by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
reviewed by David Bischoff
Sometime in the early 50’s Arthur C. Clarke wrote a story that appeared in WORLDS OF IF. In the story a huge spacecraft is discovered in our Solar System, approaching Earth. In the 1970’s, not far from his triumphant work with Stanley Kubrick on 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY, Clarke expanded the idea into a novel called RENDEVOUS WITH RAMA. A very High Concept indeed, and fraught with mystery. What is in this huge ship, ask Earth’s spacemen of the future. Let’s go check it out!
In 1981, Thomas F. Monteleone and I borrowed the idea — and populated the Big Dumb Object (thanks Greg Benford) with dinosaurs for DAY OF THE DRAGONSTAR, the first of a trilogy. Now, after many Big Dumb Objects in science fiction, we’ve got something special. Here’s a Big Dumb Object coming toward Earth very similar to the one in RAMA, in our very near future. But the astronauts who go out to check it out discover not dinos inside but…
LOST! And to good effect. LOST, of course, is the epic TV series taking a TWILIGHT ZONE sort of concept and stretching it season after season. It created a fascinating web of plots and characters with mystery after mystery begging answers… finally choosing to melt into an ooze of emotionally satisfying resolution for all the characters, but few satisfying answers to the puzzle posed by the plot.
HEAVEN’S SHADOW is the name of the first of a three book series by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt. It’s a convincing near-future novel (particularly in the astronautics division) that slowly steers us from Tom Clancy air space, through Clarke and LOST, straight into a series of events that read like a superb novelization of an excellent television series.
Oh yes, and with a fascinating detour through Stanislaw Lem’s SOLARIS.
You see, what our heroes find on the Keanu (name of Big Dumb Object) are resurrections of dead loved ones.
The most fun for me was that for all the high tech and start of the art terminology, this book eventually becomes a wonderful old fashioned science fiction adventure with an SF theme ringing back far before Arthur C. Clarke.
HEAVEN’S GATE is a page turning SF thriller of the best kind. Engrossing, stimulating — and with an ending that promises greater mysteries and surprises to come.
Posted in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi
Tagged Arthur C. Clarke, Book review, book reviews, Books, books and writers, David Bischoff, David S. Goyer, DRAGONSTAR, Michael Cassutt, Sci-Fi, Science Fiction, Stanley Kubrick
ON SOME BOOKS BY J. G. BALLARD
by Chris Lampton
from his WordPress site 52Books52.wordpress.com
For some reason, in the 1950s through the 1970s, British science fiction writers became obsessed with the idea of global disaster and wrote novel after novel in which the entire human race falls victim to some horrible shift in the balance of nature. I suppose one could argue that this trend really began with the 1906 H.G. Wells novel In the Days of the Comet, where mysterious gases from a comet’s tail put everyone on earth to sleep for three hours, or even his 1898 The War of the Worlds, where England is devastated by a Martian invasion, but the movement got underway in earnest with John Wyndham’s 1951 The Day of the Triffids, where not only does everyone on earth go blind from meteor light but the planet is simultaneously invaded by sentient plant life. It was as though Wyndham wanted to combine the two Wells novels into a disaster two-fer, with the invaders and the comet conspiring together to end civilization. And then there was John Christopher’s 1956 No Blade of Grass (AKA The Death of Grass), about global famine, and John Brunner’s one-two ecological punch of Stand on Zanzibar (1968) andThe Sheep Look Up (1972), where the earth is devastated by overpopulation and pollution, respectively. (One could also argue that this trend in British SF has never really ended and that P.D. James’ 1992 The Children of Menbelongs to it as well.)
No writer, British or otherwise, has ever become quite so obsessed with the disaster novel as James Graham (J.G.) Ballard. These days the late Mr. Ballard is better remembered for his 1973 flight of surrealism Crash, about people with a sexual fetish for automobile accidents (made into a 1996 movie by David Cronenberg, not to be confused with the 2004 Academy-Award-winning Crash by Paul Haggis), and his semi-fictionalized autobiographyEmpire of the Sun, made into a film by Stephen Spielberg with the young Christian Bale as the teenage Ballard’s avatar. He also became part of the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 70s, based around the British short story magazine New Worlds, where a group of young writers, both British and American, tried to demonstrate that science fiction could be a form ofavant-garde literature, a movement that eventually died but that immeasurably elevated the writing level of most science fiction that followed even as Star Wars was trying to dumb it back down. However, his writing career began in 1961 with the apocalyptic science fiction novel The Wind from Nowhere, which was followed by three more remarkably similar works of apocalyptic science fiction. It was almost as though Ballard were trying to write the same novel over and over again until he finally got it right. I read the first of these when I was in high school and found it enjoyable, but the other three sat on my shelf in their original paperback editions unread for many years. I finally decided to simply read all four in one long session to see just what the hell Ballard had been up to.
REST OF ESSAY CONTINUED
Posted in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, Science Fiction, Writing
Tagged Book review, book reviews, Books, books and writers, Check it out, Climate, Climate Change, Environment, Global Warming, New Wave, New Wave Science Fiction, Science, Science Fiction, Thriller Fiction Review
My name is David Bischoff and I’ve been a science fiction and fantasy writer for over 30 years. the market is always changing, and to address fan interest in my work more freely, I’ll be sharing all sorts of great things here on WordPress. Bear with me though, this blog is under total re-construction. Would appreciate any comments you have as it takes shape. And stay tuned for more updates.