Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Closing Time

We closed on our home last Friday (6/8) and are now property owners!

Now the fun begins as we prepare to replace all the flooring, paint, clean, and cram in a kitchen remodel in three months before our baby arrives.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake is an elegantly crafted vision of a bleak, near future in which humanity has all but succumbed to an engineered mutagenic virus.

Here humanity is survived by Snowman, who scavenges and sleeps in trees, and watches over a group of bioengineered humans (the Crakers), who were created to succeed humanity and thrive in the new world of modified species and radical climate change.

Through flashbacks, we eventually learn that Snowman was once a man named Jimmy, and that the world before the cataclysmic event was characterized by social inequity, genetic technology, and climate change. We also learn about the two people who figured most prominently in Jimmy's life: Crake, Jimmy's oldest friend, who is brilliant and egotistic and has plans for a better world; and Oryx, who Snowman loves and who serves as agent and muse to Crake.

I liked Oryx and Crake a lot and thought Atwood did a good job of melding a standard apocalyptic SF setup with a literary story about flawed characters.

It's kind of interesting that Oryx and Crake is yet another recent apocalyptic novel by a literary (or at least non-SF) author. Atwood's novel joins Kevin Brockmeier's A Brief History of the Dead and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. For my part, I find this noteworthy because I've always related apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction with science fiction.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

The Last Colony is the concluding novel in Scalzi's loosely-connected SF trilogy that began with Old Man's War and continued with The Ghost Brigades. From the start, the novel is fast-paced and fun, and fans of the series will be pleased that the new book focuses on two of the main characters from the previous books -- John Perry and Jane Sagan.

The premise of The Last Colony revolves around Perry and Sagan agreeing to run a new colony for the Colonial Union, in defiance of an alien confederation called the Conclave that has forbidden the creation of any new unauthorized colonies. Political subtext and many twists follow as Perry and Sagan discover that the Colonial Union has not told them the truth about their colony, the alien Conclave, or their chances for survival.

As a big Scalzi fan, I was happy for another book in this series. I'm not sure how this book ranks with the first two or even how well it stands on its own. I know I didn't like it as much as the other two books, but I certainly enjoyed it and read it compulsively through two days. I guess, ultimately, if you like Scalzi's SF, you will almost certainly enjoy reading this, even if you don't rate it as the author's best work.