(You can’t melt a frozen heart with anger)
Pros: Lovely prose. Fabulous world building. Engaging plot with mystery, peril and hope. Deep themes including population control, religious hypocrisy and societal constraints, the human-animal connection. Fine characterizations including a portrayal of a failed marriage, and an intriguing protagonist. Characters act from in response to well-depicted psychological motivations.
Possible cons: Anti-organized religion theme may trouble some readers. Third act drags and occasionally becomes preachy. Fair bit of emotional tell. Continue reading Grass by Sheri Tepper, a Review
(Marginalized humans undermine the dominance of machines with the help of a sentient breadmaker and a hair salon.)
Pros: Clever set up, an interesting character, brilliant machine-world psychology.
Possible Cons: Probably not the book for those unable to suspend disbelief or those who like their dystopias grim and sincere.
Battlestar Suburbia begins as the story of Darren, a hapless everyman, and Kelly, a prickly woman accustomed to living outside the law. The pair accidentally run afoul of the powerful machine-world that controls their Dolestar and find themselves on the most wanted list. Continue reading Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCullen, a Review
Pros: Highly convincing portrayal of a particular personality.
Potential cons: Extensive telling of emotional states, low tension plot.
In Willow Thomson’s debut novel, Seeds of Change, plague and catastrophic climate change leave Earth uninhabitable. A wealthy leader gathers a group of space colonists, and they depart for an unexplored planet. Continue reading Seeds of Change by Willow Thomson, A Review
A successful character reads like a complete person with particular thought patterns and reactions, habits and tics. The best characters are consistent and believable, a person one might encounter in real life, for better or worse. How does an author fashion the mental world of diverse but credible characters? Continue reading Sensors and Intuitives in Neal Stephenson’s Novel, Anathem
Pros: Clever set up, interesting characters, timely topics
Possible Cons: Video game style climax and villain-tells-all scene. Roving point of view and a fair bit of “tell.”
The Echo Chamber is in part a tale of tech-corporate malfeasance, involving a rogue AI, a blender and ruthless Silicon Valley executives who build a social media “echo chamber.” This hypnotic virtual reality seduces most of the world’s population, trapping people in their own memories or with a personalized preconceived-worldview-comfort-zone. This shadow world is a paradise for pundits who spew, to put it politely, “non-evidence-based ideas about people and the environment.” The company dodges moral responsibility, citing freedom of access, acceptance and inclusion. Moral blinders allow massive corporate expansion with “no constraints, no thought of consequences.” Continue reading A Review of The Echo Chamber by Rhett J. Evans