Category Archives: Science Fiction

“The Transhumanist Wager” by @zoltan_istvan Provocative Storytelling

transhuman

 

The Transhumanist Wager
By Zoltan Istvan
300pps
Philosophy > Science Fiction

Copy furnished by the author
“The Transhumanist Wager” tells the provocative story of Jethro Knights and his participation in the Transhumanist Movement. The movement is based on a shared philosophy based on human enlightenment through extending one’s life through the use of science and technology (my layman interpretation). The Transhumanist Wager explores the philosophy more eloquently than I have given. Obviously.

Transhumanist Wager follows the rise of Jethro Knights from being a student from a prestigious university to circumnavigating the globe to becoming “leader” of the tranhumanist movement. However, the movement goes against God’s will and Reverend Belinas is not amused. At all. Man is meant to live and die all the while being in the service of God and not live forever.

“A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.” Jethro Knights is an extremist. Reverend Belinas is an extremist. Two opposing views to help drive the message of Transhumanism and to discuss the flaws of organized religion and how it limits human insight and growth. No shades of gray are presented in the novel. It’s because of these extreme views that it’s difficult to like Jethro Knights or to fully stand behind transhumanism. That’s not to say this was a terrible book. I enjoyed the writing itself. In fact I’m glad I read it because it allowed me to develop my own thoughts on the movement and religion and their roles in contemporary society. As I said early on; provocative.

 

Greatfall by Jason Gurley. What an Impact! #bookreview @jgurley

712qBCnyWvL._SL1500_Greatfall
Jason Gurley
311 pps
Science Fiction > Dystopian > Fan Fiction > Wool

What an impact!

This was an incredible read and anyone that hasn’t read any fan-fiction from the Woolverse (created by Hugh Howey) is doing themselves a disservice by not reading this as it explores the role of religion to keep to keep its inhabitants in check.  For the record, I’m late to the party in reading the fan fiction that Mr. Howey has created but better late than never!

That said, Greatfall explores the role of religion to keep the people of their silo in order. By religion, I’m talking about the form of god fearing evangelism and it does it brilliantly. Unlike the other silos that use a “mayor” and “sheriff” to keep its inhabitants in check, the idea to use two deities as good and evil is what’s used for Silo 23.The explanation to get the people to believe in an omnipotent being that can be malevolent at times is credible.

The writing and characterizations were solid. Based off the predicament and circumstances of Greatfall, you can’t help but grow attached to the protagonists and want them to achieve their goals given the plot. But that antagonist!

The antagonist, Matthew, was, to put it bluntly, a big dick. There are plenty of characters that we’ve read in novels and know that are “bad”. “Ok, character X is bad. Got it,” and from there, you may just go with the flow without a reaction to his/her actions. It takes great skill to create a character that the reader can love to hate and I think Mr. Gurley nailed it with Matthew. I can recall on several occasions where I’ve read something he’s done to another character and I’ll think, “Matthew is such an ass. I hope he gets a good offing in the end.” In fact, he pissed me off so much that I had to call him a dick on Facebook. Of course, what happens to him in the end, is for you, the reader, to find out.

On a side note: A friend had recommended Jason Gurley’s Greatfall a while back.  I had it in my queue of books of to read.  During that time, I did do a beta read of one of his stories. The beta wasn’t bad but it needed some work.  “I can’t believe this is the same guy that wrote Eleanor,” because, man. Greatfall just raised the bar to what I hope to/and expect from him. As it stands now his work in progress, Eleanor, is just that: a work in progress (not a spoiler, folks; he talks about it on his blog). For now? I may need to add The Settlers to quench my thirst for more Gurley.

The Martian by Andy Weir #bookreview

18007564The Martian
Andy Weir
Science Fiction > Hard Science Fiction
384 pps

Fantastic. Incredible. I’m not sure what else I can say about this novel. I loved this book.

The premise is simple: A freak natural disaster gets an astronaut stranded on Mars. Said astronaut is Mark Watney. Watney has a particular skillset that allows him to extend his longevity on Mars.  How he’s able to pull this off is up to you to read learn now. I’ll just say this: if you put MacGyver with NASA into the same room, interesting things will happen.

Ultimately, this is a survival manual for being stranded on Mars, assuming you have the necessary tools provided to you by NASA. And Watney’s skillset.  This is a hard science fiction novel and you may find yourself reading lots of “science-y” passages and you may want to find yourself glazing over it which is fine, but you may find yourself doing a disservice to you. There are some great gems of commentary to his thought process.

Told in the first person from Watney’s perspective, we’re privy to all his thoughts: his scientific reasoning, the rationale of his decisions, and his humor; his personality. It’s because of this narrative that we grow attached to this character and rooting for him to get rescued.

Mark Watney is a memorable character that will last with you for a lifetime. To be honest, the only other character I’ve ever felt compassion for/with is Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series).  I would love for Mr. Weir to write a prequel.

It will be a couple of months before the novel is released (initially a self published e-book but then picked up by a publisher) and all I can say is: add it to your queue. Pre-order it. Add it to your Goodreads list of “to-read.” Whether you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre or not, it’s the compelling character driven, survival story that makes this novel spectacular.