Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’
After watching the Academy Awards, I thought it would be a great idea to review all of the nominees for best picture. Look for the reviews as the library acquires the movies on video.
Movie #1… Inception
Being the science-fiction nerd that I am, I enjoyed nearly every aspect of this movie, so prepare yourself for a glowing review.
The ever-talented Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a con artist who steals information from big-wigs. The catch: he infiltrates a person’s subconscious by going into his or her dreams and getting the “mark” to divulge secrets. After a failed infiltration, the “mark” hires Cobb and his associates to not steal information from a competitor for him, but rather plant an idea to benefit him financially.
Additionally, Cobb’s specialty is layers of dreams; dreams within dreams. Cobb takes on the challenge, and his team follows. The addition of a new team member allows the viewer to learn about dream manipulation as she does, which explains many technically confusing aspects of the movie.
The movie is initially fast-paced, though tapers toward the end to allow for the plot to complete. Character development is only as deep as the needs of the film require, though the actors are well-cast. The nature of the layered dreams allow a multi-layered storyline within a linear timeline. Inception is exciting, visually stimulating, and a testament to what 21st century visual effects can do for a movie. Those who abhor tacked-on romances in films will be glad to know there are none in this movie (a personal pet-peeve).
Whether or not the movie is open-ended varies, depending on the viewer’s perspective, though it was closed enough that I am not anticipating a sequel.
All in all, I found the effects beyond impressive (if you have a Blu-ray player, I highly suggest you watch the Blu-ray), the concept unique, and the execution nearly flawless. Truly an engaging film!
Three words that best describe this film: Exciting, Thought-Provoking, Engrossing
Iron Man (1 or 2)
Review by Carlen
Summary: Basilisk Station is the rug under which the Royal Manticoran Navy sweeps it’s incompetents, fools and washouts. The experimental armament of Commander Honor Harrington’s new command, the light cruiser Fearless, is intrinsically flawed; rather than admit that the costly renovation of the aged warship has left it largely defenseless, powerful forces in the navy arrange for Honor and her crew to be shunted aside to Basilisk. Once on station, an old enemy of Honor’s arranges for Fearless to be abandoned as the only ship monitoring the busy post, with the hope of watching her fail. Honor’s determination to meet all of Fearless’ assigned duties, no matter how impossible that seems to be, puts her and her ship squarely in the path of the People’s Republic of Haven, which has its eyes set on seizing control of the star system.
Review: Since it’s release in 1993, the Honor Harrington Series (currently at 12 books) has become one of the most essential military science fiction series available. Putting a future Horatio Hornblower/Admiral Nelson at the center of epic space battles, Weber writes tales of political, strategic and tactical maneuvering on a rarefied level. This first entry is very good; the next entry in the series, The Honor of the Queen, is superlative. The audio for the book is solidly done, as well. There’s nothing about the reader (Allyson Johnson) to write home about, but neither does she get in the way of enjoying the tale.
Read-a-likes: Other military science fiction authors, such as David Drake and Elizabeth Moon, are worthy read-a-likes. Fans of the seafaring stories of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian may be rewarded here as well. Weber rewrites their classic tales of wooden ships and iron men with panache here.
Review by Eric.
Summary: Humanity pushed out into the stars, and encountered the ruthless Gbaba. One by one, Earth and it’s colonies fell before them. At terrible cost, an expedition slipped away to found a colony on a distant, earth-like world. But will its remote location be enough to protect it? Some among the administrators do not believe so; they seize control of the expedition, wipe the colonists memories, set themselves up as Angels and provide the colonists with a totalitarian religion that forbids any technologies other than those prescribed in the holy books. With no advanced technology, the colony will never be found; but not all agree that survival under these conditions is justifiable. The resultant conflict between factions wipes out both sides, leaving the inhabitants of Safehold to continue on with their false religion, locked forever in the Medieval world. Over 800 years later, hidden in a cave beneath the planet’s surface, an android awakes. Provided with the memories and skills of Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, who gave her life fighting the Gbaba so that the colony expedition could escape, the android is tasked with a mission; with the immediate danger of destruction past, break the chains that bind humanities future and take them back to the stars to reclaim their destiny.
Review: And that’s just the first 20 pages! Tipping the scales at 605 p., the word ‘epic’ is fairly accurate. And this is just the first in what is currently a 4 book series. Best known for his Honor Harrington military sci-fi novels, Weber doesn’t stray too far from home here. Technology, political machinations and warfare are the main draws, all of which Weber does very well, and it makes for a gripping read. This reviewers only complaint is that the premise of the book suggests that some thorny religious issues would need to be dealt with for the plot to progress; Weber deals with them only passingly, perhaps missing an opportunity.
Read-a-likes: Fans of other military science fiction authors, such as Elizabeth Moon and David Drake, will be rewarded here. And, of course, fans of Eric Flint (who similarly has advanced technology dropped into the Middle Ages in his Assiti Shards series) should consider this a must. In addition, fans of Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester and Julian Stockwin willing to tolerate the presence of a sci-fi veneer will be rewarded, as most of the action is the sort of swashbuckling high seas adventure that would make those worthies proud.
Availability: This item is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book. Click here to check on the availability of the item.
Review by Eric
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
Trella has purposely tried to remain unnoticed—when you’re a scrub, it’s easier to remain obscure. In the Inside, scrubs are the bottom of the social and political ladder. There’s no use trying to change things because the system is designed to maintain that structure. Besides, those who do speak out usually find themselves recycled. But the Broken Man, a self-proclaimed prophet with the location of the Outside, quickly changes Trella’s entire outlook.
The strength of Inside Out lies in its worldbuilding. Although it shares many common themes with other dystopian novels, the Inside is an original construct that is well thought out in its execution. I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the book and there were several plot twists that I didn’t expect—however, I did find the romance to be a little unconvincing and at times, forced. Despite this, Inside Out is a fun, quick novel and I am looking forward to reading the sequel (Outside In) when it is released in 2011.
Fans of Inside Out might also enjoy other books by this author. The Lake Bluff Library owns the Poison Study trilogy, which leans more toward fantasy than dystopia. If you’re more interested in reading something from the dystopian genre, you might also like Gone by Michael Grant, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Matched by Allie Condie, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien.
Pros: Inside Out is a fast-paced and entertaining story set in an original and well-developed universe.
Cons: The romance was not very well-developed and seemed somewhat superfluous.
Review by Martha
Summary: Antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his assistant Chase Kolpath are based on the planet of Rimway some 10,000 years in the future, when humanity has spread across many worlds. All that time and space make for a lot of history; Benedict has become renowned for his ability to ferret out essential facts that have been lost. In this series entry, Benedict and Kolpath dig into a mystery surrounding anthropologist Sunset Tuttle. Tuttle, now dead, spent the entirety of his life looking for alien races; other than the menacing Ashiyyur, humanity remains alone in the cosmos. Tuttle died a disgrace, but a mysterious and untraceable stone tablet that was once part of his collection suggests there may have been more to his story. Did he find what he was looking for? Before Alex can acquire the tablet, it is whisked away by one of Tuttle’s former acquaintances. Soon it becomes apparent that someone is intent on stopping the investigation at all costs.
Review: McDevitt’s characters are, for the most part, easily recognizable mystery tropes, with Kolpath playing Watson to Benedict’s Holmes. In classic Conan Doyle style, Kolpath narrates. Chase makes for a pleasant narrator, but her internal dialogue often betrays the gender of the writer. McDevitt has, too his credit, consistently improved on this point throughout this series, and, hey, it’s 10,000 years from now — who are we to say what will be considered the norm for men or women? And the setting is, of course, the main draw. McDevitt ably evokes the scale and wonder of the setting and it’s past (our future) while keeping it grounded in a world that feels comfortably recognizable. He does it well enough to make all 5 Benedict and Kolpath series entries (of which this is the fifth) compulsively readable. The series third entry, Seeker, was justly awarded the Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction novel in 2005.
Availability: This item is available at Lake Bluff Public Library as a book. Click here to check on availability!
Gone by Michael Grant
[Electronic Resource (MyMediaMall eBook)]
Something strange is happening in Perdido Beach. Everyone fifteen and over has mysteriously vanished. An impassable dome traps the remaining teenagers and children inside the city. Some kids have even begun to develop deadly supernatural abilities. Fifteen-year-old Sam Temple finds himself charged with the difficult task of maintaining order as tensions increase and sides are chosen. But Sam’s fifteenth birthday is quickly approaching and he must do all he can to save both himself and Perdido Beach before it’s too late.
Gone is a fast-paced novel that fairly successfully mixes science fiction with dystopian themes. Grant builds an interesting premise that is able to maintain its intrigue and mystery throughout its 400-plus pages. The characters are also pretty decently developed for a novel that focuses primarily on action.
If you enjoy Gone, be sure to check out Hunger, the next book in the series. Fans of Grant’s work might also enjoy Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Unwind by Neil Shusterman, and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien.
Pros: A fast-paced, action packed novel that delivers consistent quality and interesting ideas.
Cons: Can be rather violent. Although the violence is appropriate to the situations the characters are in, squeamish or sensitive readers might want to skip this one.
Review by Martha