All posts by pozz1

Future Reading

I was thinking (and avoiding doing other work) that it would be interesting, is nothing else, to get a thread going on SF books that people enjoyed and would like to recommend, or, books you hated and think others should avoid. Novels, novellas, short stories, comics, interesting and futuristic looking lines on a page, whatever, anything at all. I suppose I’ll start off with some good one’s I’ve read:

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. I picked it up when I thought I’d try to be clever and guess what might be required reading for this class before I got a hold of the actual reading list. It’s mostly a social commentary on a hypothetical society with one shifting and fluid sex, from the perspective of a mostly human, male, protagonist. Discussions of politics, religion, mental health. It’s hard to even explain the plot without recanting the entire story, but the world Le Guin builds is so concise and detailed, it’s easy to get lost in, much like a glacial, snowy wasteland.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark. It may as well be the dictionary definition of Hard SF. No real focus on characters, just a utilization of them as a vehicle in which to explore and attempt to understand a massive space craft that comes hurtling into our solar system. I recently found out that it’s actually the first book in a series, so the ending is just a little less frusterating.

The Avery Cates Series by Jeff Somers. I read all of these in a span of under two, very lazy weeks. It reads as close to an action movie as anything I’ve ever read before. The anti-hero lead is a basically a gun slinging thug that gets luckier than he should, and then incredibly unlucky, constantly. It’s mainly an action focused, argueably cyberpunk narrative, though focused more on the grit and grime than the technology. Guns blazing and questionable decisions, cults, crime, apocalypse, it’s got a touch of everything, yet never comes across as forced.

What else out there is worth reading? The one’s I’ve posted for the most part are pretty well known. Anyone find a gem at a thrift store or your uncle’s garage that was totally awesome? Here an interesting story about republican reptile aliens on the bus? Throw ’em out there.

Science Fiction in Music.

Science Fiction as a lyrical inspiration in music is surprisingly common, and in the vast majority of music it appears in, is totally awesome. I’m definitely a music nerd, but more the classic rock and heavy metal kind, and less the jazz/electronica/marching band/ royal conservatory kind. So this is my admittedly narrower perspective of SF in music.

Early emergence of SF as a theme included the very “spacey” 1971 Hawkwind album, “In Search of Space,” though mainly the B side alone is really more SF oriented, and overall had a more “spacey” sound than “spacey” lyrics. Even earlier, though perhaps less directly, are acts like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with “Third Stone from the Sun,” and even less directly, the early noise works of Pink Floyd‘s “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” and “A Saucerful of Secrets.” Where it really stars to pick up, is when Black Sabbath released “Paranoid” in 1970, kicking off the band’s love affair with SF from Ozzy, to Gillan (less so), to Ronnie James Dio (RIP), who focused mainly on admittedly pretty stream of consciousness fantasy lyrics in his solo career.

An extra special mention goes to Rush. In 1977, they released their 5th album, “A Farewell to Kings.” And, yeah, it has “Closer to the Heart” and “Cinderella Man” on it, but who really cares (well, a lot of people, really) when there’s an over 10 minute epic as the last track. “Cygnus X-1” is such an incredible song, I haven’t the words for it, really. It’s part of a two song epic, totalling over 28 minutes in length, but it’s Book 1, the “Farewell to Kings” song that is the really masterpiece here. I wish Rush could be this heavy all the time. When the song kicks back in at roughly the eight minute mark, I just want to tear everything apart.

The genre that SF I believe shines the brightest in, is metal. All kinds of metal. On metal-archives.com, a surprisingly concise directory of metal from all over the world, there are over 200 bands that have SF as a lyrical theme. Also, mild warning, most the bands I’m about to mention range from heavy, to really heavy, to incredibly heavy. I pretty much only know how to metal.

Judas Priest paints pictures of SF heroes in “Stained Glass” with the song “Exciter,” and in Painkiller with “Painkiller.” Albums like Sodom‘s “Tapping the Vein.” with lyrics from the perspective of a chemically enhanced solider. Bands that are completely submerged in science fiction, like Obscura, Beyond Creation, Origin, Stargazer, and B.C. band Archspire. More post-modern lyrical content, but still in the realm, are bands like Gorguts, or completely other-worldly bands like Portal, so Lovercraftian that is hurts, who use made-up, “evil sounding” words in later albums. This is barely a scratch on the surface of this incredibly vast topic. Got any other SF music suggestions?