Finished: Reach for Tomorrow by Arthur C. Clarke

I finished reading this collection of the SF great's short stories a while back and I thought I'd give a rundown of the stories within.

Rescue Party: A survey ship from a multi-species federation is dispatched to our solar system after it's discovered that the Sun is about to go nova. Their mission is to explore as much of the third planet as they can and if possible, rescue as many humans as they're able.

This is a neat story because it's told from the perspective of alien explorers. They've never encountered humans before, so they naturally don't understand most of what they find as they explore the Earth. This leads to a tense moment where a group of them find themselves trapped on a subway car. They're rescued, but the whole expedition is forced to leave before the Earth is destroyed, so they assume that their mission is a failure. It isn't. They discover humanity's fate and it leads to an upbeat ending.

This is one of my favorite stories of the collection because of the alien perspective and the ending.

A Walk in the Dark: The back cover of the book describes this as an "old-fashioned ghost story set on an alien world", but I would describe it as boring. I love Arthur C. Clarke's stories, but this one was just not good. The plot is a simple one where the narrator is walking to a spaceport on the aforementioned alien world at night when his flashlight fails, forcing him to make the journey in pitch blackness. He becomes unnerved along the way because the darkness forces him to dwell on a stories he has heard about near encounters with something that may or may not exist on what is believed to be an uninhabited (prior to humans showing up, that is) planet.

I didn't like this one because there was no tension or anything. Maybe this would have been a chilling story back in 1950 when this short was originally published, but not today. The ending felt tacked on too. A Walk in the Dark is probably my least favorite.


Still alive

Sorry for the lack of posting, folks. Real world health issues with my dad have sapped my urge to blog as of late. I do have two posts in my drafts that I'm going to try and finish sometime this week, so there will hopefully be some new content on here soon. It's unfortunate that I haven't been able to post because I've read quite a bit of SF this year. I'm currently at ten books, which is five less than last year, but I haven't been pushing myself to hit a total number like previous years. Still, I'm still chugging along and aim to add at least a couple of more books to that number before the year's out. Maybe even before the end of the month.


On a classic SF kick

I'm not sure why I'm so keen on reading some classics, but I am. I had a hankering for some Arthur C. Clarke yesterday and hit the local public library with the intention to check out several of his books, but instead ended up leaving with more. Here's what I'm reading:

It's a Clarke-heavy reading list, but like I said, I had planned on only grabbing his books. I'm reading Reach for Tomorrow right now and it's not bad. Like Expedition to Earth, it's a short story collection. I might read Expedition to Earth after finishing this book or I might jump to The Gods Themselves. I'm more of a Clarke fan than an Asimov fan, but that's only because I've never read any of the latter's work from start to finish.

Transcendental isn't a classic yet, but James Gunn is a SF legend, so it gets a pass. I'm still amazed that a 95 year old is still writing science fiction.

Anything look good to you guys?


Yet more books

Different books, same shitty picture quality. Where the books in the previous post were all military SF, these are just a mix of SF.

The "bookcase" in picture #1 is just a cheapo wheeled table I repurposed because it had shelves and I could get my hands on it, lol. The books in the second and third pictures are sitting on the headboard of my bed with the stereo and speakers doubling as bookends. The books themselves are just too tall to fit on that bookcase.

It's certainly an assorted collection, isn't it? I tend to favor SF that's more action and adventure oriented. I'm not into works that are deeply philosophical or requires a degree in physics to grok.


My military SF collection

I think the hip and happening kids call these pictures "shelfies". I just call them terrible quality. :P

Click to embiggen.

Like I said shitty quality. My hand isn't steady, nor is the camera on my phone the best, but we do what we can, lol. Some of the names are blurry, so if you're curious about any title, just let me know down in the comments and I'll tell you what it is.

But yeah, this is all of my military SF or at least what I don't have boxed up.


Review: The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke (Spoilers)

I recently finished The Hammer of God and all I can say is that I love Arthur C. Clarke's books.

What's it about: Set in the year 2110, The Hammer of God revolves around the discovery by an amateur astronomer of an asteroid headed straight for Earth. Dubbed "Kali" after the Hindi goddess of death and destruction, the big space rock has the potential to wipe out life on Earth. The book follows the attempt by SPACEGUARD to prevent this by attaching a mass driver to Kali and slowly - very, very slowly - nudging it so that it'll miss Earth.

What I liked: One of the things I liked about THoG is that it didn't focus solely on the efforts of Robert Singh, captain of the spaceship Goliath and its crew to save the day. Instead, Clarke devoted a large chunk of the book to worldbuilding 22nd century human civilization and while it might at times have seemed like he was going off on wild tangents that immediately didn't seem to have any relation to the main plot, Clarke deftly tied all of these side trips together. For example, he focuses several chapters on "Chrislam", a fusion of Christianity and Islam created in the early 21st century that by the 22nd, has become the fourth largest religion on Earth. He doesn't explain any of the tenants or doctrine of the religion and you're left wondering at first as to why he devoted the two or three chapters to the religion, until near the end of the book when a fanatical faction called The Reborn sabotage efforts to divert Kali and almost wipe out mankind on Earth.


A review of SF read in 2017

I mean, we're almost a month into 2018, but better late than never. The big thing about 2017 is that it was very much a year of science fiction. The year before last, I read only nine, but managed to raise that to fifteen the following year. More than that, SF made up fully half of the books I read in 2017, so I'm pretty well pleased with that. Let's have a look at them all:

1. Old Man's War - John Scalzi.

A re-read. Scalzi is one of my favorite SF writers and Old Man's War one of my favorite books.

2. The Ghost Brigades - Scalzi.

Yet another re-read. I was a bit meh on it the first time through, but I enjoyed it more on the second read.

3. Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn.

The first Zahn book I've ever read to completion, I've had Night Train to Rigel for a long time and made several attempts in the past to read it. 2017 was the year, though, and I wish I had read it sooner. I'm going to try and read the rest of the series this year.

4. The Last Colony - John Scalzi.

Unlike the other two, this was not a re-read. I really liked how the book ended because I did not expect it at all. Going to try and read the last two books this year.
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