The SFFaudio Podcast #475 – READALONG: Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward

May 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #475 – Jesse, Paul Weimer and Maissa Bessada talk about Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward

Talked about on today’s show:
1980, hard science fiction, Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement, first contact, the surface of a neutron star, moving the idea Forward, 2016, Tantor Media, this is a terrific book, a Jesse book, big ideas, the human characters, the ideas of this book, how do you do biology on a neutron star, a civilization running much faster, the writing brought it down, the TV Tropes page, minor details like plot and character, very heavily written, really different aliens, a culture, a society, an arc of civilization, from the Stone Age to the Space Age, the religious subplot, forgive them they know not what they do, the Wikipedia entry, this isn’t a metaphor for us, I’m doing a little thing here, the sex scenes are hilariously interesting, all of my egg sacs, body-stiffening, touching all the sensitive parts, under their eyes, I haven’t drooled that way since I was an eggling, made of neutronium, the opposite of Star Trek, The Orville, Star Trek: Voyager, they surpass us, the way the cheela deal with the humans, a slow robot for fast humans, early culture and early problems, visiting H.G. Wells’ writing career, the hominids, cave man society, cave cheela, inventing math, seeing how you can get from there to here, agrarian farming, the tasting plates, knots, the 2001: A Space Odyssey moment, Thus Spake Zarathustra, putting on a book like a new pair of pants, in the constellation of Draco, 30au, more poignant now, giving up on the space program, set in 2020-2050, the Soviet Union, neither government is willing to spend the money, a spacefaring civilization, an old relic of a book, a big dumb object, how the cheela perceive reality, this is amazing!, magnetic lines, the hard direction, bootstrapping that, seeds, full of idea science fiction, what I want from my science fiction, slowing down, let it wash over you, hard to understand, carrying a slide-rule around while you listen, problems that need solving, trusting Forward’s math, getting the gist, loving science, not about bullshitting, why they would visit the neutron star, mechanically putting the plot together, delivering the ideas, “a textbook on neutron star physics disguised as a novel”, monopole technology, a theoretical concept, handy for Larry Niven novels, Infocom’s Starcross, mining monopoles, what are monopoles?, regular matter, 80s novels, generating monopoles from monopoles, nuclear fusion, if we had a hammer…, a bonanza of hard science fiction and medium soft medium hard sf boiling around in the 1980s, space opera, napoleonic war in space, technologies, math is a kind of technology, James Burke’s Connections, the creation and invention of tools, how the airplane got made, streamline the parts, a made up rhyming history of our technology, dismissing new tech that is unuseful now (is a mistake), blockchain technology, valuable properties, cryptocurrency, inventing or discovering an element or a property, wait 50 years, when you’re zipping through time, million times faster, turns, a guy with a sword, Maissa got knocked out, knocky, no leftover sexism, predominantly female, failed tyrant queen, immortality by vegetation, barracks emperors, megalomaniac, kill all the scientists if they fail, eating their dead, they’re not humans, Soother separating her eggs from the others, Pink Eyes, a religious conversion, out in the desert for 40 turns, laugh out loud moments, the antics of these tiny cute weird creatures, nobody’s getting married, their culture is based on their biology, their biology is based on their chemistry, their chemistry is based on their physics, minimal ecosystem, Flatland: A Roamance Of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbot, afraid of math, written by A Square, invasion, straight lines are females, invasion literature, a Cosmos episode, The Orville, our world is shaped like an egg, having a ball, real worldbuilding, long rectangular lines, big and sticky, Eric Rabkin, thousand, why is the world named mescaline?, a math book, what beings would have to be like at the surface level, a thousand times faster, slow as in stupid, turning up the speed, 1.5 times speed, gear up (with a lot of coffee) operating at a higher speed, certain countries, the day seems to go longer, we are able to operate at a higher speed, Luke Burrage’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, getting certain things done, running around naked, crystalline vegetable matter, they don’t have oral communication at all, tremor sense, marching up the hill, give your peace cry, don’t get punctured by a woman, how would this work?, no wheels, a game of Civilization, many barbarians to conquer, sad news, curing breast cancer, flood her with x-rays, Robert L. Forward died of cancer, you don’t need a sequel, we didn’t need that, planting little clues, “here read this!”, no Prime Directive, Machiavelli, Napoleon, just a phase, Larry Niven, Lucifer’s Hammer, Lester Del Rey, Isaac Asimov, Charles Sheffield, John Campbell would have loved it, Frank Herbert, more interested in ideas than anything else, let’s go on another adventure with the serial numbers filed off, the same but different, psychological thrillers, the fan of real science will love a book like this, narrator Todd McClaren, funny and hilarious, very sexy grains of sand that want to be sandwiched, Downpour.com, I really like Dragon’s Egg, take a book and pass it to your friend and they like it, the joys of an author and their work, I need more rubles for computer time, a good mix of people, pretty cute tuckerizing, more messed up, if a neutron star entered the solar system, robot space probes, no Hoffmann transfer orbits, all Greek?, anecdotal scenes, superconductivity, this is a vacuum, aerospace physicists, extracting electrical energy from the vacuum by cohesion of charged foliated conductors, Hendrik Casimir, the Casimir effect, quantum vacuum fluctuations, getting energy from nothing, free energy from reality, as we go…, spending money, dropping more dumb bombs, never look forward, seeing more clearly when you look backwards, why were we so obsessed with that thing at that time, what’s this like?, kind of silly, energy levels, regenerating, wish fulfillment, seeing changes in its society, Olaf Stapledon, blowing along through geologic time, struggling against, they’re vegetables?!, god hand-wavy world creation, how to get the kind of brains we have, advancing when going in the hard direction, we have overcome to advance, I’m not getting this, cuneiform accounting a brilliant book.

Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward, 1980

Tantor Media - Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Aftermath by Charles Sheffield

October 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

AftermathAftermath (The Supernova Alpha Series #1)
By Charles Sheffield; Read by Gary Dikeos
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 1 February 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 19.8 hours

Themes: / supernova / catastrophe / EMP / cults / cancer patients / Mars /

Publisher summary:

It’s 2026, and catastrophe has struck from an unexpected source. The Alpha Centauri supernova has risen like a second sun, rushing Earth toward its last summer. Floods, fires, starvation, and disease paralyze the planet. In a blue aurora flash of gamma rays, all microchips worldwide are destroyed, leaving an already devastated Earth without communications, transportation, weaponry, or medicine.

The disaster sets three groups of survivors on separate quests. A militant cult seizes the opportunity to free their leader, known as the Eye of God, from the long-term coma to which a court sentenced her. Three cancer patients also search for a man in judicial sleep: the brilliant scientist—and monstrous criminal—who alone can continue the experimental treatment that keeps them alive. From a far greater distance come the survivors of the first manned Mars expedition, struggling homeward to a world that has changed far beyond their darkest fears. And standing at the crossroads is one man, US President Saul Steinmetz, who faces a crucial decision that will affect the fate of his own people—and the world.

Aftermath, the first in a rather ambitious post-disaster series by Charles Sheffield, follows multiple interwoven plot lines which follow characters from several walks of life after a supernova has wreaked havoc on Earth. Ever wanted to know what might happen to the President in a worldwide disaster situation? How about astronauts scheduled for re-entry or cancer patients undergoing experimental treatment or violent criminals awoken from a deep sleep? Well, you might be surprised by how boring the answers are.

This book is spectacularly average in every way. There are a plethora of characters, all equally shallow and generic in their own way, and none of who provide any sort of emotional grounding for the reader. President Steinmetz seems to be the least capable leader possible in the event of a national crisis since his primary concern is whether he should hook up with his ex-girlfriend or a sexy low-level white house worker. Cancer patients Art and Dana are just some average, down home, relatable folks who decide that releasing a psychopathic serial killer is completely acceptable as long as he can keep them alive for a few more years. Even the journal entries of the serial killer felt somewhat pedantic and boring. Sheffield makes an admirable attempt at providing ethnic, age and class variety in his characters but in the end, it’s pretty obvious they were all written by the same man.

Nevertheless, the plot keeps trucking along at a slow but steady pace. It’s overly long with lots of scientific jargon thrown in for good measure. However, it feels a lot like a watered down version of bigger and better apocalyptic literature (although if it leaves most of the government’s infrastructure in place, it’s not much of an apocalypse). Most of the plot lines lack a climax and the ending seems like it arrives at an arbitrary point but in all honesty, by that time I was just grateful this nearly 20 hour audiobook had an ending. Even an emergency astronaut landing and a crazed cult fail to make things more exciting.

Gary Dikeos matches the book in being a spectacularly average narrator. It’s certainly not inspired but, in spite of a particularly annoying voice for the president, it’s a serviceable reading. This is a book I would only recommend to hardcore post-apocalypse aficionados, since there are far better examples of the genre to keep everyone else occupied.

Posted by Rose D.

***NOTE*** Because of the CBC strike, these links …

September 9, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

***NOTE***
Because of the CBC strike, these links aren’t working. Sorry! I’ll post an update when things are cleared up. –sd

Quirks And Quarks, CBC Radio’s excellent and long running Saturday afternoon science program is not only a great source of science news – it’s also a great Science Fiction resource! The show’s host, Bob McDonald, has even narrated an SF novel and is obviously a fan of both science and Science Fiction.

Every week, the program presents the people behind the latest discoveries in the physical and natural sciences, from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest objects in the sky and everything in between. The program also examines the political, social, environmental and ethical implications of new developments in science and technology. And now Quirks And Quarks has also got into podcasting too! Show segments are available in MP3 format for FREE!

Here’s a list of links to show segments that deal with
Science Fiction concepts:

Multiple Worlds & Parallel Universes (April 16, 2005)
LINK: http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/media/2004-2005/mp3/qq-2005-04-16a.mp3

Telepathy (November 20, 2004)
LINK: http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/media/2004-2005/mp3/qq-2004-11-20a.mp3

First Contact (March 9, 2002)
With SF writer Robert J. Sawyer
LINK to Part 1:
http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/archives/01-02/mp3/qq090302a.mp3

LINK to Part 2:
http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/archives/01-02/mp3/qq090302b.mp3

Settling The Stars (February 23, 2002)
With SF writers Joe Haldeman, Charles Sheffield and
Geoffrey Landis
LINK: http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/archives/01-02/mp3/qq230202a.mp3

Terraforming Mars (May 12, 2001)
LINK: http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/archives/00-01/mp3/qq120501a.mp3