Category Archive: SF

Sep 29 2013

SF: Rainbow Ends

It is interesting to see how contemporary Sci-Fi authors embrace the new technologies.   Vernor Vinge in his “Rainbow Ends” demonstrates his deep knowledge of current IT technologies.  In a not too far future, his heroes are immerged in a world with three technical characteristics:

  • Wearables; computers are part of the day to day clothing.  Funnily, the French translation uses the sad term “vetinf”.
  • Augmented reality; Every body wears eye lenses.  Not only do they give additional information but they can also disguise the world with the fantasy desired by the viewer
  • Ubiquitous network

Therefore, from the technical point of view, the book is interesting.  What about the story itself.  It is mixture of Fahrenheit 411, Snow Crash and a jump to the future.  Unfortunately, there are some inconsistencies with characters, as some young kids are too “efficient” ‘(at least, according to me).  Thus a good book, but not a major opus.

PS: I do not share his vision and definition of DRM Smile

Jan 27 2013

Snuff

snuff 

The regular reader of this blog is aware that Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors.  He is an extremely prolific author.  Therefore, it is always with high expectations that I read the newest book of the Disc world serie.

This time, it is “Snuff”.  It is a great book.  This time the target of Pratchett’s satirist pen is intolerance, day-to-day racism and slavery.  As for most of his books, he uses his characters to fustigate a problem of our society. 

What is interesting with Pratchett is that he enriches his world with new characters, and concepts or races.  For instance, in “unseen academicals”, he used for the first time a goblin as  of one the main characters.  In this new opus, goblins are the central characters of the story.  Furthermore, second characters gain more visibility.  For instance, Wee Mad Arthur, the gnome we found of “Feet of Clay” is back in “Snuff”.  And we discover new talents of this interesting tiny constable.

If you like the Discworld, and Sam Vimes, then you have to read Snuff.

Oct 06 2012

The Way of Shadows

way-of-shadowsI just finished the first volume of Brent Weeks’ s trilogy “The Night Angel”.   Its title is “The Way of Shadows”.  Azoth becomes the apprentice of Durzo Blint, the best wetboy of Cenaria.  Wetboys are assassins with magical Talents.   He will be deeply implied in the future of this small nation…

 

The ecosystem is interesting with many fighting countries, political plots, different types of wizardry, and several interesting magical artifacts.  The characters are complex and far from being Manichean (I like characters that are both evil and good, such as Moorcock’s Elric of Menilbone).  The plot is rich with many surprises, and extremely dark.  If you are expecting bright happy ending, do not start this book.

 

The book starts slowly, but soon becomes breathtaking.  An excellent book.  I will immediately start the second volume ‘Shadow’s edge”.  I hope that the other books of the trilogy are also breathtaking.

Dec 17 2011

SF: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are a set of seven novels written by Stephen Donaldson.  The heroe is a writer who had leprosy.  Misteriously, he is invocated in a fantasy world, The Land (Le Fief in French).  He is expected to be the Savior.  Unfortunately, Thomas, due to his disease, is extremely cynical and does not believe in the reality of this world.  The key element is the dark psychology of the heroe.

I read the two first novels, and started the third one, and stopped.  I did not become addicted to these stories probably for two reasons.  Th

Sep 11 2011

SF: Unseen Academicals

You may know my “addiction” to Pratchett’s disc world.  Thus, you may be not be surprised by this post.

Unseen academicals is the latest opus (June 2010).  Once more, it is a great book.  As usually, we find the usual members of Ankh Morpok.  In this book, the focus is on the UU (Unseen University).  You will discover that Ponder Gibbons is taking an increasing position within the University.

Terry Pratchett adds new interesting characters (and even a species that was missing (or lost)).  I am sure that we will see them again in next books.

You know my passion for  Lord Vetinari.  In this book, you will discover that he may even sometimes have some human feelings :Wink:

Read it!!  If don’t think that the book is available in French.

Jun 05 2011

SF: After the Downfall

“After the Downfall” is a book from Harry Turtledove. In a nutshell, during the last days of WWII, in Berlin, a German sub-officer is magically transferred to a feudal-magical world. There he saves a goddess and joins a war between a supposedly superior blond nation and a supposedly inferior dark small slave nation. Of course, he starts the war with the Aryan-like nation. But the things are not as simple as they look.

The book is an excuse to be a lesson about tolerance, that we are too often judging people from their appearance, that our opinion is biased by our environment. Of course, the conclusion is going in the right direction.

Nevertheless, the story is simple and you will quickly guess the optimist ending. The most interesting part of the book is the evolving point of view of a German soldier that starts to look back to the Russian campaign with a more open sight. The book is an advocacy against racism. But there a re far better SF books on this topic with better story, for instance Ursula Le Guin’s “the dispossessed.”

I do not recommend this book  🙁  . Turtledove seems a very prolific author. He won a Hugo award. If one of my reader did read a Turtledove’s book that he/she appreciated, please recommend it to me ❓ . Thanks.

Apr 10 2011

SF: Neuromancer

Back to the past, sometimes it is nice to read again “oldies but goldies”. I read back Gibson’s Neuromancer (En français, Neuromancien). This book is considered as the genesis of the cyberpunk culture. There are all the components cyber space, drugs, and hackers.
The book was written in 1984. When reading the book, you have to remember how the computer world was in 1984. At that time, I was toying with Sinclair’s ZX81 and HP100. Only two years later did I get my first Apple II. Microsoft had not yet generated Windows 3, the first PC was yet available… Gibson already puts in place all the components of the future cyberspace. At that time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a promising field.

I first read it around 1988 in French. I was not yet aware that I will later work in computer security. But I already loved the book. When I have read back the book, I discovered that Gibson called microsoft the electronics implants that contains information. Microsoft company was not yet here! Thus, this name was not a tribute to Gates. I don’t remember what is the French term. Can a French reader tell me the answer?

I think that Neuromancer, together with Stephenson’s Snow Crash, are the roots of the matrix trilogy and of our cyber culture.

A must read for all SF fans.

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