Tag: science fiction

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This SF novel from 1954 has uncomfortable relevance to our present era. It is set in the then-future year of 1990. The United States is still nominally a democracy, but the real power lies with the social engineers…sophisticated advertising & PR men…who use psychological methods to persuade people that they really want what they are supposed […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A New World Battle in an Alternate Timeline


Eric Flint launched his Ring of Fire series in 2000 with his novel “1632.” Intended as a stand-alone novel, it tells the story of Grantville, a West Virginia town switched in time and place with an equal area of space in Thirty-Years War Germany. 1632 proved addictive to readers and writers. Flint wrote a sequel, inviting David Weber to collaborate. Readers ate it up. Flint then opened his playground to other writers, curating the results. As of 2020 there are over 30 books in the series.

“1637: No Peace Beyond the Line,” by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon, is the latest addition to the series. It is a sequel to “1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies,” published in 2014.

“No Peace Beyond the Line” picks up where “Commander Cantrell” left off. Captain Eddie Cantrell is holding together a coalition made up of Germans, Dutch, Danes, Irish, and renegade English colonists. The English have defied their national government to remain in the New World. The Irish are members Wild Geese, Irish mercenaries estranged from English-occupied Ireland, formerly in the service of France. Led by the chief pretender to the Irish throne (held by King Charles of England) they are running a settlement in Trinidad, producing and exporting oil, with the cooperation of the local natives.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Resisting Terrorists While Suspected of Being Part of Them


Sean Danker wrote the novel “Admiral” in 2016, a tale of four castaways who have to cross a hostile planet to survive. Three are fresh out of their service academies traveling to their first service assignment. The fourth is the Admiral – an individual unlike any admiral the three newbies have ever met. That was five novels ago. The series was dropped by Penguin, the original publisher. Danker is continuing it independently.

“Snowblind,” by Sean Danker is the sixth novel in the Evagardian universe, the setting in which the events of “Admiral” took place. It reunites the three graduates from the first novel: Deilani, the medical officer, Nils, the communications and computer wizard, and Salmagard, the negotiator. This time they face even greater than the last time they were thrown together.

They are all stationed aboard the Julian, the Evagardian flagship. On off-hours, they get together for dinner at a restaurant on Sterling Station. All three are under a cloud due to their association with the Admiral. Deilani and Samlagard are suspected of disloyalty to the Empress.

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Now, having talked about why people dislike science fiction, I’ll say why I like it. I like most kinds of fiction, mostly for the same qualities, none of which is specific to a single genre. But what I like in and about science fiction includes these particular virtues: vitality, largeness, and exactness of imagination; playfulness, […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review: Stellaris


The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop are a group who believe man can and must go to the stars. In 2016 the TVIW held a track on Homo Stellaris. Its task was to describe the foundations of a space-based society.

“Stellaris: People of the Stars,” edited by Les Johnson and Robert E. Hampson, is one of the fruits of that year’s workshop. It is a collection of non-fiction essays and science fiction stories about what it takes for humans to travel and live outside the Solar System.

Both non-fiction and fiction limit themselves to the possible based on today’s science. Extrapolation is permitted, especially in the life sciences. Faster-than-light travel and communications was excluded on the grounds that these cannot occur without some type of fundamental breakthrough in physics.

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Note: About two years ago I posted a couple of draft pieces from a novel I’m working on called Charis Colony. Here is another from the finished product which I am now editing. After Shirin Seethi returned the recording spools, data slides and equipment to the Wildlife Biology Division offices in the Sciences Ministry Building […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A New Addition to the “Black Tide Rising” Canon


John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series posits a zombie apocalypse caused by a highly-contagious, genetically-engineered viral plague that destroys the upper brain functions and turns its victims into mindless cannibals. Ringo has since invited other authors to come and play in the highly-popular “Black Tide Rising” sandbox.

“At the End of the World,” by Charles E. Gannon is the latest entry in the “Black Tide Rising” series. It follows nine teens on a summer senior year learning cruise when the plague breaks out. Told through the journal of Alvaro Casillas, one of the teens on the cruise, it follows their course through a nightmare world aboard Crosscurrent Voyager.

Crosscurrent Voyager is on a trip from the Galapagos to South Georgia Island in the Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica. Its captain, Alan Haskins, is a silent, gaunt Englishman. All the others on Crosscurrent Voyager are similarly outcasts. They have discipline problems, or are overlooked, bullied, and ignored by their peers. They are aboard because Crosscurrent Voyager was the sole remaining adventure cruise available.

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A comment on another thread mentioned Clifford Simak, and for some reason it brought an MD I liked when I was a young whippersnapper, Alan E. Nourse. He wrote Science Fiction that I enjoyed but I think he died while I was still in HS. So here’s a simple question: Any of the medical professionals […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Crimes of George R. R. Martin


or, In Which I Defend the Indefensible Man

If you follow the Hugos any more, which I don’t, you’d learn that popular author George R. R. Martin has stirred up quite the hornet’s nest. He’s being denounced as a racist, different types of -phobes, and others. His crime? He mispronounced artists’ names and he dared praised dead white men for their contributions in the past. Most notably, he talked quite a bit about John W. Campbell, editor of Analog magazine, and also Robert Heinlein, one of the winningest authors of the Hugo awards. For those who have claimed the Hugos as their own private club, this was unacceptable. And so Cancel Culture goes for George R. R. Martin not for failing to finish his series, but instead for Wrongthink.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Noir Gumshoe in the Far Future


Major Bhaajan retired from the Skolian military and became a private detective, operating out of the City of Cries, the capitol city of the Skolian Empire, located on the planet Raylicon. She was raised in Undercity, a subterranean warren beneath the City of Cries. She is the go-to investigator for the House of Majda, who rules the Skolian Empire. They keep her on retainer.

In “The Vanished Seas”, by Catherine Asaro, a routine and boring assignment to observe reactions at a society party takes an unexpected turn. The woman hosting it, Mara Quida, vanishes during the party. Mara, the Vice President for Marketing and Sales at Scorpio Corporation, was hosting the party to celebrate a major contract being won by Scorpio.

No one knows how Mara Quida disappeared. No one, including her husband Lukas, knows why she disappeared. Violence appears involved, but no one heard anything from the bedroom where Mara Quida swiftly and silently vanished away.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Janissaries Reaches a Satisfactory Conclusion


In 1979 Jerry Pournelle published Janissaries, a novel about a doomed troop of CIA mercenaries in Angola. About to be annihilated by a Cubans they are offered an escape: a one-way trip to the planet Tran. They and their leader, Rick Galloway, are expected to take over the planet and oversee production of a recreational drug that can be grown there every 600 years. Sequels followed in 1982 and 1987. Then, despite the third book ending with many unanswered questions, nothing.

Mamelukes, by Jerry Pournelle, Philip Pournelle, and David Weber, continues the series.

Jerry Pournelle made several announcements on his blog that he was continuing the series. As late as 2014, he announced 151,000 words had been written, and that only the final battle remained. Then he had a stroke. He never completed the book. Jerry Pournelle died in 2017.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Superego: Fathom – Book Review


Superego: Fathom by Frank J. Fleming is the sequel to his 2015 novel Superego, where Fleming tells the story of Rico, the top hitman for one of the biggest intergalactic crime syndicates. Rico is a psychopath – a man with no conscience or ability to empathize with other people. It’s a big part of what makes him so successful in his line of work. He’s never found a problem he can’t shoot his way out of, until he’s forced to pretend to be the good guy and find himself feeling emotions he never knew existed. Like love.

This review will contain spoilers for Superego, so if you haven’t read it yet you should stop now and go buy it. There’s also a short story that’s a prequel to the series – Superego: Personality Test – that you can read for free on Fleming’s website.

Superego: Fathom picks up two months after the end of the first book with Rico waking up from a coma. It (and Rico) hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. It turns out that exposing the corruption in the existing government by wiping out the corrupt politicians and leaders of multiple criminal syndicates on a live galaxy-wide broadcast has some consequences. To make matters worse, his father still is out there with plans in motion, plans that involve Rico. His body is constantly dealing with the poison his father used at the end of the first book and the Fazium that is (painfully) repairing him from the inside out. Plus there’s Diane. Rico has to decide what it means to be a hero and if he can live up to it.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Future Law Through the Science Fiction’s Lens


There have been stories about lawyers and trials for as long as there have been lawyer jokes – maybe longer. So why would they not continue into the future? Why wait for that future to arrive before writing them?

Overruled, edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a collection of science fiction tales about lawyers and trials. Lawyers appear in all of them; guns and money in many.

This book presents legal-themed science fiction short stories written over a seventy-year period; from the late 1940s through this year. The result reveals a history of science fiction style by showcasing a series of entertaining stories.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review – Starborn and Godsons


The Galveston County Daily News has gone to a five-day publication schedule. They dropped all print-edition book reviews and told me they no longer wanted book reviews from me. This is one of two reviews submitted to them I wrote prior to being told this. There will be a separate post later about my continuing printing weekly reviews later.

Book Review

The Last Novel Jerry Pournelle Wrote Among His Best


In a Ricochet semi-crossover, Jack brings on un-Young American Craig Hanks, host of the Legendarium Podcast, who makes the case that sci-fi and fantasy literature is not just for kids.

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SF authors are generally viewed as being mainly concerned with the future, but Connie Willis is more interested in the past…and, particularly, the way in which the past lives in the present. Her novels and short stories explore this connection using various hypothetical forms of time displacement. In Lincoln’s Dreams, a young woman starts having […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Rossum’s Universal Robots


“Robots of the world! The power of man has fallen! A new world has arisen: the Rule of the Robots!” — Karel Čapek

Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots), a once-popular 100-year old play by Czech writer Karel Čapek, made its television debut on the BBC, 82 years ago today, on February 11, 1938. It was the first televised science-fiction program in world history, introducing a wider audience to the term in the play’s title, one which has endured with increasing significance in the English language ever since: “robot.”

Čapek’s play was first performed in Prague in January of 1921, and was subsequently translated into English, having fairly successful runs in London and New York over the next few years. I haven’t read it myself, but a DePauw University plot summary is as follows: