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Celebration SF Genres

There is one thing you can be sure of, modern science fiction gives us plenty of choice to choose from when it comes to sub-genre. Of course, it all depends on who you speak to about what may, or may not, make it onto the list but, for arguments sake, here are a few of what makes it onto my list:

  • Alien Invasion
  • A. I. (Artificial Intelligence | Nano Tech | Virtual)
  • Colonisation (also: Terraforming)
  • Dystopian
  • First Contact
  • Galactic Empire
  • Generational Ships
  • Military SF
  • Near Future
  • Parallel Universes
  • Post Apocalypse
  • Robots & Androids (see also AI above)
  • Space Exploration
  • Space Opera
  • Time Travel
  • Utopian

Of these, I think I dislike time travel the most, while on the flip side, one of my favourites is military SF. But what is it about one that I dislike, and what is it about the other, that I like? Well, I thought you would never ask.

Time travel, by its very nature is, for me at least, problematic from the get go. But let’s make it clear, for us, as humans, and I have read a great deal of scientific data, nothing, but nothing has convinced me that we can, as complex physical structures, travel either forward in time, or backward.

Two reasons pop up straight away.

  1. The nature of time itself, and
  2. Size matters

While it’s theoretically possible that matter, at the atomic and subatomic level, might be transmitted forward and backwards and, quite possible is (for all we know), when you scale up to human size complex creatures, you hit all sorts of barriers. And, without going into all the nitty gritty details (and giving a lecture) I cannot see us ‘flipping’ from one time to another, anymore than we could jump from point A to point B—whether it is through a wormhole as in the movie, Interstellar or otherwise.

And don’t get me started on the lovely idea of transporters, as in Star Trek—which is also, in its own way, a form of time travel. Definitely a topic I might take up in a post, one day.

But back to sub-genre, and my fav sub-genre: military SF.

Now, anyone who knows me, and knows me well, will know just how much I love a good military SF read. It might be the fact I come from a military family, and my own background is several years service, or it could be how military SF is structured, the framework that is familiar and usually, action-packed too. Given that a great deal is either first contact, alien invasion of one sort or another, wars between worlds or empires, or war full stop.

It usually entails one or a more characters like Juan ‘Johnny’ Rico in Robert Heinlein’s classic, Starship Troopers, joining up to do their civic duty, earn citizenship, and fight aliens on some distant planet. Or like the fresh-faced Lieutenant Jander Mortas, in Glory Main by Henry V. O’Neil, in which he’s marooned on an alien battlefield teaming up with other survivors in order to figure a way to get off planet, alive. Or, taking a slightly different approach, as in my recent read, Planetside by Michael Mammay, in which an all but retired Colonel is asked to do one last so-called simple investigation for a missing lieutenant, on a hostile planet.

There are some excellent choices to choose from—and no, this is not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination, just some suggestions to get you going:

  • WAR OF THE WORLDS (1898) H. G. Wells
  • STARSHIP TROOPERS (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • DORSAI (1959) Gordon R. Dickson
  • THE FOREVER WAR (1974) by Joe Haldeman
  • HAMMER’S SLAMMERS (1979) by David Drake
  • RIMRUNNERS (1989) by C.J. Cherryh
  • ON BASILISK STATION (1993) by David Weber
  • A HYMN BEFORE BATTLE (2000) by John Ringo
  • VALOR’S CHOICE (2000) by Tanya Huff
  • TRADING IN DANGER (2003) by Elizabeth Moon
  • MUTINEER (2004) by Mike Moscoe
  • OLD MAN’S WAR (2005)  by John Scalzi
  • GLORY MAIN (2012) by Henry V. O’Neil
  • VELOCITY WEAPON (2019) by Megan E. O’Keefe
  • PLANETSIDE (2019) by Michael Mammay

All very different kinds of military SF. And yes, women do write military SF just in case you didn’t know already. Anyway, I hope you decide to try at least one of the suggested books, or find something among the myriad books available, that you’ll like. And, of course, let me know what your favourite SF sub-genre is, if any.

5 Well-Executed Murder-Mysteries

Everybody who reads murder-mysteries probably has their favourite books as well as their favourite go-to authors. Well, today I want to share with you 5 of my top favourites.

THE ART OF DETECTION by Laurie R. King

The last book in the Kate Martinelli series, this one was a fun read because King has Kate and her partner, Al Hawkin, on the trail of a killer who may have trained with the greatest detective of them all, Sherlock, yes … Sherlock Holmes! 

“Kate Martinelli has seen her share of peculiar things as a San Francisco cop, but never anything quite like this: an ornate Victorian sitting room straight out of a Sherlock Holmes story–complete with violin, tobacco-filled Persian slipper, and gunshots in the wallpaper that spell out the initials of the late queen.

Philip Gilbert was a true Holmes fanatic, from his antiquated décor to his vintage wardrobe. And no mere fan of fiction’s great detective, but a leading expert with a collection of priceless memorabilia that some would kill for.

And perhaps someone did: In his collection is a century-old manuscript purportedly written by Holmes himself–a manuscript that eerily echoes details of Gilbert’s own murder.”

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TV Binge #1

Last weekend we found ourselves in our local Walmart looking for lightbulbs, and while there, I thought to check out the DVD section. In hope, as you do. And was delighted to find a clutch of Oscar-nominated DVDs at bargain prices.

We ended up buying Dunkirk, Lady Bird, Murder on the Orient Express and 3 Billboards, plus the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons, because, why not, we’d already watched season 1 a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the Florentine romp.

This meant binge watching season 2 and watching Da Vinci strut his stuff. Ably aided by the same cast of characters from the first season. Only this time, we took a rather curious undocumented journey to the New World, and Machu Picchu, in search of the fabled Book of Leaves. And who’s to say whether or not Da Vinci ever found his merry way either across nearly all of South America, through the Amazon jungle, to Peru … or whether or not his tiny ship made it around the Cape and up the coast, and found Peru that way. 

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War of the Worlds

Based on: H.G. Wells novel of the same name
Produced: Urban Myth Films, StudioCanal+, UK/FR Coproduction
Written: Howard Overman

Starring: Gabriel Byrne | Elizabeth McGovern | Lea Drucker | Adel Bencherif | Emilie de Pressac | Natasha Little | Daisy Edgar-Jones | Ty Tennant | Bayo Gbadamosi | Stephen Campbell Moore | Stephane Caillard | Aaron Heffeman

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Top 10 SciFi TV Shows

Following on from my Top Ten favourite SciFi movies, it’s time to do my favourite SF TV shows. And just like choosing just ten movies, choosing just ten TV shows is still difficult, whether that’s from the pool available for the last two or three decades, or the last just the last five.

1. THE EXPANSE — without a doubt, this has to be my all-time favourite science fiction TV drama, ever. And I doubt another show will come along any time soon, to knock it off top spot. The reason being, is not just the excellent action but the show’s dedication to quality. From scripts, story lines, and top notch acting, through to the amazing CGI, and detail put into the cinematography. Every damn episode is like a mini movie. And who doesn’t adore Christjen Avasarala?

2. MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. — again, like The Expanse, Agents of SHIELD has been afforded top notch writing, excellent acting, and a budget most can only dream of. We have come to love the characters just as deeply as those on The Expanse. Well, I have. The dynamic between actors shows up on screen, and makes all the difference with each and every episode. Whether it’s selling an idea, or concept, to the believability of what we see on screen. Agents of SHIELD delivers every time.

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