Last year I read and very much enjoyed Axiom’s End (2020), a debut novel by film critic and YouTuber Lindsay Ellis. It’s the first book of her Noumena series, which is about powerful aliens showing up on an unsuspecting Earth. It made the New York Times Best Seller list and generated a fair amount of favorable attention.
Earlier this year I preordered the second book, The Truth of the Divine (2021), and it finally dropped last month. I had high hopes and much anticipation about where Ellis would take her story. Sadly, I found myself sorely disappointed by this second installment. This isn’t a positive review.
For balance I’ll mention two books I did enjoy, Neuromancer (1984), by William Gibson, and a new comedy by David Brin.
I’m not quite halfway through Existence, by David Brin, but I’m enjoying it so much I have to start talking about it now. For one thing, it’s such a change from the Last Chronicles, which was a hard slog with a disappointing ending. (Still worth the journey, though.)
The novel is a standalone, not part of his Uplift Universe, but it apparently can be viewed as a kind of prequel to that reality. However: so far no alien contact, humanity is still on Earth, and computers are not conscious (but AI is very, very good). The year, as far as I can tell, seems to be in the 2040s or 2050s.
At heart, the novel’s theme is the Fermi Paradox; it examines many of the potential Great Filters that might end an intelligent species. But now an alien artifact has been found, a kind of message in a bottle that appears to contain a crowd of alien minds…
It was never the plan for this blog, but I’ve found myself several times writing about morals (for example: here, here, and very recently here). In those posts I touched on what morality means and how we might define it. I make no claim to breaking new ground or having anything particularly insightful to say — just my 1/50th of a buck based on my own observations, thoughts, and experiences.
The last week or so a set of three thought threads wound through the loom of my mind and seemed to form an interesting fabric. They have to do with the nature of morals, the usefulness of reason, and our modern sense of otherness.
Today I’m going to try to make something out of that fabric.
Science Fiction — or rather Speculative Fiction — has the general quality that it contains all other fiction genres. There is mystery and detective science fiction. There is romance (and sexual) science fiction. Action? Horror? Psychological thriller? Drama and pathos? Allegory? Westerns? Science fiction has them all and more.
In a sense, SF is just a property that fiction can have. I’ve tried to explain what I think that property is. I also took a stab at separating science fiction from fantasy. Now that thread resumes to explore the idea of SF hardness.
But first we return to and start with…
If you read my Disclaimer you know I’m a little uncomfortable with awards. They are obviously very pleasing to receive, and I appreciate the social aspects involved, but I just find I have somewhat mixed feelings. That said, sometimes I’ve been awarded by a blogger I know and regard, and it’s very hard to be my usually curmudgeonly self.
And given that my nominator, the blogger artist Sheikah on Dark Link/Light Link is one of those young people who gives me hope for the future, I cannot turn my back. In particular this young lady is smart, educated and capable, and if there’s anything I revere in people it’s those very qualities.
So let’s get to it: some Liebster Award fun!
You sometimes hear the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It’s most frequently attributed to Albert Einstein although it is sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin or author Rita Mae Brown.
None of them said any such thing. And poor Albert, he gets more silly quotes (incorrectly) attributed to him than anyone else. I suppose the idea is that, if Einstein said it, it must be right. I’m not sure the actual author is known, but the quote is commonly found in Alcoholics (and others) Anonymous where it references the repeated addictive behavior.
I’ve always thought the insane thing was the quote itself.