Speaker For The Dead

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This is the second book in the Ender’s Game series, and is better than the novelized Ender’s Game, although it is impossible to beat the short story version. Ender has grown a lot over the time between this book and the last, and the story is compelling and believable. I really enjoyed this book.

[isbn: 1857238575;9781857238570]
[awards: nebula winner 1986; hugo winner 1987; locus_novel winner 1987]

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Ender’s Game

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I’ve read this book before, many years ago. I figured I should re-read it, given how much I love the short story. Unfortunately, I think the short story is better than the novelization. The novel tends to try to explain too much, although the last chapter is a worthy addition. I’m sure I’ll still read the rest in the series though, as there is more to see in this universe.

[award: winner nebula 1985; winner hugo 1986; locus_short_fiction nominee 1978; locus_novel nominee 1987]
[isbn: 0812550706;185723720X]

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Foundation’s Friends

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I was excited when I found Foundation’s Friends the other day, because I thought I’d read all the Foundation books and did not know that this one existed. It is an anthology which celebrates Asimov’s 50 years as a science fiction author, and each author takes their own approach to the Foundation universe.

The stories are:

  • The Nonmetallic Isaac or It’s a Wonderful Life (Ben Bova): not really a short story, more of an inspection of the impact that Asimov’s non-fiction writing has had on the world.
  • Strip-Runner (Pamela Sargent): set after The Naked Sun, a young female strip runner meets Elijah Bailey.
  • The Asenion Solution (Robert Silverberg): a pretty standard science fiction short story.
  • Murder in the Urth Degree (Edward Wellen): I haven’t read any of the Doctor Urth mysteries, so to be honest this story seemed pretty weird.
  • Trantor Falls (Harry Turtledove): covers the fall and sack of Trantor at the end of the first Galactic Empire. This one is pretty good, and in keeping with the overall Foundation universe.
  • Dilemma (Connie Willis): Asimov deals with some three law robots.
  • Maureen Birnbaum After Dark (George Alec Effinger): I find Maureen’s character to be superficial and annoying. This story didn’t really do it for me.
  • Balance (Mike Resnik): Susan Calvin wonders if robots are a better date than men.
  • The Present Eternal (Barry N Malzberg): is it good to be able to see with 100% accuracy into the past? This story was a bit disjointed, and not the best in the book.
  • PAPPI (Sheila Finch): a colleague of Susan Calvin brings home a robot companion for her son.
  • The Reunion at the Mile-High (Frederik Pohl): what if a biological weapon had been pursued instead of a nuclear one at the end of world war 2? What if Isaac Asimov hadn’t been a science fiction author because he was drafted into the effort?
  • Plato’s Cave (Poul Anderson): the robot debuggers Donovan and Powell return to help with a confused robot on Io. This story was pretty in keeping with the original Donovan and Powell stories, which was nice as those stories are classics.
  • Foundation’s Conscience (George Zebrowski): a researcher looks for records of missing Seldon appearances.
  • Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie (Robert Sheckley): this story was written by one of the guys who did the Bill the Galactic Hero spinoffs — specifically Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains. This story seems to suffer from similar problems — as best as I can tell its trying to be funny, but it doesn’t do it very well.
  • The Overheard Conversation (Edward D. Hoch): the Black Widowers meet for a dinner discussion. I haven’t read any other Black Widower stories, so I don’t have much of an opinion on this one, although it did seem like a pretty traditional pithy short story.
  • Blot (Hal Clement): explorers on icy Miranda interact with some cubes of unknown origin that appear to be communicating with each other.
  • The Fourth Law of Robotics (Harry Harrison): the Stainless Steel Rat meets Susan Calvin.
  • The Originist (Orson Scott Card): a scientist trying to determine the origin of the human race in the declining days of the Galactic Empire interacts with Hari Seldon and his Foundations.
  • A Word or Two from Janet (Janet Asimov): what is it like being married to Isaac Asimov?
  • Fifty Years (Isaac Asimov): Asimov reflects on 50 years of writing.

Obviously, being an anthology, some of these stories are better than others. However, this is a good collection with only a couple of stories I didn’t really like. I’m glad I found it.

[isbn: 0812509803]

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Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow

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I read this anthology as a child, but when I found a copy on ebay that was cheap I couldn’t resist. This is a collection of short stories focusing on what war might be like in the future. It’s a good read, although a couple of the stories are out of place compared with the others.

  • Superiority (Arthur C Clarke)
  • Single Combat (Joe Green)
  • Committee of the Whole (Frank Herbert)
  • Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card): a classic, and in some ways I prefer the short story. I’ve read the extended series of novels a few years ago, but they’re probably worth revisiting at some point.
  • Hero (Joe E. Haldeman), later became The Forever War.
  • The Survivor (Walter F. Moudy): I have strong memories of this story from reading this anthology as a child. This is still a good story.
  • The Last Objective (Paul Carter)
  • What Do You Want Me to Do to Prove Im Human Stop (Fred Saberhagen): a Berserker story, also known as “Inhuman Error”.
  • Hangman (David Drake): this one is included in Volume 1 of the Complete Hammers Slammers.
  • The Night of the Trolls (Keith Laumer): this was a really good story about Bolos — good enough to send me out to buy some more Bolo books, which I will now have to add to my reading queue. This story was later expanded into The Stars Must Wait, which I didn’t think was nearly as good as the short story.
  • The Nuptial Flight of the Warbirds (Algis Budrys): this story was out of place with the rest of the collection, poorly written, and not very entertaining. I particularly didn’t like how it changed plot flow literally mid sentence without warning. I had to read that page three times to work out what was happening.
  • Mirror, Mirror (Alan E. Nourse)
  • The Miracle Workers (Jack Vance)
  • Memorial (Theodore Sturgeon)
  • Shark (Edward Bryant)
  • …Not a Prison Make (Joseph P. Martino): the ending came to suddenly in this story, but gosh its a good ending.
  • Hawk Among the Sparrows (Dean McLaughlin): this story reminds me strongly of the Axis of time stories from John Birmingham. This short story of course came first, and is a lot simpler in its examination of issues surrounding modern military hardware “falling through time” into previous wars.
  • No War, or Battle’s Sound (Harry Harrison)
  • The Defenders (Philip K. Dick)
  • In the Name of the Father (Edward P. Hughes)
  • On the Shadow of a Phosphor Screen (William F. Wu): this one didn’t really do anything for me — the premise that major corporations would be willing to solve disputes based on the outcome of war games seems very weak to me.
  • The Specter General (Theodore R. Cogswell): this story is awesome. Loved it.
  • Fixed Price War (Charles Sheffield)
  • The Long Watch (Robert A. Heinlein)
  • The Machine that Won the War (Isaac Asimov): included in Robot Dreams, as discussed in my list of Asimov Robot Stories.

[isbn: 0517641054]
[award: nebula_novella nominee 1968 (Hawk Among the Sparrows); nebula_short_story nominee1973 (Shark); locus_short_story nominee 1978 (Ender’s Game)]

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