1933-34. These are essentially the same stories with different Humanity shattering disasters, different emphases, styles and tones due to the different eras during which their authors lived. EG, the main characters, the heroes in When Worlds Collide are several men and 1 women. In Baxter’s work they are all female, underscoring the new-wave sexism of the 21st century. Both works include Biblical quotes. The older uses these to give hope and courage from a God as savior point of view. The newer uses these to affirm that Man is on his own in an uncaring universe. Finally from today’s point of view, the Science in When Worlds Collide seems right on, whereas Baxter’s science, while not obviously breaking any of our current Scientific Laws, uses highly speculative theories to tell his story. I find it interesting that both works use the same method of propulsion to get their respective Arks off the Earth.

Overall I quite enjoyed Ark and am glad I did not have to wait very long for it to be published after reading Flood (though I did have to buy the UK edition, since the US edition is not yet announced). Flood/Ark should have been published as 1 book; it should be read as one book; it should be reviewed as one book. Gollanz hardbacks, expensive in the US, even compared to other UK publishers, are, IMO, cheaply made. Nice covers, though, and that on Ark quotes another great ’50’s Sci-Fi movie. View all my reviews >>

Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga, #6) Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Gay positive exploration of a man who left his all male planet on a quest to acquire ovarian tissue for use in reproduction on his planet Athos. He meets and is forced to interact with true aliens, females, for the 1st time in his life. The plot is driven by the mystery of stolen ovarian cultures and unexpected twists that resulted in their theft.

The book has a great plot, but I wish the idea had been fleshed out more. It is more of a novella and a novel. I want to know more about Ethan and Terrence Cee and how they interact. Perhaps Ethan is just an extremely adaptable male, but given the nature of Athosian culture, I would expect him to have more difficulty interacting with the females he encounters. I would like to know Ethan and Terrence better.

It is not really a Vorkosigan novel, though it occurs in the same universe. Will Ethan or Athos return in later books?

But, I thoroughly enjoyed this read!

View all my reviews >>