Apr 262012
 

Author: Kim Stanley Robinson

Pages: 532

Publisher: Spectra Ballentine

Release Date: 8/6/2009

Genre: Science Fiction, Fictionalized Historical

Characters:

Galileo Galilei- 17th century Italian, Mathematician, Physicist and Astronomer.

Maria Celeste- Galileo’s faithful daughter.

Pope Urban VIII – Pope during Galileo’s later trial.

Cartophilius- Lives in Renaissance Italy, and works in Galileo’s household. Also from the future and transports Galileo to future.

Ganymede- Cult leader from one of Jupiter’s moons in the future.

Hera- Advanced mind therapist from future, helps Galileo work on issues.

Aurora- Future scientist that uses advanced computers and helps Galileo catch up on scientific advances.

Synopsis: Brilliant 17th century astronomer Galileo interrupts his normal real-world history with journeys to the moons of Jupiter in the future. In the 17th century he discovers 4 of Jupiter’s moons and deals with charges of heresy from the Catholic church and in the future he encounters alien intelligences. At the same time he attempts to reconcile religion and science and to avoid science being a slave to power.

Analysis:Kim Stanley Robinson has been one of my favorite author’s since I read his Mars Trilogy. His novels have a nice combination of scientific knowledge and character depth. Galileo’s Dream continues with this and really puts a human face on a great scientist and sheds light on the thought processes behind some of his discoveries. Also, up until the parts where Galileo travels into the future the novel seems close to the historical Galileo, but I would have liked to see more information about Robinson’s research.

Pro:

  • Possibly an indirect continuation of the mars series.
  • Carnival on Callisto has some really amazing costumes.
  • Galileo’s reactions to the English philosophers.

Con:

  • Reader may need to consult a dictionary, physics book and biography of Galileo.

Conclusion: This is a very good book. After 532 pages I feel as if I lived with Galileo and that he was a real living and breathing person. If the reader is like me, they will find themselves researching anyone and everyone named in the book.

Score: 4.31/5

Apr 252012
 

Author: Stieg Larsson

Pages: 658 trade paperback.

PublisherVintage Crime

Release Date: 2009

Genre:Revenge, Thriller

Characters:

Lisbeth Salander- Genius hacker, and social introvert. Spends most of time in hospital recovering from wounds in previous novel and preparing for her trial.

Mikael Blomkvist-Reporter from Millennium magazine and is very loyal to Lisbeth.

Zalanchenko- Former Soviet spy and Lisbeth’s father.

Niedermann- Insane blonde giant, impervious to pain.

Dragan Armansky- Head of Milton Security.

Synopsis: After the events of The Girl Who Played With Fire, Lisbeth Salander is taken to a hospital to be fixed up after her father shot her in the head and buried her alive. As she is recovering, devious forces in a shady corner of the Swedish spy agency attempt to silence her about her father. They get the government to press charges against her with the goal of locking her in an insane asylum for the rest of her life. Despite her rough exterior, Lisbeth has made many friends over the years, including Mikael Blomkvist,  Dragan Armansky and Holger Palmgren and they band together to help her fight her enemies.

Analysis: As with the other two books, I could not put this novel down. Larsson really surprised me with this one in the direction it went. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a murder mystery, The Girl Who Played with Fire was a slightly different type of murder mystery, but The Girl That Kicked the Hornet’s Nest travels into new territory with courtroom drama and international espionage.

Pro:

  • The story gets very deep quickly.
  • More depth to Niedermann character.
  • Lisbeth is master of payback.

Con:

  • Explanation of the plot to protect Zalanchenko borders on tedious at times.
  • Professional spies act like they have never heard of a surveillance camera.

Conclusion: This novel is a great continuation of the series, but it made me sad to finish it because it is possibly the last due to Stieg Larsson’s death in 2004.

Trivia: There is at least one more almost completed Stieg Larsson novel out there.

Score: 3.52/5

Apr 122012
 

Author: Suzanne Collins

Pages: 390 hardcover

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: August 24, 2010

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Characters:

Katniss Everdeen- Survived her second Hunger Game and is now figurehead of rebellion against the Capitol.

Gale Hawthorne- Survived the Capitol’s attack on District 12 and now part of rebellion.

Peeta Mellark- Was captured by the Capitol and is their pawn against Katniss.

Synopsis: After escaping the arena at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen and some of the other tributes escaped from the arena and were transported to District 13. Now as the symbol of the revolution, Katniss takes part in propaganda broadcasts aimed at turning the populous against the Capitol. Sadly, Peeta did not make it to District 13 and the Capitol is using him for their own propaganda. Katniss must fight against he pull of two Presidents to help liberate the people of the districts, free Peeta and get revenge against the Capitol.

Analysis: I have liked the series up till this point, but I think that the 3rd book is very weak compared to the other two. Previously Katniss was an active participant in everything, but in this book, she is often one of three things, unconscious, uncertain and acting without knowing why. I realize that she has been though a lot in the previous two books, but I don’t think it is an excuse for the heroine of the book to be so passive.

Pro:

  • Backgrounds for Finnick and Haymitch were interesting.
  • Some of the death traps were inventive.
  • Peeta was well written in the last half of the book.

Con:

  • Too much focus on costumes.
  • Even a high-tech bow is a pretty silly weapon against people with real guns.
  • Arena extended into the real world, but I think it stretches credibility.

ConclusionI imagine that Suzanne Collins really racked her brain to figure out a way to have the same feeling of the arena in the 3rd book. So, she added the pods and the camera crews and a small team fighting against greater odds. It could have worked, but it seems forced in this situation. Also, Katniss seems to have become a much weaker character in this one. I don’t know how she could ave been done better, but I had a harder time getting into this one. I only recommend it because it ties the series together and it would bug me not to finish it.

Score: 2.25/5