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Tag Archive for ‘science fiction’

A superb tale of a future where artificial intelligence rules

This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Centuries in the future, the people of Earth live under the control of an artificial intelligence called UniComp. A century and a half earlier, the computers governing the five continents had come together in the Unification. The result was a worldwide society free of… Read More ›

24 compelling dystopian novels

Dystopian novels figure prominently in the work of some of the world’s best science fiction writers. With Donald Trump in the White House, and an increasingly fearful public contemplating the possibility of disastrous consequences from his erratic behavior, dystopian novels such as 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale have crept back onto the bestseller lists. Lately… Read More ›

Overpopulation in fiction and on film

Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison @@@ (3 out of 5) In 1973, American filmgoers were shocked by a film entitled Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston and Leigh Taylor-Young. The film depicts New York City in 2022 with a population of 40 million. The streets are crowded with homeless people, but those few with… Read More ›

A terrifying vision of the future in an award-winning young adult novel

Feed, by M. T. Anderson @@@@@ (5 out of 5) M. T. Anderson’s award-winning novel, Feed, is one of the scariest books I’ve read in many years (and it was written for teenagers!). Yet the terror it evokes emerges only slowly, as Anderson reveals, chapter by chapter, additional details that demonstrate the hopelessness of the… Read More ›

Kurt Vonnegut’s classic warning about automation

Player Piano: A Novel, by Kurt Vonnegut @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Kurt Vonnegut was never willing to concede that he wrote science fiction. Though it’s difficult to read his work without drawing that conclusion anyway, his many novels could also be considered as social commentary. Biting commentary, at that. A pessimistic view of the… Read More ›

Dystopian fiction: 14 standalone novels

Note: I posted this commentary in error on April 3, 2017. It’s incomplete. I’ll repost at a later date once I’ve completed it. Dystopian fiction figures prominently in the work of some of the world’s best science fiction writers. With Donald Trump in the White House, and an increasingly fearful public contemplating the possibility of… Read More ›

The book behind the film “Blade Runner”

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick @@@ (3 out of 5) Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is regarded as one of the most outstanding science fiction films ever made. The film was released 35 years ago, in 1982. Google its title, and you’re likely to come across the following description: “Deckard (Harrison… Read More ›

Will robots run amok?

Thinking Machines: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence and Where It’s Taking Us Next, by Luke Dormehl @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Driverless cars, for sure. But pilotless airplanes? Machines that will replace doctors and corporate managers? And robots that can out-think the most brilliant human? The popular term “robots“—first used in a Czech science fiction… Read More ›

Reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” in the Age of Trump

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood @@@@@ (5 out of 5) In a front-page essay in The New York Times Book Review for March 19, 2017, Margaret Atwood reflects on writing her science fiction classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. “Back in 1984,” she notes, “the main premise seemed—even to me—fairly outrageous. Would I be able to… Read More ›

The exciting second book in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga #2), by Lois McMaster Bujold @@@@ (4 out of 5) Commander Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony is leading a scientific study team on an unnamed planet when she and a colleague become separated from the rest of the team. They witness their planetary shuttle taking off in the distance, only… Read More ›