8 hours ago

Alternate feminist history by a gifted science fiction author

What is history, and how does it work? We know, of course, that history isn’t fixed and immutable. It’s subject to the revision and reinterpretation of successive waves of scholars. Sometimes the fresh approach is based on new information that comes to light. But more often what we call history is merely a story historians […]

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5 days ago

Time travel dominates this tale of First Contact

Feedback is the third of the eleven First Contact novels published to date by the gifted Australian science fiction author Peter Cawdron. Like the others I’ve read, it’s a serious effort to explore the scientific issues raised by the expectation of encountering extraterrestrial intelligence. Unfortunately, it’s the least successful. Although First Contact is at the […]

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last week

Ken Follett sets up the Kingsbridge Trilogy in a prequel

For decades Welsh novelist Ken Follett was best known for his bestselling thrillers, beginning with Eye of the Needle (1978), which established his reputation as a master of the craft. A decade later he indulged his longstanding passion for the architecture of classic European cathedrals when he published Pillars of the Earth (1989), the inaugural […]

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a couple of weeks ago

Michael Crichton’s literary exercise in human conflict

When he died in 2008, Michael Crichton (1942-2008) left behind a literary legacy that had captured the imagination not just of the public but of Hollywood as well. Some of the best-remembered films of recent decades include stories based on Crichton’s twenty-six novels, including Jurassic Park and its sequels as well as The Andromeda Strain. […]

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3 weeks ago

The SF stories of Arthur C. Clarke aren’t great

Over the course of more than six decades of writing science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) published twenty-two novels and twelve collections of short stories as well as fifteen nonfiction books of what is typically called “popular science.” His last novel appeared in 1997 and was followed in 2001 by The Collected Stories of Arthur […]

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4 weeks ago

Was George Washington truly the indispensable man?

I admit it. The real reason I read alternate history is that I’m fascinated by what-if speculation about the twists and turns of history. What keeps me reading are the imagined consequences that flow from events that didn’t happen or decisions that were never made. To my disappointment, this was not the case with Charles […]

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last month

Chaos theory triggers an interplanetary adventure

Here’s a series starter that introduces a clever, universe-spanning concept in the context of a novel First Contact story. About seventy years ago Isaac Asimov published his Foundation Trilogy (which belatedly won the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series in 1966). Asimov’s conceit was that a far-future “psychohistorian” named Hari Seldon developed a methodology to […]

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last month

Extraterrestrial contact changes everything in this SF novel

Anomaly is the first in a series of standalone science fiction novels about First Contact with an extraterrestial intelligence by the gifted Australian author Peter Cawdron. It’s a thought-provoking look at how the public might react to the news of First Contact. Suffice it to say that the picture is not pretty. As a tagline […]

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last month

A compelling portrait of Indian society today

Nearly a decade ago, just five months after this novel was published, a brilliant nonfiction book entitled Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity illuminated the drama of life in one of the teeming slums that cluster together near the Mumbai international airport. It could be the very same slum […]

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