The Geek Spot
Monday, September 26, 2005
  What I am reading
Note: I started writing this entry on Sept 20, I finished it on Sept 26. So you are getting a super entry. Enjoy.

I just finished reading two books.

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I am currently reading, Pandora's Star by Peter Hamiliton

I have read The Caves of Steel about a go-zillion times. I love it. I am going to post some fan-fiction that occurs in that universe. One of these days.

The Caves of Steel is this detective story that happens in the future of the planet Earth. In this version of the future, people have taken to living in large, enclosed cities. People don't go outside, the entire society is quite agoraphobic. In the recent past, colonists have set out from Earth to colonize other planets, the spacers. Spacers and Earth-people do not get along, for many reasons. The people on Earth also have this mob-culture mentality. They are all ranked in a socio-economic way depending on their job. They also inherit status from their parents. People eat in large cafeterias, and share public facilities. I get the idea that the apartments are analogous to a dorm room. You don't really learn much about the spacers, but you do know that they live in the open, are much more technologically advanced, and practice some pretty extreme eugenics. They also have robots (as this is the first novel in the robot books), and obviously they all come from other worlds that people from Earth settled "long" ago. They have robots because they have a low birth rate (due to the Eugenics), and they need the extra labor. They don't need the extra labor back on Earth, so the Earth people resent the robot labor-force. I think SS may have borrowed a lot of this public opinion for his movie, AI.

I won't go into the actual plot of the book, but it is very interesting. It is not my favorite robot book. I really like I, Robot better. On a different tack, I saw the movie. I actually liked the movie. Why? As you know, I am not a fan of the "hollywood-ization" of good sci-fi. It usually just turns out bad, with the true die-hard fans lamenting the loss of the story, and the rest of the viewing public not quite "getting it". I, Robot (the movie) was different enough from any of the short stories that it was good enough to stand alone. It also benefited from a very good leading actor, and very good supporting cast as well.

I know I have read the other two robot novels, but I can't remember them so well, either. I will have to go back and re-read those as well.

I just heard about Ender's game from my friends over at The Dragon Page. I listen to a lot of their podcasts, and they were having a discussion with Orson Scott Card. I thought it sounded interesting, and when I went to the library, there it was. I also liked this book, a lot. If you have read, Halo, The Fall of Reach, you will notice some similarity in the two books. Basically they are taking children, and putting them through some very un-childlike actions to mold them into super-soldiers.

I really don't want to say more, because a lot of it will spoil the plot of the book, but it is a very good book and really gets you thinking. As a parent of a very young child, reading these kinds of books really makes me think about the capabilities of my own child.

Pandora's star. I am still reading this. I'll post a review as soon as I am finished.

Also, keep on the lookout for Ask the Chemist. I am a chemist and sometimes I get pretty agitated when I read or see something in the news that is PLAIN WRONG, so I will start this forum as a way to answer questions sent to me, or correct these wrong things. This will occur once a week. Stay tuned.
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