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Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Many scientists deeply involved in the exploration of the solar system (myself among them) were first turned in that direction by science fiction.  And the fact that some of that science fiction was not of the highest quality is irrelevant.  Ten-year-olds do not read the scientific literature.
    —   Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2019 Happy Thanksgiving (2019)
2018 And Smiles…
2017 Or Savor A Little Longer…
2016 Sometimes I Just Want To Smell The Flowers
2015 One Truth – Done Well
2014 Now In Imagination, On The Other Hand…
2013 No Plan, No Map
2012 Singing About Love
2011 The Awesome Power Of Truth

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High Justice” (1974©) — book review
Today’s review is for an “old” science fiction collection of short stories written by Jerry Pournelle.  Most of the stories were originally published in “Analog: Science Fiction And Fact” magazine.  Analog has been around since the 1930’s and has published a whole lot of “pulp” SciFi over the years.
Pournelle (and his partner – in many other works – Larry Niven) is one of the “greats” of SciFi.  I have my standard of SciFi “demi-gods”: Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clark and Isaac Asimov.  Pournelle (and Niven) rate just below this level.  He is definitely amongst the historically significant writers in SciFi from the last century.
Pournelle is considered a “polymath”, that is, a person who is accomplished in more than one scientific / technical field.  After many years in the aerospace field, he changed career and concentrated on writing.  He created a number of SciFi (actually military / paramilitary SciFi) novel series which I’ve enjoyed over the years.  The series I have most enjoyed (of his) was his “John Christian Falkenberg” series.  I purchased this book thinking it might be a prequel to that series.  It isn’t.  Well, it kind of is, but not really.
(The Falkenberg series is a similar vein to the “Hammer’s Slammers” military SciFi series by David Drake which I also like.  But that’s for another post…)
Anyway, this set of stories is not “really” about military SciFi.  It’s more or less a precursor book to what has come to be know as Pournelle’s “CoDominium Future History” series.
Pournelle’s personal politics leans to what is known as “paleoconservative” and this is reflected in this anthology.  Basically, think Ayn Rand “lite”: government’s are welfare traps, society is going to hell in a hand-basket, corporations will save the world (if we get out of the way and let them), and, (of course) unions are bad.
Putting aside the politics, Pournelle has some insightful views of where the world is headed over the “next” 50 to 100 years – basically, where we are now.  Or, where we soon could be.  (Remember, these stories were written back in the 1970’s.)
The stories deal with clean power, corporate greed, political corruption, increasing food production, space based manufacturing (and asteroid mining), and rights and laws in space, in general.
So, are the stories any good?  Yes!  Once I finally got the hang of his theme, I quite enjoyed all of the stories.  Pournelle is considered a “hard” science SciFi writer. This means he goes into some detail about the science behind the technology discussed in each story.  If you lean more to the fantasy (“horror, dragons or magic”) SciFi, you may not care for his writing.  I found the technology being proposed (like using icebergs to get fresh drinking water) interesting.  They are definitely BIG engineering ideas which would take governments or very large corporations to fund.
Final recommendation:  Strong to Highly recommended.  Not the “action” SciFi I normally prefer, but I enjoyed it and look forward to looking back at more of his future histories.
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On This Day In:
2018 True Measures
2017 Hoping For Tapes
In It Now
2016 On Viewing This Mudball
2015 It Takes A Village
2014 In God’s Eyes
2013 We Root For Ourselves
2012 Like A Shark
2011 Discernible Virtue

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It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today.  No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be…  This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
     —    Isaac Asimov
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On This Day In:
2015 Dawn Is Coming
2014 Back When I Was A Firebrand
2013 Pen In Hand
Word Up!
2012 Disturbing
Trying To Keep Up
2011 Unreliable And Selective
2010 Adult-Onset Athlete

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Over the weekend I discovered a new (to me) used book store.  The store is named: Berkshire Books.  It turns out it’s been there just over ten years, but I don’t often get on that road and when I do, I tend to be looking the other way, so I just never saw it before.  Soooo, I popped in to see what’s up.  The store is pretty poorly lit and has that old book musty smell.  Now, to my taste, that’s bad and great.  There’s no place to sit because there are books everywhere – and I do mean everywhere.  To be honest, except for the lighting, I kinda felt like I’d died and when to heaven.  Anyway, the prices aren’t great, but they’re not too bad either.  I will definitely be going back, but not to buy stacks at a time like I can from the two dollar racks at my local Half-Price Books store.
My selection was an oldie, but a goodie: “The Power“, written by Frank M. Robinson.  The original version is copywrited in 1956, while the revised version is 1999©.  I don’t think the book was intended to be a children’s book, but I first read it back in the mid-1960’s when I was around 11 or 12.  It is considered to be a “classic” of SciFi literature.  The book was adapted into a movie (released in 1968) which starred George Hamilton as the principal character and Michael Rennie (“Klaatu, Barada Nikto”) as the bad guy.  This was the first time I remember ever reading a book before seeing the movie and then being sharply disappointed that the movie didn’t live up to my imagination.
Anyhow, the book is about a team of scientists who discover there are “super” men among us who can control us physically (via telekinesis) and who can also implant thoughts and remove memories.  They also possess superior strength and reflexes themselves.  The main character must try to discover which team member is the super-man while living long enough to kill him.  Of course, all the while, the super-man is killing off the rest of the team.
When I found the book, I thought, “Wow! This was from my childhood!“.  It wasn’t until later that I discovered it wasn’t the “same” book at all.  This was the “revised” version, basically the same, but updated with comments about Vietnam and the first Gulf War.  Did it make a difference?  Ultimately, I think it did.  As I read the book, I began to doubt my memories.  Some of the books passages prompted vivid memories – like when you eat or smell something and you’re instantly transported back to another place and time.  Other times, it was: “Huh?
I do believe the book is a legitimate classic in the SciFi genre, but I would say it is more of a young adult book than a mature adult book.  It is about 220 pages and a very fast read.  Highly recommended!
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On This Day In:
2013 Legal (Almost)
2012 Great Scots!
2011 The GI Bill – A Simple History Lesson
Breaking Even

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