Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vulcan's Workshop

I recently read Harl Vincent's "Vulcan's Workshop,"  which was first published in Amazing Stories in 1932 and is now available as a free download at Project Gutenberg.  And I'm happy to give a little plug to Project Gutenberg, since I probably wouldn't have come across the story elsewhere.

Though the story takes a turn toward the end that wraps things up too neatly, making too big a leap in terms of the changes we see in the main character for my tastes, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story.  It is well-written, and the ideas underlying it are good old fashioned sic-fi-style fun.

You can download the story for free, put it on your e-reader, and read it all in an hour or so.  It's an enjoyable story, certainly well worth the effort of popping by the website and doing the download.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A month or so ago, I read and reviewed Joseph Bayly's classic work of Christian science fiction for the Christian fiction website.  I enjoyed the novel, especially the way it dealt with some difficult ethical questions and how Christians might respond to those questions.  It isn't a novel that says how Christians should deal with such issue, but presents the different possible ways one might respond to the problems in real life.  Not all the answers are equally palatable to some Christian readers, if the afterword by Bayly is any indication of the sorts of responses the novel provoked from that community.  I like this approach that the novel took — not showing some black and white, moralistic approach to difficult situations, but presenting the possibilities and showcasing the difficulties attached to each route one might take.

You can read my full review here.

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

His Master's Voice

I recently finished reading Stanislaw Lem's His Master's Voice.  It was the second of Lem's works I've read in the past couple of months.  While it might seem I'm on a bit of a Lem kick at the moment, it isn't really that.  It just sort of happened that these two books came up at the same time (or in relatively close proximity) in my reading.  They've actually both been on my to-be-read list for a while.

I really enjoyed His Master's Voice.  It's a different sort of work than The Cyberiad, which I'd read a month or two earlier.  It is a very thought-provoking novel — perhaps more thought-provoking than traditional novel, come to think of it.  The thoughts it offers on the spectacular failure of the (fictionalized) SETI research presented in the book are amazing.  It really made me ponder about the possible weaknesses in our real-world research in this area, particularly in regard to the control political and business interests have in the endeavor.  Even more, it made me think about what is missing in the whole field — something of a human touch, if I can put it that way.  For some odd reason (perhaps more convoluted thinking than I want to go into at the moment), Martin Buber's thoughts on the I/Thou relationship kept coming to mind as I read the book.

A more obvious connection, however, lies in Gregory Benford's The Martian Race, a book I read several years ago.  The ideas presented in both books about how we might interact with an alien race that does not synch up nicely with our expectations of what extraterrestrial intelligence should look and act like create a nice dialogue.  It might be worth reading these two books as companion stories, as they seem to me to be works that comment nicely on one another.

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Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Illustrated Man

I have had The Illustrated Man on my must-read list for a while, and had set it aside to read just as I heard news of Bradbury's death.  It was a good time to read that book.  I wrote a fuller version of my thoughts at my main blog.  You can take a look at my reflections there.

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