This is the May 2006 update of my New Year’s Resolution.
STARTING SF-POINTS©: 154
SF-POINTS© EARNED THIS MONTH: 26 (QUOTA: 31)
YEAR-TO-DATE SF-POINTS©: 180 (YTD QUOTA: 151)
|DATE READ||STORY||YEAR WRITTEN||AUTHOR||SOURCE||RATING||TYPE||POINTS||YTD POINTS|
|05/03/06||“Guardian Angel”||2005||Mike Resnick||Down These Dark Spaceways edited by Mike Resnick||NA||4||158|
|05/06/06||“Into the Quake Zone”||2005||David Gerrold||NA||4||162|
|05/07/06||“The City of Cries”||2005||Catherine Asaro||NA||4||166|
|05/10/06||“The Big Downtown”||2005||Jack McDevitt||NA||4||174|
|05/11/06||“Beggars in Spain”||1991||Nancy Kress||The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Ninth Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois||NA||4||178|
|05/29/06||“The Past Master”||1955||Robert Bloch||The Best of Robert Bloch||NV||2||180|
KEY:VI=Vignette (.25 points), SS=Short Story (1 point), NV=Novelette (2 points), NA=Novella (4 points)
NOTE: Click the Source link to see the associated review. Miscellaneous reviews follow
“Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress [1991 novella] (Rating: ) [Read 05/11/06]
- Source: The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Ninth Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois
- Synopsis: The plight of Leisha Camden, one of the “Sleepless” who are genetically bred to never need sleep. As a result, they are more productive, more intelligent and subsequently shunned by the “Sleepers”.
- Review: The low-key but tense opening seen of Roger and Elizabeth Camden specifying their designer baby (and insisting on the alterable trait of sleeplessness) soon moves to the early years of Leisha and her twin sister Alice. Leisha is the Sleepless adored by rich patriarch Roger while Alice is the unplanned Sleeper adored by bitter mother Elizabeth. The twin sisters are not treated as equals in this dysfunctional family, a situation forced by Roger’s domineering presence and money. The Camdens subscribe to the Yagai school of philosophy which is predicated on the belief that spiritual dignity and joy is obtained through supporting oneself through mutually beneficial trade. This worldview clouds Leisha’s vision as the Sleepers’ hate and prejudice mounts and they begin to turn against the Sleepless when they get the better jobs, make more money and (as they soon learn) achieve a form of immortality. The pressure on Leisha to retreat to the Sleepless-built Sanctuary is enormous. Eventually, she succumbs to the “dark side” and sees the Sleepers as the enemy. But is there a lesson to be learned? Are the ideas behind Yagaiism flawed? Are the symbolically-mentioned beggars from Spain, who have nothing to give, unworthy of compassion? These issues are just some of the issues that make you think – genetic engineering is also great springboard for thought-provoking issues – and this story is stuffed with them. Kress’ realistic characterizations add much to the enjoyment of this story. Nicely done!
- Note: Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1992.
- Note: This story was later expanded to the novel Beggars in Spain which has subsequently spawned the two sequels Beggars and Choosers (1994) and Beggar’s Ride (1996).
“The Past Master” by Robert Bloch [1955 novelette] (Rating: ) [Read 05/29/06]
- Source: The Best of Robert Bloch
- Synopsis: A man from the future tries to save art masterpieces from imminent wartime destruction.
- Review: A classic sf story that is, by this day and age, all-too-predictable, but that in no way stops this from being a great story. The story of the visitor named Smith is told through first-person accounts, starting with his arrival on a eastern beach. There is one account from the shady character who procures most of the art work for Smith that was slightly longer than it needed to be, but it was essential to bridge the gap between his arrival and his ill-fated departure. The Russian paranoia of the 1950’s permeates this story and helps give it that classic feel. Great stuff.