I Sort of Read This Science Fiction Trip Through Space-Time #sciencefiction #scifi #space #physics #book #wormhole #review

Ring is the last of Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Sequence, and judging by Amazon reviews, it’s the least popular book of the series with 3.5 stars from 57 reviews. I had trouble getting through it, not because it’s hard science fiction with characters who frequently explain physics to each other (as other reviewers complained) but because it felt repetitive. Surely, I thought, the book already told me this about photino birds, about how the spaceship will tow wormholes around, about the characters’ near-immortality provided by nanotechnology.

Great ideas I couldn’t stick with
Diving into the Sun is neat, the ginormous interstellar spacecraft are cool, and the craft left behind by the Xeelee are amazing, but the story felt tedious and I could only read for a short time before taking a break.

After reading all of the first few chapters, I began to skim the first sentence of each paragraph and then one sentence per page, stopping to read when something new was introduced. I would have given up but, as chance had it, I had no other new-to-me books handy at the time.

Others enjoyed the story much more, “I absolutely flew through this book! It was amazing,” and love the vast sweep of space and time covered by the book – to the end of the universe.

The day I checked on Amazon, there was a paperback edition in English available but the only digital edition was in German. I guess that’s what happens as publishers put their backlist on Amazon – Ring is copyrighted 1994.

Live Like a Normal Person Until UFO Memories Absolutely Shatter Your Security #scifi #fantasy #books

feedbackFeedback contains three stories:

  • one set in the Koreas (an unusual choice for science fiction and well done) where a South Korean rescue helicopter goes down behind enemy lines while on a search for survivors of a UFO crash
  • one in New York City where Jason is drawn to an oddly lost young woman, and
  • an epilogue off-world.

They all tie together by the end.

Jason is a physics student and I enjoyed his professor being more interested in the equations he “doodled” on the backs of his homework pages than in the assignment. His best friend talks in vulgar banter all the time, which you may find funny or irritating. Once Jason invites the odd young woman into his apartment to dry off from the rain (it rains a lot in this book), things get rapidly odder.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say physics explains all the bewildering events and apparent inconsistencies that Jason experiences. You’ll recognize the premise involved even if you don’t read much science fiction, but there are satisfying twists at the end.

Peter Cawdron’s book is wildly popular – in the top 3% of its best Amazon kindle category. If any of my books did that well, I’d be doing a very big happy dance. Those reviewers who disliked the book generally said the ending confusing or left events poorly explained. Even some of the reviews Amazon calls “critical” as opposed to “positive” said the book was enjoyable, including some from readers who are not usual science fiction fans.

In addition to some action-oriented violence, possible triggers include a few f-bombs, the best friend’s randy chatter, and torture.

A note on torture:
As most Americans, I was horrified at the Abu Ghraib scandal where members of our military tortured Iraqi prisoners. While individuals must be accountable for their actions, I couldn’t help but feel our nation had let our soldiers down. The military is supposed to protect them, but these men and women were allowed to practice evil in a way that must scar them as well as their victims. Was it poor training? Lack of oversight? Deficient understanding by those in charge?

Or is it a larger cultural issue?

Since Abu Ghraib I’ve become sensitive to torture scenes in TV, movies, and books. I never realized before how pervasive torture is in our entertainment. Even old favorites from my youth, like Star Trek TOS, include torture – though mostly performed by “bad guys” in older shows. Today, even the “good guys” torture, commit violence, or threaten torture to succeed. Now I’ve even got a president who thinks torture is okay.

Are we creating a culture where torture is acceptable? It’s enough to make me wish for the good old fashioned Superman.

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Start with Book 1 today

Help me reach for the Amazon ranking of my dreams! Okay – so that’s self-centered. But I’m collecting some good reviews on my science fiction books so you may enjoy one – including my On Mars series – available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and favorite online retailer. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

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