Monday, January 30, 2012

Pictures from Aruba

Finally processed most of the pictures I took from our trip a couple weeks ago. This is about one tenth of all of them. (I went a little camera crazy) Enjoy!

Aruba 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Judas Unchained

Judas Unchained Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, I liked the series because it had the hard scifi feel I've been craving, however, certain themes fell a little short for me. Final score is 3 out of 5.

I finished the book awhile ago, so this review may be a little fuzzy on details from bad memory. (I was busy preparing and then experiencing a vacation in the Caribbean -- a good excuse!) The general take away I have from this story is a pleasant one. One of my primary drivers to read this in the first place was to find some serious hard science fiction and this definitely fit the bill. It was well-written and didn't fall into any tropes that I am familiar with. In other words, I was engaged and on my toes most of the time. However, there are a few areas that didn't work so well for me.

First, I felt overwhelmed with the number of protagonists and never really sympathized with any of them. The large cast and wide scope of the story felt a lot like the Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin) to me. However, with George, I perceived the world as being small at first and then growing bigger and bigger gradually. Peter, on the other hand, just plunged me in to this huge Commonwealth so quickly I had a hard time getting my bearings. (I will admit that some of this could be biased because I’ve read Ice and Fire more than once.) And this is my fuzzy memory talking here –- but the viewpoints from the Commonwealth didn’t seem truly first-person. Like I never really got the sense that I was getting inside anyone’s head. Thus, being an outsider, the events didn’t impact me that much.

(Minor spoilers here)
Second, several aspects of the technology were not explored to my personal satisfaction. The fact that humanity is basically immortal at this point should have changed our culture more drastically in my mind. Similarly, if humanity can create memory-storage chips that are built into our brains, wouldn’t we have a ton of other cybertech? Too many aspects of everyday life remained the same as what we experience today that at times, I almost forgot how far-future the story was supposed to be.

Those complaints aside, I did enjoy the series. I like it when alien species are presented as truly alien and not just a different human culture in costume. I like exploring the universe in space ships and using computers and technology to do amazing things. Once my ‘to read’ list empties out, I would even consider revisiting this story again.

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