Through Time and Space — Julia Crane

A fun, little re-make of Little Red Riding Hood with all the usual protagonists portrayed as Venusians being banished to Earth.

This is my first story from the anthology, Once Upon A Star, which, apparently, is all fairy tales re-told in sci-fi settings.   However, i would put Through Time and Space squarely in the fantasy box as moving by magic from one planet to another isn’t really sci-fi in my genre boxes.   One certainly wouldn’t put Raymond E Feist in the sci-fi category and he has plenty of rift gate planet hopping going on in his books.

I read this just so i could add it to my Little Red Riding Hood collection, and genre debates aside, it’s a nice little addition to the page.

Julia’ Page

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Rendezvous With Rama — Arthur C. Clarke

What’s there to say: proper, good, classic sci-fi.   As with Childhood’s End, it is well deserving of it’s place in the “SF Masterworks” series.

This time, instead of actual aliens coming to Earth and a prophecy of how humanity will eventually evolve, in Rendezvous With Rama we have a large alien vessel entering the solar system on a path that will take it inside the orbit of Mercury, around the Sun, and then, is anyone’s guess.   Will it adjust it’s trajectory, pull a breaking manouvre and find a stable orbit in the solar system, or will it use the Sun and sling shot elsewhere?   Where did it come from, who sent it, who or what is inside, what is it’s purpose?

Set in a time when humans have colonised several planets and moons in the solar system and space flight is quite normal, we have one space ship — the Endeavour, captained by a big fan of James Cook — that is able to get some fuel and rendezvous with this vessel and investigate it.   However, once the vessel has passed inside the orbit of Mercury, the Mercurians decide to take matters into their own hands and ignore what the rest of humanity has to say on the matter.

As i say, this is a proper old school sci-fi first contact story at its best and well deserving of its place as a “SF Masterworks”.

Arthur’s Page

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The Last Broadcast — Christopher Ruz

An AI is put in charge of looking after a space ship with thousands of people in hibernation pods.   The journey is to last thousands of years and the AI has no one to talk to …

… and so the AI starts to have a bit of a mental health crisis.

I really enjoy good AI stories and this is certainly a good one.   As machines become more intelligent one can imagine that they will begin to break down due to similar issues: what are we going to do with these machines when we don’t have them crunching data and they can do many years of thinking in a few seconds?

Food for thought.

My only complaint about this is that it is way to short for such a brilliant idea.   I would have loved this very premise to be played out in a novella at least.   But we can’t have everything we want.

Christopher’s Page

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The Girl in Red — Christina Henry

Having read all of Christina’s previous books — which i’ve extremely enjoyed — i had very high hopes for this book: alas, it was not to be.

So “Red”, our protagonist and narator, is on a journey to her Grandma’s house across several hundred miles of the USA after a coughing plague has culled nearly all the people: basically it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story.

And the whole book is taken up with the first half of this journey until there’s an endoparasitoid-bursting-out-the-chest-thing — WTF!!!   Remember Alien and Sigourney Weaver?   Yeah, that’s what an endoparasitoid-bursting-out-the-chest-thing is.

The army turn up and the soldier guy who chases the endoparasitoid-bursting-out-the-chest-things admits to Red that the government made it in a lab.   He lets Red carry on with her journey instead of taking her to the quarantine camp, and in a few pages Red arrives at her Grandma’s.   It’s like the second half of Red’s journey didn’t happen, like she was just magically transported to her Grandma’s.   And no explanation as to the endoparasitoid and why the government would make such a thing.

And it’s this one single, silly, ridiculous idea of an endoparasitoid thrown into the story with no purpose whatsoever that completely ruins the book — and also the second half of Red’s journey being skipped over as though it didn’t really happen, or was in a completely different world to the first half.

We don’t even get to know how Grandma has been surviving or anything.

Basically, the ending is utter garbage and totally ruins the whole story.   It’s just a total nonsensical ending.

It just left me which such a disappointment.   This is far below Christina’s usual standard.

Ho hum: i suppose we all have to write something crap once in a while.

Christina’s Page

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The Path of Pins, the Path of Needles — KT Bryski

So this is a well weird tale to tell.

I like walking and other forms of exercise, and while i’m doing them i like to listen to various podcasts.   I usually have a good pile queued up on my phone to listen to, to make sure i never run out.

So while i was out walking yesterday morning, the next podcast on the list started to play and it was this one: The Path of Pins, the Path of Needles.   Which, it just so happens, is a Little Red Riding Hood spin off.

How Lightspeed managed to justify shoehorning a Little Red Riding Hood spin off into a Sci-Fi magazine, and then also manage to shoehorn it onto my phone to play at exactly the same time i’m having a Little Red Riding Hood reading binge, i have absolutely no idea.   But it’s all pretty uncanny when you think about it: like there’s more to these fairy tales than we at first may think.

So yeah, you can read it in Lightspeed magazine, on their website, or listen to the podcast like i did:

Charles’ Page

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Little Red Riding Hood — Brothers Grimm

Along with Perrault’s version, this was background reading for Christina Henry’s book: The Girl in Red.

While i don’t mind a bit of plagiarising, i do expect that when one does so that they have the ability to improve over the original.   The Grimm’s don’t manage that.

Sadly, this is the version that most people in UK know, and most think it’s the original.

Brothers Grimm’s Page

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Little Red Riding Hood — Charles Perrault

When i found out that Christina Henry was writing The Girl In Red, i did my usual with Christina’s books and went back to the past where her stories have their roots: this time it’s Little Red Riding Hood’s turn.

While most people have heard the Brothers Grimm version of this tale, most don’t realise that they plagiarised the whole thing from this book, which was written long, long before the Grimms were even born.

What’s striking about Perrault’s version is the very obvious metaphorical warning to young maidens about men who only have one thing in mind and how they will seek to mislead them to get what they want.

Shorter than the Grimm version, but much better.   Recommended for anyone interested in the tale being told properly.

Charles’ Page

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Island of Doom — Arthur Slade

And so this quite entertaining series comes to an end.   It was fun, kept on moving along at a good pace, well written and edited.

The only downside was the ending went a bit down hill.   Like Hyde has created and unleashed the fraken-creatures-from-hell-that-can’t-be-stopped-because-they’re-already-dead and then …

… well i won’t spoil it.   But it was rather silly to say the least.

So yeah, i was expecting a much more rip-roaring ending, but it all ended well in the end so i won’t labour the point.

To sum up all four books: it’s a great adventure if you’re not looking for something to take too seriously.   If you’re feeling in the need for some far fetched silly then this might be the series for you.   I certainly enjoyed reading it as i like a bit of far-fetched silly now and again.   I’d put it on the bookshelf next to Magnificent Devices, as that’s enjoyable, far-fetched silly in much the same way.

Arthur’s Page

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Empire of Ruins — Arthur Slade

This time the Verne flavour is Five Weeks in a Balloon, but instead of flying over Africa, Modo and the crew go flying over Australia in search of a strange and ancient artefact.

Of course, to keep with the main story line of this tetralogy, and also to keep things exciting, the Clockwork Guild is back and also flying in a balloon over Australia searching for the same artefact.

And, once again, the same caveat applies, don’t apply 21st century thinking and science to anything and don’t take it too seriously and you’ll find it a rather enjoyable yarn that’ll pass the time nicely.

And so i dive straight into the fourth and final chapter: Island of Doom

Arthur’s Page

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Black Dog — Neil Gaiman

The third book in the American Gods series.

Another good little novella, very much in the similar to The Monarch of the Glen, with Shadow getting himself caught up in things uncanny and folklore-ish once again.

Yes folks, it’s just more of that really good Neil Gaiman writing.

Neil’s Page

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