a few days 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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last week

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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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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last month

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

In a clever novella, a future of endless war

Rule out climate change or catastrophic events like a supervolcano eruption or a meteor collision. Then try to imagine a dystopian future caused entirely by human agency, taking current trends to their logical conclusion. Including radical change in the climate, of course. You might then end up with something along the lines of Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s […]

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a couple of months ago

Space opera comes home in this charming Vorkosigan Saga novella

Strong female characters have always been one of the attractions of this award-winning sci-fi series. One of the most intriguing of them comes to the fore in this charming Vorkosigan Saga novella. Well into his thirties, Lord Miles Vorkosigan fell in love off-planet with the wife of a corrupt and feckless Barrayaran consular official after […]

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