Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Long Earth (Science Fiction Novel)

Parallel Universes. Stepping. Potatoes. Nuns. Trolls. Elves. 

What if humanity could suddenly step into parallel universes? What would people choose to do? How would society change? What would happen to our original home? What would happen to those individuals who lacked the ability to go to different universes? These are some of the questions explored in The Long Earth, written by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

Briefly, in the opening chapters, someone creates a devise that allows almost anyone to travel to different universes. Later, we learn that there are natural born steppers who don’t need the devise. One of them is Joshua, who along with Lobsang, an AI, attempts to learn more about the universes and their purposes.

I have a mixed reaction to The Long Earth. I enjoyed the concept of the parallel universes. I appreciated the wonderful world building, especially how the universes differed from one another. I liked how the authors explored the social impact. I was a bit frustrated by the plot. It feels like much of the book is setting the reader up for something. At this point, I don’t know if this is a two part story or part of a longer series or a novel with a very disappointing ending. I also had problems with Lobsang, who I felt distracted from the story. I would rather have had a brilliant scientist or group take his place. All and all, my fascination with the parallel universes made this an easy and enjoyable story to read.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Map of the Sky (Science Fiction Novel)

Hoaxes. Time Travel. Alien Invasion. Parallel Universes. Antarctica. Love. Maps. 

The Map of the Sky, written by Felix J. Palma and translated into English by Nick Castor, is a blend of science fiction, alternative history, and horror, with a sprinkling of romance. It is a sequel to The Map of Time and continues to feature a fictionalized version of HG Wells. Some of the scenes are beautiful and touching. We learn of a beautiful map of the universe that was created by a sentimental trickster and passed down from mother to daughter. Many of the scenes are downright horrifying. We have no doubt that the aliens are evil.

Like The Map of Time, The Map of the Sky has three major storylines. In the first storyline, we learn about a devastating encounter between some Antarctic explorers and a “Martian.” In the second storyline, Wells is asked to help an old rival reenact a scene from War of the Worlds. When parts of the novel come to life, Wells never suspects who is really behind them. In the third storyline, Charles, who we met in The Map of Time, is in a prison camp and writes a diary about what happened to Wells and company.

I confess that this book had a bit too much horror for me. Some of the images were still floating around in my head as I tried to go about my everyday life. Yet, this novel has so much of what I love: noble, likeable characters; action; touching scenes; good world building. If Palma writes another story based on one of Wells’ novels, I probably will, reluctantly, read it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Power of Books (Quote)

“Why didn’t you take your own life, then, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“…books are what kept me going.”
 “Yes, reading is my only pleasure, and there are so many books left to read. For that reason alone it is worth going on living. Books make me happy, they help me escape from reality … Writers perform an extremely important role: they make others dream, those who are unable to dream for themselves. And everyone needs to dream. Could there be a more important job in life than that?” 
Felix L Palma in The Map of the Sky