Monday, September 21, 2020

Book review: THE UNPLEASANT PROFESSION OF JONATHAN HOAG by Robert A. Heinlein

THE UNPLEASANT PROFESSION OF JONATHAN HOAG (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein

This book (which has been reprinted many times) contains the novella ”The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” - plus several short stories by the same author.

The title story is strange, but in a good way - an early example of ”urban fantasy”. It leaves you with a sense of deeper mystery, like a memorable episode of THE X-FILES.

Among the other featured stories, these two really stand out:

”And He Built a Crooked House” (1941) – An architect builds a house that accidentally becomes four-dimensional, with bizarre results. I found it very funny.

”All You Zombies” (1959) – This time-travel story is perhaps the weirdest thing Heinlein ever wrote, and some readers might be put off by just how far down the rabbit hole it goes. The story was later made into the critically acclaimed movie PREDESTINATION (2014).

Recommended for readers of ”weird fiction” and mind-bending fantasy.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Läs mina böcker på Nextory!

Flera av mina svenska böcker finns nu på Nextory.

Du hittar dem HÄR.

Med Nextory kan du läsa och lyssna på eböcker med mobilen, var som helst.



Monday, August 31, 2020

Book review: AIR by Geoff Ryman

AIR (2004) by Geoff Ryman

Life in a remote, tiny Central Asian village is transformed by a new kind of World Wide Web called "Air" (a breakthrough in "cloud computing"). The novel AIR focuses on the life of one single woman in this village where "everybody knows everybody," and how she uses Air to improve her situation.

Eventually, Air causes much more radical change, and there are some quite surprising twists. The village will never be the same again - it has been irrevocably connected to a larger world with immense, ambiguous possibilities.

This is a moving, likeable and optimistic story. You care for the characters, who lead small lives but are caught up in something much bigger than themselves.

Though AIR is science fiction, it also contains (in my opinion) an obvious element of magical realism. (No spoilers, but... get ready for a surprise. )

Recommended for readers of all genres.
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Friday, August 28, 2020

Book review: DUNE by Frank Herbert

 

DUNE (1965) by Frank Herbert

Finally, I've read this novel. I saw the 1984 movie first – a mistake, and I didn't like it.
The book, as the saying goes, was better.

DUNE may superficially seem to be an epic ”space opera” with the hero Paul Atreides fighting villains for the fate of the universe in an imaginative interplanetary setting... but it gets more interesting than that.

The author has created a unique world with its own societies, complex characters and a plot revolving around ecology, anthropology, politics, religion and mysticism.

Paul Atreides is not a typical space opera protagonist – he is more of a tragic figure driven by a fate he didn't choose and struggles to control. The novel is packed with foreshadowing, suggesting that Paul has to accept his destiny rather than master it. Also, the power he gains changes him (and not in a nice way).

Exotic drugs play a central role in the story (unsurprisingly, DUNE was a big hit in the 1960s) – and that's where it wanders off from SF into something more like Fantasy. There are several ”trippy” key scenes , where the characters literally get stoned outside of their minds.

Since this is space opera, it is constrained by the same genre limitations as STAR WARS. If DUNE takes place in a galactic empire, why does it seem so small? How can a few characters control the fate of an entire galaxy? How can they travel faster than light?

Why do they fight with medieval weapons in the far future? Why are the women not more liberated? How does an emperor ”rule” a galaxy anyway? Yet, the whole thing still works.

What I admire most about DUNE is the author's attention to characters, detail and style. Frank Herbert simply wrote better than most of his contemporary genre colleagues (and perhaps better than many known SF authors active today).

For example: When Paul Atreides kills a minor adversary, this death has consequences. The killed adversary is painstakingly buried and paid last respects, and the hero is forced to take care of his widow and her children. (How often do you see that in genre fiction?)

DUNE is required reading for any lover of great ”world building” in SF and Fantasy. It's a genuine classic that has inspired many other, lesser works. It can be a heavy read at the start, as the setting is so densely described and detailed... but it will draw you in.

Thoroughly recommended.


(NOTE: This novel has many sequels, in case you thought the first book ended too abruptly.)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Norsk barnbok med svensk illustratör: "Krokodiller og aper kan ikke være venner" av Elin Anita Straumsnes & A.R.Yngve

Jag har nu bott i Norge i 25 år -- halva livet! -- så det är märkligt att efter all den tiden har jag inte fått någonting publicerat i Norge (bortsett från radioserien "Magiens Arv" som jag skrev manuset till)...

Men: i år har en norsk barnbok kommit ut, skriven av Elin Anita Straumsnes, som jag har illustrerat med många teckningar. (Varje sida innehåller minst en bild.)

I den här intervjun från Porsanger Bibliotek berättar Elin Anita Straumsnes om sin bok, och om hur mina illustrationer kom till:

"Digital bokprat med Elin Anita Straumsnes", Porsanger Bibliotek

Läs även denna recension av boken, i den norska bloggen "Boktimmy":

"Krokodillehumor og Apemorro med glimt i øyet, og med et hint av moral"

Boken finns att köpa HÄR (enbart i Norge, än så länge).