“Arthur C. Clarke” by Gary Westfahl


Of the “Big Three” authors who dominated the Golden Age of science fiction, I’ve always felt I had the weakest grasp on Arthur C. Clarke. Isaac Asimov’s oeuvre is easy to summarize: technological optimism and robots. Robert A. Heinlein tended to infuse his works with libertarian politics and nonconformists. As for Clarke? I’ve read several of his most famous novels and short stories, but always struggled to identify common themes. Clarke seems to veer wildly between hard-nosed science and wild-eyed mysticism. Childhood’s End features humans who gain almost godlike psychic powers, while Rendevouz with Rama tells the story of a scientific exploration to a mysterious alien object. Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey seems like a warning against A.I., yet Clarke was hardly anti-science – most of Clarke’s protagonists are scientists.  Continue reading ““Arthur C. Clarke” by Gary Westfahl”

The Faded Sun (C.J. Cherryh)



I happened to find The Faded Sun trilogy on my dad’s bookshelf when I was helping him sell his house. I had never heard of C.J. Cherryh, but it had been a while since I’d read space opera from the 1970s, so I figured I’d try it. Plus, the beautiful cover art by Michael Whelan evoked Dune, with a race of ancient warriors on a desert planet.

The Faded Sun takes place some time in the distant future. Humanity has established colonies on other worlds. As the book opens, humans and an alien race called the Regul had just signed a peace treaty putting an end to a forty-year war. As part of the agreement, the Regul agree to cede the planet Kesrith to the humans. Kesrith also happens to host a colony of Mri, who served as mercenaries for the Regul during the war.

*** SPOILER WARNING *** Continue reading “The Faded Sun (C.J. Cherryh)”

“Armada” by Ernest Cline


I recently wrote a review of Ernest Cline’s Armada for Mythgard Academy’s blog (available here). I am reprinting here as it is in many ways a companion piece to The Last Starfighter

In 2011, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (which I reviewed here) became a bestseller by capturing the gestalt of geek culture. For a generation that grew up during the 1980s and is rapidly approaching middle age (myself included), the book felt like a tribute to our collective nostalgia. In that book, teenager Wade Watts competes in an online video game by using trivia of 1980s pop culture to unlock hidden keys. Cline’s most recent book, Armada, is not a direct sequel to Ready Player One, but instead serves as a spiritual companion. If Ready Player One was “about” 1980s movies and video games, Armada attempts to recreate the archetypal 1980s sci-fi story in novel form. Continue reading ““Armada” by Ernest Cline”