Book Review: Binti - Nnedi Okorafor

Three book covers featuring a young African woman painting her face with clay.

Binti is an absolute treat. I've not read much Afro-Futurism, but what I have has been truly excellent and entertaining. What is it like to try to honour your ancestors while feeling the call for adventure? It's a topic which has been explored ad infinitum but rarely with such passion. Why do old men fear…

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Book Review: Illegal Alien - Robert Sawyer

Book cover.

As recommended to me by a comment on my blog. This is ridiculous fun from start to finish. It's a John Grisham-style courtroom drama. Only the defendant is an alien. Literally a multi-limbed beast from a dozen light-years away. That's it. That's the whole plot. And it works wonderfully. Nothing wrong with a bit of…

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Book Review: When HARLIE was One

Book cover featuring a digital vitruvian man.

I started reading this as the news came out that someone at Google got convinced that their AI was sentient. And that's what this book is about! A researcher starts talking to his computer and gradually becomes convinced that it is "alive". It is a perennially prescient story. And it is fascinating to see how…

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Book Review: An Unnatural Life by Erin K Wagner

A side pofile of a robot's face.

An excellent premise for a book - if an AI is accused of murder, should it be faced with a jury of its peers? But I just found it a bit flat and disappointing. This could have been a fascinating courtroom drama, or spacey whodunnit, or even a philosophical investigation into the nature of guilt.…

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My 2022 predictions from 2012

A tiny TARDIS made of Lego.

Exactly a decade ago, I asked "Why Can't Red Dwarf Predict The Future?" That is - sci-fi writers can imagine interstellar travel and sentient computers, but they think the future will still involve developing film photographs, library fines, and 3-pin electrical plugs. At the end of the post, I said: Here are my thoughts on…

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Book Review: There Is No Antimemetics Division

Book cover featuring an ominous black tower dominating the landscape.

I can't remember the last book which gave me literal nightmares. After reading the first few chapters of the book, I fell into an uneasy sleep - troubled with dreams about its impossibility. "Antimemetics" is one of those frighteningly original sci-fi ideas. Sure, the secret-agency-defends-the-world trope has been played to death, but there is something…

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Book Review: Conundra (Panopticon Book 2) - A.E. Currie

Book cover.

Another fun and frantic slice of near-future sci-fi from Anne Currie. This is the sequel to Utopia Five. A post-global-climate-catastrophe Britain, where augmented humans stalk the land and immersive technology allows for an effective panopticon. Is it a snooper's paradise, or a sensible way to maintain order? There's a surprising amount of philosophy in here…

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Book Review: The Uplift War - David Brin (Uplift Trilogy Book 3)

Aliens, humans, and chimps on the front cover of a book.

SUPERCHIMPS! IN! SPAAAAAAACE! The previous book was about neo-Dolphins, this one is about chimps. And it is very good. Ultimately, it is a book about slavery and ecology. What do we owe to our planet? Can we take "lesser" races and bring them sentience and sapience? Should they be allowed to develop their own culture?…

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Book Review: Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons

Book cover for Constance. A fingerprint with an infinity symbol embedded.

Pure pulp sci-fi - and I loved every page of it. The best sci-fi, in my opinion, doesn't dwell too long on how the magic box works - but spends time exploring the consequences of opening it. The premise is great - cloning is real and you can back up your brain. When you die,…

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Book Review: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Book cover featuring a gigantic monster.

Oh! But this is ridiculously fantastic fun. An unemployed sci-fi geek escapes the pandemic by going all David Attenborough with Godzilla. Yes, it is an exercise in nerdy wish fulfilment. But who among us wouldn't have rather spent the last two years being chased by giant scary monsters rather than cowering away from a microscopic…

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