March 2018 - What SF books are you reading?

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#2
Finally finished The White Dragon ~Anne McCaffery

I don't know why it took me so long , it was a good book. (but the lesser of the three books

the first 2/3rds was a bit of a disappointment, and was less SCI FI than the previous two books. Really this was following a young annoying brat who just happens to be the absolute flawless hero.... ever. single. time. other than that I felt like I was reading the Pern version of Dawson's Creek, with everyone way to involved in everyone elses complicated sex life.
Its ok that the teenage Hero just took advantage of the other teenage peasant girl (TO WHOM HE IS HER LORD) and followed it up with all but forcing her the second time, because in the next scene he finds true love and becomes a vivid passionate romantic. really.
Why do I find it creepy when the 40 year olds are making fun of the teen girls because their dragon is going into heat.. and that means........so are they.

The book did wrap up some things, and it should have been a good thing. but
they resolve the queen's egg in the most boring way possible and almost instantly. they then resolve the T'Kull vengeance thing in an equally boring climax.
but as soon as these 'supposed to major climaxes' were finished the book started getting interesting. it was fantastic with all the SCI FI finally being injected into the book, and it makes up for loss time by being nail bitingly interesting.

the whole last third of the book more than makes up for the other 2/3rds, however I think I'm done with McCaffery. I'm glad my wife made me read this trilogy

6/10
 

Andrew.J

Journeyed there and back again
#3
Right now I'm reading Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, as recommended by Tom. Around 60 pages in. Liking it a lot so far. Nothing big has happened yet, but the setting/planet is very interesting. It's always fascinating seeing a take on a civilisation, if I can call it that, early in its development. The linguistic quirks are the best, though. Simple, but effective. Looking forward to reading more tonight.
 

Andrew.J

Journeyed there and back again
#4
And I'm finished with Dark Eden. A lovely book, 5 stars. Based on the reviews, however, I'm not sure I'll be reading the sequels. I currently have my eye on the Ender series or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as my next foray into science fiction.
 
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TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
And I'm finished with Dark Eden. A lovely book, 5 stars. Based on the reviews, however, I'm not sure I'll be reading the sequels. I currently have my eye on the Ender series or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as my next foray into science fiction.
Glad you enjoyed it.

The first book was the best in my opinion, but I was too intrigued to see how things turned out not to carry on.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#6
finished I Robot~ Isaac Asimov

a brilliant early robot novel dealing mostly with the evolution of robotics as well as the transcendence of AI . the robot stories I read before this are all basic trivial things, or automatons of fancy gearworks, or essentially familiar to the golem story.here Asimov sets up qualities that still persist today.like his laws of robotics which form the basis of using paradoxes to destroy robots which also becomes the phrase "does not compute".

This is a series of short stories he published a decade ago, tied together with an overarching plot of an interview.

the first one Robbie is an early story in the history of robotics that sets up the laws of robotics for the reader, and the actual laws governing people with robots. it is a tender story that really coaxed the reader into the story in general rather than slapping them in.

the next few follow Donovon and Powell, I love these, as they are presented with problems regarding the three laws and try to circumvent the problems while field testing experimental robots

then we go into several regarding the narrator's experiences, which not only deal with three law problems but also deals with ignorant humans constantly trying to bend or break the three laws because they aren't smart enough to figure out a work around.

finally we get the wrap up which gives us insight of where it all was heading.

the Donovan Powell set establish the worship of logic by the robots to the extent of forming a religion they still do their job they still follow the laws, but their brain forms whole concepts to avoid bad logic or work around their own inabilities.

the next set often deal with robots that are more of a danger to humanity. they deal with establishing AIs and its conflicts against the three laws. this set is establishing whats next, really the robot politician was the the forbodding sign of the future we get too.'

movie

not actually bad the movie includes elements from each section. like Robbie the name, the nester sequence, the fire, and even things that would be a SPOILER.

101/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#8
finished Caves of Steel ~ Isaac Asimov

much different from I robot, this is more a mystery, buddy cop with one detective a displaying a distaste and sometimes hatred for robots and the other... a robot. much of the mystery is based on the socioogical aspects of robots in society.

This seems to be where the bulk of the movie gets it's content. the characters are mostly all there like the same same commissioner, protagonist, and robot experts. even the original nature of the crime.

the major point
is that the spacers are trying to destabilize the earth government to force them to except their own way of life that they view as, also broken.

8/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#9
finished The Naked Sun~ Isaac Asimov

I warn you now, as a sequel that relies heavily on the former, I cannot talk about even a litttle
it without mentioning spoilers from caves of steel.


much like the first book this one follows a detective with a robot partner in a crime noir set in motion by a murder.

This one takes place on an unusual and unique colony but the first one an earthman has set foot on in centuries. (the detective) in this one you can see a contrived feeling of the protagonist being a Sherlock Holmes clone as three times he says quotes of Holmes in a manner that suggest he might be saying them, not quoting someone. (he also repeatedly acts like holmes).

Bailey is changed. whereas before he shared the irrational hatred and fear of robots and spacers. now he understands both enough to have a rational distrust knowing full well they are capable of being as weak as earthers. this gives him the advantage over spacers who are too trusting in their ways their methods, and that robots are as mundane as a table.

the relationship is also changed, to one of strained admiration and constantly working around eachother.

this book goes through various sequences tied together on the neurotic nature of earthers, and solarians. they just happen to be neurotic in desperate ways. Bailey is hindered outside closed in places without windows as well as with absence of humans. the solarians cant stand human presence to the point of mental breakdowns. they pride themselves in the ability to not interact so they train children to behave similarly. every personal action that requires privacy including nudity is considered just fine for anyone to view during conversation, but the mere act of being in the same house will cause a strange taboo of perversity that none of them can stand. personal space is their only sense of privacy, even whether someone had children is now a private matter.

these two neurosis must be rectified if Bailey is to solve the case.

the solution is a redo. but maybe not. from Sherlock Holmes the murder weapon wasn' t found because they were all trained not to notice it from social situations. here the object not noticed is a robot. unable to harm a human, and so mundane everyone did not notice it. this is repeated in Feet of clay by terry pratchett. i cannot help but wonder if this is original to asimov or if he took it from someone else?'

much like caves of steel the base theme is coupled by hints of info that will destabilize the future into different direction in a way similar to how foundation is set. whereas caves of steel reveals that the colonies are using their considerable power to keep earth not only in check but also in an inferior state of poverty in order to force earth to adopt colony philosophy and do what the colonies want. in this however
the theme is to reveal that the colonies no longer have any power over earth since their grip has grown complacent, old, and arthritic. this opens up the opportunity for earthers to break free from their planetary prison and form their own colonies in places where the spacers have no influence especially since the spacers have no desire or plans to continue colonies

there are hints that cause these events to head towards a future like that of Foundation series. considering one of the books on my shelf is "robots and empire" looks like I will be reading foundation as well


8/10
 
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Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#10
Just Finished The Robots of Dawn ~ Isaac Asimov

Holy Explicative batman that was good. Ill tell you right now 10/10

I warn you just as the Naked Sun before I can not even begin to talk about this book without mentioning spoilers from Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun. The Stories are so intricately continuations It is not possible excepting that first sentence (beginning with Holy explicative) All spoilers for this book are blocked, but not for the other two.



so before the Caves of steel makes very brief whispers of the beginning of something the likes of the Galactic Empire, In Naked Sun this is actually referenced as a possible future with specific progress towards, but this is brief. In this book it is referenced heavily to the Foundation Series being the future, between the doctor inventing Psychohistory, to plans of forming very plainly a galactic Empire. This leaves me wondering if I should read the Foundation series, Foundation prequels, Galactic Empire Series, or the Robot prequel short story series. next.

One thing I do note is that throughout the series so far the main character (Elijah) changes constantly, but his changes are all directly a result of what happened in the previous book. Asimov keeps it very cohesive and coherent. This story begins with Elijah bearing the nature outside the caves of steel with a group of followers who are all set on acclimating themselves to doing work themselves in the dirt, and prepping either themselves or the next generation to be so acclimated that they can undertake the journey of colonization. I will simply state that Asimov is not in the habit of inserting useless facts or events, unless they are intentionally useless.

Another thing that I have neglected so far in these reviews is the subtext of race relations. The robots are treated as black people have been treated in the USA, each world does it as if from a different point in history. In Caves of Steel The Earthers are treating the robots like the segragation period post WW2 pre civil rights in any part of the country. The Robots are derisively called "Boy" as an insult, they are assumed inferior and distrusted, undue resentment flounders when there are so many out of work and the robots are being hired because they are cheaper. there are riots against them. they have their own facilities and are not allowed to mix the jobs they hold are menial and they are mistreated and verbally abused.
In Naked sun we see a pre civil war Southern Plantation society (from a genial aristocrat perspective strictly). The robots are part of their daily life to a point that no one notices them, but they do not tolerate the robots to be seen more that absolutely necessary. The humans enjoy every luxury imaginable and the robots are considered lesser than a toaster. further the humans dote on various prudish Victorian ideas. sex is so taboo that even being in the same house is virtually considered a gross perversion.
In robots of dawn however we suddenly find ourselves in an aristocratic society Post civil rights era, I dare say maybe 80s. much like so many books from the era (ill reference the Bonfire of the vanities specifically) the rich bottomtoothed aristocrats have evolved to a point beyond robot prejudice. OR more really they find it fashionable to appear to no longer be prejudice. The reality is that they still can't stand them, think themselves superior and treat robots much like the characters in Bonfire do. having robot servants is right and proper, but allowing them into you bathroom is absurd. the law also treats them as pieces of furniture rather than their supposed righteous dignity would have them say "no different than humans"

On a mystery novel note, my limited experience with the genre has me to conclude that as a whole the plots follow a few tried and true forumlas without deviation. Even some of the best well written mysteries I have read follow certain sets of formula on how the plot progresses, when the protagonist drinks at the bar, or gets shot at by the villain etc.. Asimov has managed too have presented a clear unique plot that had no resemblance in event pattern to the others of his mystery books. I am sure Someone more versed like @Darth Tater could point out a mystery novel that follows the same pattern, but I will say at least he couldn't point out a hundred quickly like most mystery novels.

So again Elijah Bailey is pulled off earth to investigate a murder on a planet not used to them.This time it is a Robot and this time it is Aurora. the same placed the formerly sexually repressed (and now sexually liberated) Glidiah moved to. The two of them are also now galaxy famous with a movie of sorts portraying them in the plot of Naked Sun. The world is unlike earth or Solara. For one sex is the norm, to be associated with the casualness of ordering a drink for someone at a bar. there seem to be no taboos regarding sex as long as it is consensual and doesn't hurt anyone.
to the extent that a character who was uniquely raised by her father repeatedly asked him to have sex with her despite his constant decline. This is presented as normalish. as most parents will never know their offspring it is highly probably that many may enjoy their close relatives without ever knowing. this is the daughters perspective, the father however.... takes on a more present earth view of repulsion(except a certain Nonetheist group worshipping Dawkins? not to be confused with the majority of aetheists)

The novel does get a little blue, so the constant barrage of bathroom etiquette and sex customs is not gratuitous but actually presents valid data for the mystery and the plot. Where it might be considered a little out of line,
Is when it explains that Glidiah had sex with a fully functiona, fully human looking and acting , robot which was in itself viewed on Aurora as normal as masturbation, BUT that she then formed a romantic entanglement with the robot to the extent of considering him her Husband.
It gets pretty descriptive. That said it is extremely important to the plot.

The ending is really satisfactory, it ends a lot like naked sun where the judicial conclusion of who done it, is different from who actually did it. But it differs in motive and action. In this one the basic model robot is found to have the same Psychic ability as the psychic robot in I Robot. It has been subtely influencing the humans around him to push his ideal for honoring the first law. The ultimate game of manipulating all of humanity to a goal for humanities own good, AND altering the future as such. He is the Roboticide committer, Because his ultimate end is to have Earth lead the charge in the new wave of colonization as the best, most logical end, the roboticide both prevents the villain from getting Humaniform plans and gets his new test subject (earther Elijah) to aurora so he can see how viable his plan is. HE really invented Psychohistory foreseeing that it will allow humanity to think out its step in a lot more logical way limiting the need for micromanaging of robots that has so far NOT worked as hoped (given how stagnated the current situation of spacers and earthers is.)

In the End I would say this massive reveal is the real ending and follows the path of the ending in I Robot. It is also one of the most satisfying ending reveals I have ever read. and It serves as a perfect ending for the series, so I am glad to find that it kind is, even though there is one more book.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. the next book appears to jump forward in time by a few centuries. do I move forward? or jump rail and read a different Asmiov Foundation/Empire/Robot series only to come back to the last book in this series.?

I think I could write a book, on this book.

10/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#11
I forgot a bit.

the over arcing theme in caves, is the manipulation of earth society by spacers so that they encourage earth to start a period of settlement again since the spacers are too conservative of their long lives in absolute luxury to ever be motivated to risk their lives.

in naked sun the protagonist takes the bait and begins a colonization training organization to move in steps towards settling. but the plot is from Solaris to create personless ships sent to annihilate whole civilizations by tricking the three laws, this would allow Solaris to continue in the same way they always have, a luxurious lazy existence where little to nothing is accomplished but might also encourage other worlds to adopt this doomed existence and spread their own self righteous neurosis' and frankly , perversions.

in robots of dawn the theme is a political battle between one who wants the earthers to be the primary settlers and one who sees that as boxing in of aurora and limiting it's future influence on the worldS in general this would also ensure that aurora may eventually repopulate as it became unimportant . this second person has an alternative plan where aurora has exclusive rights to colonize. they do so with robots so they have ready made auroras so they never have to leave the sanctity of their own perversions and never have to risk there long lives. this plan would spread their dysfunctional society throughout the universe and eventually cause them to destroy non auroran planets.

the result is that both views are supported through parallel colonization. the reveal that it' robots manipulating humans forces us to see that this could be an experiment. the robots will let both plots move forward and pick the best after they results. it is further indicated that the robots might END whatever is giving spacers long lives since this was a liability for all humanity.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Finished Robots and Empire ~ Isaac Asimov
and The Rest of the Robots ~ Isaac Asimov.

Robots and Empire takes a bit of a turn from the rest of the Series. But I will still say that I cannot talk about this one with out using spoilers from the other three books

That is my warning

So this is set 200 years later, Elijah Bailey is long dead, and the Protagonist is now his love of soo very long ago, Glidiah. Or so She thinks. Solaria is now abandoned and we spend the time in the beginning learning this, and two separate potential descendants of her and or Elijah Bailey. we never truly know the paternities, but we are left with possibilities.

This book seems to be a bridge to the gap between this series and the Foundation series. I would say that makes this almost a standalone to rectify the missing links.



The real protagonist are Olivar Deniel and Giscarde. the robots have been moving mankind into a position that best suits humanities benefit but the man debate is over a Foundation series style 'crisis' that resonates in the psychic robot the need to move beyond robots since the three laws are not allowing them to benefit mankind enough. This crisis could result in a few separate results all dooming mankind. One the galaxy becomes a series of Solarias second a series of Aurora's neither will result in Humanity progress, but decay. Third the nuking of Earth will cause an interstellar war that mankind will never recover.

The answer is in the Psychohistory previously mentioned as being invented by Dr. Falstoff (through manipulation by Giscarde) but after two hundred years Giscarde has still not been able to perfect the science, It is however a suitable replacement for robots. and Settlers are the suitable inheritors. (this could just be a Retcon, that Falstaff didn't invent it but someone else)

There is a romance, with Elijah's great great great great etc grandson. and his former lover. but Giscarde didn't do it. he gave a her a gentle nudge and she did way more than he ever thought possible. She also seems to be able to think like Elijah now and between her and Deniel they form a competent detective.

The rest of the Robots.

so this is a lot like I Robot, but less concise and less driven. The short stories are some to be said part of the Foundation Universe, and others
so completely NOT part of the universe but just generic robot stories that might exist in a separate reality with three laws.

I also found that all these stories are in the complete robot, so I am reading that now with half finished. Bicentenial man is referenced several times in the Robot Elijah series.

Robots and Empire 7.5/10
Rest of the Robots 7/10 but I think complete robot will be 7.5/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#13
Finished The Stars like Dust ~Isaac Asimov
CUrrents of space~ Isaac Asimov
Robot Dreams ~ Isaac Asimov

So the Stars is part of asimovs first series (the first in publication is pebble in the sky, but it is supposed to be the last of the trilogy) and it shows. This is more similar to the 20s-50s sci fi serials than later Asimov works. It's almost cheesy. Theres a trend inj sci fi to use rome or mongols as a basis for any space civilization, like old serials such as flash Gordon or as late as star trek with the romulans and Klingons representative of each (and smaller one episode cultures.), Asimov does not skip over this cliché and trend.

written like a bad spy novel this is most unlike his later works, it is also only part of foundation universe by happenstance. Asimov started writing this, and foundation, but later decided to merge the two with the robot detective series. The result is lots of continuity errors. some are as simple as the basic chronology in timeline, other are like the photocube, introduced in this book as a new invention maybe we can use it to put an image on each of the six sides. then in caves of steel the photocube is commonplace and using six sides is well known , A MILLENIA EARLIER. lots of typical 40s and 50s atomics used for everything.

" I cannot remember, for I have Amnesia... " cue dramatic organ music
"I don't remember who you are, for I too have..... Amnesia" cue music again
"does anyone here not have amnesia?" "time for a dramatic.........

despite being typical of the old serials I have the theme song from a 70s remake of those serials as I read this.

"FLASH!! aaaa hhhhaaa savoir of the universe. ......... FLASH!!! Aaaaahhhhaaaaa ...."

Currents of Space

much better, but still a bad spy novel. we lose the ancient civilization in space clichés and now we are REALLY in the foundation series. we are dealing with earth and trantor and the political background is that of Trantor colsoldating its power over various free kingdoms which will result in Galactic Empire.

Robot Dreams,

mostly not about robots. This anthology has a few stories in foundation universe, a few dealing with robots distinctly of a different universe. There are several dealing with the multivac universe. there are also a few that stand alone dealing wih scientists as protagonist.

Stars like dust 5.5/10
Currents of space 6/10


...Pause!"