please comment!

As a solitary housecat, I am new to reading and trying to understand human literature. These are my immediate thoughts as I read the books on my humans' shelves. I hope you will share your own thoughts on reading, literature, science fiction, art, etc.

Please do be respectful of others.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Welcome to your future - meowow!

Greetings fellow travelers in space-time: 

I hope you are settling into 2015, and making progress on your new years goals. 

As many of you know, I was in and out of the hospital last fall. I was so sick, I could barely read. There were many days when I despaired for my life. 

However, I live to share this and many more tales with you! I have the wonderful people at The Animal Clinic to thank for giving me a future. 

And there's more good news. I have several books lined up for this year, including:
  • Heinline's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  • Norton's Breed To Come
  • Niven's The Man-Kzin Wars
Plus a few others, that I hope to get to this year. But as you know, I'm a slow reader. Your human languages are so strange to me. 


Monday, October 6, 2014

Cats in Space - A New Reading List!

My friends, the geniuses at Electric Literature have done us a ginormous favor. They have posted A Bunch of Science Fiction Books with Cats on the Cover. Truly brilliant. 

When I can get my paws on one of the human's credit cards, I will do my best to acquire these books. It may take me some time to find them all on Abe Books, but I am on a mission. I will lay in wait until my desired prey comes in focus. Then I will devour these books one by one. 

I am hopeful that this will be a better year. My humans seem to have settled down. Did you know, they insisted on moving twice in the last year? I don't deal well with change, I'm afraid. 

Since the last move, I've exhausted myself, following them from room to room demanding to know what they are up to. Most of my rest has been uneasy, perched on suitcases and the like. 

But, the travel bags have been put in storage, and the books have been unpacked and shelved, so I am getting more comfortable and hope to have a quite winter of reading. 

Warmest regards,

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Karma Machine - A Critical Analysis

I really wanted to love this book, 

The concept/premise of this novel is really cool! A society has figured out how to wipe personal memories while leaving the "technical" memories so that a person can be "reincarnated". They feel they are born a new person, yet retain knowledge of language, art, science, etc., so that they grow through each new life. 

There is a distinct caste system, and you know there is something wrong going on in the society, so there is some tension and plot. 

I mean, "A tale of cybernetic buddhism!" and "The most mind-shattering experience since 2001!" and "You will never be the same after you read it!" How can a book with all those quotes on it's cover be boring? 

...instead I want to rewrite it. 

Unfortunately, the style of writing ruins the book. It reads like one of Plato's dialogues. A newly reborn person is being shown around the world, and everything is explained to him. It's the endless explanations infodumps that ruin the book. Any tension that the reader feels, quickly dissipates. 

A book that I easily could have read in one sitting took me four nights. I literally switched to Youtube in the middle of this book several times because I just couldn't take it any more. It's unfortunate, because it's a great story. It's strange, unique. It deals with one of the classic questions of sci-fi:

Can humans reason their way to immortality - and what happens if we do? 

Where the book fails is in not giving the reader the benefit of the doubt. There are no gaps for us to fill in. It opens with a great scene, and just when I was excitedly figuring things out, it explains everything to us like we are toddlers. And not just toddlers, but stoopid toddlers. It's frustrating. 

There are times when action is used to show us how the world of the story came to be, but again, infodumps abound. It's like all of the author's worldbuilding notes are used in the book. 

So note to self: Don't do this! A little information goes a long way. Chuck Wendig says on his blog, Terrible Minds,  "Exposition is sand in the story's panties." Nobody likes sand in her panties, and it is possible to make your reader want to put down your book and take a shower. 

I know it's unethical to steal another author's ideas, so I won't rewrite this story, but I really wanted it to be a book that I raved about. Bummer. 

I have plenty of ideas to turn into stories, and hopefully I have learned this lesson. Trust the reader. 

Note to Feminists: The book does explore the nature of gender-based discrimination. By the end of the book it is clear that the author is arguing for equality, but it's kinda weak. No GLBTQ. 

Title: THe Karma Machine
Author: Michael Davidson
Publisher: Popular Library
Edition: April, 1977

First Publication: 1975

Monday, June 2, 2014

Writing How To, by T-Rex

The last few Dinosaur Comics have been:
How to Write a Scene That Takes Place in the Dark
How to Write a Scene of Quiet Contemplation
How to Write a Sex Scene

I hope you find them as instructive funny as I do. :)

T-Rex has commented on how to write in the past, and often shares his own fan-fic. He also commonly asks the question we all want an answer to: Where's the future you promised me? If you're not familiar with this daily comic, I recommend you check it out!


Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Directions for This Blog

I can't believe it's been a year since we've posted to this blog!

As many of you know, I (the human half of this blog) have been working on a SF novel of my own that explores the relationship between humans and technology.

Humanity's increasing dependence on science and technology is both fascinating and scary to many of us. With the recent popularity of the survivalist movement, and increasing belief that human behavior is driving climate change, many SF authors are developing visions of the future that are both stark and wondrous.

Check out this Smithsonian article for more on how futurism in fiction shapes human behavior and our future.

My work on my novel (working title: The Driftless) has resulted in me "hogging the computer," according to Maurice, and I apologize for that. I hope to take this blog in a new direction going forward, to include Maurice's book reviews, but also more casual posts like this one.

Some of the topics I'd like to touch on include:

  • urban agriculture
  • getting off the grid
  • futurism in fine arts
  • the craft of writing
  • other things that I may temporarily become obsessed with :)

What are your thoughts about the future of life on Earth? Are we destroying the planet, or will we come up with a new, miraculous technology?  I look forward to your comments below. 


Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Hugo Awards

I'm excited to say that nominations for the 2013 Hugo Awards have been posted, and the packet has been realeased by the World Science Fiction Convention

I have a lot of reading to do! I will do my best to post brief comments here as I am able. The humans fail to recognize my need for computer time, but I will try to trick them into leaving a machine on for me while they are at work. Keep your human fingers crossed for me. 

I hope to see you all at LoneStarCon3. I'm registered - are you?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A cat's review of From the Earth to the Moon

Jules Verne is a pioneer of the sci-fi genre, and for that reason alone, any of his books are worth the read. Furthermore, the novel, and writing style in general, have changed significantly in the ~150 years since this book's publication, and therefore he gets a bit of leniency.

However, as a modern reader, I have to acknowledge that the writing is classic science fiction tedium. The style is dry. It's a bit repetitive.

And yet, one cares! I had to finish the book, because I had to know what fate would bring the characters, and I wasn't disappointed. Still, the tension I felt was very much as an outsider. I was not immersed in this book so much as I was fascinated by it.

While I said the writing style was a bit dry, it also exhibited some dry humor. Verne subtly expresses his impression of Americans. Apparently, the rest of the world has always been a bit befuddled by the American Love of Guns.

In From the Earth to the Moon, Verne describes the members of a gun club being depressed after a global peace accord. Their president comes up with a brilliant challenge for the club - let's see if we can shoot a projectile to the moon!

The club takes up the task with vim. They consult with astronomers on the best time to reach the moon. They fund the construction of a new telescope that will allow them to watch their projectile arrive at the moon. They calculate the velocity needed to reach the moon, and all the requirements to reach the desired velocity and trajectory. Then, they set about building a giant columbiad.

Their self-assuredness and determination are admirable, and yet I worried. They seemed foolhardy, too casual. In this way, Verne's writing was a distinct success. It caused me anxiety. While they are hypothesizing that there may be life on the far side of the moon, or that there may be an atmosphere hiding on the distant face, I was yelling at the characters "no, no, no, you guys! Don't do it - there is no air up there!"

Originally they were simply going to shoot a round shot at the moon, but eventually the Gun Club was persuaded to send people in a casing we would call "bullet-shaped". This ratcheted up my anxiety. Now, as a 21st century reader, I knew they were on a crash course with tragedy. Surely, Verne knew this. Surely, I wasn't going to be disappointed by an author failing to carry through and coming up with some mamby-pamby happy ending...

Still, when I could see there were only short paragraphs left, I was stressed. How is Verne going to wrap this up? He didn't put a radio in the casing (because they didn't exist at that time), so how would we know the travelers' fate? The point of view does not follow the travelers.

So, I knew we were heading for tragedy, but still, the ending surprised me. It’s a short book that I definitely recommend.

I understand that there is a sequel, and **spoiler alert** I have heard that in it, reentry is somehow engineered. I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed. I would have preferred to simply have it end in a tragedy - one which forces me to continue devising plans to get out of.

Title: De la terre à la lune, Translated to English as From the Earth to the Moon
Author: Jules Verne
Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
Edition: 3rd Printing, September 1966
First Publication: 1865