lunes, 22 de noviembre de 2021

Never by Ken Follett

Despite its length, Never is a quick and agile read befitting its best-seller style.

Among my concerns recently I am interested in the topic of a possible third world war. In this regard, this book, without contributing anything particularly innovative, provides us with a story - conveniently dramatized, as corresponds to this type of reading - plausible enough about some causes that could lead (or not) to a dreaded Third World War.

Specifically, the story explains the global political context from different points of view of its protagonists: a CIA spy, an infiltrator in an Islamic terrorist group under her charge, a Chinese vice minister and the madam president of the United States of America. These characters are seasoned with their corresponding sentimental context, bringing us closer to how this story would be told if it were in a movie.

A very entertaining read in which it is not necessary to highlight the talent of Ken Follett, both in his way of captivating us with a good story and in the knowledge necessary to tell it. 

martes, 7 de septiembre de 2021

Interference (Semiosis Trilogy #2) by Sue Burke

As I am reading this book I see that the Semiosis Duology has become a trilogy. In principle it is good news -with some reservations-, since the rich ecology of the planet Pax provides for many stories.

I can say that I have enjoyed this book as much as the first one, but I must also point out some flaws: the motivation of the characters - especially the earthlings - is a bit disappointing (it reminded me of the horrible movie Prometheus) and as the plot develops it gets somewhat confusing, especially in the ending of the main story (I don't want to go into details). This is something that also happened in the first novel, but here it is more striking.

However, in this novel I think the pros clearly outweigh the cons. As I have already mentioned, the fascinating ecology of Pax along with the personalities of some characters, especially the aliens, captivates you from the first page.

I look forward to this unexpected third novel but at the same time, given the drift of some subplots, I hope it lives up to expectations.

I can read the review of the first novel here.

sábado, 5 de junio de 2021

The Blue World by Jack Vance

If you have read some of my previous reviews you will realize my taste for aquatic science fiction (among other things). Well, here is another aquatic world, this time from the grand master Jack Vance.

As usual in the author, the most remarkable thing about this novel is an interesting worldbuilding. Let me explain: a totally aquatic planet in which human beings inhabit a species of giant water lilies and that they have built (that is, that the author has imagined) a society perfectly adapted to this environment. In a world without seasons, with a pleasant climate for humans -but for example without metals-, in which time is measured in generations since the original starship crashed into this sea world. Of course, in this society a conflict arises and… oh, wait!, there is the Kragen, a sea monster that threatens this peaceful existence (I have told you that giant monsters are another of my favorite issues?).

To my regret I have not read as much as I would like of Jack Vance's books but I think I glimpse some patterns. Apart from the worldbuilding that I have already mentioned, there are the characters who seem a bit eccentric to me, and among them there is the iconoclastic hero who wants to fight an unjust system. About the characters, I do not know exactly what to think. They are a little weird in their behavior, they are so… insubstantial or one-sided; even the hero who is supposed to be the better depicted; and yet they manage in some way to captivate you, so I really don't know what to think.

In short, there is war, yes, but in the quiet way the author typically describes, and there is also adventure and discovery, all based on this magnificent world without name. So with these ingredients it is easy to get a very entertaining novel that in addition is a standalone story, contrary to the sagas that the author has us used to.

miércoles, 14 de abril de 2021

The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts.

I love how Mr. Watts writes. I like his pessimism and his vital cynicism, and above all, I adore his perspective of life and intelligence. In this novel the author maintains the level of controlled madness that has us accustomed but unfortunately I have not understood the end. For me this is a nonsense and apparently I am not the only one.

You can see the plot on the cover of the book, a really interesting approach, as well as its development throughout the novel, but as I have already mentioned the problem of the novel is the last part. Perhaps it has different meanings, or simply the last chapter was not necessary, I do not know.

For what it is worth, Peter Watts' The Freeze-Frame Revolution (2018) evokes me these two novels, by some aspects of the argument that I will not explain (because spoilers): on the one hand Dark Star by Alan Dean Foster and on the other Marrow by Robert Reed.

I must indicate that this novel is complemented by other stories that the author has published and that I have not read (except "The Island", great story). I think some of these stories can be found for free on the Internet.

In my opinion this is not his best work, but a less accomplished novel by Peter Watts is preferable to a good novel by many other authors.

jueves, 8 de abril de 2021

Frontera oscura de Sabino Cabeza.

Me he pasado media lectura pensando que este libro no merecía un Minotauro. El premio Minotauro, ufff, el mejor galardón del fantástico español, superando en prestigio incluso al UPC, bla, bla… Pero qué tontería, si mal no recuerdo esta es mi primera lectura de una obra ganadora, por lo que igual resulta que mi expectativa era desmesurada y mi presunción… pues eso, un poco presuntuosa.

El caso es que en algún momento, a partir de la segunda mitad de la novela, la trama gana en interés y la lectura me resulta más cautivadora. ¿Qué ha pasado? Yo creo que el estilo del autor no ha variado, ni tampoco el ritmo ni nada de eso. Simplemente en algún punto indeterminado se ha establecido una conexión entre la obra y el buen aficionado a la ciencia ficción que me considero (aficionado pero con unas cuantas lagunas, todo sea dicho).

Total, que para mi propia sorpresa, he terminado el libro pensando justo lo contrario, que es para novelas como esta que deben existir premios como el Minotauro, para proporcionar una oportunidad a carreras prometedoras como la de Sabino Cabeza, a quien deseo lo mejor y me quedo con ganas de leer más cosas suyas.

Sobre la historia en sí, muy brevemente: un buen relato de aventuras espaciales de corte clásico es siempre celebrado. Como sabéis, El espacio, la última frontera…

jueves, 28 de enero de 2021

The Future of Fusion Energy, by Jason Parisi and Justin Ball

Since I am interested in a book that acquaints a layman like me on nuclear fusion, this is an excellent choice.

The book starts with an exposition of the present and future energy needs of humanity, contemplating the possible options: fossil fuels, renewables, and nuclear fission and fusion. 

Then it exposes the physical principles and each of the technologies -both of which are many- involved in obtaining fusion energy. It is certainly a very, very complex (and expensive) issue. It should be noted that nuclear fusion -the energy from the sun - has been achieved artificially for more than half a century, with the fusion bombs. "Simply" it is a question of being able to lock up this force and use it for peaceful purposes.

So I realize that it is a very difficult subject to explain for a curious reader without specialized knowledge like me, but I think the book more than succeeds in doing so, with very didactic and understandable explanations -considering the complexity of the matter- and with the help of ingenious metaphors and also also some really funny comments.

Finally, the book also deals with the issue of fusion reactors as the energy that in the future can greatly facilitate space travel throughout the solar system.

Without a doubt the fusion energy itself is an achievable goal, it is only a matter of investment in research, time and also of political will, for example if the great international project ITER can be achieved (planned for 2025). We will have to be patient then, because without a doubt this must be the energy that meets the needs of humanity in the future, if there is a future...

domingo, 3 de enero de 2021

The Atrocity Exhibition by J. G. Ballard.

I assume that I have not understood all that this book offers, maybe a 50% or less, so a rereading will be necessary. For this reason this review is merely a poor impression of the read.

On the other hand, I can say that even in the most nonsensical chapters, the prose of J.G. Ballard manages to captivate you, and that the author's comments at the end of each chapter in this edition are a little help to grasp more about the content -and the intent- of this... novel?

In the last part of the book, the reading becomes a bit -only a bit- diaphanous as we glimpse more clearly a criticism of the hypocrisy of the treatment of violence in the mass media -violence mediated by technology as in the Vietnam War or in the car accidents- and the deceitful seduction of the celebrities praised by these same media.

Despite all the above, for me it is an excellent reading that, as I have indicated, I should reread this book in the future.