5 January 2020

Thank The Maker: Decade

A new decade, a new lease on science fiction life - This is Girl's Guide to Sci-Fi, saying 'Hello' after an extended sabbatical from reading, living, writing science fiction.

A year of continuous detective novels interspersed with more of the same while satisfying in a safe, doldrums kind of way abruptly stopped when I wandered up to my third-floor bookcase, reached around the towering stacks of Christies and come downstairs with my number one. ChapterHouse: Dune, Frank Herbert's 6th in his Dune series before his death continues to capture my interest whole-heartedly. Oddly, the 6th is not regarded as his best work with many Dune readers unable to hurtle past the behemoth that is God Emperor of Dune. Does a reader need to like the protagonist to enjoy a book? A fair question, especially if you are going to delve into the Dune-Universe, move past Muad'Dib to discover and equally hate the true destroyer/saviour of humanity, his son Leto II.   

But this isn't a discussion of my darling Dune - this is the relaunch of Girl's Guide to Sci-Fi.

I feel reborn having turned the crackly, brittle pages of my 25-year-old copy of Chapterhouse: Dune. By 2018, I had burnt out on sci-fi, especially the American slant that peppers annual bestseller lists and award ceremonies. On the hunt for new perspectives on old tropes, my interest waned as sci-fi became more a chore and less a joy. Combine a return to work after four years of stay-at-home-Mom life, there was little time to write, to research, to read, to be a geek.

Science Fiction ignites my imagination, challenges me to alter my perspective, to expound on life, to be fully present in my reading journey. With 2020, and a small stack of sci-fi books waiting on my bedside table, I feel a return to myself. I am reader, a geeky science fiction nerd who has returned to herself. 

The final question of course is, what book launched this new decade of science fiction reading? Just an epic little poetic love story This Is How You Lose The Time War that has me befuddled with it's beautiful madness. 


19 August 2018

Lemonade Easy: A Review of Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells

It's early - the sun having risen hours before still looms lightly in the sky, casting a waning summer glow to the trees beyond my windowpane. The house sleeps around me while I quietly sip my coffee, glancing to the splayed edition of the next Murderbot chronicle. There is something about summer reading that catches my eye - the books need to be quick, something I can plunge in and out from without distraction. Summer is my mental cleansing months - reading becomes a purely pleasurable experience reliant on whodunits and easy sci-fi. Sure, there was that intense moment when I drank up the The Three Body Problem, flailing in the deep end of conjecture and wonder, but mostly my summer has been lemonade-accompanied easy-reading. 

Rogue Protocol, third in The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells has our favourite anti-social, soap-opera loving SecUnit in mid-transport trying to hitch the right ride to Milu system. Having successfully hacked its system, living beyond the confines of a SecUnit's strict protocols, Murderbot had, for a brief period been living the rogue life - performing security for Company contracts, all while being a willing sentient individual with a heart. Constructs, SecUnits live outside humanity acting as the boogieman, the scary enforcer who will keep you safe, killing when necessary. Owned and operated by large corporations, SecUnits are treated as property, controlled by software to ensure public safety but more accurately the corporate bottom line. 
In the first novella, All Systems Red, Murderbot inadvertently entangles itself with a group of scientists who are meant never to leave off-planet alive. To save the team and itself, Murderbot casts off it's mask of indenture, so beginning it's crusade for justice against GrayCris.

I am having a whoop of good time following this slightly depressed, socially awkward cyborg reluctantly embrace its humanity. Will Murderbot find closure by slowly peeling away its layers of discontent and sadness? Martha Wells has captured the unique dilemma of a creature not quite human but very much a part of humanity. Although Murderbot has enjoyed endless hours stuffed into cargo holds, watching hours of streamed entertainment it is becoming more obvious this is more a coping strategy rather than a life-choice. When he meets a Bot named Miki whose child-like innocence reveals a touching relationship of trust with it's human owner, Murderbot is overwhelmed with a complex mixture of anger and longing. 

The Murderbot Diaries unpack the psychological complexity of the reluctant hero. Remarkably it is the relationships with the operating systems of elevators, ships, drones, cameras and the varying models of Bots that bring life to these novellas. There is something quite delightful about a Ship so bored by its massive intellect that it force friendship's Murderbot into entertaining it as it successfully instructs Murderbot how to be less scary. 

While the future of The Murderbot Diaries is seemingly far from our present day there are elements that ring true. That smart fridge in your kitchen that pings you with milk expiration messages could very well be judging your dietary decisions. The future is much closer than we believe - be kind to our future robot overlords.

10 May 2018

Mothers: A thank you

The world is soft again. Newly born lime green leaves dance in the wind, giving vibrancy to the very air I breathe. I drink in the green, as I walk my boy to school, melancholy because he doesn't want to hold my hand. It's a bittersweet blessing, these days in which he claims his independence, his personal space, his instance of his very self. My husband and I worked parent hard to arrive at this moment, and yet all I want is to hold his hand all the way as we discuss red tulips, Pokémon cards all intermixed with deeper questions regarding friendship and trust.

He is my world and my world is walking to his future. How can these past eight years hold me hostage, keeping my heart beating at a faster pace, all-consumed by this child's bright blue eyes, his dark curly lashes. He is gorgeous, complicated. He has made me more compassionate, fierce. He draws out my best and my very worst. 

This is motherhood.

Books continue to be my nemesis this spring, I can't seen to catch the science fiction bug, preferring to read current "literature" that oozes human drama backlit sadly in Florida without a generational ship in sight. Without a book I feel slightly less than, similar to visions of my future motherhood-self wondering how I will survive when the little hugs, cuddles and quick handholds disappear completely. How does my mother bear it as she looks at me? Is she trying to capture an image of her baby from 46 years ago in the woman I am today? Do we as mothers ever stop looking for our babies? 

Under the guise of safety, I will grab his hand this Mother's Day as we slowly walk to our favourite second-hand bookstore. It is gloriously dusty with rising piles of fiction. The very hazardous leanings beg you to stay just a little longer, entice you to buy just one more book. We will meet his Dad in the park to play soccer as I sit on bench, bask in my motherhood and thank the stars for these past 8 years.