The Power Dynamics of Identity: A Review of Splintegrate, by Deborah Teramis Christian

Every story has a theme, a focus running side-by-side with the plot that thoroughly defines the very nature of the book.  When a person asks what a book is about, there are always two answers; the plot, and the themes.  For example, The Lord of the Rings is about the battle between good and evil, and the nature of heroism.  It is also the story of a hobbit crossing the world to throw an evil ring into a volcano.  In a similar vein, Splintegrate, by Deborah Teramis Christian, is a story about bodily autonomy and the nature of identity.  It is about what happens when outside machinations violate one’s body and personality without consent.  It is also an engaging science-fiction thriller about a professional dominatrix charged with assassinating a mob boss.  The high level of technology present in a science-fiction setting allows for a practical examination of identity outside of the thought experiments of today.

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Mapping the Stars: A Review of The Forbidden Stars, by Tim Pratt

Science-fiction is one of the most versatile genres of fiction around, capable of combining settings with any other tale.  Science-fiction as a genre is also a bit of a misnomer.  The average science-fiction story is not just science-fiction.  Tales can be action films, adventure stories, romance, horror, and more.  From Blade Runner to Black Mirror, from Polaris Rising to Foundation.  Science-fiction can be defined by both fun and thoughtfulness, and there is always a place for a fun adventure that does not require readers to analyze every paragraph.  Books like The Forbidden Stars, Tim Pratt’s third novel in the Axiom trilogy, show the importance of such escapism while also taking the opportunity to define a possible future.  While entertaining, the novels also take some time to normalize behaviors and lifestyles, sexual orientations and body modifications.  Science-fiction lets us see all futures and revel in them.

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Never a Hindrance: A Review of Aurora Blazing, by Jessie Mihalik

There is a certain amount of joy gained in reading some fiction.  Fiction meant to entertain, to transport the readers to fantastical worlds and witness the deeds of heroic peoples.  Where literary fiction tends to prioritize specific word choice and meaning over plot and character, many authors realize that there can be greater value in drawing in and entertaining your audience.  Sometimes the best books are the ones that make you forget that you are reading words on a page, instead conjuring images in your imagination.  These are the kinds of books that are hard to put down, and you wonder how you managed to read through them so quickly.  These types of books thrive in science-fiction, where most things, if not all things, are possible.  The only barrier is the author’s imagination.
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The Space Princess and the Wanted Criminal: A Review of Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik

Science-fiction takes many forms, but there are two archetypes which nearly all science-fiction stories fall into.  First, there is the hard sci-fi.  The Expanse, The Three-Body Problem, anything by Robert A. Heinlein.  These are the stories which pay extra attention to the technologies of the future and go to great lengths to explain exactly how races have progressed to their points.  This type of science-fiction can be literary, it can be intellectual, and it can be gritty.  On the other end of the spectrum is the space opera.  Star Wars, Firefly, A Princess of Mars.  In space operas the technology is present, but is not central to the story.  These stories are all about the characters.  Where hard sci-fi series can fluctuate between multiple viewpoints, space operas relish in following an individual or a group of characters throughout their adventure.  As our world changes and progresses, hard science-fiction and sometimes feel outdated, but space operas are timeless.  Polaris Rising is very much a space opera.

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A Note on the Next Review: The Dreaming Stars

I am very excited to say that the next book I am reviewing is The Dreaming Stars, by Time Pratt Time Pratt.  This is the sequel to his wonderful science-fiction adventure, The Wrong Stars, which is the second book I ever reviewed on this blog.  The second book in a burgeoning space opera, I am excited to see what happens to Captain Callie Machedo and Dr. Elena Oh after their discovery of the Axiom, the demi-god aliens sleeping in the dark corners of the universe.

While you’re waiting for my review of The Dreaming Stars, go catch up on The Wrong Stars and my review, Instructions Not Included.  If you love science-fiction, this is a can’t-miss series!

The Art of Empire Building: a Review of Persepolis Rising, by James S.A. Corey

Humanity has always been fascinated with outer space.  As long as people have looked to the sky, we have imagined what life would like up in the black, bouncing from star to star.  Even before a man-made object first left atmosphere, stories were written about aliens coming down from the sky.  With the advent of space travel, stories have leaned towards humans leaving Earth and meeting the aliens on their home turf.  For the most part, these stories all portray extraterrestrial life in similar fashions.  They are older, wiser, more technologically advanced than humans.  Many wish to impart their knowledge down to us, to elevate humanity.  The Expanse series does no such thing.  Alien life is long gone, but their inventions and structures remain, hidden on far off planets, waiting to wake up and pick up where they left off.

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2017 Reading List, Part 5

Welcome back to City on the Moon for the fifth and final part of my 2017 reading list, where I’ve been going over every book I read this year, not including Artemis and The Wrong Stars, my first two reviews.  Part 4 featured Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier, Red vs. Blue: The Ultimate Fan Guide from Rooster Teeth, and Go Nitro: Rise of the Blades by Jeremy Dooley.  Today’s list is a bit of a departure in that all six books are part of one series, a science-fiction story where realistic space travel meets alien technology.

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Instructions Not Included: A Review of The Wrong Stars, by Tim Pratt

Science-fiction attracts those readers and writers with imaginations that point towards the future.  It is one of the few genres where any technology is possible if you can picture it in your head and express it on the page.  Any vehicle, from flying cars to ships the size of planets, is fair game.  Science-fiction can inhabit any setting, star any character.  If you can describe it, it’s real.  There is something about the genre which draws everyone in, regardless of their normal reading habits.  Just look at the Star Wars saga or the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  People who would normally never read a book about space battles or robots fall in love with Luke Skywalker and Iron Man.  It helps that science-fiction is a melting pot.  It sets a technological backdrop for the story, but the story can be something else entirely.

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