Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

 

rosado mp3 on the road.

Description: Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Picnicers from SPAAAAAAACE!

Our poor human ego takes rather a pounding with the idea here. So insignificant are we that an alien ship stops off on planet for a minimal amount of time and fails to announce arrival. Same sort of discourtesy that anyone of us shows the ants etc. when we take out the ACME red-checkered picnic cloth over their pitch and squash the grass, drop our crumbs and wrappers, take a dump behind a bush.

There is a film loosely based on this book: Stalker (1979)

Three gold spheres as rating:

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

bookshelves: published-2014, net-galley, e-book, spring-2014, sci-fi, religion, christian, little-green-men, epistolatory-diary-blog, environmental-issues

Read from May 02 to 15, 2014


Crown Publishing. Hogarth,

Description: A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, from the internationally bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White. The Book of Strange New Things tells the story of Peter Leigh, a devoted man of faith called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him literally light years away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment and the ego-gratifying work of ministering to a native population hungry for the Bible–this “book of strange new things.” But he soon begins to receive increasingly desperate letters from home. North Korea is devastated by a typhoon; the Maldives are wiped out by a tsunami; England endures an earthquake, and Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
A separation measured in galaxies, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. Peter’s and Bea’s trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and the responsibility we have to others.

Opening:

‘I was going to say something’, he said.
‘So say it’, she said.
He was quiet, keeping his eyes on the road. In the darkness of the city’s outskirts, there was nothing to see except the tail-lights of other cars in the distance, the endless unfurling roll of tarmac, the giant utilitarian fixtures of the motorway.

According to the advance blurb from Chicago Tribune this is ‘deliciously dirty’ so I’d better put on my splash mask.

When Peter signed up as inter-galactic missionary it was the kiss of death to planet Earth, or that is how Beatrice construed it.

The dual storyline is reconciled by letters of disintegrating communication between Bea and Peter, she dealing with climate change issues on earth, and he ministering to the indiginous population.

And hovering in the background is the disappearence of two men from the base, Kurtzberg and Tartaglione:

‘They didn’t vanish overnight. It was kinda gradual. They would come back to base less and less often. They became…distant. Didn’t want to stick around.’

For most of The Book of Strange New Things it felt like HEART OF DARKNESS IN SPAAAAACE, not least because one of the missing men was called Kurtzberg.

I don’t know which book that Chicago Tribune bod read; it couldn’t have been this one as this proved to be tame on all levels.

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We Will Destroy Your Planet

bookshelves: net-galley, how-to, published-2013, little-green-men, amusing, spring-2014, e-book, ipad, sci-fi, war, weapon-evolution, under-20, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, palate-cleanser

Read from April 08 to 09, 2014


Osprey Publishing

Description: Enjoy this pseudo-nonfiction, ‘how-to’ military handbook for aliens intending to conquer the Earth. Science fiction elements are satirized and then connected to real-world science, history, and military technique to show how it should be done.

It goes without saying that any military campaign must be planned in ways depending upon some basic factors: The logistics of where your enemy is in relation to your own forces, environmental factors, and, most importantly, ‘why’ you’re fighting this campaign. This book intends to take these basic factors, and apply them to the purpose of conquering the planet known to the natives as Earth.

There are, of course, many possible reasons for launching a military campaign against such a planet. The form of your campaign, and the formation of its strategic and tactical policies will very much depend on your reason. Obviously the campaign to destroy all sentient life on a planetary surface will be very different in character to a campaign to, say, bring the local population into the fold of your empire or federation – and, frankly, a lot simpler.

Once the reason for conquest, or destruction, has been determined, the book will take a step-by-step approach to the best way to annihilate humanities resistance and bring them to their knees.

Opening to the introduction: Thank you for choosing planet Earth as your conquest target of choice. The local sentient population has long considered it to be a worthy destination for travellers from other planets, alternate dimensions and future timelines.

Maybe it would be good to refresh on just where this target of choice lies in the Milky Way.

However, if Sitchin is right about Niburu, the solar system really works in quite a different way and that could prove quite an obstinate obstacle to wannabee overlords’ invasion tactics.

[Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.
(hide spoiler)]

I am now convinced that there are hordes gathering on the Dark Side of the Moon ready to start a War of the Worlds

The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, he said (ahh, ahh)
The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, but still, they come…

This short book is cram-packed with facts about dimensions, speeds, girths etc. and combined with such an amusing premise I fail to see how it has been so badly overlooked by gift purchasers, powder-room librarians, mums with teenagers.

[

(hide spoiler)]

The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

bookshelves: winter-20132014, under-1000-ratings, tbr-busting-2014, published-2012, britain-scotland, taiwan, recreational-homicide, casual-violence, mental-health, lifestyles-deathstyles, fraudio, britain-england, psychology, boo-scary, anthropology, mystery-thriller, sci-fi, dystopian, filthy-lucre, forest, mythology, religion, arran, sweden, trolls, fantasy, dubai, environmental-issues, suicide, little-green-men, cannibalism

Read from July 01, 2012 to January 20, 2014

Description: A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?

As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. He has never been good at relationships. Asperger’s Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics.

Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when his Taiwan contact dies shockingly, and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, Hesketh is forced to make connections that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and – most devastatingly of all – his role as a father.

Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.

Origami Crane

Origami Praying Mantis

Origami Hermit Crab

In the Dubai gymnast leap sequence Tokoloshe was mentioned three times.

From wiki: In Zulu mythology, Tokoloshe is a dwarf-like water sprite. It is considered a mischievous and evil spirit that can become invisible by drinking water. Tokoloshes are called upon by malevolent people to cause trouble for others. At its least harmful a tokoloshe can be used to scare children, but its power extends to causing illness and even death upon the victim. The way to get rid of him is to call in the n’anga (witch doctor), who has the power to banish him from the area.

The children start forming a collective consciousness, show signs of arrested development and an addiction for salt.

Hesketh narrates the first person action from an anthropological and autistic viewpoint and it works very well. In Wyndham’s ‘Midwich Cuckoos’ the story is satisfactorily resolved (view spoiler), all tied up with bows; here was a somewhat wobbly ending as the author mounted her own environmental soapbox, her viewpoint working through the Professors notebooks and Hesketh’s epiphany. Lost a star right there. It has been a while since I read The Rapture but I have a feeling the same thing happened there too. Time for a re-visit of that before I spend future money on habitual preachy endings.

That said, 95% of this was very exciting and fresh.

4* The Rapture
4* The Uninvited

Trivia: Liz Jensen is married to author Carsten Jensen:

5* We, The Drowned
3* I Have Seen the World Begin

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