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Pros: interesting characters, quick paced, touching romance

Cons: limited worldbuilding

Red and Blue work for opposing sides of a war trying to make sure their particular futures come true. Their battles happen across the varieties of time and parallel universes. Their rivalry intensifies when Blue leaves Red a letter, beginning a correspondence that changes them both.

This is a longer novella, easily read in an afternoon. Which is good as it gets pretty intense towards the end and I’m not sure I could have put it down those last 50 pages.

The two protagonists were written by different authors, giving them distinct voices. The book follows the pattern of showing a scene from Red’s point of view, followed by a letter and the actions of a mysterious stranger, then shifts to Blue’s point of view and a letter she received. I was impressed by how much the characters changed over the course of the story given the brevity of the text.

With novellas I often feel the story could be fleshed out more, but this felt like the perfect length. The shortness even added to the tension.

The science is very hand-wavy so don’t expect the usual time travel rules to apply. The addition of multiple universes made me wonder how they could track the changes meant to bring about their futures, but none of that is explored or explained at all. The story is focused entirely on the two characters.
It’s a great, unique story.
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An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.

A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.
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Directed by Jack Arnold, 1953

IMDb listing

Pros: excellent use of 3D technology, decent acting

Cons: slow moving,

Nobody believes amateur astronomer John Putnam when he claims to have seen an alien craft in the crater made by a falling meteor. But when strange things start happening he must prove it before it’s too late.

This is a 1950s made for 3D movie based on a Ray Bradbury short story.

Given the author of the source material it’s a bit surprising that the plot isn’t that great. It’s slow moving and the characters are kind of irritating - especially the sheriff who believes it’s his duty to look after his former boss’s adult daughter.

Barbara Rush does a decent job with the poor role she’s given of a woman who tags along with the protagonist and then gets kidnapped by aliens. She gets to scream 3 times, only one of which is warranted by the situation.

The alien looks suitably creepy if unconvincing as a natural creature. The xenophobia exhibited by the humans proves we’ve not advanced much, as aliens today would be met with the same desire to kill them on sight. I was impressed that the aliens realized this so quickly and so hid their true natures.

The 3D effects were excellent. There were foreground, middle ground and background elements to almost every frame. Rather than only a few shots of things hurling towards the viewer there were several, and the entire film felt like it was meant to be in 3D (which it was) rather than just a few scenes.

Can’t really recommend this one unless you’ve got a 3D TV to watch it on. And even then, it’s not a film I’ll watch again.

It Came From Outer Space (1953) Official Trailer Movie HD - YouTube
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In this standalone fantasy novel by an award-winning author, the dark truth behind a string of unusual murders leads to an otherworldly exploration of spirits, myth, and memory, steeped in Caribbean storytelling.

Dr. Miranda Ecouvo, forensic therapist of the City, just helped put a serial killer behind bars. But she soon discovers that her investigation into seven unusual murders is not yet complete. A near-death experience throws her out of time and into a realm of labyrinths and spirits. There, she encounters brothers Chance and the Trickster, who have an otherworldly interest in the seemingly mundane crimes from her files.

It appears the true mastermind behind the murders is still on the loose, chasing a myth to achieve immortality. Together, Miranda, Chance, and the Trickster must travel through conjured mazes, following threads of memory to locate the shadowy killer. As they journey deeper, they discover even more questions that will take pain and patience to answer. What is the price of power? Where is the path to redemption? And how can they stop the man—or monster—who would kill the innocent to live forever?
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Many thanks to Penguin Random House for an advanced copy of this dystopian novel. I have a weird relationship with dystopian books in that intellectually I think I like them, but in practice I generally don't. I really enjoyed reading The Warehouse. The characters were really personable and it was a quick, compelling read. I'll be posting my review on its release date of August 20th.

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.
Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities.

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering.

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him.

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here.

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place.

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business--and who will pay the ultimate price.
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Pros: brilliant world-building, interesting characters, challenging plot, thought provoking

Cons:

Dietz joins the Tene-Silvia Corporate Corps after the Blink wanting to be a hero, wanting to make the Martians pay. But military life is hard and the combat drops that break soldiers down into light molecules to transport them to mission locations… change some of them. Dietz doesn’t always land at the right location, or with the right people. Dietz’s jumps also reveal that the war isn’t what they’ve been told. Can one be a hero if no one knows what’s right anymore?

This is an absolutely brilliant novel and I can understand why Hurley had such trouble writing it. There were times as a reader that I got confused as to when Dietz was in the timeline, I can only imagine how difficult it was as the author keeping who knew what, when, straight.

The world-building it top notch. This is a future where mega corporations rule and there are layers of citizenship. Dietz began life as a ghoul, living outside the corporation, living off of refuse, and gained residency status through their parents. But full citizenship requires service. Throughout the book you see how ingrained the idea of earning citizenship is held by full citizens, even those born into it who did nothing to earn their place. There’s a lot of thought provoking commentary here.

The characters are great. I loved that the first person perspective cloaked Dietz’s gender (until the end, when you learn their first name), and that the protagonists all seem to be fairly fluid in their sexualities (or at least, fairly open about their partners). Dietz starts off as hot-headed, stubborn, and not the smartest in the group, but is forced to learn - and learn fast - when things get tough.
It’s a brilliant fast paced novel that will keep you on your toes.
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In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters.

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham is drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark.

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas' stock-in-trade.
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Pros: short essays are easy to read, covers a wide variety of topics

Cons: short essays don’t go into much detail

This is the second book of essays compiled from Brennan’s Patreon. There’s an introduction, 52 themed essays and an afterward. The themes from this book encompass weaponry, honor, cosmetics, clothing, wedding customs, literacy, time keeping, religious practices, superstitions, and some general worldbuilding tips.

I loved that there were a variety of topics, broken down into more specific essays. Each essay is only a few pages long so you can easy read one in a few minutes. Brennan gives several examples per essay showing how cultures differ, so as to get the reader thinking of applications beyond the common. The downside here is each essay is very basic and is more of a way to get you thinking about applications than showing you how to apply each aspect to your own world.

As with the first book, it’s a great collection and points out a lot of worthwhile tidbits for making your fictional worlds feel more lived in.
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Chilling near-future SF for fans of Black Mirror and True Detective.

When Lucie Sterling's niece is abducted, she knows it won't be easy to find answers. Stanton is no ordinary city: invasive digital technology has been banned, by public vote. No surveillance state, no shadowy companies holding databases of information on private citizens, no phones tracking their every move.

Only one place stays firmly anchored in the bad old ways, in a huge bunker across town: Green Valley, where the inhabitants have retreated into the comfort of full-time virtual reality--personae non gratae to the outside world. And it's inside Green Valley, beyond the ideal virtual world it presents, that Lucie will have to go to find her missing niece.
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Pros: excellent introduction, full translation, lots of end notes

Cons: some quotes left untranslated

Translated in 1979 and reissued in 2009, this was the first full English translation of the Greek manuscript, Physiologus. The manuscript took stories of animals and gave them Christian allegorical meanings. These stories were used in later bestiary collections and by encyclopedists - with and without their allegories - greatly influencing the medieval mind.

The book begins with an introduction that gives background on the Physiologus and the questions surrounding when it was written and who it was written by. It is then followed by translations of the 51 chapters, most of which deal with animals though there are also a few plants and stones.

The information in the introduction is fantastic and really helps you place the Physiologus in history while not being too academic and dry. My only complain here - and also with the notes at the back of the volume - is that neither Greek nor Latin quotations are translated for those who can’t read them.

The manuscript itself is rather dry. More time is given to the moral than to describing the animal. If you’re unfamiliar with these types of works, you’ll be confused by a lot of the ‘natural’ behaviours described. Very little of this is true animal behaviours. Consider them more morality tales like Aesop’s fables rather than a treatise on natural history. However, remember that as many of the animals described were not native to the lands where the tales became popular, they did influence beliefs in mythological creatures and many in the past believed the stories depicted actual animal behaviours.

The book includes black and white woodcut images from the 1587 G. Ponce de Leon edition of the book. I had expected there to be an image per chapter but there were only 21 images in total and a few of the listings had more than one image (the serpent has a series of 4 images).

If you’re interested in medieval thought and art, the bestiary by way of the Physiologus was hugely influential. This book is a glimpse into the medieval mind, both with regards to how they saw the natural world and how they believed the natural and spiritual worlds overlapped.

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