Hugo: Rainbows End (2007)

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
Read June 24, 2010 – June 27, 2010

Premise: Famous poet Robert Gu is medically enhanced and comes back from a long bout of Alzheimer’s to find the world technologically advanced in the extreme. Robert must cope with the new standards of computer technology and his own changed talents while some crazy terrorist(ish) groups try and bring their world-dominating plot to a head.

Verdict: My copy of this book was used and somebody literally chewed on it and left huge bite marks. While I didn’t find it good enough to eat, nor bad enough to try and destroy, I did enjoy it immensely. The book is set in 2025 and was written in 2006, but the near-future technology is incredibly believable and I keep forgetting that I don’t have it. There are contact lenses with the interface built in so that information can pop up directly on objects, you can overlay different worlds and views onto the environment, and your clothing itself is the actual computer. Pretty neat. The storyline was also interesting and involved some mysterious intelligence manipulating pretty much every character to serve the intentions of its employer. The employer was concocting a sort of biological/technological attack on the whole world that he was trying to cover up etc etc. I guess that’s sort of standard sci-fi, which all the characters kept saying as well. And no, I’m not out of my mind and I haven’t forgotten basic grammatical skills—there is no apostrophe in the title. The story makes a specific point of that.

This was a fast read and a compelling book. If you don’t like it you haven’t lost much by reading it. I, however, enjoyed it. Please don’t bite your books.

Hugo: The Left Hand of Darkness (1970)

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Read June 16, 2010 – June 22, 2010

Premise: A political emissary from a planetary alliance tries to bring a frozen planet of ambisexual humans into the alliance and must contend with the strange society he finds there.

Verdict: I had read this book for the first time a few years ago and remember being incredibly moved and absolutely blown away. This time around I already knew the story and what was going to happen so I paid close attention to the details and the construction of the thing. It’s just as good on a second read and perhaps even more so since you can take a close look at what’s going on with the mechanics of the story instead of trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m not exactly sure what else to say, except that this is a very good novel and it reads very fast so even if (for some reason) you turn out not to like it you’re not out much.

I adore this book. It’s definitely a must-read, especially for a sci-fi fan.