domingo, 13 de noviembre de 2022

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.


(I know there could be some mistakes in this review. I’m trying to improve my English, thanks)

I assume there is little I can say about this book that has not already been told. My fault for not reading it earlier.

Anyway, a short comment. For me, the achievement of this book is to very cleverly mix a wonderful sense of humor with some tropes of science fiction (such as galactic empires from space opera stories or also artificial intelligence), in a way that may seem like a light reading but that actually contains some bold insights. For example, a resource that the author uses is to show our tiny human problems on a galactic scale, which helps to put everything (philosophically) in perspective. So, in this book, we, the humans, in our unconcerned planetary isolation, understand little of what goes on at the galactic level, including things that can affect us, let's say -ahem!- directly.

So Douglas Adams invites to ask ourselves: What if our beloved and also mistreated planet, often treated as the center of Creation, was just a minuscule curiosity in the galactic order?

I've been told not to bother reading the sequels so I'm keeping the good memories of this one.

lunes, 7 de noviembre de 2022

The This by Adam Roberts.

(I know there could be some mistakes in this review. I’m trying to improve my English, thanks)

I think I can contribute little to this review. The book begins as one thing and ends as quite another... or not. This "becoming" of the plot is well thought out and if there is something that cannot be discussed about the author, it is his talent.

Along the way I suppose I have missed details, especially in the last part of the novel. A few perhaps? Not too many I hope. In one of these last chapters there is a rather daring twist that leaves me perplexed. A foreign object that apparently clashes with the rest of the novel and that I understand as a tribute to a great classic which fortunately I read very recently (a clue: it starts with 19 and ends with 84). I should also clarify that at the end of the novel everything makes (more) sense.

So what I can say about the book is that the most "tangible" aspect in itself is worth reading: a very incisive critique of how the social networks and their intrinsic perverse side affects us. This is not a book against social networks, far from it: the author enjoys a privileged perspective in terms of diagnosis of our age and at the same time provides us with a fascinating proposal for a possible future of our society: great the concept of Toycene. And of course there is more, but here we enter the realms of... Hegel.

I'm sorry if I've been unclear with this review. Do I recommend it? Yes, but bear in mind that it is an Adam Roberts book.

jueves, 27 de octubre de 2022

Historia cultural de los ovnis en España 1950-1990 de Ignacio Cabria

Excelente trabajo sobre el fenómeno OVNI, analizado desde un enfoque socio/antropológico. Tirando a momentos de ironía, y de escepticismo durante todo el libro, el autor consigue una magnífica crónica sobre la evolución de este mito moderno en nuestro país. 

Por estas páginas vemos pasar los primeros sucesos de platillos volantes (via importación cultural de los EEUU, tanto de sus propios “casos reales” como de las películas de ciencia ficción) hacia una posterior evolución del objeto de estudio: de los ovnis de Marte a los astronautas antiguos y después a las abducciones. De ahí a la aparición de las sectas milenaristas que reciben mensajes celestiales (mezclando visitantes y religión, incluyendo sectas) y finalmente a una ufología más crítica o escéptica que es la que acaba suscribiendo el autor, en una evolución personal coincidente con la de muchos otros investigadores. En el caso de la ufología española a destacar el escándalo que supuso el caso "Ummo". 

El libro es también un homenaje a todas las personas que dedicaron talento, tiempo y esfuerzos en un campo de estudio en el que creían firmemente. Como suele suceder, unas pocas lograron dedicarse profesionalmente a este tema, como escritores o periodistas divulgadores la mayoría.

Hoy en día oímos hablar mucho menos de ovnis, parece cosa del siglo pasado, pero la ufología sigue activa, diluida entre las otras denominadas paraciencias. De hecho, en mi opinión ni de lejos es la más descabellada de las actuales creencias metafísicas (por no mencionar el terraplanismo).

Un libro muy recomendable para entender como una sociedad moderna en la que vivimos, la cual se presupone ilustrada, continúa necesitando de estos mitos; y a su vez de cómo los mass media -actualmente deberíamos añadir Internet y las redes sociales- actúan como agentes de propagación de estas creencias.

martes, 18 de octubre de 2022

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton

Even though the main plot looks like a clone sitcom (here you can see the synopsis of the book, but it is a bit spoileous), I almost found more interesting the worldbuilding. That is, for example, when the story explains how the various beachheads -the other colonizing starships- have been able to establish themselves, or have failed to colonize other potentially worlds. The implications that cloning technology has for humanity in general and particularly for the main character in relation to the contract as an expendable person have also seemed well thought out to me. And the planet ecology is well thought out.

That said, it does not mean that the main plot is not entertaining enough to make it worth reading, but at least for me this tone of tragicomedy suits it only partially; specifically in the comedy part, providing some hilarious situations but about the tragic I don't empathize enough with the Mickeys.

So the reading was good enough. With more free time I would read the sequel, but unfortunately this is not the case. 

miércoles, 5 de octubre de 2022

Our Lady of Artilects by Andrew Gillsmith

Very good! Our Lady of Artilects is one of the most enjoyable reads so far this year, which for me it is more than enough.

Since it gives the impression that it is a first work of an amateur writer and also an edition of few means, automatically I started looking for flaws (it is like one of these fascinating conditioning via neural implants of the book). And flaws it has: the future that is described has some inconsistencies and is outlined in a somewhat simplistic way, and I am not referring to the political situation (captivating but of which it only shows an outline, if you read it you will already understand). Regarding this shocking political situation of the future, at some point the novel evokes the fascinating Too Like the Lightning.

Since I have mentioned Ada Palmer’s novel, I must clarify that Our Lady of Artilects is situated at the antipodes of that one and while the former gets lost in thoughtful disquisitions, this one only tries to tell a story that captivates you and in this undoubtedly it succeeds. I would describe Our Lady of Artilects as a thriller from a more or less distant future (100 years from now approximately), with an original and well-thought-out worldbuilding, but its best quality is that it is highly entertaining. So, I think that the reading should be approached as an action movie of those in which you have a great time, with the logical limitations of a script for this type of cinema.

If you are curious to see how the author manages to combine religion in a more or less distant future and at the same time robots and exorcism, you should read this novel.

Mr. Gillsmith, write more stories please!

jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2022

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

It is a shame but it was my first Christopher Priest reading. Well, I'm impressed.

First of all I must say that it has been a delight to listen to this audiobook, congratulations to the narrator, Mr. Simon Vance (and of course the author, but I will say this later). I had heard a lot about this novel but really I knew little about the plot apart from the rivalry between the two magicians. Also, I have not seen the movie either, which I am told is quite different from the novel. Better this way, I can read it without preconceived ideas, something difficult in a book as well known as this one.

Cover from the Audible edition

About my reading, sorry, about my listening I can say that it has managed to captivate me from the first moment. It is not the typical novel with an intrigue that catches you but the events and how the author narrates them, with so many exquisite details about the time and particularly about the world of illusionism, immediately leave their m
ark on you. So I have been fascinated by the study of illusionism in itself, with a whole subculture based on perception deception; but more than that, in which the spectators collaborate without realizing it. Really impressive.

One aspect to highlight is the development of the plot. Until almost the end the author does not put his cards on the table -if I may use this prestidigitator expression-, but I must clarify that it is not a question of playing misdirection like a… illusionist; or yes, perhaps it is: so you simply must participate -as a reader- in this (literary) magic show and wait to see what the magician/author pulls out of his hat. Also there is an astonishing ending, which I have been anticipating throughout the novel (you just must read the index) but you can not imagine how it will impact you.

Needless to say, this will not be my last reading of the author.

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2022

Spaceling by Doris Piserchia

A curious novel, totally New Wave (first published in 1978).

Synopsis: Adventures and intrigues in which a 15-year-old girl finds herself involved, in a future where some humans can travel interdimensionally. In other dimensions the human body transforms into a totally different being, adapted to the new environment. For example, in a volcanic world uninhabitable for humans, the character becomes a sort of giant otter (see the hardcover edition art below).

It gets a little confusing with all the interdimensional back and forth and also for all the characters and how they come in and out of the story. At some point the story evokes or suggests to me what I assume would be an astral travel or a drug-type experience.

An interesting author, until now I had not read any of her works, but I plan to read more of hers.