Life Form

Galactic empires, strange life forms and a stiff upper lip attitude, remove the alien nature and you almost have Kipling in space. The Mote in God’s Eye raises all sorts of questions regarding what that elusive first contact may mean, should the military be allowed to be in control, do scientists have enough of a grasp on reality to help make decisions about what is safe for the race and is Empire the most stable and enduring form of government.

Justifiably a classic this is an exciting read that races along, truly alien aliens, nothing about them is remotely recognizable, from their strange caste system to their fixation on the predetermined nature of their future. This is a book that pits the rampant breeding of the aliens against the Victorian morals of the Empire and the Empire appears to win. The book however ends with many questions left unanswered.

This was a bit of a nostalgia fest for me. I first read this book at my Nan’s house one warm English summer. Reading it took me back to that simpler time.

Reading Mote led to the grand daddy of all Galactic Empire stories, Asimov’s Foundation series, another series a little obsessed with predestination, this time the predictive nature of Hari Seldon’s Psychohistory. In this case the Empire in question is in decline and humanity can only be saved by the Foundation created to preserve knowledge and fend off the dark ages ahead of humanity. There are no aliens or strange enemies, the enemy in this case is humanity and it’s willingness to attempt to destroy itself at the drop of a hat. Using religion and free trade and the guiding hand of Seldon the Foundation is to guard knowledge ready for the new beginning of galactic civilization.

I tried to read this as a teenager and was defeated by Asimov’s writing style which relies more on long conversations between his characters than action, this did not win over the adolescent me. I was more enamored at that time in my life with Asimov’s short stories, I took as much joy from reading his introductions as the stories being transported back to the Golden Age of science fiction. T he adult me however found this to be a great read, I now have to find the others although I apparently would do well to avoid the newer novels Asimov wrote.

Life’s a long song

There is a time in everyone’s life when transitions and change happen even if we are not ready for it. Last night I watched two of my three little boys walking away from graduation.

One I am sure excited about his future while the other was wondering what he will do without his biggest brother and who will pick him up and take him for treats after school. Separated by seven years they even walk the same way. The third brother was waiting in the band room at school I am sure with just as much sadness and anxiety as the rest of us although I am sure he would never let anyone know that.

Life truly is a long song and sometimes we are not really ready for a change in time signatures.


Adjust Me

So dinner is over and new clothes have been bought for the boys on the way to Minnesota and points east.

So the reading, first off was Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, this is her first book and does not necessarily suffer for that fact. A mixture of space opera and romance, high tech and emotion, it is however obviously the start of a much longer series although the story did not inspire me to go forth and read more.

There is something to be said about massive empire fiction but why is it always a monarchy, has there ever been a novel regarding a socialist empire.

Next came Risen Empire by Scott Westerfield, again the start of a larger series of stories. This book is again a love story, one is a conventional human love story the other thread is a little less conventional with the upgraded cyborg commando and naive ugly little girl. It reads like a first chapter in a novel not the first novel in a series. Full of interesting technology, micro size weapons and space marines. There are also so many ideas for this 200 page plus novel that it feels like an introduction not a full book. Various ideas of immortality are examined, the zombie like longevity of the human empire or the upgrading of the tech empire, this is a fascinating book that has me waiting for his next installment.

You shouldn’t do that

It’s really the trouble with books. The stack of science fiction grows daily, goodwill used bookstores, especially the library bookstore have become addictive. I have now given up loaning books from the library as my own list is overwhelming and the upcoming trip to England brings the promise of more.