Science Fiction Round 71: Lock In

2017/04/29 Leave a comment

John Scalzi’s Lock In is a pleasant afternoon read about a near-future FBI investigation.

I found myself anticipating many of the twists, but it was a fun read nonetheless.

Also, spoilers follow.

I’m not sure what the point of the cover was. Maybe the red people are supposed to be threeps (remote-controlled bots used by Haden’s sufferers).

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Science Fiction Round 70: A Brief History of Time Travel

2017/04/16 Leave a comment

I recently read Time Travel: A History by James Gleick.

It’s not a science fiction story by itself.  Instead, it’s a wide-ranging analysis of time travel in fiction and popular thought — and well worth a read.

It’s probably just as well that they decided to go for mostly text on the cover. Time-travel diagrams can get messy.

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Fantasy Round 54: Nuclear Powered Airships

2017/04/09 Leave a comment

Everfair, by Nisi Shawl, is a steampunk alternate history of how things might have been better.

Specifically, it examines the Belgian Congo (which in the modern day is the Democratic Republic of the Congo).  It asks “what if” — what if a group of idealistic colonists, former American slaves, and many groups of indigenous people fought against the brutalities of Belgian King Leopold’s government, and formed their own country?  What if there was a little more technology and a little more magic?

The book is a bit closer to an anthology than a novel, with the action spread across continents and decades.  The contents are a well-researched alternate history, from the limb-chopping atrocities of the Belgian forces to the wealth of natural resources they came for.

The lamp shown here is an important centerpiece for much of the story.  The brass left hand is a consequence of both tyranny and invention…

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Fantasy Round 53: A Meditation on Theme

2017/03/26 Leave a comment

I’ve been playing the video game The Witness recently, and I’m only categorizing it as fantasy because I don’t really know where else to put it.

It’s an atmospheric puzzle game with plenty of soothing music.  It doesn’t really have any plot or characters — just an island that you can explore at your leisure.

For those of you looking for a distraction from reality with food for thought but no need for fast reflexes or shooting monsters, this is a great game to try.

This is pretty much what the game looks like — lots of things on a pretty little island.

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Categories: Clement's Game Tags: , ,

This Is Real: The Dictator’s Handbook

2017/03/12 Leave a comment

The Dictator’s Handbook was a frightening and fascinating read.  I came across it from a YouTube video that nicely summarizes many of its premises and consequences.

Appropriately, the book comes with the subtitle: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics.

It’s a highly plausible analysis of political and other power structures, and what leads them to be more democratic — or more oppressive.  It also discusses why it’s difficult to have a dictator who is both benevolent and effective.  It’s written by a pair of political science professors, and filled with historical examples.

It was written a couple of years before the most recent US presidential election, but it has some… implications, nevertheless.

No dictators were harmed in the making of this book.

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