This column is from Grick’s POV in the novels and will appear from week to week. Also included is the first book review column by LJ Stamm.
I found a number of things quite interesting and enjoyable during my short tenure in your earthly dimension. One of the best was television, with its huge variety of stimulating entertainment and information displays, not to mention the overabundance of what you call “commercials.” Amos explained to me that they are needed to pay the costs of presenting the displays, but that delved into facets of your economic system that seem particularly deceptive to me. In spite of that, I found much to like on television, mostly in the so-called “soap operas, which presented stirring dramatic sagas of life in your world. There was also a lot of “sports,” most of which were little more than incomprehensible and pointless exercises in bluster and violence. There were also the “reality shows,” completely misnamed programs that depicted nothing remotely resembling actual reality and were a total waste of time.
I also greatly enjoyed your sunlight and blue skies, things it is hoped can be restored to my world at some point in the future. The village of Baycrest, where most of my time was spent, seemed to embody the best of your culture in a community of friendly people who displayed a genuine shared concern for each other. The surrounding countryside also reminded me a bit of my homeland, with its rolling hills and skyline of snowcapped mountains.
The great city of Seattle and its accompanying settlements were also very interesting, but the crush of population, machines, malodorous air and noise were detractions that made me long for the open spaces of my own world. Amos tells me that many regions of your world are even more densely populated. I earnestly hope you find some way to limit your numbers before causing irreparable harm to your environment. You have a lovely world, filled with wonders and worthy of your best efforts to preserve it from further damage.
In my next posting, I will answer some questions you may have about my world and its inhabitants. Until then, enjoy reading one of the books in the “Man’s Best Friend” series.
LJ On Books
LJ Stamm Book Reviews will appear monthly. This posting LJ gives us several pocket reviews.
Sea of Glass by Barry Longyear
A darkly gripping and starkly graphic picture of the near future, told in compelling first-person by the central character, as he grows from child to adult. It’s difficult to put down, almost forcing the reader to continue to the end. This book is among Longyear’s best and easily on the long list of all-time best science fiction novels.
Earth by David Brin
Having read most of Brin’s other works, I finally got around to reading this one, which is an ambitious and epic near-future story which explores environmental and social issues extrapolated from contemporary times. Too much science and not enough fiction was the main problem I had with this book. The story often bogs down in muddy scientific and theoretical minutiae. Character development is spotty, with some fleshed out nicely, while others remain shallow and flat. All in all, a decent read, but not up to par with Brin’s better works, like the “Uplift” series.
The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson
This is an interesting and unusual story of a few immortals living through human history, from the distant past to the far future. Good character development and social commentary, along with a suitable amount of action and drama combine for a satisfying result. I highly recommend it.
The Madness Season by C.S. Friedman
This is an interesting and unusual story incorporating several compelling themes and a good variety of well developed characters, against the background of an earth that has been subjugated into the empire of a strange alien culture. Multiple aspects of science, sociology, love, and the politics of conquest are woven into a complex and satisfying work with Friedman’s customary skill. I highly recommend it.
The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke
This is a book of imaginative and thoughtful science fiction about a small human colony on a far world and their encounter with a passing ship of humans bound for another new world. I have read it many times and it never fails to stimulate the sense of awe and wonder which all great works of science fiction evoke. A superior work by one of the masters of the genre, it has my highest recommendation.
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
A book written in 1949 that handles the “post-apocalyptic” scenario as good as any you will ever read. A few survivors of an unknown plague do their best to survive and endure in a world suddenly stripped of the technology it has depended upon. Like all good stories, it makes you think, reflect and consider the possibilities about what technological development has brought us and what might happen if it was lost. Though this story has no good versus evil overtones, Stephen King has acknowledged it as an inspiration for his great work “The Stand.” Don’t be put off by its age. This book is terrific.
Feel free to comment on our post or send lJ a comment to email@example.com . Any general comments or questions direct to Grick@binaltro.com. That’s it for this week. Look for a new blog next week. any comments for the moderator contact firstname.lastname@example.org