11/13/15; 9:30pm CDT - Galen
The second novel that won a Hugo for Fritz Leiber is The Wanderer. It's better than his previous one, but not by much. Only about 25% is well written and worth reading, the rest is full of repetitive actions by poorly realized characters.
The Big Time
11/5/15; 6:30pm CDT - Galen
Fritz Leiber's The Big Time was a big letdown. Just because it won a Hugo doesn't mean it's any good.
A Borrowed Man
10/27/15; 2:30pm CDT - Galen
Gene Wolfe's latest novel is A Borrowed Man. On the surface it's a fairly simple mystery, although it has several SF elements. The surface of a Wolfe novel is usually deceptive, so a reread is in order, but my first impression is not that positive.
10/24/15; 8:30pm CDT - Galen
The third novel in James S. A. Corey's Expanse series is Abaddon's Gate. It's good, introducing several more interesting characters, but it's essentially a transitional tale leading up to what I expect will be even more exciting adventures in the subsequent books.
10/19/15; 7:30pm CDT - Galen
Cinnabar is a magical place, a mysterious city at the center of time, or lost in time, or maybe in another dimension, and Edward Bryant told some fabulous stories about it.
10/4/15; 6:15pm CDT - Galen
Kim Stanley Robinson's latest Hard-SF tale is Aurora. Recommended, but with reservations.
10/8/15; 7:30pm CDT - Galen
Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy concludes with Ancillary Mercy. The first book is still the best, but overall it is a strong story that I recommend, and I know I'll be re-reading one of these days.
The Martian (The Movie)
10/3/15; 4:00pm CDT - Galen
Ridley Scott's The Martian is as realistic a spaced-based movie as could be expected. Highly recommended.
9/26/15; 6:30pm CDT - Galen
I continue my look at Weston Ochse's book series Task Force OMBRA with a few comments on the second book, Grunt Traitor. If you haven't already read the start of the review I posted three weeks ago, just scroll up to the top of that page.
Two Book Reviews
9/14/15; 8:15pm CDT - Galen
Two new reviews, both from advance e-books I received from Net Galley. The better of the two is Nalo Hopkinson's short story collection, Falling In Love With Hominids. The other one had potential but didn't come through. Lightless is the first novel from C. A. Higgins. If she had concentrated on just a couple of the plot threads she could have fashioned a tight thriller, but the four she tried to combine were too much for her talent at this time.
9/5/15; 6:15pm CDT - Galen
Weston Ochse's Grunt Life is the first book in a series about an alien invasion. It's well-written and exciting, recommended.
9/2/15; 4:15pm CDT - Galen
Anyone who's been paying attention knows I prefer science fiction to fantasy, but I've been trying to expand my reading list in recent years. Kameron Hurley's Worldbreaker Saga has been getting a lot of positive buzz. The second book comes out October 6, but I got an advance copy. The third book should be released about this time next year, if not sooner. I'm not the best judge of this type of story, so take my comments with a grain of salt, or multiple grains as necessary.
Hugo Awards Announced
8/23/15; 9:00am CDT - Galen
The winners of the 2015 Hugo Awards have been announced. Click through to see the full list, including all nominees.
Finches of Mars
8/18/15; 8:30am CDT - Galen
Today, on Brian Aldiss' 90th birthday, I review his latest (and reportedly last) novel. No one is more disappointed than me that Finches of Mars is not very good.
Stories For Chip
8/9/15; 3:00pm CDT - Galen
Stories For Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell, is an anthology in tribute to Grand Master Samuel R. Delany.
7/26/15; 9:00pm CDT - Galen
I'm jumping the gun on this by a few hours, but tomorrow marks 15 years since The Templeton Gate went live. We started with less than 20 pages, now with the latest update there are a total of 367. Even subtracting those pages that are merely category groupings with links to the articles, or the Hugo/Nebula pages, intros to the various reviewers, etc, that still leaves 312 reviews or essays. We would surely have topped 400 overall, except for the fact that quite a few reviews cover more than one book, such as the recent Southern Reach Trilogy, along with at least 20 other examples of multiple book series. Then again, I'm not consistent, since there are individual reviews that probably should have been combined, like Varley's four Thunder & Lightning books and the two (so far) of Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch. I may combine them later, maybe not, but if I do I would have to change links and edit several other pages.
Something new is that I've created a new category on the site, for comics. There have only been four reviews of that type so far (or five if you stretch the criteria), and I had included them in the literature category before, but I plan on several others in hopefully the near future. There have been two that I read over the past year that I had intended to review, just haven't gotten around to it, which means I probably need to re-read them. Graphic novels are bigger than ever these days, and the Hugo Awards added that category six years ago. I've been reading the nominees for this year and may review some or all of them.
Who knows what the future holds? Both the domain name registration and hosting service are up for renewal in November, and I plan to renew both for five years as I did the last time. That way I save a little bit of money and don't have to worry about it for a while. I did well on posting updates during the first two or three years, then slacked off in the middle period as my workload increased. Now that I'm not working (and I hope that can continue) I'm reading more, although I had also intended to increase the number of movie and TV reviews. If I can maintain a good pace maybe I'll be talking about 500 pages the next time the renewals roll around. That's only another 133 between now and then, an average of 26.5 per year, and I've already added 24 this year. It's doable.
Beware the Librarians!
7/20/15; 9:15pm CDT - Galen
Scott Hawkins' first novel is the incredibly fascinating, disturbing, bizzare and original The Library at Mount Char. You'll never think of librarians the same way again.
Help! I'm stuck in Area X
7/8/15; 10:00pm CDT - Galen
I've finished (for now) my review of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, but I won't rule out editing some more. I do need to move on to another book, but I fear I may be stuck in Area X for a long time. I've been through Annihilation, been beaten down by Authority, but I'm now in Acceptance mode. I loved it!
Authority - Southern Reach Book 2
6/29/15; 6:05pm CDT - Galen
I made some minor edits to the original review, then added comments on Authority, the second book in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. I've already started the third book and will update again soon.
6/23/15; 8:50pm CDT - Galen
One of Ray Bradbury's best, which means it's one of the genre's very best, started out as a short story titled "The Fireman" in Galaxy magazine in 1951. Two years later, the expanded novel, Fahrenheit 451 was released. Since there were no Hugos awarded in '54, it had to wait fifty years before it received a Retro Hugo.
6/21/15; 9:30pm CDT - Galen
It has been nearly three years since I reviewed Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I finally got around to the second book in the series, Caliban's War. I decided to combine the reviews, so check out the new page now all about The Expanse. Even if you had already read that first review you might want to look again, since I edited it a bit, plus added comments on a couple of prequel short stories.
Annihilation - Southern Reach Book 1
6/15/15; 1:30pm CDT - Galen
Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation just won a Nebula for Best Novel. It is the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy. It was very good, and I've ordered the other books and will continue with this review as soon as possible.
SF Hall of Fame
6/13/15; 5:00pm CDT - Galen
The 2015 inductees into the SF Hall of Fame have been announced. Click through to see who has been selected to join this elite group.
6/7/15; 4:45pm CDT - Galen
Congratulations to Jeff VanderMeer for his Best Novel Nebula winner, Annihilation, which is the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy. I have just ordered the book and will read and review it as soon as I can. Check out all the other winners and nominees on the Hugo/Nebula page.
6/1/15; 7:15pm CDT - Galen
Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End is just as good as I remembered. I fear the upcoming Syfy mini-series won't do it justice, but we'll always have the book. For those who haven't read it (or even for those who have) it is highly recommended, even though it is more mystical and less scientific than the majority of his other work.
The Goblin Emperor
5/23/15; 3:10pm CDT - Galen
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is another book nominated for several awards, including the Nebula, Hugo and Locus. Sorry to say, but I cannot recommended it.
The Three Body Problem
5/16/15; 2:00pm CDT - Galen
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu is possibly the best selling and most popular science fiction novel from China. It's English translation came out late last year and it has been nominated for many awards, including the Nebula and Hugo. As you might be aware, I am at times somewhat of a contrarian, and I've been wondering what everyone else sees in this book. YMMV.
One Book, One Movie
5/7/15; 8:45pm CDT - Galen
I've just uploaded two new reviews. Ancillary Sword is Ann Leckie's follow-up to last year's multiple award-winner Ancillary Justice. It has already won this year's BSFA, and is also nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and Locus awards.
Ex Machina is an excellent film that I highly recommend. If it's playing near you I'd say go for it, but don't delay because it will likely be pushed out of theaters soon by the juggernaut of The Avengers plus a couple of other upcoming blockbusters.
Age of Ultron
5/2/15; 1:00pm CDT - Galen
Avengers: Age of Ultron will easily win the box office this weekend, perhaps even surpassing its record-breaking predecessor. The majority will love it. When have I ever been in the majority?
Two Movies, One Terrible, One So-So
4/30/15; 4:15pm CDT - Galen
I saw two movies a couple of weeks ago at the discount theater. I'd be really upset if I had paid more than 50˘ each. The worst was Jupiter Ascending, which is not recommended. Chappie wasn't a total disappointment, even though I'll likely not want to watch it again.
Hugo Nomination Revisions
4/17/15; 5:45pm CDT - Galen
Several changes have occurred since I first posted the Hugo nominations. Two entries were ruled ineligible for various reasons, plus two authors have withdrawn their works from consideration. There had already been subsititutions named for the ineligible items, but I wasn't sure those rules would apply to the ones who had voluntarily withdrawn, but the awards committee announced this morning that there would be substitutions there too. In the Best Novel category, Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos was been withdrawn by its author, and has been replaced by The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Annie Bellet withdrew her "Goodnight Stars" from the Short Story category, and it was replaced by “A Single Samurai" by Steven Diamond. Officials say that the final ballots are going to the printers soon and no further changes will be made. A full list of nominees for the Hugos and this year's Nebulas can be found here.
Stations of the Tide
4/12/15; 7:45pm CDT - Galen
Another random trip through my reviews of award winners takes us back nearly twenty-five years, with my take on Michael Swanwick's Stations of the Tide, written in 1990, published in book form in '91, and winner of the Nebula in '92.
4/12/15; 7:40pm CDT - Galen
*I've edited this article to include more information and to clarify a few thoughts.* The nomination process for this year's Hugo Awards is embroiled in controversy, similar to what is going on with Gamergate, so I've dubbed my thoughts on it as Hugogate, although it's likely someone else called it that before me.
4/4/15; 4:20pm CDT - Galen
I've just updated the current Hugo/Nebula page with the nominees for the 2014 Nebulas, to be presented June 6, and the 2015 Hugos, which will be handed out on August 22.
4/1/15; 6:45pm CDT - Galen
Believe it or not, I finally finished my profile article on Samuel R. Delany. Today happens to be his 73rd birthday. I also created a main page for him that has links to all the reviews I've done so far, and I will be adding to that list, but I don't know when. I need to move on to somebody else for a while.
I also decided to create another page that lists all of the SFWA Grand Masters, Delany having received that honor last year. Then I went into other pages to create a link to that for other recipients for which I've written articles, along with linking specific ones to the SF Hall of Fame. One thing I haven't done yet, and not sure when I'll get to it, is going through all the pages where Delany might have been mentioned so I can put a link on his name directed to his main page.
Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand
3/26/15; 10:10pm CDT - Galen
Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand came out in 1985, nearly ten years after Delany's previous science fiction novel
A Tale of Two Congresses
3/15/15; 8:10pm CDT - Galen
It's been entirely too long since the last update, so I'll try to make up for that a bit with two reviews today. First is the book The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem, and then the movie loosely adapted from it, The Congress, starring Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel and Jon Hamm.
In other news, there are several other things I've been meaning to get around to, quite a few films, a TV series, as well as other books, and it's not like I can use the old excuse of not enough time. I just have to do it.
1/18/15; 4:00pm CST - Galen
Andy Weir's first novel, The Martian, has been getting a lot of positive buzz, along with a few nay-sayers claiming it is boring and repetitive. It's not boring, in fact I read it about as fast as anything in quite a long time. I like Hard-SF stories with lots of realistic action. If you do too, it is recommended.
12 Monkeys (1995)
1/16/15; 7:55pm CST - Galen
I've been meaning to review Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys about as long as this site has been active. Now that Syfy is premiering a series based on it I guess it's about time I did that.
1/11/15; 9:30pm CST - Galen
William Gibson's first novel, Neuromancer, won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick awards. It deserved them.
1/11/15; 9:35pm CST - Galen
If you've read Heinlein's "—All You Zombies—" there won't be any surprises, but you might like Predestination anyway.
Triton by Samuel R. Delany
1/4/15; 10:15pm CST - Galen
The first review of the year is here! It took a while to get through Triton (aka Trouble on Triton). I'm glad I persevered though, since it proved well worth the time and effort.
Another Year Gone By
1/1/15; 6:00pm CST - Galen
All of the updates for 2014 have been moved to the Archives page, and that page is accessible from any other page on the site through the link in the "News" column to the left. It was one of, if not the most productive years for the site, with reviews of twenty-two books and twelve movies, updates on one TV show plus one other new one, as well as updates to miscellaneous pages like the Hugo/Nebulas and the SF Hall of Fame. No matter how much that was an improvement over the past few years, I still need to do more, since I am not working now. No resolutions, since I don't want to break them, but I will try harder this year.
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