Reviews: Area 51 1/2: Sept-Oct 2015


by Steven Sawicki

area51-200Greenings Thirders

We have been trying to study the processes you utilize to assign leadership and, frankly, we have no idea what they might be. Whether it is a small thing or a big thing, you apparently select who is to lead based on criteria that have nothing to do with that beings eventual leading. We are positing a thesis that this is the reason why your space is so messy. And we do not mean just the planet itself but the thousands and thousands of bits and pieces, large and small, which clutter your near planetary orbit. You do know that all of these things will be returning to the place of their birth, do you not? We hope you are good at figuring trajectories and blast radiuses. These are skills that are going to come in handy in the next few cycles. Perhaps it will all be for the better as we are genuinely confused by your species seeming desire to move forward based on beliefs rather than facts. It is as if the Glurg decided what to consume based solely on the contents of their fourth disseminating chamber. We know you see the point in that. But we regress. Leadership is not something that you thrust at a being in a willy-nilly fashion. Well, you do not do it that way if you want a being to really lead. Maybe you are after differing outcomes. It is one of the reasons why we keep a tentacle tip on the go button. Any moment you may decide to not be here and we have no wish to be part of that. As always, send books. We have a lot of free time. You are not as complex as you think.


getintroubleGet in Trouble, Kelly Link, Random House, ISBN 978-0-8041-7968-3, 338 pgs.

We enjoy the short histories as much as the long. More so in fact because it is easier to determine the biases inherent in the systems being discussed. There is also less pressure to confirm each and every fact but take them more, as pieces of time. All that being said, we enjoyed this collection very much. We liked best the first piece, “The Summer People,” which details a time and place that we are sure much exist somewhere in France if not Tennessee. The work is very clear, quite moving and yet haunting at the same time. We find that many of the works here fall into that duality or triplicity of meaning and motion. The layering is complex and the content is often obscured by movement and thought of the participants. In all there are nine pieces here, each as moving and complex as the one previous and the one following. We recommend this. Klaarg likes it, although he spilled Zepper juice on the ending to the fifth piece which reduced the enjoyment a bit. We’re not sure if the title is a directive or a mysterious message. One more thing on the list of things you need to explain.


The following are all by John Scalzi: The Ghost Brigade, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-5406-8, 374 pgs; The Last Colony, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-5618-5, 324 pgs; Zoe’s Tale, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-5619-2, 406.

We had a grand idea that we would look at this sequence because there was a sequence and, as a linear species, we find things work best when they come in order. We failed to calculate, however, that you are not a linear species, but, rather, a chaotic one and you seem to like it when things are out of order.

We believe we have talked about this Scalzi fellow and the future histories that he has put together with the same affection that we hold for Pliny or Cicero. We enjoy the singular perspective of the greater whole as it adds to our understanding of both. Having said that, and while these three offerings come one after the other, they are neither sequential nor do they follow the singular within the greater, at least where the singular is truly singular and not just a lone individual. The first one tells of the Ghost Brigades which you probably discerned from the title. These are elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into perfect soldiers. This offering is about one particular ghost called Jared Dirac. Dirac has been created from the DNA of a traitor to the humans in the hopes that he would then lead everyone to his DNA parent.

It does not quite work that way, though, and Dirac finds himself burdened by this experimentation. Everything comes clean in the end, although it is a messy path. Along the way we are introduced to two individuals who play roles in future offerings. We liked the concept and the way that the facts were introduced a bit at a time. There is also the greater realm where a great deal of action takes place.

The next offering contains two of the characters from the previous offering and a third character from the first offering which we talked about a long time ago. In this case the three of them are on a distant planet and approached about leading the colonization of another world. Unfortunately, colonization of new worlds has been prohibited by the alliance of alien worlds, of which the human confederation does not want to be a member. So, being humans, they colonize anyway, but do so in such a way as to bring attention to the fact and to bring shame to the aliens. From our experience this is not a good thing to do but definitely a human thing to do. Also a human thing to do is to be this convoluted but tell none of the key actors anything. So, the colonists end up not on the planet they were heading for and with a big target painted on them. There is much teeth gnashing, human and otherwise, and a lot of lying and double dealing on all sides.

In the end it is the colonists themselves (our theory is that humans like the concept of the lone individual being smarter than everyone else including the authority that surrounds them. This is a great concept until you look at it in a little more depth and realize that your mass murderers all fit this pattern.) The third offering contains the same; is the exact same sequence of tellings except that it is done from a different perspective. Interesting from historical purposes but we are not sure about it otherwise. It is, after all, the same history. We thought, at first, that this would be a telling treatise on history being related to perspective. It is not however, just from a different point of view. You get the same facts in the same order just from a different set of eyes. You may find this interesting. You may not. We liked the way these histories were told though and will follow this Scalzi fellow until the final probing.

machineThe Machine Awakes, Adam Christopher, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7640-4, 416 pgs.

We had to lie to Klaarg in order to get this one into the ship. We told him it did not involve machines like robots but rather machines like pool sifters. You, however, should know that there are robots involved. We tell you this in case some of you are robophobic. Anyway, this is a history of the human experience with spiders. No, not the ones that you so blithely kill in your bathrooms but rather the machine race that eats planets. Evidently you have been fighting them for some time. Why do you not know this? Well, as is explained in the history, the whole thing is secret. It is only when a couple of admirals get assassinated that news starts to leak out. But even then it is not much of a leak since Agent Von Kodiak is put on the case. Kodiak is tasked with discovering who is involved and whether there is truly a conspiracy involving the slums of Salt City and the psi-marines. Turns out there is but Kodiak has to go to Jupiter to find this out. While there he discovers that the Jovian Mining Corporation is hiding something deep in the atmosphere of the gas giant. We won’t tell you what is there because, evidently, it is still a secret. We have seen no mention of any of this in any of the probing reports we peruse.

Other than that we found this quite interesting . We believe that you will find it so too, although you may need to check to make sure you have the appropriate clearance first.



Hermetic-MillenniaThe Hermetic Millennian, John C. Wright, Tor, ISBN 978-007653-3808-2, $15.99, 399 pgs., The Judge of Ages, John C. Wright, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7580, $16.99 380 pgs.

Okay. We want to admit right off that we love a good space opera. We have seen Bltthhtpt, the Scourge, at least twice. However, one must meet the conventions when writing in the idiom. We grabbed these two histories because we thought it would be a good way to catch up on your future and see what is going on. We have to admit that this is a grand scale. But it is all, pretty much, on your planet, dirt. And to make matters worse, there are pages and pages of philosophical discourse about events that have not even happened yet. We did read somewhere that one is supposed to show and not tell but we are not sure as to the validity of that since it is probably hard to do when covering so many millennium. In any case, this opus seems to be about Menelaus Montrose, a space cowboy named after a greek hero who acts more like a hillbilly with a persecution complex. Montrose has managed to make himself a posthuman in order to be around to meet his wife who has journeyed out to the cosmos to find a solution to stopping the alien race that is on its way to destroy the planet. Yes, we know it sounds exciting, and if you think the repetition of same is exciting these are the books for you.

We have to admit there are many fun characters here, mostly modified individuals of various ilk who are moved about in order for the protagonist to get his way. There is also a post human villain who is floating around giving Montrose headaches whenever he can. These volumes are the second and third of a four piece set. We did cover the first one earlier and will cover the fourth one later but for now we are focusing on the two in the middle.

We did like the premise and much of the content although we admit to doing a fair amount of skimming whenever a character seemed to be settling in for a long history lesson. It did not seem to do our understanding much harm.

OceanMakerAnnouncementTHE OCEANMAKER, Written and directed by Lucas Martell, Produced by Christina and Lucas Martell.

Animation often gives humans the opportunity to explore deep philosophical themes that otherwise they could not reach. Look at your Sponge Bob work. In this case, it is the story of a young, female pilot, in some distant past or future, where the oceans are just dust (and you are heading to that future as we write this) and the only remaining was exists in the few, sparse clouds. This lone human, however, has a plan and a concept that would begin to reverse things. To be successful she must wait for the right opportunity and then out maneuver the sky pirates who suck all the moisture out of the few remaining clouds, must like you are removing all the resources from your planet, with no regard to future consequences. We liked it as it portrays the true spirit of the lone individual and the power that is contained in such. We think you should go watch it yourself. Maybe more than once.

Continue to follow us on whatever social media your government still allows. No attribution this time as we did not steal anything. Go, think, but return for future offerings.

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