Do you remember that thing?

6468870

Who Goes There? (The Thing) – 3.5 stars

Remember that weird bloody gory sci-fi movie that we all have watched once? Yes ‘The Thing’! Curt Russell using firebreather allover! Who Goes There is the book based on which The Thing was made. 

An alien dead-body is found by some research works of a station at Antarctica. But little do they know that it’s not dead. It is a shape-shifter – human or animal doesn’t matter! There begins a bloody gore-some paranoia in the station.

The story is pure hunt or be hunted type with fantastic voids to be filled with readers’ imaginations. Sometimes the amount of blood and gore in a science fiction feels unnecessary but for this it doesn’t. All the killings and violently described situations are very very fitting in the novel. There can be two types of reception of this book depending on whether you have or haven’t seen the movie. If the movie is seen before reading the novel, it does feel a bit bland because the movie actually created much more visually enjoyable paranoia than the book (which is very rare in the history of cinematizations)! But if the book is picked up first then it feels like an immensely enjoyable novel that has stapled horror and science-fiction in spectacular manner. The only thing that stumbles is the narration; feels a little discontinuous or sudden sometimes.

A bloody (pun intended) well written scary sci-fi to be read again from to time!

The Best Variety

816495

The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Volume 2: Second Variety
4 stars

Recently I came up on a fact that many of renowned and beloved movies are actually based on stories/novels by the same person named Philip K Dick. So after visiting some thrift stores I got this wonderful 2nd Vol of Mr Dick’s Collected Short Stories. Needless to say he is as awesome as I had imagined him to be!

The book contains a few fantasy horror stories along with the mouthful of science-fiction. After going through some stories that I will remember for a long time I can clearly state somethings –

~ Mr Dick writes pure pure sci-fi wrapped around fantastic characterizations.
~ He induces bone chilling horror with heart stopping pauses.
~ Sometime there lies more in what he doesn’t say. He just gives such an empty space and let the horror fill the space on its own through realization. (This is my favorite!)
~ Fantasy is not his original element; Sci-fi it is!

The best of this volume for me are Second Variety, The Cosmic Poachers, The Impossible Planet, Breakfast at Twilight!

I am gonna read more Dick’s for sure because it feels like I have just opened a new Pandora’s box!

BO’RED’OM Rising!

15839976

Red Rising – 3 stars

An alien society on Mars ruled by the color of people. High society, slaves, total power-pollution. And there is our hero who has finally had it with it and leading a revolution secretly.

So, what just happened here? This book is supposed to be a new age prodigy of young adult science fiction. But somehow it didn’t work. Where was the spark? Never felt any urge to flip the pages. I am totally confused!

Our hero Darrow is soooo cold (not cool; Cold)! His emotions are deadpan and blunt. He says he is crying – I never feel the pain. He is frustrated – I am with him. The story is better than the characters and as a debut novel this is really applauding. But the racialism, the master-slave set, the rise of a hero with personal vengeance – feel somehow very familiar at times. Sometimes it is too cinematic, sometimes it is too blunt. Maybe I feel this much letdown because I expected too much seeing the 4.19/5 stars from more than 35k ratings on this in Goodreads.

On a whole it was a good read. But was not overwhelming.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

themartian

The Martian – 3.5 stars

While leaving the planet on an emergency, Mark Watney is accidentally left on the surface of Mars by his crew of Ares and he is assumed to be dead. With no way of contacting anyone and with limited supply of food and shelter, he has to survive.

“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”
― Charles Darwin

The Martian is a marvelous diary of a survivor. I am a student of Physics and it gave me more than enough pleasure to read a space-science-fiction novel with ‘Science’ that may really come true in a few upcoming years. I loved the book like a dear brother who speaks up ambitions which makes you proud. But it also contains a lot of things which almost made me throw it from rooftop. I felt like a bi-polar person loving and hating it so much the same time. To make it simpler, let me put it in pros and cons.

Pros:
There are two types of sci-fi, one which jumps a long way and shows us a new kind of advanced world and another which just goes out for a little walk out of the boundary of actual possible world of today’s science. The Martian is of the second kind. It speaks of a very smooth fictional Mars expedition without ever going over the top. One after another disasters and problems are thrown at our hero and he tires overcomes those with the best weapon a man has – intelligence. The book balances thrill and tension very well to keep up the readers on their toes. Descriptions of the farming, rovers, hub, space station and NASA are so realistic that it makes one wonder if this is a fiction or fictionalized form of real events. Andy Weir has studied like a mad man for writing this book.
giphy

Cons:
It really hurts me to write bad about this book. Biggest problem of the book is it’s language. Our hero is left alone in a stranded planet and he makes fart jokes, boob jokes and puns in his log all the time. While doing some of the most complicated chemical and mathematical calculations he jokes around like a 12 year old. It just blunts the importance of critical situations if a hero constantly says “Booyah, Yeeay etc” throughout the whole book. And most surprising of all – there is literally zero emotional effect on him. He is alone on Mars with almost no chance of survival and he is cool; so cool as if he has gone trekking alone. A man stays frigging alone on a whole frigging planet for more than a year and he never even has one emotional breakdown. What the hell??? This is Andy Weir’s debut novel and it badly shows. Most of the conversations among NASA’s topmost scientists feel tacky, cinematic and forceful to make it funny. It might make some readers smile with all the casual language, jokes and funny situations but let it settle and you will see how unnatural it feels.

It is painful to love a book so much while hating the author at the same time. Even with all the problems this is one of the most entertaining science fiction I’ve ever read. If only it had chosen a less funny and more sentimental approach, it could have been a masterpiece in all aspect. But at the end of the day, who won? Science won! Yeah!
W2LjL

Human behaviour is history’s broken record

23161991

The Cause – 4 stars

In a near distant future, America along with the whole world is at the edge of financial and economic disaster. The rich has got rich while the poor has got poorer. With NSA watching over all, the government has made individual freedom an enemy to be chocked ruthlessly. In a black-ops training camp Isse Corvus, a hacker learns something that contains the fate of U.S. He discovers the leaders are revolutionaries seeking to return the U.S. back to its Constitutional roots. With a gun pointed on his head Corvus learns that if he doesn’t join ‘The Cause’ and help them hack the NSA’s servers, it could mean his life. If he joins, he becomes part of a conspiracy to overthrow America’s financial oligarchy.

First thing first, this is a bomb blasting début! It sticks to a reader’s hands and keeps him/her curious all the way. The best thing about the book for me is the atmosphere. The book balances itself at a very unique position of having all the tension of dystopia novel but without being one. It controls the chill and tension-in-the-air just as the premise promises. There are many surprisingly well written characters with Isse Corvus becoming just the hero everyone wants to be. The book may feel a tiny bit slow at the beginning but once the ground is set, it gives one hell of a ride to the last page. Government Conspiracy has always been a hot topic for thrillers but Mr Vincent has made a new approach throwing sci-fi in the pile because sometimes conspiracy thriller without an all-knowing-hero feels really good to read.

I must mention another thing – analogy. Personally I am not a literature person and I avoid symbolic analogies. So I was really surprised when I liked symbolic quotes and writing placed in a sci-fi thriller! The lines are really deep and compliments the writing greatly.

The only thing that bothered me was the cinematic approach at some places. Quite a few dialogues and situations felt pushy and stiff like movies. I am not saying that is bad because some may like it, some may don’t. 

I would recommend this to anyone who loves action packed thrillers with little bits of science fiction mixed in excellent manner and a warm thanks to Roderick Vincent for providing me a copy to review!

He still has it

9472760

Spiral – 4 stars

When respected and beloved Nobel laureate Liam Connor is found dead and his death is declared as suicide, search of a virus hidden since World War II is ignited. Soon Liam’s collaborator Jake, Liam’s granddaughter Maggie, and Maggie’s nine-year-old son Dylan find themselves in a conspiracy of bio-warfare spread over the world and decades of research. With an assassin, an infamous Japanese criminal and US military also in the same race, the only chance of survival of human live over the world depends on who gets to the virus first.

A fantastic debut. Paul McEuen is a nano scientist and has written a sci-fi thriller with an excellent mixture of science and fiction. Fast pace and continuous twists are what makes this book worthy of praise. Whenever I felt ‘I know what will happen now’, the book had something exactly different like it knew what I was thinking! And that really kept me glued to it. I am a science student and all those nanao-science and DNA coding stuffs just fascinated me. But none of those are hard to understand. Actually the book has so much base in real research, it never felt stretching or unbelievable. With just one step crossing the line of real science, Paul McEuen has written a great novel.

The actions and logics looked a bit thin sometimes but otherwise I really loved it. It has some invisible hook that pulled me towards the last page so fast. A well written sci-fi thriller with a healthy dose of science in it.

One problem at a time Mr. Spock

23241668

The City on the Edge of Forever – 4 stars

First of all lets make one thing clear: this is a complete old school Star Trek story! This is actually an unchanged visual representation of the famous script “The City on the Edge of Forever!”

Following the trace of a runaway, the crew of USS Enterprise come across the City on the Edge of Forever which is mostly taken as a myth. They chase the convict through the time line of Earth’s history and lands at the of 1930s. With emotional dilemma, suspense and action it is an awesome ride towards the last page.

The story uses some really common and familiar elements of Sci-Fi but still it is thoroughly enjoyable and the emotional jabs are really heart warming. Although there are some pages where it feels that the story cold have taken a little pace, once the mind is properly set for the era of William Shatner – its bliss!

Artwork of the book is sadly a bit discontinuous. There are pages where it is so great that it resembles photographs. But then again there are drawings which pop the thought- Am I reading the same book?
One more problem is the facial expressions. Actually almost all the faces of Kirk and Spock are drawn from snapshots of the TV series and Movies. Don’t get me wrong, the drawing is incredible! But when the faces constantly look like great detailed drawings of snapshots while the figures and surroundings are drawn as basic: the faces stands out like flags over the pages. Apart from that the artwork is mind-blowing and the noir style works great with the story!
12597779
But did these all really matter when I got it as a free advance copy of a graphic collection of classic Star Trek??? NO!! I just went gaga over it!

P.S. Thanks to IDW publishers for providing an advance copy at Netgalley.