The Stars My Destination

I just finished reading The Stars My Destination (originally published as Tiger! Tiger!) by Alfred Bester. I didn’t mean to pause from the Count of Monte Cristo. I only meant  to read the preview in the Kindle store, as someone had mentioned it as one of the best Sci Fi novels ever and I’d never heard of it. Well, after reading the preview I had to buy it, and promptly read it in one afternoon.

The novel takes place in the 25th century, after our solar system has been colonized and humans have all learned to teleport, or jaunt as they call it (after the first man to teleport, Jaunte). Except that the distance of teleporting is limited to 1000 miles each jump, and no one can teleport through empty space.

The story starts with our protagonist, Gully Foyle, an unskilled everyman crew member of the ship Nomad, stranded alone on the wreck of the ship. He is trapped alone, the only survivor, stuck in the only room of the ship that is still pressurized–a tiny locker.

After surviving alone in cramped darkness and silence for six months, a ship finally comes. He signals them for help and they stop–then pass him by. Gully swears revenge on the ship, and the novel follows his obsessive pursuit to find out who was on that ship and gave the order to leave him to die, and how he’ll make them pay.

The plot actually has a couple parallels to the Count of Monte Cristo, besides just the desire for revenge.

[spoilers!]

At one point Gully is sent to a ‘hospital’, which is really an underground prison. He meets a woman there who he speaks with through the walls of his cell. Over months of speaking she educates him to become less of a brute, more charming and knowledgeable of the world. They then escape together. This is exactly what happened to Dantes in prison when he meets the Abbe Faria, except the Abbe did not escape with him.

Secondly, after escaping Gully comes into a vast sum of money and creates a new persona for himself: an extravagant playboy, a clown, someone obsessed with notoriety who throws his money about with abandon. He uses his fame to get close to his enemies, and get the information he needs for revenge. This is another direct parallel to how Dantes turns himself into the Count.

[/spoilers]

This book is packed full of interesting ideas and fun action. Every character is memorable and vivid. I dare you to read the preview on Amazon and see if you don’t buy it. Highly recommended for anyone even remotely interested in sci fi.

Week 10 and Borges

I finished a sort of thing this week. It’s barely a story, more a rambling about erasing and altering memories. Once again I didn’t use the song prompt, but it’s a good one so I might use it next week.

I discovered Jorge Luis Borges this week also, who somehow had escaped my awareness until now. I’ve read only a few of his stories so far but have been impressed by each one. They are the sort of stories I want to write, and I’m going to try to draw some inspiration from them.

Read The Library of Babel for an idea what he’s about. Huge ideas compressed into short shorts, quick and powerful.

I’m going to be reading a lot of him and probably trying to copy his style over the next few weeks.

 

week 9

I nearly gave up this week, then I came across a story I’d started writing a month or two back and got re-inspired by it, and finished it.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever managed to come back to a project that I put on hold. Most the time when I ‘take a break’ from something, it is forever in the drawer, never to be worked on again. Maybe, there is hope for me ever having multiple projects at once after all!

The story was sort of fairy-tale ish, about the Queen of Time, who makes the seconds tick by but can have take no part in all the happenings she observes. It wasn’t inspired by this weeks prompt but sort of fits with it anyway so I’m going to go ahead and check it off my list.

I’m beginning to question whether it’s possible to write anything worthwhile with only a week to think about it. But either way this challenge is getting a lot of writing out of me, and hopefully there is gems of goodness in some of these stories that can be polished up later.

Week ten, here I come!

week 8 and Europa Report

Finished the story for this week which was about some people who live on an island in the sky, and one  man who believes there are other islands and wants to try to fly to one. Started out feeling pretty good about it, but then it just fell apart. I got to the end but am really not happy with it at all, it will need a lot of reworking before I even want to show it to anyone for advice. Oh dear. But, another week done anyway!

I also watched the movie Europa Report, which is currently available on netflix instant. It’s the story of a crew on a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, to check for signs of life beneath the ice. I found it to be really engaging and intense, and I think it’s one of those movies that will stick with me, especially certain scenes.

[Spoilers ahead!]

I enjoyed the intense curiosity of the crew. They were willing to take incredible risks to gain a bit more knowledge. One quote in the movie, by the Pilot Rosa is “Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known… what does your life actually matter?” She puts this into action in the final scene, as their ship is sinking beneath the ice, she opens the airlock and lets the water pour in. We watch her leaning over, looking down at the water trying to catch a glimpse of whatever is in it, her curiosity present even in the face of certain death.

I really wish they would have left the creature unseen, or at least mostly obscured, as it was for the entire movie until the end. Because the movie wasnt about the creatures beneath the ice, it was about the people and their quest for discovery. So when we see the creature at the end, and its just some dumb squid looking thing, it can only be felt as a let down, a really anticlimactic end. I feel a much better close would have been the water rushing up toward Rosa, and the flashing lights in the water, and maybe a little glimpse of something moving, then leave the rest to imagination. The gut feeling of mystery and the unknown, and discovery and awe that the movie had given me up till the end was muted by that final view of such a mundane creature.

[/spoilers]

Over all I think this is probably the best sci fi movie I’ve seen this year (havent seen Gravity yet) and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in sci fi, or science and exploration in general. This movie is heavier on the sci than on the fi, I think, and makes itself pretty believable.

Another one

I’ve been rejected yet again by DSF in the second round. I’ve been hoping for so long to get that third professional sale so I can join SFWA… and….

It turns out I don’t need three to join after all.

I need three sales to join as an ‘Active’ level membership, but I can join as an Associate with just one sale!

So, I have now applied for membership and hope to hear back soon!

I’m inspired and excited even after another annoying rejection!