Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: sci fi

Isaac Asimov: Robots and Space Travel

I finished reading “The Roving Mind” by Isaac Asimov over the weekend. 348 pages in 13.92 hours. But who’s counting?!

isaac asimov

The man invented the word “robots,” but he’d never used a computer. He knows that the word is only attributed to him, but he knows he heard it somewhere before. He used a typewriter and when told a newfangled word processor would at least speed up his writing, he scoffed. He wrote a book a month and so many essays. “Prolific” doesn’t begin to describe him.

I enjoyed reading some of these essays more than others. My favorites being the last few that he wrote about himself. I was encouraged to hear that he often wrote “off the cuff” and only went back to clean up some mistakes and maybe rearrange a bit. That’s typically my style as well. I’m not saying I’m a genius, but what I write is usually what I’m thinking as I think it. It may not be brilliant but it’s honest, real.

There was one bit about space exploration that I found inspiring. Imagine space colonies, people living in space, children growing up on a space station. They’d be the people that went on the long journeys into space, the ones that got on that light speed vehicle and headed into the vast unknown. They would be used to that life and not as likely to be unnerved by the confinement.

Also, reading Isaac Asimov describe how big the universe really is, not to mention our own dang solar system. Amazing.

I’m not big sci-fi fan. Hell, I’m not even a big science fan. I’d rather delve into relational human issues, spirituality and imagination, than ponder the secrets only meticulous science can unravel. But space travel is fascinating to me. The prospect of it. What’s out there? Who’s out there? I’m not concerned with how we get there or if there will be metals to mine or an atmosphere on that distant planet. What I want to know is, how we will talk to them. Will we even be able recognize a sentient lifeform from an entirely different galaxy?

It’s probably why I love Star Trek so much. The exploration of space. “This is a science vessel!” How would we even begin to communicate and interact with a species that developed completely outside our own system? How will they be different? How will they be similar? It boggles my mind.

The only drawback to this book for me was that, because it was written in 1983, it felt a little dated. Many of the things we thought were going to destroy the world in the next decade never came to fruition. Don’t get me wrong, some of them still could, eventually. But, like a lot of predictions and panics, we’re assuming that technology will remain the same when we look forward to a grim future. These days, with the rapid development of technology, anything can happen.

When I look to the future, I wonder what crazy new thing will have been invented and embraced that will change how my grandchildren live. I’m curious and optimistic, unless I’ve just been to the grocery store, and they’ve put my spaghetti sauce on top of my loaf of bread…again. Then I’m afraid that I am convinced there is no hope for us a species.

Are you a sci-fi fan? Do you read Isaac Asimov fiction? What’s your favorite?

Go back and read my first post, “The Roving Mind: New Read” to see where I came from.

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card: New Read

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

“Songmaster” by Orson Scott Card will be the third book I’ve read by Card, the first being, of course, Ender’s Game. I read that long before the movie. The whole family read it and we loved it. It scared the crap out of us, and we all cried and yelled about it as we read. When we heard that a movie was going to come out, and Harrison Ford was going to be in it, there was much rejoicing.

The second one was the second book in that series. I never finished it. It was just too … weird? I’m not sure I have a word for it. This book is, so far, similar in weirdness.

I’ll be honest, I’m not huge fan of sci-fi. I know…geez! But I have enjoyed the classics in the past.

I saw this book by Card in the pile of freebies, so I picked it up and put it on my TBR shelf. I started reading it yesterday and I’m not sure I like it. I just don’t care about the characters. I haven’t found any that I can relate to or sympathize with, no connection.

My problem with sci-fi, and a lot of fantasy, is the settings and situations can get so far outside of what I know of my own world, that I can’t picture the scene. And then, when the characters follow suit, I just can connect with what they are feeling. It’s like watching a thriller tv show where you just don’t care which character dies next.

I’ll keep reading Songmaster, though. I want to know why this boy was kidnapped and how he will sing the world to destruction. That’s just weird, see? Maybe I’m not in the right frame of mind?

And what’s up with Card and his obsession with very young children put into impossible (usually horrible, violent, and abusive) circumstances to save the world? This boy was kidnapped at two or three years old and raised into a very strict cult (to my thinking) that schools children into singers that serve mankind. I’m not sure how or why. They seem to be raised to be entertainment slaves.

The boy in Songmaster is about six or seven years old when he is sent to serve his new master and will retire around fourteen, to spend the rest of his life inside the cult supporting and teaching other very young children.

It’s all so strange. Let me know if you’ve read this one. I’d love to hear someone else’s opinion. Maybe I’m missing something deeper to the story.

…sigh…

I just did a quick search to see if I had written about Ender’s Game in the past but found something terrible. Another confirmation that I only remember a tiny fraction of what I read. I have read a third book by Card in the past and loved it, “Enchantment.” THAT was a beautiful book!

To read my final thoughts on “Songmaster,” read “Can Tyranny Bring Peace in the Long Run? A Book Review”

“The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov book cover on a desert background.
“The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov

I saw an Isaac Asimov book in that massive pile of books to be re-homed, and immediately picked it up. I have loved him ever since I read the Foundation books a few years ago. His sci-fi is unparalleled.

Do you like sci-fi books? If someone asked me, I’d say I’m not that much of a fan, but I do love the old classics. I love Star Trek. I’ve seen them all. I’ve read Dune and several Heinlein books. And the old movies? Love them!

But I’m not a sci-fi fanatic. I know people who are WAY more into it than I am. Maybe just an enthusiast?

Now I’m sitting here wondering if you could put people into personality classes by what book genres they love most. What kind of people like Fantasy? Romance? Historical Fiction? YA? Modern? Dystopian? It would be fun to work that out like a zodiac of sorts. Maybe I will! (adds idea to the list)

I especially love classic (AKA old) sci-fi because, even though the science is sometimes laughable (run this report up to the bridge!), the human struggle is still there, still relevant to our own time. Asimov has a great way of writing the science so well, that even I can follow along. Maybe someone who understood more science and math would think it was a deal breaker, but I can imagine what his worlds would look like, how things work.

And then there’s the underlying part of sci-fi, humanity. This book was written in 1972, so power supply is the focus. That’s what I love about sci-fi. You can see what people were worrying about when the book was written. If you know some history, sci-fi is even better to read. It’s fun to see what they predicted wrong, what became a non-issue and what we are still working on.

Here’s my favorite line from the first few pages.

“My facts are correct. And since they are, how can I be wrong?”

Craziest thing ever? Yesterday morning, while I was doing the dishes, I stopped and wrote this in my journal.

“We don’t all come to the same conclusions with the same information. There are infinite variables. It’s not math, it’s predicting the future. Even if we did come to same conclusion, it may not be at the same time. We need to give each other more space to grow.”

It’s an idea I was planning on spending some time on in the coming weeks. A few hours later, I need a break from the housework, so I randomly picked up a new novel out of my TBR pile to start reading. “Hmm…sci-fi sounds like fun right now.” Within a few pages, that idea boomerangs back to me from the universe.

And that’s what I love about the way I read. It’s like life. Follow your instincts, keep an open mind and an open heart, let go of attachment to outcomes, and see what happens. Not very science-minded, but it works for me.

Have you read any Asimov? Tell me what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

You can find “The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov at Thirftbooks.com if you want to read with me!


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Does Change Have to be Violent?

Change… “will come to pass by violence and upheaval, by flame and by fury, for no change comes calmly over the world.”
“It will be so. We do not will it so.”
“Ignorance is king. Many would not profit by his abdication. Many enrich themselves by means of his dark monarchy. They are his Court, and in his name they defraud and govern, enrich themselves and perpetuate their power.”

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

In the story, I totally agree. A big change is coming and it’s yet to be seen whether or not it will be a good one; good in the “better for all of mankind” kind of way.

But I don’t think change must be violent. Big dramatic changes can disrupt everything, but small, steady, almost unnoticeable changes can be just as good and for more people. The Grand Canyon was slowly eroded into what it is today, or was it? Children are can be born and grow up without violence and pain. A tree grows from seed into a towering pine over hundreds of years.

But I like the small line in the middle most. “It WILL be so. We do not WILL it so.” Inevitability. He believes he’s stating a natural law. He doesn’t want violence, but violence will be the natural consequence of the changes that are coming to their world.

Is progress always violent? Growth spurts are inevitable, I suppose. The more we try to reign in the changes of technological advancement, the more problems we cause in the long run possibly; the old adage of ripping the bandage off quickly.

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