Old Man’s War

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.
Visiting Kathy’s grave was the less dramatic of the two.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Old Man’s War is a military science fiction / space opera novel by American writer John Scalzi, published in 2005. His debut novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006.

Good news first. Humanity has finally made it into interstellar space. Bad news: planets fit for life are very few and we have to fight for them against other alien races.

“Guns don’t kill people. The aliens behind the triggers do.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Some minor spoilers in this review.
This sort of reminded me of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Except that obviously, there are some great big differences. Major one being:  It’s not about the kids! It’s about the old people! Har har har! And it’s a space opera so it doesn’t carry the same almost depressing tone like Ender’s game. The plot and even the very first lines of the book are amazing.On his 75th birthday, John Perry joins the army. And it’s not something uncommon. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF or Colonial Defense Force. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. John Perry takes the deal.

This is why I picked up the book really ..It was very unique story blurb to read from Audible description of the book.  Life apparently just starts when you’re old. And so our John joins the army and gets a new, green, better body, a BrainPal he call “Asshole” and off he goes to fight battles with alien life forms.

“Many BrainPal users find it useful to give their BrainPal a name other than BrainPal. Would you like to name your BrainPal at this time?
“Yes,” I said.
Please speak the name you would like to give your BrainPal.
“Asshole,” I said.
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Needless to say that I very much enjoyed this book. There were many reasons.  As so often in books, I adored the humorous style. And jokes of Perry that no one but him really got (happens to me all the time). Then there was the age factor. Perry was so tactful about everything and simply wise in many situations and there was little of this stupid arguing between the characters. I Iiked how aliens were written… I liked how people were written. Descriptions of personalities were awesome. And world and aliens were just unbelievable enough for them to be believable. Moreover, even though it is a space opera, it carried some quite serious observations and thoughts. For example, there was no diplomacy because CDF had basically decided that it’s too slow and it’s easier just to start a war… Perry also describes his feelings when he fights seemingly intelligent life forms and the whole book also questions what it is to be human really. And then because it’s war, many die…
BUT there are great plot twists!

Once again, I listened to this on Audible (It’s my new favorite app) and I really liked William Dufris’ performance. This will sound weird to those of you who don’t listen to audio books but he was good with both female and male voices and old and young voices. Moreover, I guess with good audio books you can’t quite tell what it was but you just like the performance.
I guess what I didn’t like was that it ended so quickly :(

4,5/5 stars

How-To Read Old Man’s War

1. If you love science fiction, read this (or listen to it), you’ll be very entertained. If you like space opera, you’ll love this.
2. Just 10 hours on Audible! (Or about 400 pages).
3. Easy kind of sciene fiction, surely as a scifi fan you’ll overanalyze everything anyway but good authors make it easy for you to overanalyze it.
4. There’s  5 more books to this series! (Ah I can’t wait tor read them.)
5. John Scalzi has this greatest blog called Whatever – This machine mocks fascists. It’s quite humorous.

Do not mourn me, friends
I fall as a shooting star
Into the next life

― John ScalziOld Man’s War

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

 

“Maybe there was once a human who looked like you, and somewhere along the line you killed him and took his place. And your superiors don’t know.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by  Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968. The novel takes place in  a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. Post-apocalyptic because life has been damaged by nuclear World War Terminus. The plot follows a bounty hunter Rick Deckard whose job is to “retire” (read: kill) Nexus 6 model androids who have escaped from the outer colonies and try to pass as humans. There’s also subplot that focuses on John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids our fugitive androids.

“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’ve long been a fan of Philip K. Dick. I think it all started when I was a kid and my dad brought me a paperback called The Man in  the High Caste. My dad is huge fan of history and probably thought it would be interesting read. It was and so was Do Androids… Author has very fascinating thoughts and he is very deep with them. We can see this already in the title. You can go with androids. Or you can go a step further and ask if they dream…if they dream of electric sheep? The novel beautifully explores topics like: What is real, what is fake what makes us human? In book, the androids are said to possess no sense of empathy. It’s not quite true, is it?  And if to forget about androids, there are other interesting topics to explore too: How UN always makes super clever decisions,  nuclear war: hasn’t yet happened but it could?

 

“You have to be with other people, he thought. In order to live at all. I mean before they came here I could stand it… But now it has changed. You can’t go back, he thought. You can’t go from people to nonpeople.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

4/5 stars

How- To Read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
1. Read it in English.
I first read this in Finnish and they had translated the title as ‘Bounty Hunter’. Not fun. Many other translators apparently thought the title  was too difficult to translate…In Swedish: Dreams of Androids, Dutch: Electric Nightmares, Italian: Then Hunter of Androids? I can imagine how they translated everything else.
2.
A must read for PKD fans and for those who love science fiction :)
3. Cult classic thing. You know how it is with those.
4. Many interesting adaptations, for example: 1982 film Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.

Have you read this? Thoughts? What makes you so sure you’re human?
This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

“You mean old books?”
“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”
“How could there have been stories about space travel before –”
“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Pictures: Black sheep from PixabayDo androids dream of electric sheep? | by Bill McIntyre ,do androids dream of electric sheep? | by cdrummbks

How-To Travel Through Time

“Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

The Time Machine is a science fiction novel (or a long short-story?)  by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 and it has become a classic. In the book, the narrator introduces us to inventor and scientist whom the reader will know only by as Time Traveller. It’s impolite to call him anything different. In The Time Machine, our Time Traveller travels far into the future, into year 801, 701. There he learns that humanity has evolved when he meets Eloi. Eloi are described as naiive and small post-humans with large eyes and small ears and mouths.

Time Traveller soon learns that sweet Eloi do not inhabit this new world alone. There are also Morlocks who are quite different from the other human species.

“The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

The Time Machine is epic. H.G. Wells was a pioneer and this is one of the cornerstones of all science fiction works that came after…and especially dystopian genre? I like this novel a lot. I think Wells was one of the first ones to tackle the question of what the world would look like 800 000 years in the future. There is already a gap between people so what if after many millennia our world would look like this? Who would become Eloi and who would become Morlocks? I like Wells’ style, he’s whimsical and yet his language is beautiful and descriptions are rich. What did make me drop one star from the rating was the pessimism. I like to think that there is some hope for humanity. I want to read about people who push above everything, whereas here it just got more and more hopeless.

 

4/5 stars

How- To Read The Time Machine
1. 
Just 118 pages! The perfect read if you’re having a busy phase in your life! Whimsical and beautiful style of writing ought to keep you entertained. You can get the book at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35
2. 
Essential read for all science fiction fans and I think this is great piece of work even if you don’t like the genre too much.
3. Plenty of good, entertaining and very different kinds of adaptations.

Have you read this? Thoughts? This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

How-To Fight Buggers

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

 

Ender’s Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperilled mankind after two conflicts with the alien species called “buggers”. In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, children, including Ender Wiggin, are trained from a very young age through increasingly difficult games.

“I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first. ”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

About the plot: After certain events, Ender is offered a place in battle school located in earth’s orbit. Ender’s life in Battle School is a difficult one, he is isolated from his fellow recruits and given tasks that are increasingly difficult. The cadets of the school participate in competitive war simulations in zero gravity and we learn soon that Ender quickly masters whatever simulation he participates in, he is a strategic genius. He seems to pass every simulation, every game there is…
But the simulations aren’t quite what they seem…

At first, it was hard for me to get into this book because main characters seemed too young and too cunning and they’re sent to learn how to fight when they’re 6? Yet that’s what we do, right? We screw things up or in this case aliens has screwed everything up and then send kids to fix everything.

“Peter, you’re twelve years old. I’m ten. They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

I got into this book quite quickly. I liked Ender a lot. He’s smart, he does not want to cause any harm, yet he will do what has to be done. His brother Peter is a ruthless sociopath and his sister Valentine is compassionate and kind. Ender is somewhere in between. I also liked the plot, even if the battle scenes were a bit boring from time to time. Also, the narration wasn’t too clear, however, somehow it suited the book well.

In the end, I guess why I rated this book so high was because of how humans had encountered alien life form. Buggers came and then there were many wars and there was no common language or understanding between the two species. And now, 30 years after this book, would we understand aliens or would we end up in Ender’s Game?
5/5 stars

How- To Read Ender’s Game
1. 
If you liked this, there’s more.  3 books worth more. While I was a fan of two first books in Ender’s Quintet, I had quite big difficulties finishing the last two books.
2. 
If you don’t like war fiction, I don’t think you’ll find this too exciting. Moreover, everyone in this book manipulates others and so it certainly does not present you with best human characteristics.
3.
There is a film adaptation from  2013. Written and directed by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Ender.

Have you read this? Thoughts? This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

Cover image by: Gwydion M. Williams, Post pictures: Ender’s Game Fromic Fight on VimeoEnder’s Game Formic World Fight on Vimeo.

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of Science Fiction Genre

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books of X Genre“. I decided to go with…science fiction! Because I think that in my blog I haven’t really reviewed or given any attention to this wonderful genre. In no particular order:

1. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

“The Answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything… Is… Forty-two,’ said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

2. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The Three Laws of Robotics:
1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law;
3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law;
The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”

3. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Description: “It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.”

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

Description:

A mission to Mars. A freak accident. One man’s struggle to survive.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
― Andy Weir, The Martian

5. Jurassic Park by Michael Chricton

Description: A billionaire has created a technique to clone dinosaurs. From the DNA that his crack team of scientists extract, he is able to grow the dinosaurs in his laboratories and lock them away on an island behind electric fences, creating a sort of theme park. He asks a group of scientists from several different fields to come and view the park, but something goes terribly wrong when a worker on the island turns traitor and shuts down the power.

“God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs.”
― Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

6. Blindness by José Saramago

Description: “In an unnamed city in an unnamed country, a man sitting in his car waiting for a traffic light to change is suddenly struck blind. But instead of being plunged into darkness, this man sees everything white. A Good Samaritan offers to drive him home (and later steals his car); his wife takes him by taxi to a nearby eye clinic where they are ushered past other patients into the doctor’s office. Within a day the man’s wife, the taxi driver, the doctor and his patients, and the car thief have all succumbed to blindness. As the epidemic spreads, the government panics and begins quarantining victims in an abandoned mental asylum–guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyone who tries to escape.”

7. Wool by Hugh Howey (Silo #1)

Decription: In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside.

8. Dune by Frank Herbert

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune

9. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

10. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (The Hungry City Chronicles #1)

For all you steampunk lovers out there, this book is just a must read! Basically cities eating cities.

Description: “It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”
The great traction city London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold.

And so so so many other books but I’ll play by the rules and keep it in just ten.
Pictures from Goodreads.

What are your favorite science fiction books? Happy TTT!