28 August 2013

Epic: A Review of Primary Inversion, Catherine Asaro

There are times when tunage is a necessary means by which to ground oneself to a task. Think of the countless nights you dosed yourself in songs in the desperate hope of passing philosophy 101, the bane of your second-year undergrad requirement for your B.A. in Anthro.   Now flash forward to today where you sit at your desk, looking all grown-up while blasting top 40 pop through your earphones in an attempt to drown-out your colleagues continuous verbal mumbo-jumbo while you pretend to write your monthly report but instead, are actively blogging.This cannot just be my life? 

What does the Powerpuff Girls', "Heroes and Villains" soundtrack (Japanese re-mix) and Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro have in common? Beyond the obvious fact that both seem to give off a sparkly pink aura, they sync perfectly in my brain as I attempt to write an objective review of the first book in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. In case you missed the innuendo, this review will in no way be objective.  

I came across the Skolian Empire saga through the recommendation of one of my all-time favourite bloggers, Emma Epps. Check her blog out, she is cool. She gave me the confidence to keep writing away and chucking it out to the world, showcasing my true level of geekdom. (which I must say is not that high, having just attended Fan Expo 2013 Toronto and witnessed some epic nerd tendencies). Like everything I will review now, this book is space opera.  What you say? Hey, I warned you guys in my ode to Popsicles that I was going full-out bat-shit crazy on this sub-genre and bat-shit crazy I go.  
This book is awesome. It was a pleasure to read a romantically-infused character driven plot with some edge. The Skolian Empire is not a nice place to live. Two empires continue a generational war that appears will never cease especially with the Eubian's genetics dictating a need to inflect pain and fear on the Skolians to find sexual and emotional completeness.  Things tend to get a little nasty at times.

Asaro is not the best world-builder I have read (Herbert, Banks, Bujold, Tolkien) but she does have a firm hold of the ideas, theology and sociological norms in Primary Inversion (book 2, not so much) that bind her universe together. Plus, she does not shirk from science, delving into some pretty deep concepts making at times the book seem hard SF. I should emphasis "at times" because the Skolians survive from their telepathic abilities, which is the key to their power. While the Eubian's rule thanks to their superior tech, the Skolian's success is hinged on their control of a telepathic web-interface allowing for immediate communication response through space (this is important and currently impossible).  

To summarize, there is sex, there is romance, there is war, there is pain, there is slavery, and there is telepathy which all makes for one well-rounded space book.  

21 August 2013


In April, the SF world learnt and subsequently tried to fathom that one of this century's prolific writers would be leaving us. Iain Banks passed away on June 9th leaving me feeling more frustrated than sad. Odd reaction I admit, but Iain's death left me feeling regretful. 

Having questioned myself (mostly silently, but can't swear on that. Side note - I caught myself bobbing my head up and down, whispering yup yup yup at ice-cream in the grocery aisle yesterday.) I arrived at a few reasons for my feelings of frustration. The first seems obvious, it took Iain's announcement of his terminal illness for me to spotlight  his books.   He has been around in the SF scene for quite some time and it is really shameful of me not to have read at least one of his books by now. 

True, I have been busy, but really, of all people, I should have read at least ONE book.  With regret comes lose, which in tern leads to the unproductive "what would have been" daydreaming. I am in a loop of what if's, unable to shake the thought that if only Kage Baker, and sigh, Frank Herbert were still with us,  I could be reading more super awesome stories. Just pondering on this makes my heart hurt.  Just think, the debacles of the new "Dune" series of books would not exist and we all would have on our bookshelves FRANK HERBERT penned new Dune books. You know, I have to lie down for a moment and compose myself.

Yes, everyone does die; spare me the comments of advice to pick up The Tibetan Book of the Dead (own it, just haven't read it yet). I might live in a rosy coloured bubble comprised of sitting on park benches and eating Popsicles but I do comprehend that we die.  I get that, I do.  What I am struggling with is that I have been a shit reader and realize through Mr. Banks passing of how many books I need to get to.(There must be some way I can get some type of "reading" grant that would free me up from my job.)

I am often told (yes, by my mother) that I should write a book.  To be frank, it is of no interest to me. Sure, I like doing this thing but the thought, care, frustration, tears and stubbornness needed to write a book is out of my scope of abilities (Dune Mommy is tired,  yo). Anyway, I LOVE being a reader.  My contentment of being the audience to all those writers out there is work.  With this in mind I leave you, I just finished Consider Phlebas, and am moving onto The Player of Games. And yes, they are awesome, and yes, expect a ridiculously amazing review in the near future and yes, I have no idea who Phlebas is nor why he should be considered.

13 August 2013

I Give It 5 Popsicles Out of 5

As the summer slowly passes into awesomeness, there are a few things that have become apparent to me. The first  is while I self-proclaim to be a winter baby, in fact I am a sun worshiper and will, if the glories orb of heat and light is beating down onto my deck, will slip into a Popsicle induced sun-coma, resulting in me forgetting anything that I was supposed to do that day, week and oh, look at that, month.  The second lesson from this awesummerness is my realization of how much I enjoy a Popsicle; so much that I am kind of a Popsicle pusher, stocking my freezer with delightful frozen water on a stick treats for anyone who wants one. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of takers so really the only who is benefiting from this is my little Dune Son who has learnt that cake at 8 in the morning is a big No but asking for a cold treat gets a completely different response.

Of course, you are wondering what the sweet bejeebus am I going on about as this is completely off topic from my SCIENCE FICTION blog that you have clicked to thinking you would in fact read about SCIENCE FICTION. Basically I am trying to say, while avoiding saying it, is that I have been a really crappy blogger these past few months but between the sun and the Popsicles, there was little to no chance of me being a prolific writer.

That being said, Popsicles and sun create amazing reading opportunities.  And so here I now sit, ready to share with you all those new books you need to go out and read if you want to continue to be my friend. See, it all works out. Care for a Popsicle, I've got rockets!  
Read SF, Join me!
Third lesson of this summer is of no surprise to anyone. My space operatic tendencies in book reading have moved into a full out addiction. I'm at a  point in my reading career (oh gawd, if ONLY someone would pay me to read books for a living) that I might have to pigeonhole myself into one awesome SF sub-genre, subsequently admitting that I am really trying to turn you all into operatic space nerds rather than SF geeks.   (What did she say?) If this is a shock to you, then you really need to pay attention more to my posts because my MOTHER (I am all into caps today and SHOUTING) has started to read science fiction and if my mother has turned to the nerd side, thanks to my aggressive bullying,  then you are soon to follow.  

With a Freezie in one hand (just as yummy just less drippy) and the other on my ratty copy of Dune, I pledge to start posting again.  Post frequency may decrease and my open mindedness to other sub-genres firmly closed but I am back and ready to take over the world, one space opera book at a time.  

But where is the review?  Next week, my friends, next week, or month.  I don't know, it looks really sunny out there.  Some