November 22, 2017

May 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Ah, tis the month of May.

Perhaps April showers may bring May flowers, but here at Astroguyz HQ, it also marks the very precipice of science fiction movie blockbuster season. The X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man 2 are all on our must see list. Is Marvel about to rule the world? And keep an eye out for those dark horse unknowns that often jump the gate just ahead of those sure-fire bets just prior to Memorial Day weekend. And hey, next year we’ll get a third Hunger Games, an Avengers sequel and a reboot of the Star Wars franchise… can the internet survive? Will fans take a shine to a galaxy far, far away according to Abrams? In the meantime, here’s some science fiction and more hot off of the press to keep you satiated: [Read more...]

Review: Liberty 1784 by Robert Conroy

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What if? Is a great historical thought exercise to play. What if the Germans got the bomb first? What if Gettysburg had ended differently? Are we existing in some sort of strange alternate history now, and is there a reality in which Paris Hilton is the lizard-tailed President of the United States? [Read more...]

Upon a Sea of Stars by A. Bertram Chandler

A scifi classic!

Don’t mess with John Grimes, and don’t ever dare to call him a pirate. He prefers the term privateer, thank you very much. This week, we take a look at the very latest collection of tales of the Galactic Outer Rim by A. Bertram Chandler, collected in one volume for the first time.

We’re quickly getting addicted to this swashbuckling golden age of sci-fi saga, that’s for sure. Written back in the 1960’s and 70’s, the Grimes saga harkens back to an age where, in the words of the late great Douglas Adams; “…little furry green creatures from Alpha Centauri were real little furry green creatures from Alpha Centauri.” [Read more...]

March 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

Ahh, the month of March has arrived. A time of growth, renewal and taxes. Spring is in the air, although it may not feel it for those of you stranded in snowier climes. And yes, we do indeed realize that for folks down under in the southern hemisphere, the reverse is true, as this month marks the onset of Fall. [Read more...]

Review: The Forever Engine by Frank Chadwick

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Saddle up and batten down those airship hatches… steampunk and alternate science fiction timelines lay ahead in this week’s review.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll briefly paraphrase ourselves once again. Steampunk is a genre that’s crying out for a flagship franchise. And it’s ironic that, with the legions of Con fans dressing techno-retro, there’s still not a Star Trek or Star Wars caliber series to quench the fans seeming thirst for all things steampunk. [Read more...]

January 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Welcome to 2014! Yeah, I know, we will spare you the spiel about how we’re all supposed to have flying skateboards by now. Still, it is strange to think about just how many science fiction red-letter dates are coming right up. It’s just plain hard to be a prophet of the future, though perhaps all of those science fiction dystopian futures never in fact came to pass because scifi authors warned us about ‘em in the first place… or did they? [Read more...]

Review: Fire Season by David Weber & Jane Lindskold

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Feline-esque alien species are an under-appreciated realm of extraterrestrials in modern science fiction. And if the prevalence of kitten pics on ye ole internet is any indication, we just can’t get enough of cats. But alien races, such as Larry Niven’s Kzinti of his Known Space/Man Kzin Wars saga, show us just how disagreeable sentient alien cat species just might be. [Read more...]

Review: In Space No One Can Hear You Scream Edited by Hank Davis

A scifi classic!

Think space is a friendly place? This week’s review will cause you to think again.

From killer supernovae to the cold and uncaring vacuum to space alien beasties with their own agendas, the universe is indeed trying to kill us.

This week, we take a look at a thrilling (and chilling) look at a new compilation out from Baen Books. In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream edited by Hank Davis takes a page from the classic Alien movie tagline to bring you some terrifyingly great classic tales from the annuals of science fiction.

It’s a Lovecraftian cosmos out there, with stranger things than can be known. This collection culls some great tales of science fiction from such masters as Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Sarah A. Hoyt and many more. We often forget that sci-fi is more than just rockets and rayguns. As this compilation reminds us, science fiction, fantasy and horror often go hand-in-hand… just be sure first that said hand is not a claw or slimy tentacle that you’re actually holding on to.

Here’s just a few notable tales contained herein:

A Walk in the Dark by Arthur C. Clarke: Hey, we didn’t know that there was a Clarke tale out there that we hadn’t read yet! It all starts with a breakdown and a simple walk home, which soon becomes disconcerting under starless sky on a world far out on the galactic rim. Beware those tales from earlier colonists of things that go bump in the night…

Frog Water by Tony Daniel: What might an alien menagerie contain? Two humans are about to find out in this far out and disconcerting tale. I love how the aliens are depicted as, well, truly alien, complete with inscrutable goals and interests, far from a peaceable Federation whining about intergalactic treaties, etc.

The Last Weapon by Robert Sheckley: Don’t open Pandora’s Box… except you just know that humans can’t resist peeking inside in this classic sci-fi tale. A team of mercenaries finds an ancient Martian weapons cache… and a dire warning. Hey, we’ve all been there, right?

Mongoose by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette: A classic tale of inter-dimensional infestation, Mongoose was also featured on the Drabblecast. Set in the Boojum universe, Mongoose evokes the feel of Lovecraft, as an intergalactic exterminator and his pet must remove a bizarre plague from a space station that let the task go for just a bit too long. A great action-packed tale!

Sandkings by George R.R. Martin: A gem of a tale, Sandkings is worthy of a reread. The story tells the tale of a collector of alien pets and curiosities that discovers the ultimate prize: a sentient insect-like species that worships him like a god. His pernicious proclivities get the best of him, however, as he takes the game too far. The installers weren’t kidding when they said to “watch your faces…”

That’s just a few of the weird and wonderful tales contained in In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream… read ‘em if you dare!

December 2013: The Month in Science Fiction

Deck the Halls! Christmas/Festivus/pick your favorite December Solstice tie-in holiday is here once again, and with it comes our final monthly round up of science fiction for 2013. Boy, the calendar year itself sounds like a date straight out of science fiction, huh? Wasn’t Kevin Costner supposed to be making his apocalyptic runs on behalf of the U.S. postal service by now? And just think, the flying skateboards of 2015 and Back to the Future II are now just over a year away. [Read more...]

November 2013: The Month in Science Fiction

The pre-holiday movie season has begun. As we approach the cusp of the holiday season, several fine science fiction offerings are already in theatres. We were duly impressed with Thor 2, and glad to finally see Orson Scott Card’s science fiction classic Ender’s Game at last get its big screen due. Heck, we even enjoyed the movie Gravity, despite its minor (and one major) science faux pas… spoiler alert: you can’t journey to the International Space Station from the Hubble Space Telescope! Now, all eyes are turning towards the big screen adaptation of Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. [Read more...]

October 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

October is our favorite month of the year. Not only is it largely free of snow, bugs and sweltering heat, but it also includes the closest thing that science fiction has to a holiday, Halloween. Hey, it’s great to see suburbanites carve out totems from vegetables, honoring a dimly remembered cross-quarter pagan holiday.  Halloween sees us carrying out the rituals of replaying the original Mercury Theater H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds broadcast, setting up the scope for neighborhood ghosts and goblins, and once again carving jack o’ lanterns in an effort to assure that this will be the BEST HALLOWEEN, ever. [Read more...]

Friday Review: Ride the Star Winds by A. Bertram Chandler

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The circle is now almost complete. Over the past few months, we’ve immersed ourselves in the worlds of science fiction author A. Bertram Chandler and his chief protagonist John Grimes. Followers of this space will remember our recent action-packed reviews of A. Bertram Chandler’s Galactic Courier and his outstanding saga First Command.

These are massive volumes, each comprising several original novels. This week, we finished the fourth compendium in the series, entitled Ride the Star Winds. Out from Baen Books, this only leaves the 1st volume of To the Galactic Rim for us to read. [Read more...]

September 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

The month of September sees the balancing of light and darkness achieving an uneasy truce with the arrival of the Fall Equinox (I know, I know, Spring for the southern hemisphere), which on this year of our Lord 2013 A.D. arrives on September 22nd at 4:44 PM Eastern Daylight Saving time or 20:44 Universal Time. [Read more...]

Review: Himmler’s War by Robert Conroy

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Historical “What If’s?” often make for great fiction.

What if the South had won Gettysburg? Or if the U.S. had never entered World War I? Or Roosevelt never built the bomb at Einstein’s urging? These are just some alternate histories that are intriguing to consider. Or are we in fact living in an alternate timeline now? [Read more...]

Review: First Command by A. Bertram Chandler

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The John Grimes saga is an addictive one. Spanning the worlds of the Galactic Rim, Grimes takes us on thrilling adventures of uncharted worlds. A solider, an opportunist and an all-round loveable character, Grimes is an old space hand that you can root for.

We recently had the pleasure of finishing First Command. Out in re-issue courtesy of Baen Books, First Command is a compendium of the four novelettes Spartan Planet, The Far Traveler, Big Black Mark and The Inheritors. [Read more...]

Review: The Man-Kzin Wars Created by Larry Niven: the 25th Anniversary Edition

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I love Niven’s Known Universe saga.  I was first introduced to this hard sci-fi future world via his landmark novel, Ringworld, still one of my all-time faves.

One enduring race in the Known Universe tales is the Kzinti, an intelligent and aggressive cat-like species. The Kzinti (or Kzin) are one of the most fascinating alien races in all of science fiction. I remember eagerly picking up and reading the very first installment of The Man-Kzin Wars series as a young Airman while stationed at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

And it’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years. This week’s review is The Man-Kzin Wars: the 25th Anniversary Edition created by Larry Niven. This new edition, out from Baen Books includes a new forward by the author and an introduction by series cover illustrator Stephen Hickman. The series is one of the longest running serializations in science fiction, and has cranked out thirteen volumes thus far. Number fourteen is due out in December of this year.

Niven reminiscences that he was at first reluctant to hand over the keys to the Known Space universe, but is now glad that he did. The first volume features two short stories and one novelette; The Warriors, by Larry Niven, Iron by Poul Anderson, & Cathouse by Dean Ing.

The Warriors is the original introductory tale by Niven himself outlining the fateful first contact between Man and Kzin. This comes at a time when humans have forsaken conflict for centuries, and have virtually no weaponry. The imperial Kzinti, however, are taken aback by a key piece of our technology, which, in turn, saves our primate hides. I always love how Niven’s stories are grounded in hard science and astrophysics— he’s the Clarke of his generation. Niven himself also notes in the new intro that he “doesn’t do war stories…” Perhaps it was for the best that he allowed other writers to create a new take on the Kzinti universe.

Poul Anderson was a wise choice for Iron, a tale of humans and Kzin clashing over a lost technology. Anderson’s style is much like Niven’s, in that he can paint a convincing planet-scape. The Kzin, while aggressive, have actually co-opted much of their space-faring technology from other races, much like the alien invaders in Niven’s Footfall.

Cathouse by Dean Ing rounds out the book with a fascinating look at the often bypassed female Kzin. As unveiled in the Ringworld saga, contact and war with humanity has also forced the Kzin to evolve as well.

It’s also a small wonder that Niven’s novels (especially Ringworld) have never made it to the big screen.  Perhaps this is actually a good thing, as special effects technology is just now reaching the point where it can finally do justice to Niven’s vision. Fun-filled fact: did you know that the Kzinti were animated in the Star Trek universe of the early 1970’s?

Be sure to check out the anniversary edition of the book that started it all… expect more Man-Kzin Wars reviews on this site soon!

 

July 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

The mid-point of the year, and with it the middle of the summer blockbuster season, is nigh. This year has brought no less than three each smashed moon sightings in the films Oblivion, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel. Just what is it that Hollywood has against planetary companions, anyway? It almost seems that having a smashed moon is mandatory these days, whether the planet of discussion is Qo’noS (I say Kronos), Krypton or Earth. [Read more...]

June 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

Ah… northern hemisphere summer always means one thing to Sci-Fi movie fans: Blockbuster film season. This is the time of year that Hollywood eschews all attempts at Academy winning performances and opts instead to simply blow things up. Hey, we’ve already seen some surprise hits such as Oblivion and After Earth. For our money, these were just as good as the sure-fire anticipated flicks such as Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness. And hey, the second Hunger Games film and the film adaption of Ender’s Game comes out later this year in November 2013! [Read more...]