My Review of The Butcher of Anderson Station

The Butcher of Anderson Station (The Expanse, #0.5)

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This short story helps flesh out some stuff in The Expanse. If you have read Leviathan Wakes, I would read this next. Most obviously it tells the back-story of one of the main characters from that novel, but another thing it does is to explore and explain some features of Belter psychology that are presented in the novel but may not have fully grabbed your attention. It is a short read, but very worthwhile if you want to explore The Expanse.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Review of Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1)

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


You may have seen a TV series called The Expanse. Well, this is the book that started it. Kind of. I have been to a few panels with the author team at SF cons (it is two gentlemen using the James S.A. Corey pseudonym), and I think this all started as a computer game, then they turned it into a book, and then someone really smart realized this could be an awesome TV series. Well, a series that awesome must have come from a pretty good book, and this is one I could not put down. It is great space opera in an area not being covered much these days. It is set in a world where the solar system is being settled, but no one has yet left the solar system. All of the settlements seemed to me to be very plausible. There is one invention you have to give them, the Epstein Drive. But even that is not some kind of hand-waving FTL, it is fully consistent with physics as we know it. Journeys within the solar system take weeks instead of years, but everything has the feeling of reality.

The book starts with mysteries. A ship is destroyed, but why? A girl is missing, but how does that tie in? And gradually the threads come together. There are plot twists a plenty, and an ending that caught me completely by surprise. I have to get started on the second book of the series now.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Review of Been So Long

Been So Long: My Life and Music

Been So Long: My Life and Music by Jorma Kaukonen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the autobiography of a musician who experienced the psychedelic 60s and lived to tell about it. But it is also the story of a man who screwed up his life with booze and drugs, yet eventually found recovery and peace. I initially wanted to read it because I have been a big fan of Jefferson Airplane since the 1960s, and then a big fan of Hot Tuna, the band Jorma put together with Jack Casady as the Airplane was imploding. Jorma was responsible, in part, for some really great music, but I knew there was more to the story that I had not known, so I was eager to read this. But the story of him turning his life around ended up being at least as important to me. I would recommend it highly to anyone who is either a fan of that music, or is interested in people who recover and turn their life around. IF you are one of those people, pick it up, you won’t regret it.

BTW, I continue to catch Jorma (with or without Hot Tuna) whenever he is in town, and I can see very plainly a man at peace, and I am happy for him.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Been So Long

My Review of Forward The Foundation

Forward the Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #2)

Forward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the last of Asimov’s Foundation series, and was published posthumously. One suspects Asimov was feeling the effects of his age, since this novel (more a group of novellas, really) show Seldon growing older and gradually losing everyone in his life he cares about His “wife”, Dors Venabili, is destroyed, his adopted son Raych is killed, his collaborator Yugo Amaryl dies in middle age from overwork…all in all pretty bleak. But it brings everything around again. In the first book, Foundation, we see Seldon as a very old and feeble man confined to a wheelchair, and in this volume we see how he got to that point. But this novel does show how they set up the Foundation, and the Second Foundation, with the idea that the Foundation would focus on the physical sciences, and the Second Foundation would focus on the mental sciences.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Forward The Foundation

My Review of Prelude to Foundation

Prelude to Foundation (Foundation, #1)

Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the 6th book in order of publication, but the first in terms of internal chronology, and I think a return to form after two weaker novels in the series. Asimov took the story forward in Foundation’s Edge and Foundation and Earth, but kind of wrote himself into a corner where he could not see any way forward. So he decided to go back and look at how it all began. A young mathematician named Hari Seldon presents a paper at a conference, and then is called to see the Emporer himself. The Emperor believes that Seldon can predict the future, and wants to take advantage of that power. Seldon protests that he can do no such thing, that he only showed that there would be a theoretical possibility that some day people might be able to see something of the broad sweep of future history. Then Seldon is attacked, and put to flight. As he travels through various parts of Trantor he starts to get some hints of how to advance his work, and by the end he may have enough to get started. The look at the various aspects of Trantor’s society is fascinating because it is a microcosm of the galaxy with all of the various societies it contains.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Prelude to Foundation

My Review of Foundation and Earth

Foundation and Earth (Foundation, #5)

Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the fifth volume in order of publication, and continues the story from Foundation’s Edge. Trevize made his decision, but is uneasy because he does not know why he made the decision he made. He decided he needs to go looking for more. And his traveling companion, Janov Pelorat, is an historian who is interested in the mythology about a “planet of origin” called Earth, and wants to look for it. So they go off in search of it. As they look at old legends, they start finding very old planets, and it turns out Asimov has merged the Foundation universe with his Robot universe. The planets they find, at least at first, are a couple of the old spacer worlds: Aurora, and Solaria. Eventually they find Earth, but is radioactive. This was first introduced in Pebble in the Sky, then explained in Robots and Empire. Then they notice the Moon, which is unusually large, and investigate, where they find R. Daneel Olivaw, who has been manipulating everything for the last 30 millennia. After this Asimov could not think of anywhere to go with this story, so he did a couple of “prequel” books.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Foundation and Earth

My Review of Foundation’s Edge

Foundation's Edge (Foundation, #4)

Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


After a long break, Asimov was persuaded to return to the Foundation series and tell some more stories. The initial result was this volume, followed by three more the expanded the story. By now, instead of short stories or novellas, as the previous stories were, Asimov is writing novels, so this is one single novel. The basic idea starts out with a troublesome young man named Golan Trevize, who manages to piss off the ruler of The Foundation, the Mayor of Terminus, Harla Branno. Trevize believes that the Second Foundation still exists, but his attempts to force the issue in the Council get him exiled and sent to look for it, a convenient way to get him out of the way. Simultaneously, another plot thread involves the Second Foundation. This is the weakest part of the novel, in my view, since people with supposedly advanced mentality should not be acting like insecure teenagers. Then a third actor is revealed, a planetary gestalt called Gaia, and it turns out they have been manipulating everything. They think making the Galaxy a larger version of their planetary gestalt would be a far better thing than the Seldon plan, but they refuse to make this decision themselves. They have selected Trevize to make the decision because he has the gift of making the right decision somehow. That is why they got him exiled from The Foundation and brought him to Gaia. In the climax, the Foundation, the Second Foundation, and Gaia, wait to see which way he will go.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Foundation’s Edge

My Review of Second Foundation

Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the third of Asimov’s Foundation novels, and the last of the original Trilogy. After this he left the Foundation alone for many years. This volume picks up where the previous one left off. The Mule was thwarted when Bayta Darell killed Ebling Mis, thus preventing The Mule from learning the location of the Second Foundation. But The Mule could not be secure if the Second Foundation was out there, so he mounts a search, using whatever clues he can find. One of those clues was Star’s End, and that leads him to a star system called Tazenda, which might be a corruption of Star’s End. It looks deceptively rural and unassuming, but if a group is hiding itself it might do just that. The Mule goes there, but is met by someone from the Second Foundation, and it turns out this person also has unusual mental powers, strong enough to overcome The Mule. A little psychic surgery and the galaxy is safe.

But now the Foundation is aware of the Second Foundation, and that is causing problems. This knowledge is making them act in the wrong ways. Instead of relying on themselves, which Seldon’s plan requires, they are now expecting the magical Second Foundation to bail them out of any problem. A group of Foundationers want to find and eliminate the Second Foundation, and they mount a search themselves. The grand-daughter of Bayta Darrell, Arkady Darrell, gets involved in things, and flees to Trantor in the company of a nice trader. In the end, the Foundationers are successfully convinced that they have found and eliminated the Second Foundation, but they haven’t. Because it is not where they think it is. So Seldon’s plan is safe – for now.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Second Foundation

My Review of Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2)

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the second volume of the Foundation series, and now Asimov gets to address an interesting problem, which is what happens if the Empire ever takes notice of the growing power of the Foundation and decides to “take it back”. So he has a General Bel Riose travel out that way to investigate what is going on. Again, this is a direct life from history. For “Bel Riose”, read “Belisarius”, the Byzantine general who attempted to bring back the lands of the Western empire under the rule of the remaining empire in Constantinople. But the dynamics of imperial politics get in the way. Any general who is successful automatically becomes suspect of maybe wanting the imperial throne for themselves. This too is something observed in the end days of the Western Roman Empire, where some of Rome’s best generals were executed by the Emperor because of suspicions. (And to be fair, successful generals very often did “aim for the purple”). So, while the Foundation was losing the battles to the superior forces of the Empire, in the end they prevailed, as psychohistory predicted. The ‘dead hand of Hari Seldon” decided the outcome.

But now Asimov had a problem. If the Foundation absolutely could not lose because of Seldon’s psychohistory, you have no more stories. Stories require conflict, and how can you have conflict when the outcome is pre-ordained? Asimov solves this brilliantly with the introduction of a mutant, called The Mule, who could never be predicted by psychohistory. And The Mule has some kind of psychic powers what let him take over everything, including the Foundation, virtually without firing a shot. So now there is real conflict. Can Seldon’s plan be salvaged in any way? Well, there were obscure references by Seldon to a Second Foundation, located at the other end of the galaxy, where “Stars End”. So a search is mounted. Fortunately, The Mule is prevented from finding this Second Foundation.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Foundation and Empire

My Review of Foundation

Foundation (Foundation, #1)

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Foundation was the beginning of what became the best series of all time, according to the Hugo awards, voted on by SF fans. Asimov was a young writer selling stories to John W. Campbell, and one day he needed to come up with a story idea for his next conference. Fortunately, he had been reading Edward Gibbons’ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and that gave him the idea for some stories about the fall of the Galactic Empire. When you consider that Campbell was editor of Astounding Magazine you can see why this book is less a novel than a collected series of short stories (with the introductory scenes on Trantor added when they were collected into book form). Asimov had the idea that there might someday be a science of “psychohistory”, which he described as the statistical treatment of large numbers of people. Individual actions could never be predicted, he postulated, but with enough people (e.g. the trillions of the Empire) he thought it might work. He used the analogy of the “kinetic theory of gasses” to explain this, since no individual molecule could be predicted, but in the aggregate the gasses would follow the laws of physics.

Along the way he comes up with a lot of interesting ideas. One thing I found fascinating is that he places the Foundation on Terminus, a planet chosen because it lacked virtually any natural resources, thus forcing it to master miniaturization and engage in trade with other systems around it. This is not a bad description of Japan when you think about it. Japan has to import virtually everything of resources, and was notable for miniaturizing in the 1960s and 1970s, such as transistor radios. But interesting ideas pop up all over with Asimov.

I now have this as part of a 7-book set of all of Asimov’s Foundation novels in e-book form.



View all my reviews

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on My Review of Foundation