Thursday, August 15, 2013

What's speculative and what's just inevitable?

I finished a book a couple weeks ago that I received from Quirk. Every book I've read by them has been speculative. I've read a couple of their mash-ups and started a third (see post on July 18th re: William Shakespeare's Star Wars). The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters (I reviewed his mash-up, Android Karenina), aside from the fact that an asteroid is headed for the earth, is not speculative. The earth could one day be in the path of an asteroid that size. So, is that really speculative? Yes, and no. This is how Wikipedia defines speculative fiction:

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts.[1]
The footnote goes to an explanation and brief history by Margaret Atwood. An asteroid that size colliding with the earth is not something that's happened in human history. None of us can really know how we would deal with the knowledge of the end of the earth if we haven't lived through it, so I guess, in that sense, it's speculative, dystopian even. And it's a great "what if".

Soft Apocalypse, which I read and reviewed a couple years ago had the same focus, although the apocalypse was slow and the world wouldn't be entirely wiped out. I did enjoy reading The Last Policeman. It was refreshing to read a book that only had one POV. So many authors cram anywhere from three to even twelve into one novel. I think Dan Simmons' The Terror (review here) must have had a dozen. It has advantages and disadvantages. Certainly, when you only have time to read a book in snatches, the single POV is more manageable and an easier read. The Terror, btw, is slated to be an AMC mini-series or TV movie (depending on who you ask) next year. 

I enjoyed the Detective Hank Palace's reactions and personality enough to read more in Countdown City: The Last Policeman II (as soon as I can figure out what I did with it). I have to say, though, they are more detective novels than speculative fiction, which is why I'm not reviewing either of them here. I reviewed Rob Sawyer's Red Planet Blues, which was also a detective novel, but that one was set on, well, Mars, and involved a lot of not-yet science, so it more than qualified.


For those of you who live in or near San Francisco, a local landmark tourist attraction, Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, is shutting its doors after today. Better hurry! Too bad it isn't next Thursday. Then Kevin and I could visit during our honeymoon. Ah, well, that will leave more time for dancing!


Here's the Phoenix Picks free ebook for August. Coupon code, 9991670 is good through August 31.

Carolyn Ives Gilman’s Hugo and Nebula nominated novella, The Ice Owl.
Set in the same universe as Arkfall (although a totally independent
story), The Ice Owl tells a tale capturing that moment when we start to
lose our childhood…when we start to realize that our parents and the
“grown-ups” are just as flawed as we are…everyone struggling to deal with
their own demons.

With all the wedding plans, this little gem got buried. It's still available on demand, so I'm still posting it. Maybe we'll watch it next week - when we're not dancing. ;) It's got Russell Tovey, the werewolf from Being Human. The original, Brit series, not the rubbish Americanized version. He's great!

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