Octopus’s Garden or Spider’s Web

https://youtu.be/De1LCQvbqV4

If you had to choose between living in a world filled with hyper-intelligent spiders or one ruled by PhD level octopuses which would it be?

https://youtu.be/7912LZ_OPws

Would negotiating with arachnids be preferable to appealing to a mollusk’s better nature?

Why, you might ask, am I entertaining such thoughts?

I just finished Adrian Tchaikovsky’s, Children of Ruin, the sequel to his groundbreaking novel, Children of Time, that’s why.

Good sci-fi should force readers to contemplate the imponderables, to think beyond previously constructed boundaries, and Tchaikovsky has given me more to contemplate than my little brain can handle right now. My mind is blown, and that’s a good thing.

Peace, people.

Beetles and Spiders and Wasps. Oh My!

Studly Doright is tired of hearing me talk about the series of books I just finished reading, but I’m not through talking about them. That’s bad news for my readers, so feel free to tune out any time. If you enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy genres, though, you might want to stick around for just a minute or two.

The series in question is Adrian Tchaikovsky’s epic “Shadows of the Apt” told in ten novels and followed up in three, soon to be four, companion books of short stories.

The first book in the series, Empire in Black and Gold, introduces readers to a world in which humans have evolved not from apes, but from various insects, arachnids, mollusks, and other species. Their evolutionary process is relatively young, and some species are more evolved than others. Indeed, some humans, such as those evolved from beetles and wasps, are apt, in this case meaning that they understand mechanical processes and have developed machines similar to our automobiles and airplanes.

Other humans, or kinden, in this world cannot operate a simple doorknob. These species are inapt. Spider-kinden, moth-kinden, and butterfly-kinden fall into this category.

Individual members of each kinden develop arts inherited from their species. For example, wasp, bee, fly, and moth kinden can all fly. Some kinden have excellent night vision. Spider-kinden are adept at deception, and scorpion-kinden are fierce warriors.

I must admit that at the beginning I was somewhat put off by the kinden tag, but soon it seemed natural as the story and characters developed. And Tchaikovsky is a master at developing a universe of characters and juggling multiple story lines.

Without giving too much away, the wasp-kinden have grand plans to dominate the world, and it falls to a loose coalition of other kinden to attempt to prevent this from happening with varying degrees of success and failure. As one might imagine there are barriers to peaceful coexistence between the varied kinden. Prejudices against, and preconceived notions about different kinden make for delicate negotiations. There are traitors and spies, turncoats and heroes among all the kinden.

Tchaikovsky writes battle scenes that make one feel as if they are right there in the middle of the action, too. I’m not a particularly violence-prone person, but the author made me believe that I might be able to go toe to toe with a wasp, as long as I stayed beyond the range of his vicious sting.

I came to care about so many of these characters: Cheerwell Maker, a young beetle-kinden, and her uncle Stenwold,; Thalric, a conflicted wasp-kinden; and Taki, an amazing fly-kinden. My only complaint is that there aren’t more books in the series.

As I read “Shadows of the Apt” I couldn’t help but wonder which kinden I’d be. A purposeful beetle? Maybe. A sensual spider? Hardly. A graceful butterfly? Hahaha! A war-like wasp? Could be. Chances are, I’d be a slug; although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll have to read the series to discover why.

Peace, and happy reading, people.

Was it an Upgrade?

Earlier this week a friend on Facebook posted that he believed the new sci-fi film, Upgrade, was better than Solo. “Interesting,” I thought, and decided to do some research.

I’ve seen Solo twice now, so I bought a ticket for Upgrade, along with a gigantic pretzel and a large strawberry lemonade, and settled in for the movie. Counting me, there were six other folks at the 12:30 showing. I was the lone female representative in the place. I see a lot of sci-fi films on my own, so I’m used to carrying the flag for my gender.

After approximately 9 trillion trailers for upcoming films the feature attraction began. Right off the bat the movie caught my attention when the opening credits were spoken instead of projected onto the screen. Cool, eh?

The initial scenes are pleasant. The almost handsome protagonist, played by Logan Marshall-Green, is a throwback to an earlier era relative to the film’s setting. His character’s wife, portrayed by Melanie Vallejo, works for a firm specializing in cyborg-type prosthetics for wounded veterans. He’s old school, she’s new-fangled.

For once, the future doesn’t look like an apocalyptic nightmare. Cars are self-driving, homes are voice-controlled, and everyone seems well adjusted. I felt pleasantly surprised and eager for lots of upbeat future fun.

And then all hell breaks loose. There’s a bunch of slicing and dicing of human bodies with a boatload of blood to boot. I was NOT amused. I felt hoodwinked.

Now I know how Studly Doright felt when many years ago we tricked him into seeing Alien by telling him it was a lot like Star Wars. Hoodwinked, that’s how he felt. There’s no way in hell that Upgrade is a better film than Solo.

If I’d known in advance that the Australian director, Leigh Whannell, best known for his work on the first three Saw movies, also directed Upgrade I might have been better prepared for the gratuitous gore. As it was, I just felt ill, and as I’ve said before, hoodwinked.

Don’t see this:

See this:

Trust me.

Peace, people.

Almost a Review of “Children of Time”

Amazon periodically sends me suggestions for new books based on my reading history. Some of their book picks are hits; others are complete misses. My most recent purchase was a home run in the sci-fi genre.

Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky is riveting. The setting alternates between an ark ship from a dying planet earth and the green planet that the humans have targeted as their best hope for mankind’s survival.

Unbeknownst to the travelers, the planet has been seeded with a nanovirus by much earlier explorers from earth. Originally, the nanovirus was intended to mentally enhance a colony of monkeys from earth; however, the best laid plans of monkeys and men go awry and the nanovirus interacts with an entirely different species, several of them, in fact.

The trials and tribulations of the crew members on the ark ship, Gilgamesh, as they travel for thousands of years going in and out of suspension and awakening to new realities every few hundred years are fascinating. There are coups and crises, romances and disappointments among the humans trying to establish a new foothold on an alien world.

But even more intriguing is the nanovirus-triggered sentience in an unexpected alien species. I won’t give away the details, but I found myself rooting for these non-mammals in the epic, penultimate battle for survival. I want to go live on their extraordinary world.

If I had ten thumbs, I’d raise every one of them for this book. The author spins a great tale.

Peace, people!