Asimov’s Robots and Empire (and how to read it)

Inspired by historian Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy tells the story of a future humanity, and a small group of scientists struggling to maintain their galactic civilization over hundreds of years. Even though Asimov never quite completed the series, the story--set millennia in... Continue Reading →


You should read this: Rule 34

As you're reading the review, it's quickly apparent to you that the book in question is a bit of an experiment. Not only are there multiple viewpoint characters, but the text is written in the second person. I found it somewhat jarring at first, you read, but after a few chapters it seemed normal, almost... Continue Reading →

Book Review: Dying Inside

I recently left a note in a writer's manuscript, letting her know that she was mixing tenses and persons. Most of the chapter was in past-tense third-person: "he", from the view of an outside narrator following along not quite inside the character's head. However, there was one long paragraph where the future came into focus... Continue Reading →

Neutron Star

Neutron Star, by Larry Niven The first thing I read by Larry Niven was a short story in the anthology Where Do We Go From Here. Soon after, I picked up the 1968 collection Neutron Star. It was to be the start of a lifelong addiction to Mr. Niven's writings. This isn't a review so... Continue Reading →

Guest actors on Star Trek who saved the day (part 2)

This post is a continuation of part 1. In short: The 1960's television series Star Trek made excellent use of guest actors, sometimes to the point of being the saving grace of the episodes they were cast in. Journey to Babel, by D.C. Fontana Mark Lenard, a ship filled with aliens, and an alien spacecraft... Continue Reading →

Guest actors on Star Trek who saved the day

Many lists of favorite Star Trek episodes feature stories such as The Enemy Within, The City on the Edge of Forever, and Mirror, Mirror. These are all excellent stories, but this 1960's in-full-color show told many other excellent tales that don't get the same attention these do. Star Trek is filled with silly moments that... Continue Reading →

Heinlein’s World as Myth (and how to read it)

The Number of the Beast is a novel with a reputation for being brilliant, impossible to read, and even a work of supreme authorial conceit. I concede that the latter is possible, and the book has problems, surely; but it's a fun and easy-to-read (if long) book that I reread often. There's a theory that... Continue Reading →

Friday on the web

Every so often, the web produces something literate and intelligent; these gems are often found buried under unused MySpace pages and hypnotically useless web sites. (Seriously, let that one run for a few minutes.) A tale of two planets: What's "Earth-like" mean?, by Lee Billings Titan may now resemble our planet in its earliest history,... Continue Reading →

Cowardice and Espionage

Betrayer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner It's worth noting that there are now as many books in this prequel series as there are in the "Ringworld" series itself: This is fourth novel in the "... of worlds" prequel series, and it brings Louis Wu, the future protagonist of Ringworld, into the... Continue Reading →

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