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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Books

SF Site: Mid-December 2008

by Ken Newquist / December 22, 2008

The mid-December edition of SF Site is online, with reviews of The Jack Vance Reader, which includes three novellas by scifi/fantasy master Jack Vance, Star Wars: Street of Shadows by Michael Reaves, takes place shortly after the catastrophic Order 66 in Episode 3, and Busted Flush, a new Wild Cards superhero novel edited by George R.R. Martin.

Assembling a Christmas Break Reading List

by Ken Newquist / December 20, 2008

After a long, hard-fought autumn spent coding, organizing projects and reviewing way, way too many video games, I've got the urge to read. It's a compulsion really, a strong desire to find a quiet corner of the house (or even a noisy, chaotic corner of the house) and lose myself in a good paperback.

I'm also looking for some good inspirational material for my Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic campaign; not necessarily things I want lift to include in the story, but rather ideas that can serve as a spring board for my own creative wanderings.

I'm particularly interested in reading newer space opera, stuff published since the turn of the century (that would be the turn of the 21st century, for those who forget which one we're living in ... which happens to me from time to time). I'm also interested in some current hard SF, but with an emphasis on Thinking Big; give me super-sized space structures, transhuman wars or encounters with alien civilizations; anything but another round of grim, near-future cyberpunk derivatives. Yeah, I like that stuff too ... but it's not what I'm shooting for right now.

Halo: The Cole Protocol

by Ken Newquist / December 3, 2008

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Halo fans have a new novel through which to explore the video game's continium. Halo: The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell. The new book chronicles humanity's desperate quest to erase any and all navigational data that could lead the fundamentalist (and xenocidal) Covenant to Earth.

SF Site, Dec. 2008: Dogs, Dragonforge, Stonefather

by Ken Newquist / December 1, 2008

The December edition of SF Site is online. It includes reviews of Dogs by Nancy Kress, a spy thriller in which man's best friend turns on him, Dragonforge by James Maxey, a science fiction novel in which dragons rule a far-future Earth, and Stonefather, the first novel in a new fantasy series by Orson Scott Card.

Secret Lair Podcast: The Sky People by S.M. Stirling

by Ken Newquist / November 26, 2008

Wish you had a new episode of Radio Active to listen to? Never fear, a new one is on the way, but in the mean time you can listen to Episode 17 of The Secret Lair podcast, in which I talk with hosts Chris Miller and Kris Johnson about S.M. Stirling's alternate history/modernized pulp novel The Sky People.

SF Site, Nov. 2008: House of Suns, Outlaw Demon Wails, Adventures of Corwyn

by Ken Newquist / November 17, 2008

The November 2008 edition of SF Site is online, with reviews of the far-future space opera House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, the modern fantasy/demon hunting novel The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison and the Robert E. Howard-inspired Adventuers of Corwyn by Chad Corrie, which (like Conan) looks at the hero at different points in his lifetime.

Off the Shelf: Moon of Skulls, Quicksilver, Analog: Sept. 2008

by Ken Newquist / November 15, 2008

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I got off to a great start to my summer reading list, but it slowed down significantly after July, when my spring-summer run of work conferences ended (which had given me plenty of time to read on cross-country plane trips), and I had to double-down on my projects to meet start-of-semester deadlines.

The other problem? I ran into Moon of Skulls, a collection of short stories by Robert E. Howard.

Tim O'Reilly on Science Fiction

by Ken Newquist / October 5, 2008

In this old article (as in 1998) Tim O'Reilly provides a rundown of his favorite science fiction novels, including Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, Snowcrash, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and The Stars are Ours.

He prefaces this list by discussing the book The Meaning of Culture by John Cowper Powys and draws the conclusion "a truly cultured person appreciates what has really shaped his world view, and uses literature and the arts as a tool to get more out of life." He then provides the list as examples of science fiction literature that shaped his world view.

What's missing from this article is the critical other half that explains how these books informed his world view. It's all well and good to say that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but how did a novel about libertarian lunar revolution inform his world view? Was it an appreciation for the merits of a free market economy? The insidious effectiveness of revolutionary cells working in isolation from one another? Group marriages? We don't know because he doesn't say.

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