Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy

Life gets in the way sometimes with what we really want to do and the past year has been a killer in terms of my reading progress. With all that was going on, I struggled to get the desire to read. Books would take almost a month for me to get through and rather than enjoy the fact I finished it I felt more a relief that it was over. That’s not how reading should make you feel, so I took a break from reading. I went from 60+ books read a year to 11. The book that changed it all for me had been sitting on my shelf for some time.  I had eyed it off many a time, found out it was part one in a trilogy and even order parts two and three but it still sat unread. In my reading lul its size was a turn-off, then one night while searching Netflix unsuccessfully for a good sci-fi movie, I said screw it and picked up book one and I just couldn’t put it down. A cliche I know but considering the last few months, I had struggled to even finish a chapter per reading session not being able to put this down was a huge turning point.

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The Three Body-Problem initially caught my eye for two reasons, firstly a big recommendation from another favourite sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson was on the cover and secondly,  the title alluded to an actual scientific concept/problem in the real world. The book’s blurb confirms my reasoning for grabbing it.

In 1967, physics professor Ye Zhetai is killed after he refuses to denounce the theory of relativity. His daughter, Ye Wenjie, witnesses his gruesome death. Shortly after, she’s falsely charged with sedition for promoting the works of environmentalist Rachel Carson, and told she can avoid punishment by working at a defense research facility involved with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. More than 40 years later, Ye’s work becomes linked to a string of physicist suicides and a complex role-playing game involving the classic physics problem of the title.”

Well colour me intrigued, the book involves SETI a huge interest of mine. We begin with A nanotech engineer, Wang Miao being asked by the police to investigate a secret cadre of scientists after a raft of suicides. Wangs pursuit of this leads him to an online game. Wang soon discovers that the game is key to everything and somehow links to an impending extinction-level threat to humanity. A game linked to a potential extinction, how? I just couldn’t put the book down at this point.

Such a unique story, I love the crime drama like feel to it as the plot is slowly unraveled from the perspective of Wang but just when you think you have it all figured out a bombshell is dropped on you. There is also a great insight into the realities of choices and the impact ones upbringing can have on your outlook in life. Early on, I was at a loss as to what the extinction level event could be and going into that last few pages I still couldnt piece it all together and then bam they drop the reveal right into our laps and we now know we have 400 years to prepare for it.

I just couldn’t leave it there so I dove straight into the second book as soon as I finished the first – spoilers will follow

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There’s no messing around this book dives right in and deals with the extinction-level threat and how humanity rallies to deal with it. We have 400 years to prepare somehow against the alien armada on its way. The Aliens are revealed to be called Trisolaris, a fitting name since they come from a planetary system with 3 suns hence the name of the first book. What’s worse is Trisolaris spies are already among us. The Sophons can see everything……How do you organize and plan to prevent an event of this magnitude when your every move is being watched and countered before you start it. How can you organize governments and the people to plan for something that’s 400 years in the future? The solution is the Wallfacer project, four men granted unlimited authority to prepare for the coming invasion how they see fit. The caveat, they can’t write anything down or tell anyone their plan as the sophons will see it and sabotage it.

There is a lot of pessimism in this book. I’m not sure if this is an insight into, the Chinese view of the world, just specifically the authors, or if this was merely for the sake of the plot but it was slightly discouraging to think that someone could be this pessimistic about humanity and life in the universe. For me, as an optimist, I saw the whole dark forest concept as deeply depressing. That instead of a galaxy with life everywhere and interacting like a forest full of animals, we are led to believe that all life comes to a stark and inevitable realization that its kill or be killed so all civilizations stay hidden from others, hence a dark forest and if signs of another are seen it is exterminated

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The climactic battle and the stalemate reach at the end of the previous book almost wrapped things up so just when you think you know how this one will bring the story home it takes it off onto such a unique path, I was just left in awe

From the unique concepts and twists on usual stories and themes to accurate science mentioned. This book series ticked all the right boxes for me. I had some difficulty with the names in this book, mainly from a lack of understanding of how to tell a given name from a family name for the numerous Chinese character, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It was also great to read a story where the world isn’t saved by the good ol’ US of A. This series was apparently the first books from the author to be translated into English, so I am hoping more of his other works will be translated too. Definitely becoming one of my favorite book series.

This series has renewed my passion for reading once again

Star Wars Aftermath:Life Debt – Chuck Wendig

Star Wars Aftermath:Life Debt – Chuck Wendig

The second part of a trilogy set months after Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. While the story isn’t to bad, this book trilogy plus the many others released since Disney took over really shows the new direction Disney is taking Star Wars.

Star Wars used to be for all ages, there were the movies of course but then there were the two Ewok movies for kids/families, plenty of computer games and numerous expanded universe books. These books were detailed and many were parts of series. It didn’t matter your age, there was something to cater to your star wars needs

But with Disney taking over if you want your Star Wars fix you have the choice of the following

Rebel cartoon series

Children’s adventure stories – letting you know what the main characters got up to between Ep 6-7

Numerous young adult novels

They have been a few books released for adults but all of them just like this read more like young adult novels, the level of detail and depth just isn’t there anymore. This saddens me, it shows Disney sees Star Wars as a kids market only.

I have nothing against the young adult genre, i just personally don’t like it not just because i’m not a teenager but because i crave books with detail and young adults books don’t have that, they are short in length much like a teenagers attention span. While i crave tomes like Tom Clancy novels or A Song of Ice and Fire.

I just wish Disney would stop dumbing down Star Wars and Release some decent Adult level Fiction

 

 

Star Trek Enterprise: Live By the Code – Christopher L. Bennett

Star Trek Enterprise: Live By the Code – Christopher L. Bennett
Well this is Part 4 in the series so far and wraps up many loose ends established in previous ones, leaving one to wonder will there be another book. This most definitely is not a stand alone story
This is Star Trek at its best, Klingons, moral dilemmas, space battles, character development, techno babble. This is not a book you can just pick up you have to read the series and the series only makes sense if you watched the TV show as well. Which always limits their sales i guess. That’s the catch using established IPs i guess.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Alan Dean Foster, Greg Rucka

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Alan Dean Foster, Greg Rucka
Much like everyone else who is a fan of Star Wars after seeing Episode 7 we were left with a lot of questions. I knew of their big marketing push on books called “The journey to Force Awakens” and had already bought one from that lineup “Aftermath” but the problem i faced was it didn’t answer anything from the movie since it was set 29 years before the movie. It was the ONLY novel in the initial release as well, The rest were children short stories, comics, graphic novels and young adult fiction. Nothing for adults so i was immensely disappointed. The Episode 7 novelization wasn’t due out for a few more weeks so i bit my pride and bought the young adult book “Before the Awakening” and it was rubbish!
The book explained nothing, we learnt nothing,  it was merely just a filler with no useful information so disappointing. I remember being a teenager when the prequels came out and even my teenage self wouldn’t of liked this “Before the Awakening” book.
So disappointed with this range of books, i seriously hope now that the movie is over we start getting some good adult books i know “Aftermath” has a release date for its 2 sequels but i’m worried if we will learn anything more from them too. It just seems Disney has abandoned the Adults that follow star wars in favour of children. Star Wars used to have a wide range of expanded universe fiction, plenty of reading for adults. Now its all just comics, kids books and a few young adult novels. They really are abandoning their key demographic
With that said as soon as the next Adult novel was available i jumped for it. I have only ever had one Star Wars Movie Novelization before and that was of Episode 3. It was good as there was a lot of extra stuff in there so i had high hopes for the Episode 7 novel.
Considering my issues with the rest of the Force Awakens range i was surprised by the Episode 7 novel, as it was quite good at giving us new info and expanding on scenes from the movie, dropped new info and explained a few plot problems away as well. Quite happy with this book and it has made me once again keen for more books from this range

What If? – Randall Munroe

What If? – Randall Munroe

Man this is one hilarious book, it is a collection of answers to absurd and weird hypothetical questions he has been sent via his website for his comic strip. Having a degree in physics and previously working for NASA before leaving  to work on his XKCD comic strip full time leaves Randall in a unique position to answer these questions

There is an assortment of hilarious hypothetical questions such as

  • what would happen if the entire human population met at one place and then jumped all at the same time
  • From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hits the ground
  • Is it possible to build a jet pack using downward firing machine gun
  • If a ten metre wide drain opened at the bottom of the ocean how long would it take to drain all the oceans

There are many more hilarious questions many of which he adds his signature stick figure drawing too. He takes the time to detail his research into these questions and walks the reader through the process to find the answer.

Good for a laugh and an informative read, best of both worlds!

 

 

 

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher
I have never been a fan of Shakespeare. If someone even mentions it or suggest watching one i groan in agony. People get all pious and suggest he is the greatest playwright, that’s but their opinion. I’m not a fan of plays so i have done my best to avoid it and am quite proud to have not touched any of his works since leaving high school. Then came a moment of reflection when i saw these books. I thought if my hatred of Shakespeare and contemplated its route cause and I have come to think this might stem from the fact in high school our English Teacher force fed us Shakespeare  for 3 years and then they do what all all English teachers do and over analyse  a work to take the fun out of it.
So i thought maybe my attitude towards Shakespeare was coloured not by its strength as an artistic work but by my dislike of the teacher and her forcing us to do it. (Other classes studied star wars. Man i would of nailed that one but then also ran the risk of them over analyzing it and taking the fun out if it for me) anyway when i saw these books I’m like why not give it a go if i can tolerate the language they use then perhaps it wouldn’t be too difficult to transition to Shakespeare.
Boy was i wrong, Straight away my eyes drifted over the harsh use of Early Modern English. Memories came flooding back of my dislike for this style and how painful i find to read it. Yet i pushed forward, the books were quite small and easy to demolish and yet the pain never subsided.
After finishing all 6 books i can still affirm my dislike of Shakespeare and yet i fully understand now its because of the awful language style used.  Yes i know that’s how people spoke. Yes i know people class it as the greatest work in fiction. But don’t forget the populace used to think the world was flat. So its not a stretch to think they too can be wrong about Shakespeare
Perhaps if someone translated his works into proper modern English i’d give him another crack but at this point i’m going to keep Shakespeare in the same  category as romance novels,  that of  rubbish with no use other than to be fuel for when a zombie apocalypse strikes and we run out of wood to fuel our cooking and keep warm

Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson

I stumbled upon Kim about a year ago, when i picked up 2312 as part of my mission to find a female author who doesn’t  ADD a love story to her book. Imagine my surprise to find out Kim was male. In hindsight i probably should of done some further research. Anyway i loved his sense of grandness and would defiantly grab another book of his. Fast forward to a year later and near where i used to work in the city(Sydney) there was an actual Dymocks bookstore, i’m surprised they (bookstores) still exist. Anyway i regular used to visit the bookstore from a price checking point of view, to see if they had any of the books on my wishlist at bookdepostory.com for a cheaper price. In the history of my price checking visits i NEVER found a physical bookstore had a cheaper price than an online bookstore based halfway around the world. Its crazy how that works out. Anyway on one of these price checking missions i saw this book sitting there in my beloved Sci-Fi area. I thought oh Kim has a new book out cool, i flip it over to read the blurb and find out it doesn’t have one, just quotes from newspapers etc. I was stumped, how can a book not have a blurb. I wasn’t aware Kim was a behemoth of the literary world like Tom Clancy or Stephen king. who could release a book without a description and simply say its my new book buy it and people would. So onto google i go to see if i can find out some info but i cant find much. I’m hesitant these days to grab a book on a whim now based on its cover or blurb. As the bitter taste of defeat still hangs over me after the pain of picking up a young adult love story. Damn you Amy Tintera (reboot) making the awesomeness that is a zombie Apocalypse a sub plot to a love story. I glance at the cover again and at the tiny spaceship on it and decide Kim’s previous works are reason enough for me to take a chance and break my rule of not buying a book that doesn’t have a blurb. So i bought it and let me tell you i am glad i did

Aurora is an interesting piece, The story is about the ship pictured on the cover and its journey towards Aurora. However to keep things interesting the story isn’t written from the point of view of one of the 2000 colonists living on board but from the point of view of the Ship. The ship is managed by a computer system and over the course of the ships 170 year journey it begins to exceed its programming. At the start of the novel we are introduced to a character who is very much the reason for the computers growth. Devi pretty much the head engineer and goto person for issues. She is the first person in the history of this journey to crack open the ships code and start changing things. As part of its “growth” she tasks the computer with compiling a summary of the story of the ship. Naturally the computer struggles with the concept of a summary and how it decides what to keep and what info isn’t needed and this starts of the stories narrative. I just felt it was a unique way of writing.

The ship is a multi generational ship and as it approaches Aurora, wear and tear is really showing with lots of things breaking down. I cant really go into too much detail of the story as it would be spoiler filed but Aurora is an amazing story of humanities first interstellar journey to a new home and a tragic insight into the very idea of social politics and in turn that of human nature

Well done Kim another fantastic story crafted here!