Fantasy, Humanism, and Improving Authors

Everyone likes different books. I tend to like books that speak to being human. I think that’s why I read so much fantasy literature. To blatantly steal a concept, they use the impossible to examine the probable. When you strip away the requirement to make the setting accurate you allow yourself the ability to more easily examine Truth.

Continue reading “Fantasy, Humanism, and Improving Authors”

Starship Troopers Review

Starship TroopersStarship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starship Troopers is, in my opinion, one of the three best military sci-fi novels ever written. It shares that distinction with Ender’s Game and Old Man’s war.

It’s also a good primer on, in the books own words, “moral philosophy”. Though it’s main story is about Johny Rico’s time in the Mobile Infantry and their fight against the pseudo-arachnids (the bugs) most of the novel is the musings of Johny on morals, primarily through his remembrances of his “History and Moral Philosophy” teacher in high school.

The basis of morality according to Heinlein (through his characters) is spelled out in the middle of Chapter 12: “Morals – all correct moral rules derive from the instinct to survive; moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level – as in a father who dies to save his children.”

Continue reading “Starship Troopers Review”

Review of The Forever War

The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Forever War may be a Sci-Fi classic but it shouldn’t be.

Throughout the book we follow the main character as he goes through a series of unconnected scenes, like a bad documentary. Seeing a bit of everything the author imagines about the future. All this is punctuated with brief moments of exposition either spoken or by internal monologue. Instead of showing us the story that interconnects these snippets of the future we are told it, and it isn’t until over halfway through the book that we get our first moments of character development that isn’t told to us as a recap of what came between the last two scenes.

The “love story” happens entirely off page, and there is almost no actual development of their relationship, again essentialy just being shown unconnected bits of the relationship without any of the important movement.

In addition, this book is a perfect example of poorly written “hard” Sci fi. The author spends so much time explaining the technology, and so little time on character development and plot that to those of us reading it from the authors future are left only with a picture of what someone thought our present and future might be like, and with nothing else holding the novel together we can only shake our heads at how wrong they were, and how silly the portrayal of the future looks.

View all my reviews

Brief Review of For the Win

For the WinFor the Win by Cory Doctorow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While not as good as Little Brother I enjoyed this book. Doctorow has somehow managed to put together MMOs with an easy to understand overview of unions and global economics. Along the way he explains the basis of why economies collapse, what inflation is, and gives us an understanding of the reason unions exist.

If you’re a high school teacher I highly recommend using this book. It’s interesting, current, and will help your students gain a basic understanding of economics.

View all my reviews

Review of The Last Colony by John Scalzi

The Last Colony (Old Man's War, #3)The Last Colony by John Scalzi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant novel. The perfect way to wrap up the trilogy (yes, I know it continues, but it was originally the end of the trilogy). Scalzi has the perfect combination of military sci-fi mixed with bits of humor, political maneuvering, and all set against a backdrop of inter-species relations that impacts the story without ever coming across as being one-dimensional.

I haven’t enjoyed a sci-fi book this much since the Enders Game/Shadow series’ and before that Starship Troopers. Though Scalzi isn’t Heinlein he’s not that far behind and definitely gives Card a run for his money.

View all my reviews