Friday, February 29, 2008

Sci-Fi Love - Ain't It Grand?

I was, of course, sniping ideas from other blogs and one of my favorites had a list of her favorite love stories in science fiction. So, of course once again, I'm going to steal it. Here's my list:

Neo & Trinity - The Matrix

What is a good savior story without a love interest? Neo had to love Trinity to overcome his own shortcomings in a lot of ways. His miraculous "removal" of the virtual bullet that was killing her in RT was how he discovered how fully he could manipulate The Matrix. Of course her death in real time removed his last obstacle to giving himself to save Zion and the Machine World from total annihilation. There's nothing like a Christ story to get the blood pumping (Read Frank Herbert's The Jesus Incident if you want a hard science fiction look at Christian dogma from a skewed perspective). This is a recurring theme in SF/F. Jonathan Michael Valentine Smith, Neo, Thomas Covenant and the VR brain in Otherworld. Agape at its best.

Beren & Luthien - The Silmarillion

How else would one describe the first union between the Elves of Middle Earth and Men? One word - Epic! Luthien was the daughter of one of the most powerful elves of Middle Earth. He rules hidden Dorthonion, the last of the great eleven kingdoms to fall to Morgoth and to be ruined by the Silmarils. But before Darthonion fell, Beren met and fell in love with Luthien. Men and Elves were not so estranged as they later became and Beren's father and Beren himself served Thingol and Melian (she, as was Tolkien's habit, was actually the power in Dorthonion. She was one of the Maia, a lesser god. Thingol was an Elf that had never left Middle Earth to go to the West and had built Doriath and later, with Melians help, he built and she hid the city of Dorthonion there). Beren stumbled into forbidden Doriath after a battle and was sick and wounded. Luthien found him and healed him. Love grew between them and Beren sought Luthien's hand from her father. He did NOT aprove. Thingol sent Beren to fetch the Silmaril that Morgoth had set in his crown, despite the warnings from his wife that there was no outcome that was good in doing so.

Beren, being in love, sets off to fulfill this requirement. Luthien sneaks away and joins him. And despite overwhelming odds, they succeed. On the return trip to Doriath, Morgoth sets his dog, Carcharoth, on them. Attempting to use the Silmaril to ward off the dog, Beren held aloft the jewel in his right hand. The dog bit it off. The Silmaril killed the dog, eventually. Luthien once agin healed Beren, but could not restore his hand. They returned to Dorthonion and confronted Thingol. Thingol demanded the Silmaril. Beren, now called One-Hand, held up his stump and declared that, even now, the Silmaril was in his right hand. Then Beren and Luthien departed the sight of elves and men for the remainder of their lives. Luthien chose to fade rather than live without Beren. And they were never seen again. Thingol never saw his daughter again, because she never entered the Halls of Mandos.

But from Beren , son of Beor, and Luthien, daughter of Thingol and Melain, came the race of Kings of Numenor. But that's another story...

Miles & Ekatrin - The Vorkosigan Saga

What good is space opera without a good love story? I've made no secret that I think the Vorkosigan Saga is probably the best space opera ever written and thus, this is one of its best love stories. Is there anyone out there who deosn't know who Miles Vorkosigan is? (If you do not, do yourself a huge favor and investigate thoroughly immediately! E-mail me if you need help.) The last four books in this amazing story are about Miles falling in love with and winning the heart of Ekatrin Vorsoisson. She is independent, smart, loyal, and beautiful. Which scares Miles to death. But, being Miles, he comes up with a battle plan. Only problem is, winning a woman's heart isn't a battle..its war!

These are my top 3 love stories. If you haven't read them, perhaps you should. Then we can have an argument about which was best. Which is great! Then we can make up and that's always fun!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Once Bitten...Bite Me Again!

Ok, I have a small confession to make. I started reading MARVEL comics when I was about 5 years old (one of my babt-sitters discovered it was a great way to keep me quiet and out of trouble--I was hooked!). I still love Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. Now this may seem immaterial, but its not. Into this challenge to the suspension of disbelief slinks Jaz Parks, ex-vampire slayer turned CIA assassin.

She is the proto-typical comic book heroine with a cast right out of MARVEL comics (and to be fair, DC as well). She is tough, yet haunted and vunerable. She is loyal and thus inspires heroic loyalty among her peers and comrades. She's smart, strong, sassy and daddy's little girl, the girl-next-door all rolled into a fast action, rock 'em, sock 'em heroine against the "We're going to end the world so we can rule what's left" bad guys. Its classic!

Jaz is introduced mid-story, we get glimpses of prelude as we go through the current story, including a mysterious benefactor that grants certain "advantages" to Jaz in her quest to save life, liberty and the American way. She and her 300-year vampire partner are given an assignment to take out a terrorist. But as they investigate, we are introduced to what every comic book character needs: the arch-nemesis. In this case its someone you never see called The Raptor. He is the brains behind the scenes pulling the strings as his minions attempt to release a curse that will, quite literally, consume the planet.

Is this "fantasie-haute"? Definitely not. Is it a great, larger-than-life story that tells the reader than, somewhere, some how, they can be better? Yep. Its a quick read and Mrs. Rardin is whipping them out faster than I can read them (3 books in six months), But, the first one is definitely worth reading. Especially for all those super-hero/heroine fans out there. Fortunately, that includes me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Selling Out by Justina Robson

In yet another interminable series (that's right, there will be more), I must say that this one is pretty entertaining. The characters are multiplying like crazy, our heroine is even more insecure thatn the first novel, and there are plenty of unexplained phenomena to frustrate the reader. Having said that, Ms. Robson's blending of pretty hard sci fi with classic fantasy elements is flawless. Her characters are all flawed in very human ways and therefore approachable if not downright likeable. I really hate to admit it, but PYR has brought out yet another great speculative work that deserves to be read. (I HATE series!)

The drawbacks: It is incredibly necessary that you read the first book prior to this one, or you will be completely lost. It IS a series book, so the story is not complete. Characters and places are becoming numerous - very numerous, with independent story lines a-plenty. I find that while this adds depth to the major characters, it can (and in this case does) detract from the central story.

Lila Black is sent to Demonia to research a tourist book for Ootopians (read: humans). While there, she inevitably gets caught up in local politics which are particularly nasty as can only be expected from demons. Meanwhile, her elvin boyfriend gets caught in Thanatopia from which all things elemental flow, but which cannot sustain any other kind of life as we know it. Meanwhile, (see what I mean?) her fairy partner is sailing the depths of non-space looking for ghosts with a renegade research group. Meanwhile, ... you get the idea.

This is a good book and, so far, an enjoyable series. If you've read Keeping It Real and enjoyed it, then you will definitely enjoy this one. If not, I recommend that you start immediately.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Whew! February At Last!

I don't know about anyone else, but January was a busy, hectic and generally unproductive month for my little piece of the world. February promises to be a bit different; my promotion at work has been finalized (no more 14 hour days!), Spring is just around the corner, and things are happening!

Now, unfortunately for blogging purposes, I am taking my first real vacation in about 15 years. My wife and I are going on a cruise in the Western Carribean and generally eat too much and over imbibe for days! I am packing up two or three books to take along, so when I get back maybe I can post more than one review.

Don't bet the farm on it.

I have three books going right now; Fatal Revenat, Once Bitten Twice Shy and Selling Out. Of the three, only Fatal Revenant promises to take a while to read. (Why does reading Stephen Donaldson always make me feel like I have an awful vocabulary?) SO buck up, dear readers! Reviews will be seen here once again!

Thanks for stopping in. I'll have something actually worth reading soon (at least I hope so - in both instances!)