Sunday, November 30, 2014

This is what science fiction is all about

Sci-fi November is coming to a close and I hardly got round to doing most of the post I had planned. Curse you life for getting in the way!

As luck would have it I came across this stunning short film that embodies what science fiction is all about. It uses Carl Sagan's words combined with stunning visuals to portray the essence, that sense of wonder, which makes science fiction such a captivating genre fulled with endless possibilities. If we dream it, maybe someday we can achieve it!

Turn on HD, switch to full screen and be prepared to be blown away!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Opening Lines: The Stone Canal

Some novels have the ability to draw you in from the start. A single line or paragraph can grab your attention in such a way that the novel just demands to be read. Opening Lines is a feature where I'll share some of the best opening lines that hooked me.

Five words are all it takes to draw you in.

He woke, and remembered dying

The Stone Canal
Order a copy from The Book Depository (Free international shipping)

Life on New Mars is tough for humans, but death is only a minor inconvenience. The machines know their place, the free market rules all, and only the Abolitionists object.

Then a stranger arrives on New Mars, a clone who remembers life on Earth as Jonathon Wilde, the anarchist with a nuclear capability who was accused of losing World War III. That stranger remembers David Reid, New Mars's leader...and the women they fought over ideals they once shared.

Moving from twentieth-century Scotland through a tumultuous twenty-first century and outward to humanity's settlement on a planet circling another star, The Stone Canal is idea-driven science fiction at its best, making real and believable a future where long lives, strange deaths, and unexpected knowledge await those who survive the wars and revolutions to come.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blind Book Challenge 2014

Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favourite things... Especially if the packages are book-shaped and come equipped with cryptic clues to reveal what wonders lurk within.

Like last year I've asked Tiemen Zwaan, the mastermind behind the blind book date initiative at the American Book Center in Amsterdam,  to create a list of clues for you to try to decipher. And this year he has been particularly devious.

Your mission. if you are are brave and cunning enough to accept it, is to try to figure out which novels these clues refer to. Post your answers/guesses in the comments below and at the end of the month the answers will be revealed. 
  1. Failed Author/ Hollywood/ Cloned for TV
  2. Cyberpunk/Mysterious Book/Djinn
  3. Cynical Surveyor/Ex-Lawyer/ Adorable Small Biped/ Courtroom Showdown
  4. Anglo-French Kingdom/Nuclear-powered Zeppelin / One-eyed, Cigar-chomping Monkey
  5. Crappy Island Vacation/It Blows your Mind/Not Your Average Hunger Games
  6. Humanity Almost Extinct/Gene Trade/Ooloi Gives You Pleasure
  7. Exoskeletons vs. Aliens/Live/Die/Repeat/ Tom on the Cover is kind of Scary
  8. Linked Combat Squad/Dead Sisters/King David
  9. Warship in Space/Legal Officer/Cover-up
  10. Cloistered Sanctuary/Young Fraa/Many Worlds Theorem
  11. (Relatively) Safer on Mars/Base without Adults/Teacher Robots
  12. Future plagued by Drought/Occupation/Young Tea Master
  13. Technology Driven by Insects/Endless War/Hard Boiled Female Bounty Hunter
  14. Recluse Scientist/Settled Solar System/Secrets of the Grandmother
  15. Military Scifi Psychological Horror Thriller/Partial Deconstructed Space Station/Alien Shadows
  16. Steampunk Classic/Steam-driven Cybernetic Engines/ Detective Story
  17. Stowaway Sky Surgeon/Diverse Crew/ Inter-dimensional Rifts
  18. Apocalyptic Wasteland/Lone Gunman/ Fear the Weir
  19. Mercenary with Ambition/Ship with Bad Luck/Armor Suit
Put those thinking caps on and get cracking. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Opening Lines: Blue Remembered Earth

Some novels have the ability to draw you in from the start. A single line or paragraph can grab your attention in such a way that the novel just demands to be read. Opening Lines is a feature where I'll share some of the best opening lines that hooked me.

This one is a bit of a cheat since technically this isn't the opening lines of the novel, but rather part of the preface. It's still the bit that got me hooked and sent shivers down my spine when I first read it. Two years later it still sticks in my mind.

She may have been born angry, but it was not until her mother cradled her under the stillness of a Serengeti night, beneath the cloudless spine of the Milky Way, that she began to grasp for what was forever out of reach.

All these stars, Eunice. All these tiny diamond lights. You can have them, if you want them badly enough. But first you must be patient and then you must be wise.

Blue Remembered Earth
Order a copy from The Book Depository (Free international shipping)

One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished. But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel.

Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards ... Read the review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sci-Fi November 2014

It’s November again and that means only one thing – it’s time for Sci-Fi November! During November bloggers around the globe will celebrate all things science fiction and of course I’m joining in on the fun. You can find out more about the event and a full list of participants over here.

Unfortunately this year Sci-Fi November coincides with the worst reading slump I’ve had in ages, erratic and extremely slow internet access (we are talking speeds slower than dial-up) and the wonderful prospect of rolling blackouts (tastefully termed ‘load shedding’ over here – basically the power could get switched off for about 3 hours or more a day). Conditions are hardly ideal.

So what’s the plan? I’m not much for reading or blogging according to a schedule, so I’ll just have to see what lies behind the event horizon and make things up as I go along. Hopefully no solar systems will be harmed in the process.

One thing that’s definitely happening is the second annual science fiction blind book date. It’s going to be even more devious than last year. Be sure to keep an eye on the blog later this week. I’ll also continue with my Opening Lines series and might even get a couple of reviews done.

I hope you’ll join me in this adventure and hopefully Sci-Fi November will be enough incentive to get me out of this abysmal reading slump. Let’s boldly go to the stars and beyond, to worlds unknown and explore the edge of possibility!