2.06.2018

Review: The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke (Spoilers)

I recently finished The Hammer of God and all I can say is that I love Arthur C. Clarke's books.

What's it about: Set in the year 2110, The Hammer of God revolves around the discovery by an amateur astronomer of an asteroid headed straight for Earth. Dubbed "Kali" after the Hindi goddess of death and destruction, the big space rock has the potential to wipe out life on Earth. The book follows the attempt by SPACEGUARD to prevent this by attaching a mass driver to Kali and slowly - very, very slowly - nudging it so that it'll miss Earth.

What I liked: One of the things I liked about THoG is that it didn't focus solely on the efforts of Robert Singh, captain of the spaceship Goliath and its crew to save the day. Instead, Clarke devoted a large chunk of the book to worldbuilding 22nd century human civilization and while it might at times have seemed like he was going off on wild tangents that immediately didn't seem to have any relation to the main plot, Clarke deftly tied all of these side trips together. For example, he focuses several chapters on "Chrislam", a fusion of Christianity and Islam created in the early 21st century that by the 22nd, has become the fourth largest religion on Earth. He doesn't explain any of the tenants or doctrine of the religion and you're left wondering at first as to why he devoted the two or three chapters to the religion, until near the end of the book when a fanatical faction called The Reborn sabotage efforts to divert Kali and almost wipe out mankind on Earth.

1.27.2018

A review of SF read in 2017

I mean, we're almost a month into 2018, but better late than never. The big thing about 2017 is that it was very much a year of science fiction. The year before last, I read only nine, but managed to raise that to fifteen the following year. More than that, SF made up fully half of the books I read in 2017, so I'm pretty well pleased with that. Let's have a look at them all:


1. Old Man's War - John Scalzi.

A re-read. Scalzi is one of my favorite SF writers and Old Man's War one of my favorite books.

2. The Ghost Brigades - Scalzi.

Yet another re-read. I was a bit meh on it the first time through, but I enjoyed it more on the second read.

3. Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn.

The first Zahn book I've ever read to completion, I've had Night Train to Rigel for a long time and made several attempts in the past to read it. 2017 was the year, though, and I wish I had read it sooner. I'm going to try and read the rest of the series this year.

4. The Last Colony - John Scalzi.

Unlike the other two, this was not a re-read. I really liked how the book ended because I did not expect it at all. Going to try and read the last two books this year.

1.23.2018

Ursula K. Le Guin has died

This is such a massive loss for both SF and fantasy. The Left Hand of Darkness was already on my reading list for the year, so I'll have to make sure I get to it ASAP.

12.07.2017

Netflix to adapt John Scalzi's Old Man's War

Great, now I have to get Netflix, I guess. Ugh. The book series (one of my personal favorites) was grabbed up by Syfy back in 2014, but as such things go, nothing happened with them and the rights reverted back to Scalzi. Hopefully, the same won't happen with Netflix because the books really are quite good and it would be interesting to see them adapted to screen.

12.06.2017

I think the bigger story here is that CompuServe still exists

File 770 has a post up about the imminent demise of CompuServe's SF forums and while the loss will suck as such things do, I'm more shocked that CompuServe is even still around. I mean, they've been owned by America Online (another relic) since 2003, but the fact that survived that long is amazing.

But on a more serious note, this sucks. While I didn't know these forums exist until today, it still sucks because internet forums are a major source of fannish activity. I used to hang out at SF forums back in the late 90s and early to mid-00s, talking about Star Trek, the then new Battlestar Galactica, and whatever was going on with the now former Star Wars Expanded Universe. Good times.

10.27.2017

Recent reads: Spinneret and A Call to Duty

I've been meaning to post about the science fiction novels I've read since my last roundup and wow, is it ever slim.

 First up is Spinneret by Timothy Zahn. It was an interesting book, but didn't really wow me. The story is about humanity finally making it to the stars, only to discover that all the planets in this part of the galaxy have already been spoken for and there's no sharing.

Well, almost all of the planets. There's one, whose name I can't remember, that is habitable, but not inhabited. The United States (there's no world government in this story and the Soviet Union still exists) leases the planet in what the rest of the world regards as a boondoggle.

Why has this planet gone uncolonized? Because it's completely devoid of metals. As you can guess, the plot revolves around why and the attempts of the main characters to protect the colony once the secret is revealed. It's not a spoiler since it's included in the summary on the dust jacket, but the planet's big secret is that an ancient alien civilization built a huge machine that absorbs metals through the ground and converts them into huge cables that it then launches into space. The cables are invulnerable, have a highly adhesive surface and other properties that make them highly desirable.

A big reason why I read it was because of the cover, which reminded me of one of those 4x strategy games, like Master of Orion. Like I said, Spinneret is good but not great. It's worth reading, but don't expect to be bowled over.

Next is A Call of Duty by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Tom Pope, who's name isn't on the cover but is credited in the foreword. Weber and Zahn explain in the foreword that the reason Pope's name wasn't included was for marketing reasons. There was concern that having three people's names on the cover would make potential readers think that A Call to Duty was a short story anthology and not everybody likes reading those. They also point out that Pope's name would appear on the covers of the sequels and it has.

So anyways, A Call to Duty is the first book in the Manticore Ascendant series that acts as a prequel to the rest of the Honorverse. I'm debating doing a separate post about this book later on, so I'll keep it brief here. The story follows three plotlines. The first is about Timothy Uriah Long, a young man who craves order and discipline in his life, so he joins the Royal Manticore Navy. The second plotline follows the attempts by a group of politicians to get rid of the RMN in favor of the interests of their leader, Lord Breakwater. This is still the relative early days of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, when they were still a single system entity and had yet to discover the wormhole junction that would make them a major power.

The third plotline and the one that ties the other two together revolves around a group of mercenaries who are planning to steal two warships from a major ship sale that the Republic of Haven holds later on in the book.

All kinds of shenanigans and hijinks ensue that make A Call to Duty a fun and exciting book to read. I recommend it.

9.19.2017

There's ch-ch-changes coming to Rayguns and Space Suits

Via Wookieepedia.
So I've been meaning to post this for a while and just hadn't gotten around to it just now. After five years and not enough posts, I've decided to bring about major changes to this blog. I've been feeling lately that while RSS is a science fiction blog, it hasn't really been science fiction blog. Oh sure, I'll post a trailer for an upcoming movie or a picture of something sci-fi related, but there's been no true focus on the genre in a long time, if ever, so that's why I've decided to refocus Rayguns and Space Suits as a fanzine dedicated to talking about and covering the science fiction genre to the best of my abilities. With that, comes a major change: No more Star Trek. I created a fan blog for the series last month called Strange New Worlds where all future Star Trek content will go. I did this largely because it felt like RSS was in danger of becoming a de facto fan blog, which is something I didn't want.

So what will you see on here? broadly, anything that is science fiction but isn't Star Trek. More specifically, I plan on writing about sci-fi books I'm reading, thoughts on the different subgenres, news, and more. I know that Rayguns and Space Suits will never match the stature of other, much more famous fanzines like File 770, but I still feel like it's something worth doing.

If anybody has any thoughts or suggestions, then please leave them in the comments below.
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