Noumenon Infinity: Quite a Journey

Noumenon Infinity by Marina J.  Lostetter is the story of a deep space mission to study a distant star. The mission consists of twelve generational ships, which use clone technology to perpetuate the crews.

However, at the last minute, the original Convoy 12 is scrapped and replaced with a convoy headed not for deep space but for the edges of the solar system. Their mission: to study Sub-Dimensional Travel. Unlike the other convoys, they have regular supply ships and are not involved in reproduction by clone technology. But an accident has them traveling further in both time and space than any other.

Noumenon Infinity follows Convoy 12 and deep-space Convoy 7 in their captivating adventures over thousands of years. Although their journeys are separate, they are interlocked, one discovering weird alien machines and the other meeting the aliens themselves.

There are a lot of surprises in this book. I am reminded of Heinlein and Clarke in these pages, along with some hint of Star Trek. But Lostetter puts her own twist to the story, giving us cause to wonder about the future of humanity. Some things never change and others change a great deal. Give it a read.

To Ride Pegasus: A Psionic Adventure

I know Anne McCaffrey mostly from The Dragonriders of Pern series, so when I spotted a book of hers at a yard sale, I snatched it up. What I found was a book called To Ride Pegasus, and while it sounds like it might be another fantasy novel, it’s something much different – a science fiction book about people with psionic abilities, people known as Talents. 

To Ride Pegasus is written in four sections, and although it is a continuing story, each could really stand alone. The only exception is the first section, entitled “To Ride Pegasus,” like the entire book. It is the origin story, which is necessary to understand the rest.

A machine developed for a different purpose is found to be able to track psionic abilities, and one man, Henry Darrow, makes it his mission to gather these people together, use their powers for good, and protect their civil rights.

The rest of the book details incidents with one or two people who have these powers, how the powers get out of hand, and what the institution founded by Darrow does to help.

I enjoyed this book. It reminds me of much of the classic science fiction written in the 1960s and 1970’s and holds its own. However, having said that, I much prefer McCaffrey’s fantasy. For people who enjoy this book, there are two more to follow: Pegasus in Flight and Pegasus in Space. As for me, I’m going back to Pern.

Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”

Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay is a graphic novel based on Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for the Star Trek (TOS) episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.” The adaptation was done by Scott Tipton and David Tipton and the art by J. K. Woodward. I read it because I was curious. I was curious because the episode won a Hugo award for Ellison, but he was not happy about it. As a matter of fact, he was very bitter about the changes Gene Roddenberry and his production staff had made to Ellison’s script. So I read it to see if it was, in fact, better than the show which actually aired.

First, let me say that the book was very well done – the art is amazing and the story is easy to follow. Now let’s talk about the differences. First, it wasn’t McCoy who transported to the planet’s surface. It was a drug dealer in danger of being caught. The Guardian is not a big empty circle, but rather a group of men who converse for a while with Kirk and Spock. Then, when history is changed, the Enterprise doesn’t disappear, but is in the hands of a some very nasty people.

Other changes include a lot more interaction with people of the Great Depression, and the fact that Kirk and Spock don’t work for Edith Keeler. (Kirk, of course, does fall in love with her.) There also was an unnecessary linkage to a brooch Edith wore as being the focal point of the change and the unnecessary use of a tramp selling apples to create pathos.

After reading this book, I can see why the producers sought to streamline it and remove a lot of unnecessary characters and extras (perhaps for economic reasons.) One thing I really didn’t like in Ellison’s version is that the dialog of Kirk and Spock did not ring true, and they often said things I would not expect them to say at all.

So, I do prefer the version that aired, though I admit I could be biased from watching it over and over again all these years. However, it’s plain that the changes made the episode more “Star Trek.” Having McCoy being the one to change the past raised the stakes and created more pathos at the end when Kirk prevents him from saving Edith Keeler, certainly more pathos than the death of a stranger

My recommendation? If you like graphic novels, take a look. Otherwise, go to Netflix and watch the episode again.

An Argumentation of Historians

An Argumentation of Historians by Jodi Taylor is Book Nine in The Chronicles of St Mary’s, a series about time-traveling historians. I came to this book with a disadvantage, not having read any of the previous books. Luckily, Taylor kept me informed with little tidbits about what had happened previously to the protagonist Max and her colleagues. The author also graciously included a humorous list of characters, and while I soon got out of the habit of looking back for each one, it did help me to at least place them by department (i.e, Administration, History, Technical, R&D, Medical, and Security.)

But after I got my footing, it was a fun little romp. The basic plot of this installment is the attempt to lure in time-traveling criminal Ronan, whom the Time Police of the future are after. Long story short, it backfires and Max ends up in 1399.

Taylor writes in an offhand, humorous style, which I can appreciate, though I generally prefer my time travel stories of a serious nature. However, I really enjoyed the chapters devoted to 1399 because those pages contained what I believe all time travel novels should – a traveler trying to understand the time in which he or she has landed, getting into trouble, and finding a way out.

Most of the rest of the book involved Max’s relationships (with husband, bosses, subordinates), as well as increased subterfuge by the criminal Ronan.

I enjoyed the book, largely due to the flow and the characters, but also the way Taylor describes in detail the historical periods into which the characters travel. I love history and am always open to learning more. So, although I saw the humor almost as a distraction, I am tempted to pick up one or two more books in the series, if only to catch up.

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower is a dystopian novel by Octavia E. Butler, set in California in the near future, where climate change has wreaked havoc with society. Crime is out of control, poverty widespread, and the government practically useless. People who can afford to, live in walled communities and take their lives in their hands when they venture out. When disaster strikes her community, teenage Lauren has no choice but to set out on foot, trying to find someplace better. Accompanied by two acquaintances from the community, she meets others along the way, but the question is always: Who can she trust?

Lauren is not your usual young woman. She is a “sharer,” a person who possesses hyperempathy, and can feel pain and other sensations that she sees in others. That makes her trip even more dangerous because the government will capture and enslave people with that trait. But her way of coping makes her even more special. She is developing a new belief system known as Earthseed, the culmination of which is to leave the planet and start over again elsewhere.

Parable of the Sower has somewhat of a cult status for its take on climate change, the responsibilities we, as humans, have for the planet, and its relationship to certain Bible passages. It is definitely a book with a message; it is also a well-written science fiction novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Come for the story and stay for the message. You won’t be sorry.