Modernmoonman. Science Fiction book reviews.

Science Fiction Book Reviews and Stuff...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon was written by Frederick Pohl and published in 1980.  It's #2 of the "Heechee" saga....and it is the sequel to the Hugo and Nebula award winner's a good read, though nothing quotable....Pohl ups the science a lot here with a lot of talk re: the huge black hole Robinette Broadhead has left his lover marooned at....he really gets into explaining how the mass of the black hole affects time at the event horizon so that the main protagonist can live a lifetime as his lover lives only a few seconds....he plans to swoop in and save her, natch, as Pohl makes with the sexy talk and the talky sex as Robinette Broadhead kills time....Kewl (cool) ...."Heechee Rendezvous" is next....but, rush....sorry Mr. Pohl!


Gateway was written by Frederick Pohl and published in 1977, when it won both the Hugo and Nebula award.  In other words, it's a masterpiece, book one of the "Heechee" saga, eh?  Well, it's a pretty damn good read, that's for sure.  But it's like butter, or silk, or gossamer....or some other seemingly insubstantial thing that turns out to be....strong stuff.  Too much psycho-analysis for my taste, but the twist at the end is killer, and the book is hard science (in the best way) yet also about human relationships (in the best way).  Classic space opera, too.   The next book ups the hard science part....but never really tops "Gateway"....still, I can see why this is a classic...though nothing is quotable...oh well...strong stuff from Frederick Pohl in 1977.

Harlan Ellison talks Jack Kirby

Funny, I was reading and old comic book from the early 1970s, called "The Forever People" by Jack Kirby and inside on the letters page was a letter by Harlan Ellison.  I was impressed because he was a famous science fiction writer raving about how great "The Forever People" was...I mean I always thought Jack Kirby is one of the greatest artists of the last century...anyway, here is Harlan Ellison as he talks about Jack Kirby, from the mid 1980's released on VHS (unreleased on dvd) "Masters of Comic Book Art":

Deodato 2001: A Space Odyssey

By Popular Demand, here is the Modernmoon song of the week, by Deodato, a little ditty entitled: 2001 A Space Odyssey:

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Arthur C. Clarke and published in 1968.  Not much to add to the reams of writing already written about 2001; the book is rightly considered one of the best in the sci-fi (or any) genre.  The whole text is wonderful, but just for kicks, here's my favorite, chapter 45, entitled "Recapitulation":

     "There being no further use for it, the furniture of the suite dissolved back into the mind of its creator.  Only the bed remained--and the walls, shielding this fragile organism from the energies it could not yet control.
     In his sleep, David Bowman stirred restlessly.  He did not wake, nor did he dream, but he was no longer wholly unconcious.  Like a fog creeping through a forest, something invaded his mind.  He sensed it only dimly, for a full impact would have destroyed him as surely as the fires raging beyond these walls.  Beneath that dispassionate scrutiny, he felt neither hope nor fear; all emotion had been leached away.
     He seemed to be floating in free space, while around him stretched, in all directions, an infinite geometrical grid of dark lines or threads, along which moved tiny nodes of light--some slowly, some at dazzling speed.  Once he had peered through a microscope at a cross-section of a human brain, and in its network of nerve fibers had glimpsed the same labyrinthine complexity.  But that had been dead and static, whereas this transcended life itself.  He knew--or believed he knew--that he was watching the operation of some gigantic mind, contemplating the universe of which he was so tiny a part.
     The vision, or illusion, lasted only a moment.  Then the crystalline planes and lattices, and the interlocking perspectives of moving light, flickered out of existence, as David Bowman moved into a realm of consciousness that no man had experienced before.
     At first, it seemed that time was running backward.  Even this marvel he was prepared to accept, before he realized a subtler truth.
     The springs of memory were being tapped; in controlled recollection, he was reliving the past.  There was the hotel suite--there the space pod--there the burning starscapes of the red sun--there the shining core of the galaxy--there the gateway through which he had re-emerged into the universe.  And not only vision, but all the sense impressions, and all the emotions he had felt at the time, were racing past, more and more swiftly.  His life was unreeling like a tape recorder playing back at ever increasing speed.
     Now he was once more aboard the Discovery  and the rings of Saturn filled the sky.  Before that, he was repeating his final dialogue with Hal; he was seeing Frank Poole leave on his last mission; he was hearing the voice of Earth, assuring him that all was well.
     And even as he relived these events, he knew that all indeed was well.  He was retrogressing down the corridors of time, being drained of knowledge and experience as he swept back toward his childhood.  But nothing was being lost; all that he had ever been, at every moment of this life, was being transferred to safer keeping.  Even as one David Bowman ceased to exist, another became immortal.
     Faster, faster he moved back into forgotten years, and into a simpler world.  Faces he had once loved, and had thought lost beyond recall, smiled at him sweetly.  He smiled back with fondness, and without pain.
     Now, at last, the headlong regression was slackening; the wells of memory were nearly dry.  Time flowed more and more sluggishly, approaching a moment of stasis--as a swinging pendulum, at the limit of its arc, seems frozen for one eternal instant, before the next cycle begins.
     The timeless instant passed; the pendulum reversed its swing.  In an empty room, floating amid the fires of a double star twenty thousand light-years from Earth, a baby opened its eyes and began to cry."

Oh yeah, the movie version by Stanley Kubrick is pretty good too...Here's a sample of the film (it's the film version of the text I just copied above...great way to see the difference between book vs. film, and why it's always a good idea to read the text as well as view the film.)  Here it is:

And last, but not least, if you ever have a chance to check out the 70s comic book version of 2001 by Jack Kirby, that is time well spent.  Here's a cool video "trailer" of that work, and the soundtrack here is sci-fi at it's funkiest:

Green Lantern Trailer

Dig it:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rogue Moon

Rogue Moon was written by Algis Budrys and published in 1960.  It was originally entitled "The Death Machine," but was changed without his consent.  In it's exploration of an alien monolith discovered on the lunar surface, this book predates Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey by a decade, and it's a lot racier, too!  It's pure hi-octane pulp action, about the type of man who has "the right stuff," only in this case, "the right stuff" is a death-wish!  And the right man is a suicidal maniac!

Rogue Moon has some if the best writing in sci-fi.  Thrilling stuff.  I'd love to see a movie version of this...


Anthem was written by Ayn Rand in 1937, published in England in 1938, and published for the first time in America in 1946.  With it's theme of rebellion against a totalitarian government in the future, (where writing your own thoughts, picking your own profession, and choosing your own mate are forbidden) Anthem has a lot in common with Orwell's 1984.  The main character in Anthem, Equality 7-2521,  is a self-taught scientist, and develops/discovers some kind of electrical light bulb technology, escapes the totalitarian "civilization" and makes for the forest with his new mate.  Thus ends the 123 page book, as well as any similarity to Orwell, and the stage is now set for Ayn Rand's next book, the sci-fi classic Atlas Shrugged...(which was just made into a movie.)

Here is, for your edification and listening pleasure, an Ayn Rand interview from 1959:

By 5:55 of the second video, if not sooner, it is quite clear to Modernmoonman that Ayn Rand is completely misinformed, naive, and insane. Quite a personality though.  Think science fiction writers exist in la-la land and have no effect on contemporary American life?  Ask Alan Greenspan...

Modernmoonman Bonus:
The Canadian rock band Rush performing their Ayn Rand inspired song "Anthem"; (it's not great, but amazingly good considering the source inspiration, eh?):

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

To Your Scattered Bodies Go was written by Philip Jose Farmer and published in 1971; it won the Hugo award for best Science Fiction Novel in 1972.  Imagine that everyone who was ever born on earth gets resurrected at the same time as a genetic experiment carried out by aliens who want to see what kind of rat race will develop in the human race...In this "heaven" created by the "old ones," can the human race evolve beyond violence?    You know that joke about the frog that carries the scorpion across the river?  This book is kinda like that, only with Richard Burton as frog, and Hermann Goering as the scorpion.  It's a riot where suicide is the only way to move your chess piece body closer to the ultimate goal of shutting down the arrogant "old ones" who are running this reincarnation circus called "Riverworld."  As this is only the first book in the Riverworld Trilogy, I suppose some more answers are out there, somewhere....