science fiction

The first book in the Jurassic Park duology.


Publication year: 1990
Finnish publisher: Tammi

Finnish publication year: 1992
Format: print
Finnish translator: Tarmo Haarala

Page count: 518

I’m a huge fan of the Jurassic Park movie series. I saw the first Jurassic Park film in the movies and it was a huge experience to see the dinosaurs on-screen. I read this book over ten years ago and have only dim memories of it. The memories were accurate.

The film is pretty faithful to the book, except that it omitted characters and shortened scenes and left some scenes out. In fact, the book starts with a family vacationing on a beach and small dinosaurs attack a little girl, just like the beginning of the second movie. The beginning of the book has quite a few background scenes; we get to the park about 150 pages in. And the changes made the film better.

New gene technology allows scientists to extract dinosaur DNA from insects that have been preserved in amber and to add reptile DNA to it, to fix it. Hammond wants to make a dinosaur park for wealthy people and especially wealthy kids. But some of his financiers have started to become nervous and demands the experts will evaluate the park. So, Hammond brings in two paleontologists, Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. The financiers’ lawyer Gennaro is afraid that the park will be a disaster and he brings in Ian Malcolm, a chaos theorist. If you’ve seen the movie you know what happens. 🙂

The book is deeper and longer than the film. Ellie is a minor character compared to her role in the book, which is the only thing I didn’t really care for. The book works very well. Perhaps the most boring aspects are Malcolm’s lectures about how science will fail because scientists have become too arrogant and because science doesn’t take into account the chaos of life.

The ending is also different, more bloody and ambiguous.

The book has a lot of POVs, especially in the first third which jumps from the family on the beach to the doctor examining the girl to a rival genetics company that pays Nedrey to get samples from the dinosaurs. But the rest of the book also has several POVs from Alan Grant to Timmy who is Hammond’s grandson to Hammond to Ellie to game warden Muldoon to the main engineer John Arnold who is desperately trying to get the computers to work again.

Malcolm starts to warn the reader that everything will go wrong, even before we see the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are, of course, the center of the book. Some of them are more intelligent than in the movie. There’s even a suggestion that since they’re related to birds, some of them could be migratory. I loved the descriptions!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I intend to read the sequel soon.

A murder mystery aboard a spaceship! A stand-alone SF book.


Publication year: 2017
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours 44 minutes
Narrator: Mur Lafferty

The Dormire is a generation starship which is traveling to Artemis, a planet very suitable for human habitation. Most of its cargo is sleeping humans who want to inhabit the planet. It also has a wake crew of six clones. The clones are all criminals who were promised a fresh start if they successfully get the Dormire to Artemis.

But something has gone terribly wrong. Maria, the ship’s junior maintenance officer, wakes up in a brand-new cloned body. Everyone else is waking up, too. Someone has killed them all. Their previous, dead, bodies float around them. The cloning equipment has been sabotaged so that no new cloned bodies can be made. The age of the previous clones, the dead bodies, suggests that they have been on the journey for several decades. But all the clones’ memories start at the beginning of the journey. Their memory downloads after it has been destroyed and the ship’s logs are also gone. The ship’s AI is offline, too.

The crew must find out what happened, who killed them, and why. But without any recent logs and memories, that’s tough. All the six members used to be criminals and they all have secrets. The crew is Katrina the captain, Wolfgang her second-in-command and security officer, Maria the junior maintenance officer, Hiro the programmer, Joanna the medical officer, and Paul the ship engineer.

This was a fascinating book. We get to slowly know the stories of the six people and why they decided to join the crew. But we also get to know about the future history of human cloning which was fascinating, as well. In this world, clones are essentially immortal because they can download their minds to the next clone indefinitely. This has, of course, huge implications not just societally but also for the individuals. Lafferty explores them. There are draconian laws to try to prevent any abuse of that system. For example, it’s not legal to have more than one clone of the same person at the same time. Even if someone has cloned you against your will or knowledge, you will be punished, as well.

This was a very enjoyable book. It has both an engaging mystery and wonderful world-building.

This is the third book based on the SF TV-show Firefly. It’s set after the show but before the movie Serenity.


Publication year: 2020
Format: Audio
Running time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Narrator: James Anderson Foster

This was a strange story. It begins with Mal, Zoe, and Jayne meeting a small posse of men to pick up a sealed crate for Badger. But Mal gets a really bad feeling. The meeting goes sour and turns into a gunfight. After the fight, Mal doesn’t want to take the cargo, even though the crew desperately needs the money. But Jayne wants to take the cargo. Mal flat out refuses to take it to the Mule. Even though he’s wounded, Jayne walks back, carrying the crate all the way. During the walk, he starts to hallucinate about his mom and younger brother.

Jayne manages to get to the ship. Simon promptly confines him to the sick bay. But in the middle of the night, Jayne slips out and brings the crate inside and hides it. This is, of course, a very bad move.

River flips out but she can’t communicate with the rest of the crew well enough to tell them that the crate is dangerous. Wash lifts Serenity off the planet. But during the flight, every crew member slips to a dream where he or she lives through their fondest dreams… which turns into their most horrible nightmares.

Inara and the Shepard have left the ship so they’re not among the crew. Almost all the other crew members get their own subplot in their dream so they all get their chance to shine. Unfortunately, when the dreams turn to nightmares, most of them are very graphically gory. While some Firefly episodes have torture (War Stories comes to mind…) this was a bit too much.

Also, I’m not sure that Mal would have forced a wounded crew member to walk back to the ship.

I have quite mixed feelings about this story. I enjoyed most of it. I think the dreams were quite appropriate for each character, although I felt sorry for a couple of characters. But they ended up too dark for me.

Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch are running again a very interesting Kickstarter. This time Rusch’s Diving Universe science fiction series continues with a new book, The Chase. 13 more days to go.

It’s already funded and reached the second stretch goal, so people backing it will get a new Diving Universe short story and Rusch’s SF novella Coolhunting. The pledges include the Colliding Worlds SF short story series and for writers How to write spaceships workshop.

A short story collection which has fantasy and SF retellings of myths from around the world.

Publication year: 2019
Format: Audio
Running time: 11 hours 30 minutes
Narrator: Samantha Desz

From Egypt to India to Ireland, these 18 stories take various myths and reshape them. I don’t know all the original tales, and sometimes I recognized it near the end, but that didn’t me stop from enjoying these stories. Surprisingly many of them are a mixture of fantasy and SF. Subgenres range from ghost stories to mythic fantasy to cyberpunk to space opera. It even has two horror stories.

Seanan McGuire: “Phantoms of the Midway.” Aracely has lived her whole life in a traveling circus. Her mom has forbidden her to go outside the circus, but Aracely wants to see the world. One day, she walks outside and meets a girl whose face is half-burned.

Ann Leckie: “The Justified.” Het is one of the Immortals. She has left behind her Sovereign and is content living alone on a cold planet. Then one of her sibs finds her. The Sovereign needs Het again. Reluctantly, Het returns and the Sovereign commands her to kill humans because of a small slight.

T. Kingfisher: “Fisher-Bird.” A kingfisher bird meets a huge, shaggy man who calls himself the Stronger. He has godblood in him and he’s in trouble. He can understand the bird, so the bird offers him some advice.

Rebecca Roanhorse: “A Brief Lesson in Native American Astronomy.” A Native American movie star’s girlfriend, Cherry, has died, and he can’t forget her. When his agent gives him a chance to relive Cherry’s life through her recorded memories, he jumps at the chance.

JY Yang: “Bridge of Crows”. A hauntingly beautiful tale told in a format of a story inside a story. The unnamed narrator tells the tale of a young woman who is walking through a barren land on a desperate quest.

Arkady Martine: “Labbatu Takes Command of the Flagship Heaven Dwells Within.” Captain Labbatu is a thief, a commander, a lover, and an all-around badass. This is the story of how she takes the flagship with fighting, guile, and seduction.

Sarah Gailey: “Wild to Covet.” A childless couple finds the wild girl Thetis and raises her. But when she grows up, her adoptive parents force her to wear shoes and appropriate clothing for an unmarried girl. They also assume that of course she will marry, no matter what she wants.

Carlso Hernandez: “!Cuidado! !Que Vienne El Coco!.” Nadano is on a high-tech marine research ship that needs only one crew member, in addition to the AI Prudence which runs the ship. Also, Nadano’s baby girl Ela is on the ship. Nadano has some mental issues but the AI is also a skilled therapist. Then the little girl’s head changes to a coconut.

Stephen Graham Jones: “He Fell Howling.” Lycaen feeds human meat to Zeus. Furious, Zeus curses him to change into a wolf. The man realizes that by eating his own pups, he can change back to a man, for a little while. Horror.

Kat Howard: “Curses Like Words, Like Feathers, Like Stories”. The main character travels to Ireland to find incomplete stories, which she has promised to complete.

Leah Cypess: “Across the River.” The main character is a young Jewish man who wants to be a cantor but feels that his songs aren’t ready. Then he comes face to face with a sorcerer who kills Jewish people and he knows he must get help.

Jeffrey Ford: “Sisyphus in Elysium.” Sisyphus “amid the rolling green meadows of Asphodel” thinks about his eternal punishment.

Indrapramit Das: “Kali_Na.” Shiva Industries designed Goddess Durga to be an interactive goddess who turns faith to crypto wealth. To do that, the company made her able to learn from the people she interacts with. But when the vile trolls interact with her, nobody expects what happens.

Alyssa Wong: “Live Stream.” Diana is a gamer who livestreams her games. One day, a compromising picture of Diana is posted on the net, and many of her followers turn against her. She knows who is behind it, but she can’t prove it. Because he’s a famous gamer, and he forced her to do something she didn’t want to. But she decides to turn the tables on him. A powerful story of net harassment.

John Chu: “Close Enough for Jazz.” Emily has worked hard to develop tech that will let people who want to change their bodies or even their sex to do so. She has access to apples that when you eat one, it makes your body an ideal version of you, depending on what you consider ideal. However, since she’s a woman, her business partner does to pitching to the money men who are mostly white males. But the money men aren’t interested in funding a firm she desperately wants. This story touches on sexism and ableism in the tech industry.

Naomi Novik: “Buried Deep.” Ariadne loves her younger brother, who was born with the head of a bull. Their father Minos accuses his wife of adultery with Zeus and banishes the boy from his sight. Ariadne tries to help him anyway she can.

Carmen Maria Machado: “The Things Eric Eats Before He Eats Himself.” Eric has insatiable hunger. A horror story.

Amal El-Mohtar: “Florilegia; or, Some Lies About Flowers.” Lleu Llaw Gyffes is cursed in three ways. One of them is that he can’t marry a woman. So, his uncles make him a woman from flowers, Blodeuwedd. But nobody asked her if she wants to be his wife. Nobody cares that she has a hunger for roots and for freedom.

This is an excellent collection. Not all of the stories worked for me, but that’s usual.

The third book in the alternate history/SF Lady Astronaut series. Technically it’s a stand-alone but I recommend reading at least the first book, the Calculating Stars, first.

Publisher: TOR
Publication year: 2020
Format: print
Page count: 542

Elma York and the others are on their way to Mars. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Earth First terrorist group is doing their best to get the International Space Coalition and especially the various nations around the world to cancel the space program. They don’t believe that the meteorite strick damaged Earth so much that human habitation will become impossible. Instead, they try to funnel the funds toward rebuilding the US. They use religious rhetoric to turn people to their side.

Meanwhile, IAC is already training colonists to go to the Moon station.

Nicole Wargin is one the first female astronauts, ”astronettes”. She also the wife of the Governor of Kansas, which is the current US capitol. Earth Firsters arrange demonstrations, try to poison the lead rocket scientist, and sabotage a rocket. The FBI and IAC suspect that one or more of the crew or colonists on the Artemis Base are Earth Firsters. During the war, Nicole was a spy. Now, IAC boss Clemens wants her to spy on her fellow astronauts and the colonists. She knows just how crucial the information will be, so she agrees. Even though she hates spying on her friends.

Her husband is thinking of running for president. Nicole is already a very public person and is used to supporting her husband. But being the wife of a presidential candidate would make it even worse. She’s not thrilled but supports him. He’s not thrilled that she’s on the Moon for months at a time, but supports her. I loved their dynamic, as much as I loved Elma and Nathaniel.

Nicole is the first-person POV character. She’s extremely competent. A pilot, a spy, an astronaut, a diplomat. She’s also very human. She hates her paranoid spy -side but uses it when she must. She has anorexia. She has been getting better, but when she’s stressed she forgets to eat. When she feels that things are out of her control, the only thing she can do to have a semblance of control is by starving herself. That’s not good in space when you need to be at your best. She also has arthritis on her feet, which she hasn’t told IAC doctors.

This was a wonderful continuation of the series and I enjoyed it a lot. Nicole isn’t Elma. Her damage is different from Elma’s. Just like Elma, she’s a very human character. I also loved her close friendships with the other astronauts. The only flaw for me was in the epilogue: I don’t think one of the things in it would be possible then. I enjoyed it, but it felt out of place.

This book is similar to the first one because it has lots of politics. The main focus is firmly on Nicole and her friends, especially in the latter half of the book. The latter half also has a somewhat claustrophobic feel because Nicole is hunting for terrorists on the Moonbase.

Apparently, the series will get at least one more book. I’m looking forward to it!

A novella set in the middle of her book Renegat, which is part of her Diving Universe SF series.


Publication year: 2020
Format: ebook
Publisher: WMG Publishing

Raina Serpell was a linguist and she loved her work. But now, she’s the reluctant captain of the starship Renegat. She can’t trust her remaining crew. None are officers and they don’t know much about operating the ship. Many of them are also purely lazy and argumentative. But she’s determined to get them home. All of them.

Now, they’re orbiting an unknown planet. An unknown enemy is shooting at Renegat. Raina doesn’t know how to operate the weapons, and everyone is looking for her for leadership.

This was a short and very dramatic story. Raina and her problems are wonderfully realized. The story is quite fast-paced.

However, I’m not sure how easy it is for anyone who hasn’t read the series to understand it. So, I recommend reading another story from the series first. However, the book Renegat is really long so I’m not sure if that’s the best place to start. This story does have spoilers for Renegat.

This is the second book based on the space western TV-show Firefly.

Publication year: 2019
Format: Audio
Running time: 8 hours 23 minutes
Narrator: James Anderson Foster

This second book focuses on Jayne Cobb. He’s my least favorite crew member so, I wasn’t thrilled about that. However, Mal and Inara get their own time in the spotlight, too.

The title gives away the inspiration to the story, the movie “Seven Samurai” and of course all the other stories inspired by “Seven Samurai”. The basic storyline follows the plot clearly. Our nine heroes come to defend a beleaguered little town on the edge of nowhere, against an enemy which has far more gunfighters. Of course, there’s more to the story than that.

Jayne gets a call from his former lover/partner-in-crime Temperance Jones, now McCloud. A group of bandits terrorizes the town where she lives in. The townsfolk don’t have a prayer against the ruthless men (and a few women). The Scourers’ leader, Elias Vandal, is rumored to be a former Reaver…

When the rest of the crew hears about the terrible situation, they’re ready to help. Except for Mal, who wants to get paid for it. But they head to the town, anyway. Near it, Serenity is shot down. Wash just manages to set the ship down.

Mal, Jayne, and Zoe head to the town. It turns out that the townsfolk are too afraid of the bandits to defend their homes and expect the crew of the Serenity to save them. So, the crew is in a tough situation.

And Temperance has a teenaged daughter. Named Jane.

This was mostly a fun listen. The banter between the crew was great and the story even has a couple of surprises in the end. However, while each of the crew got at least one chapter from their POV, some of them felt neglected. Simon, Wash, and Zoe in particular. River also felt off.

I was expecting the ending to be a cop-out, and it was. Of course. The crew must stay together and fly to the next adventure. In that respect, the whole Temperance and her daughter angle felt like a waste of time because nothing can come from it. It’s not a big problem, but it still makes the ending very obvious. Oh, and even since I fell in love with “Legends of Tomorrow” when I see a man with the name “Vandal” I just can’t help but to think of Vandal Savage. This time it sort of fit because the bandits’ leader’s name is Vandal, but it’s still distracting.

But this was a fun, entertaining episode.

The first book in the Chaos of the Covenant science fiction series.


Publication year: 2017
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours 16 minutes
Narrator: Jeff Hayes

This is military SF set during a war between the Republic and the Outworlders. The Republic has a lot more resources that the other side. We get POVs from both sides of the conflict but our heroine is a Republic soldier.

Lieutenant Abigail Cage is a breaker, a hacker. She’s also a mother, looking forward to retiring and spending time with her daughter. She’s assigned to a team which is dropped to enemy territory. She does have some experience with combat so she’s more worried about the couple of less experienced soldiers. But during the mission, something goes wrong and she finds a code she can’t break. Soon after they get back, the whole team is arrested. Abby protests that whatever the others might have done, she’s not part of it. Very quickly, the whole team is sentenced to a maximum security prison called Hell. And she’s put on one of the most difficult levels on the whole prison. She must fight constantly to survive.

However, the book moved on quickly to a point where it became more interesting to me.

In addition to Abby we have several other POVs. This world has aliens but they seem to be Star Trek types rather than completely alien aliens. Abby is a capable fighter and becomes even better during the book. She’s a patriot but she mostly just wants to get back to her daughter.

This was a fast-paced story with both fierce combat scenes and a complex scheme in the background which one of the other characters is trying to solve. The Republic has recently finished building two starships, Fire and Brimstone, which are so powerful that nothing can stand against them. But they have been stolen and of course the Republic is frantic to get them back.

I have the first four books in audio and I’ll likely continue to the next one. This first book ends in a huge cliffhanger.

Collects Fantastic Four (2018) issues 14-19.


Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Paco Medina, Bob Quinn, Sean Izaakse, Luciano Vecchio, Carlos Magno, Francesco Manna

National Air and Space Museum newest exhibit is Marvel-II the rocket ship where the FF did their first flight and got their powers. The FF are there, as well. Reed has the idea that the FF should redo their first, failed space flight. They should finally go to the planet where they were trying to go. Johnny and Sue agree but Ben think they’re all nuts.

But in the end all four members launch in the redone rocket ship. However, the FF don’t know that the planet is inhabited. The people of Spyre knew that the FF were coming to invade them all those years ago… and they’ve had time to prepare. Now they have their own superheroes, the Unparallered. But their near-perfect society has a darker side, too.

This was a fascinating concept and I enjoyed most of it. The people of Spyre have a very clear and insular culture. They don’t have any contact with any other cultures and so their view of the FF is quite different from what I’m used to. However, this is a pretty standard superhero story with a couple of twists. One of them concerned Johnny and I’m curious to see how it will turn out.

On the other hand, I’m not sure if we really needed an FF origin retcon. We already know that Reed isn’t a perfect person or scientist. Also, the storyline has several artists which hurt the comic a bit. Their styles weren’t completely incompatible but noticeably different.

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