Monday, May 24, 2010

An Eerie, Spinning Ark

May has been a great month for me. Among the highlights are the momentous news that I read 4 amazing books... in a row!

I read a lot, I try to be as selective as I can though, ensuring that I pick books that offer me the maximum of enjoyment when I read them. Still though, I often wade though stinker after stinker before I hit on one I really like. But man, I started getting nervous after I'd read the third in a row - there is no way my luck could continue.

Yet it did.

It started with a new book by Paul Davies, I heard about it from one of the blogs I follow (Mish Sci-fi Musings if you must know) and just had to get it.  It offers us another look at the Fermi Paradox. Damn, I'm a sucker for anything that offers any sort of hope of letting me believe what I want to regarding intelligent life in the universe that at the same time has the ring of intellectual honesty.

I've read pretty extensively on the subject and can say that I've heard most of the credible ideas that are out there on the topic. The conundrum that the author is pondering in this book is this: We've been actively listening to the cosmos for 50 years now looking for any sign of Aliens and so far have nothing to show for it. Nada.

Why this is a paradox at all might strike some as odd, but if intelligence arises at all in the galaxy and said intelligence begins to explore, it is inevitable that the universe should be literally bursting at the seams with colonized planets and intergalactic civilizations. So where is everybody?

This is simply the best book on the subject I've ever come across. The author's conclusion is somewhat shocking to me - I won't spoil it if any decide to read - but again, it just feels like he is being very honest here, not promoting an agenda. Highly recommended.

Stephen Baxter also released a new book, in the states at least, A sequel to last years Flood, this one entitled Ark. I don't know why I've always been so sucked into the novels that Stephen Baxter writes, but his stories speak to me in ways that few other works do. Even when I feel like he's not doing his best work, I cannot ever accuse him of not putting for something well thought out.

This novel tells the story of the abandonment of earth after an ecological disaster ruins our home. With the caveat of FTL thrown in, the rest of the story unfolds with what amounts to technology just barely ahead of what we have today being used to build a massive ship to shuttle the remnants of humanity to the stars.

And it's a great ride, one of the best novels I feel that I've read from Stephen Baxter in several years. At this point I'm unsure what his plans are for the future, but with his recent proclivity for writing trilogies and quadrilogies I'm assuming that more is coming. Nonetheless, this story is self contained and reading the previous novel isn't necessary to enjoy this one. Well done.

The next book I read may have been my favorite of the bunch, and I'm tempted to place it in a future top 10 list, but I'll hold off on that for now. It's too new to me and I need to let it percolate on it for a bit before I make any proclamations about its all time greatness for now.

Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson.
This is a literary novel disguised as SF. It's a bit short on action but awesome in almost every way imaginable. I fell so hard for the characters that I was horrified that the book had to end.

Imagine what would happen if all the stars went out. The moon, the planets, all gone. a generation of people born and living in a world where the night sky has nothing in it.

An ominous tale that has enigmatic aliens that are known only through their actions and nothing else. Their purposes aloof and unconcerned with the affairs of man.

God, this book was amazing.

So what of this 4th book? I'll have to let you know in the near future. But it too was a doozy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fan Art!

I wrote sometime last year about fan art and how I may try my hand at it one day. Well, I was inspired by the super cool opportunity that Scott Sigler is having as a design a logo contest for his upcoming book The Starter. The goal is to design a logo for one of the GFL football teams - a chance to win $50 and see my stuff in print. Too cool.

But alas, I'm a temperamental artist. My work ended up being unsuitable as a logo (they get reprinted very small, so they must look good when super teeny). So what I have now is a piece of fan art, for a fictional football team that plays an incredibly small role in the book I'm sure.

Nonetheless, here it is, my motivational poster for the New Rodina Astronauts:
*I did eventually submit a much lamer version of this for the contest.The rules said no gradients so I submitted a very flatly colored version.*