2019 pick&mix


A stand-alone science fiction book.

Publication year: 1895
Format: print
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1979
Finnish publisher: Kirjayhtymä
Page count for the Finnish translation: 120
Translator: Matti Kannosto

The Time Machine has two first-person narrators, both nameless but both male and at least relatively well-off. The story begins with the first narrator who comes to the house of the time traveler and meets other people there. The time traveler talks about traveling through time and the others think the whole idea is ridiculous. The people leave.

Later, the first narrator returns to the time traveler’s home and again meets other people and later the disheveled time traveler who tells the others about his journey to distant futures.

The traveler is so sure that the future will be good for humans that he doesn’t take any equipment with him. He just has a box of matches in his pocket but that’s all.

The time traveler tells about the year 802701 in the future where he first meets small, beautiful but not very smart humans. They live in deteriorating buildings and eat mostly fruit. They don’t work; instead their time is spent frolicking in meadows and rivers. But they fear the dark. Soon, the time traveler meets another race of small, ape-like people who live underground in darkness. He makes observations but also draws conclusions based on his own biases and expectations, as a wealthy man in Victorian England. Later, he briefly travels further in time to witness the end of Earth.

While the story has some exciting passages, it’s not really an adventure story. The traveler draws very intricate conclusions from small evidence. Also, he sees only a small part of the world and yet supposes that everywhere is the same.

The story doesn’t really have character development; in fact the future seems to confirm the traveler’s expectations and ideas, that strife and hardship are good for humans and if they’re done away with, the human race will degenerate.

This a perfect example of idea based story. It’s the first time travel story so Wells is focused on showing off his idea rather than on the story and characters. However, these days most, if not all, readers are already familiar with the concept so they expect more. The influence of the idea is, of course, great. It’s now an accepted part of not just science fiction books, but TV-shows, movies, comics, plays.

The story is available for free at Project Gutenberg as are all of H. G. Wells’ books.

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The second novella in the Murderbot Diaries SF series.

Publication year: 2018
Format: Audio
Running time: 3 hours 21 minutes
Narrator: Kevin R. Free

I enjoyed the first Murderbot story, All Systems Red, and I enjoyed the voice of the Murderbot just as much in this novella. We also get to see a bit more of the world.

The Murderbot is a security unit, an android with both mechanical parts and cloned biological parts. It’s designed for security on various sites and ships. What it hasn’t been designed for is interactions with humans and that makes it nervous. Because of an incident in the past where it (supposedly) killed lots of humans, it christened itself Murderbot. However, it has only a partial memory of that event so it has decided to go back to that planet and research what actually happened.

The Murderbot has left it’s human owner and former ally. It’s technically a rogue SecUnit but it’s trying to pass for an cybernetically augmented human. However, that’s not easy. When it finds a transport space ship which is going to the right planet, it hitches a ride. However, the transport doesn’t have a human crew, so the Artificial Intelligence of the transport is lonely and wants to interact with the Murderbot. Who just wants to be left alone and view its shows.

I enjoyed the first novella a lot and this was a great continuation. We get some more world-building because the ‘Bot is now outside and eventually forced to work with humans. It tries to minimize that as much as it can but don’t really succeed. It also forms a bond with the transport despite the fact that it calls it ART (Asshole Research Transport). The ‘Bot denies having feelings and yet it clearly has them: it cares for the humans when they’re under its care, it’s scared and anxious. I love that the bot doesn’t have gender. Bots that have sexual parts are called sexbots, or Comfort units. Murderbot doesn’t want to help humans because it’s in love with or attracted to any of them: it’s has been programmed to do so. Just like most humans.

A stand-alone tie-in book to the SF TV-show Firefly.

Publication year: 2018
Format: print
Publisher: Titan Books
Page count: 334

I’m a fan of the TV-show Firefly and when I heard about the new book, I was both anxious to get it and anxious to see if it could live up to the show. Well, it does! The book is aimed at existing fans because there are lots of references to various episodes. However, we also get some background info about the Tams and other stuff. I still recommend watching the show first and since we only got half a season, it’s quickly done. It’s set before the movie, in fact about middle into the season.

Serenity is on Persephone, getting some repairs and a shady contract from Badger, the local crime boss. They need to get highly-volatile cargo to another planet before it overheats and explodes. However, Mal isn’t happy with just one contract. A business man contacted him about a possible job and Mal wants to at least check it out. The meeting is in a bar at a shady side of the city. Mal goes to meet the business man while Zoë and Jayne wait at the bar.

It’s Alliance Day during with all of Persephone celebrates the day they joined the Alliance. Also, they seem to think that all Browncoats, who fought to stay independent from the galactic overlord, are traitors and should be killed. Of course, things don’t go well. Mal is kidnapped while Zoë and Jayne are in a bar fight. And the crew still has the highly volatile cargo to deliver.

For a Firefly show/book, this is pretty predictable, especially the ending. However, otherwise this is, of course, return to the world and characters I love, so I can’t help but to like it a lot. However, Mal’s flashback didn’t really work for me.

Almost the whole crew get a POV (except for River) chapter or two but the most POV time are given to Mal, Zoë, and Book. I love Zoë and Wash, and they’re great in the story. Also, since Mal is missing Zoë is the acting captain which was great, too.

I’m really looking forward to the next ones.

I’m again joining the Pick&Mix reading challenge.

Since I’m also joined Mount TBR challenge for my print TBR books, I’m going to gather all the other books to Pick & Mix. Print books from library, or bought this year, audiobooks, and ebooks. However, I have quite a few non-traditionally published books which aren’t eligible for this challenge, so my goal is only 20 books.

Books read:
1, James Lovegrove: Firefly: Big Damn Hero
2, Martha Wells: Artificial condition
3, H. G. Wells: The Time Machine
4,