Book review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

The highly anticipated third novel by Andy Weirs checks all the right boxes.  It’s educational, highly entertaining, upbeat and easy to read.  All characters are eminently likeable.  The story may sound far-fetched but is plausible.  Weir mixes in just the right amount of humor at the right time to score laughs, and just enough emotion to keep the reader invested.  This is a well-crafted book that’s fun to read and doesn’t tax the audience too much.

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Movie review: The Tomorrow War (2021)

The Tomorrow War is this generation’s Independence Day.  It’s intense, amazing, with great action sequences, a little bit of humor and emotion.  All characters are relatable, and the outcome is happy.  It is also dumb as heck, with logical holes you could drive a truck through, and it’s completely unapologetic about it.  It will separate the wheat from the chaff.  You’ll get people who will feel smart by pointing out the logical fallacies, and then there’ll be those who simply enjoyed two hours of good, honest action.  I’ll be in the latter category.

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Why I Maintain This Blog

For my 100th article in this blog, I decided to do something different.  I’ll try to articulate why I’m actually putting an effort in this blog, what I’m trying to achieve, and what I don’t care much about.  Nothing here will be groundbreaking; in fact, I suspect that it will be so mundane that the most surprising aspect of this article will be that I even bothered to write it.

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Book review: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

This 2021 Hugo Award nominee is a difficult but rewarding read.  It features compelling characters and exciting worldbuilding.  It blends history with fantasy and predicts some disturbing technological growth.  On the other hand, its structure is sometimes confusing to follow, and the prose is difficult to read, with switching viewpoints and generous use of colloquialisms.  When read slowly and carefully, though, this novella may be worth the reader’s time.

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Movie review: Color out of Space (2021)

I freely admit that I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft’s writings.  For me, no other classic author struck such a careful balance between exposition and mystery, which let my imagination freely flowing.  His terrors are largely unnamed and not well described, and nowhere it is true more than in The Colour out of Space, where the antagonist is an alien color that is indescribable.  I was thus interested in how a movie could portray such a force.  The result was fascinating…

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A few notes on Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy by David Kyle Johnson (Great Courses)

Great Courses has a few very good lectures on Science Fiction.  So far, I’ve found all of them very insightful, inspirational and even aspirational.  This one is no exception: the depth of analysis Johnson performs on movies and TV shows is astounding and I, who rarely watches anything and even more seldom pays attention, was blown away by the level of detail than can be found in these works.  On the other hand, I was not so impressed by the philosophy angle of this course.  Not because it was bad, but because I know so little of philosophy that I couldn’t tell when to be impressed, and how much.  One thing I do know about, though, is written science fiction, and in this regard the course is severely lacking.  The author acknowledges as much in the end, so the following is not a criticism.  I just want to point out a few works that I found insightful to further explore certain philosophical questions the author poses.

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Book review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This multi-award winner is not for everyone.  I’ve seen opinions from people who love it, and opinions from people who couldn’t finish it.  I enjoyed parts of this work, while outright dismissing others.  I’ve had fun with this story, but I’d still belong to the camp who is dumbfounded at the awards this novella has garnered.

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Modern Classic: A Dry, Quiet War by Tony Daniel

Not many people remember this novelette.  It never got any awards, and instead faded away just like what its protagonist tried to do.  This makes it one of the most underrated science fiction stories I know of.  It not only features some amazing concepts (some of which were later repeated in award-winning stories), but it’s also beautifully written, letting the reader experience the world rather than look at it.

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Book review: Wayward Galaxy by Jason Anspach and J. N. Chaney

The Soviets are back to their old tricks against the Americans.  But this time, it’s warfare in space!  This military science fiction is a wonderful return to the past, but with updated concepts and technology.  I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of nostalgia I could squeeze out of the book, even though I must assume that the authors were cynically including obscure references, just to create a little online buzz as readers try to find all of them.  The story is not groundbreaking, but it offers some great set pieces, good action, and authentic characters.

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Hugos 2021 – Best Novelette

Similar to previous years, the 2021 novelette ballot is very strong.  I’ve found all six stories interesting, and really enjoyed four of them, all of which I consider Hugo contenders.  All six stories feature superb writing, and it’s mainly the premise and the richness of the imaginary worlds that determined my final rating.

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