Dawn

Olivia Butler

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I don’t read much science fiction nowadays, unless it’s a reread from my younger days. I’ve been hearing so much about Olivia Butler, I decided to give her a try when her books became available for a discounted price. Wow, is she good. The book, the first of a trilogy, tells the tale of a human woman, Lilith, who is awakened aboard an alien ship. Earth has experienced an apocalyptic event, and a handful of humans have been preserved by the Oankali. Now it is time for them to prepare to return to earth.

Lilith’s struggle to accept the aliens, to help her fellow humans to prepare for return to earth, and to be willing to bear children who may not be quite human, is the bulk of the story of this, the first of a trilogy. I am eagerly reading the second book, Adulthood Rites to find out what happens next.

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Stand on Zanzibar

John Brunner

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I read this book for the first time many moons ago, and I bought a Kindle version to see how well it stood up to time. For the most part it did. I grew a little impatient with the length, but for the most part Brunner was fairly prescient about the way society was heading. We still aren’t there yet, thank God, but he’s pretty dead-on about where we are headed.

The book was more exciting when I was an impressionable 21-year old college student, but it still held my interest.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land (Remembering Tomorrow) by [Heinlein, Robert A.]

I first read this book a looooong time ago, when I was young and impressionable. Unfortunately, I have to say the years have not improved it. I know a little more than I did 50 years ago and no longer admire characters that are thinly disguised versions of the author, complete with misogyny and homophobia. There are pages and pages of preachiness that don’t add anything to the book, and actively take away from the story. There is Heinlein’s deliberate misunderstanding and misinterpretation of chosen Bible verses to discredit the Bible.

I could go on, but the only redeeming portions of this book are Jubal’s interpretation of Rodin’s sculptures. Those I could read and reread. The rest of it—meh.

 

Double Star

Robert Heinlein

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I seem to be reading a lot of political books lately, both fiction and non-fiction. Things don’t seem to have changed much in the 51 years since Heinlein wrote this, except politicians lie openly and blatantly now and no one seems to care.

When The Great Lorenzo Smythe™. aka Larry Smith, is approached by a group of staffers to take on a temporary assignment acting as a double for the great leader Joseph Bonforte, he reluctantly agrees. It’s not his normal thing, he is a classically trained actor, but the money offered is good, and it’s a short-term gig. Unfortunately, it turns out to be more than he bargained for.

The pleasure in reading this book is the glimpse of the inner workings of a major politician. I said that things haven’t change much because I’m reading Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, and what he writes about resembles Heinlein’s book. I also just finished Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream It all comes down to how well the politician surrounds himself with a competent staff so he can focus on the big stuff and trust them to handle the day-do-day details.

Although fiction, the novel rings true, and is just as applicable today as it was 51 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for the Stars

Robert A. Heinlein

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Before the genre of Young Adult existed we had juveniles. Heinlein’s juveniles are an a class by themselves. Designed for younger readers, they feature teens who are faced with problems they have to solve for themselves. That doesn’t mean they can’t be read and enjoyed by adults, too.

I first started reading Heinlein as an adolescent, and I still enjoy reading him. He never talked down to his readers and the problems they faced are a challenge to adults, too.

This story has a little too much hard science in it to be one of my favorites. How a torch ship is powered, how faster-than-light travel works, for example, arnn’t deeply interesting to me. More interesting is the situation of one twin who is cheated out of an opportunity to travel to the stars by his manipulative twin. When his twin Pat is injured in a skiing accident, Tom suddenly has the chance of a lifetime.

This book lacks the humor of Star Beast and the social commentary of Citizen of the Galaxy, but it’s still a good read.

The Sculpted Ship

K.M. O’Brien

The Sculpted Ship by [O'Brien, K. M.]

When Anailu Xindar is forced from her job, she almost has enough money to go on her own as a starship captain. She has the skills, knowledge, and certification—all she needs is a ship. Haunting the used ship yards, she is stunned to find a Dove class luxury liner she can just afford. Missing several key components, the ship is not yet ready for interstellar flight, but it will do for local trips to earn her the money she needs to outfit it for space.

Anailu’s adventures as she scrapes together the money to buy the parts she needs leads her from smuggler’s dens, to dinners with high society, and perhaps the most dangerous—the salons of high fashion for a new uniform. Along the way, she picks up a couple of sentient robots and a few parts that lead her closer to interstellar flight.

There are questions that are not answered, especially dealing with Anailu’s origins, that leave room for a sequel without being cliffhangers. I look forward to the next book.