Archive by Author

A Book By Its Cover: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

24 Sep

From Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. to Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse to Matt “Grim-Dark” Groening’s upcoming Futurama X-Treme, the standard script for science fiction featuring artificial intelligence (AI) has been machine rising up against humanity. This theme reached its artistic pinnacle in 1953 with the widely acclaimed masterpiece Robot Monster from noted auteur Phil Tucker, a cinematic disciple of Bresson and Ozu. The plot should be as obsolete as MS-DOS 4.0. Yet, authors and Hollywood writers all keep going back to the robot production factory for ideas.

The fear inherent in this fiction has historically accompanied each technological development; with each increase in technology’s power and reach, so goes the fear. Recently, both Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk voiced concerns and warnings regarding AI. Yes, it is true that Hawking and Musk are both usually known for lunatic ramblings, but their warning here does seem logical and warranted.

One doesn’t even have to look too far for evidence: The owners of this site have publicly advocated for robot goblin uprisings, and have even initiated funding drives to make their horrific visions a reality! Also, a prominent member of the Skiffy & Fanty team has a position with a publishing house that it apparently run by a group of irate automatons. Sure, they are just publishing books now, but have you seen the thickness of some of those books? They are like blunt weapons. Blunt weapons easily grasped in the claws of an angry robot. Continue reading

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Book Reviews: Martian Girls, Home and Abroad

25 Aug

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn & Mars Girls by Mary Turzillo

Two young adult (YA) novels featuring feisty teen heroines from Mars recently landed in my to-be-read pile. Beyond the surface similarity between their protagonists, the two novels diverge completely, each with unique focus and drive, and different kinds of success. Continue reading

Book Review: The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu

11 Aug

The second volume in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series just had its paperback release, so this felt like a good moment to review this sequel to 2015’s The Grace of Kings. If you aren’t familiar with that start to the series, you can find my review of it here, and I would not recommend starting with the sequel or reading further in this review. The plot of The Wall of Storms actually does stand rather well on its own. However, the framework of Liu’s Chinese-history inspired archipelago kingdom/culture is built in the first book and could be harder to appreciate or grasp without starting there. Continue reading

Book Review: STEEL VICTORY and STEEL MAGIC by J.L. Gribble

28 Jul

This Sunday I featured Steel Blood for my first offering in the ‘A Book By Its Cover’ series of humorous fake reviews. I haven’t yet read this third volume in J.L. Gribble’s Steel Empires series, but I have read the first two novels, Steel Victory and Steel Magic. Seems the perfect time to write real reviews on them. Continue reading

A Book By Its Cover: Steel Blood by J.L. Gribble

23 Jul

A worthy successor to Steel Victory and Steel Magic, this third volume in Gribble’s Steel Empires series continues the ambitious genre mash-up that has delighted fans of all ages forty-four through sixty-two. The official sequel to the play/film Steel Magnolias from the late ’80s, and a Sega Genesis console game from the early ’90s, the Steel Empires series began by successfully merging a story about a close-knit group of women in a small-town southern community with the plot of a side-scrolling, shoot-’em-up Steampunk videogame. Continue reading

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