Collection of books, movies and short stories I’ve come across, in no particular order.

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  • “Stories of your life and others”, by T. Chiang
    Summary Contains both “Story of your Life” and “The Lifecycle of Software Objects”
  • “The Wandering Earth”, by Cixin Liu
    SummaryThe Wandering Earth is a science fiction novella by Chinese writer Cixin Liu. The novella focuses on humanity’s efforts to move the Earth in order to avoid a supernova. It was first published in 2000 by Beijing Guomi and won the 2000 China Galaxy Science Fiction Award of the Year. The novella was first published in English by Head of Zeus in 2017, as an eponymous collection of Liu’s science fiction short stories. It was also adapted into a 2019 film of the same name and its sequel, and a 2021 graphic novel.
  • “The Wind’s Twelve Quarters: Short Stories” by Ursula K. Le Guin
    SummaryThis is a collection containing, among other stories, the short story that started the Earthsea series." Along with “The Rule of Names,” the story establishes the world and characters of Earthsea. First published in 1964 in an issue of Fantastic, the story can be found in a handful of anthologies but can be hard to lay hands on.
  • “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin
    SummaryShevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.
  • “Lightspeed, Year One”, by various authors
    SummaryIntroduction / John Joseph Adams
    I’m alive, I love you, I’ll see you in Reno / Vylar Kaftan
    The Cassandra project / Jack McDevitt
    Cats in victory / David Barr Kirtley
    Amaryllis / Carrie Vaughn
    No time like the present / Carol Emshwiller
    Manumission / Tobias S. Buckell
    The Zeppelin Conductors’ Society Annual Gentlemen’s Ball / Genevieve Valentine
    " … For a single yesterday" / George R.R. Martin
    How to become a Mars overlord / Catherynne M. Valente
    Patient zero / Tananarive Due
    Arvies / Adam-Troy Castro
    More than the sum of his parts / Joe Haldeman
    Flower, mercy, needle, chain / Yoon Ha Lee
    The long chase / Geoffrey A. Landis
    Amid the words of war / Cat Rambo
    Travelers / Robert Silverberg
    Hindsight / Sarah Langan
    Tight little stitches in a dead man’s back / Joe R. Lansdale
    The taste of starlight / John R. Fultz
    Beachworld / Stephen King
    Standard loneliness package / Charles Yu
    Faces in revolving souls / Caitlín R. Kiernan
    Hwang’s billion brilliant daughters / Alice Sola Kim
    Ej-Es / Nancy Kress
    In-fall / Ted Kosmatka
    The observer / Kristine Kathryn Rusch
    Jenny’s sick / David Tallerman
    The silence of the asonu / Ursula K. Le Guin
    Postings from an amorous tomorrow / Corey Mariani
    Cucumber gravy / Susan Palwick
    Black fire / Tanith Lee
    The elephants of Poznan / Orson Scott Card
    Long enough and just so long / Cat Rambo
    The passenger / Julie E. Czerneda
    Simulacrum / Ken Liu
    Breakaway, backdown / James Patrick Kelly
    Saying the names / Maggie Clark
    Gossamer / Stephen Baxter
    Spider the artist / Nnedi Okorafor
    Woman leaves room / Robert Reed
    All that touches the air / An Owomoyela
    Maneki neko / Bruce Sterling
    Mama, we are zhenya, your son / Tom Crosshill
    Velvet fields / Anne McCaffrey
    The harrowers / Eric Gregory
    Bibi from Jupiter / Tessa Mellas
    Eliot wrote / Nancy Kress
    Scales / Alastair Reynolds.
  • “Catch-22”, by Joseph Heller
    SummaryCatch-22 is like no other novel. It has its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original. Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn’t even met keep trying to kill him. Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality – a masterpiece of our time.
  • “The Good Soldier Švejk”, by Jaroslav Hašek
    SummaryThe Good Soldier Švejk (pronounced [ˈʃvɛjk]) is an unfinished satirical dark comedy novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek, published in 1921–1923, about a good-humored, simple-minded, middle-aged man who pretends to be enthusiastic to serve Austria-Hungary in World War I.
  • “The First Men in the Moon” by H. G. Wells
    Summary The First Men in the Moon is a scientific romance, originally serialised in The Strand Magazine and The Cosmopolitan from November 1900 to June 1901 and published in hardcover in 1901,[2] by the English author H. G. Wells, who called it one of his “fantastic stories”.[3] The novel tells the story of a journey to the Moon undertaken by the two protagonists: a businessman narrator, Mr. Bedford; and an eccentric scientist, Mr. Cavor. Bedford and Cavor discover that the Moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilisation of insect-like creatures they call “Selenites”. The inspiration seems to come from the famous 1865 book by Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon, and the opera by Jacques Offenbach from 1875. Verne’s novel also uses the word “Selenites” to describe inhabitants of the Moon.
  • “The Drowned World” by J. G. Ballard
    SummaryThe Drowned World (1962), by J. G. Ballard, is a British science fiction novel that depicts a post-apocalyptic future in which global warming, caused by increased solar radiation, has rendered uninhabitable much of the surface of planet Earth. The story follows a team of scientists who are researching the environmental developments occurred in the flooded city of London. The novel is an expansion of the novella “The Drowned World”, which was first published in Science Fiction Adventures magazine, in the January 1962 issue, Vol. 4, No. 24. In 2010, Time magazine named The Drowned World one of the ten best novels about a post-apocalyptic world on Earth. In science fiction literature, The Drowned World is considered one of the founding novels of the climate fiction sub-genre.
  • “The Songs of Distant Earth”, by Arthur C. Clarke
    SummaryThe Songs of Distant Earth is a 1986 science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, based upon his 1958 short story of the same title. Of all of his novels, Clarke stated that this was his favourite.[1] Prior to the publishing of the novel, Clarke also wrote a short step outline with the same title, published in Omni magazine and anthologised in The Sentinel in 1983.
    The story is set in the 39th century and depicts the journey of the spaceship Magellan as it carries a large group of colonists in suspended animation to a distant planet after Earth’s sun goes nova. En route, it is required to stop for repairs at the planet Thalassa, which was colonised 700 years earlier but the colonists there lost contact with Earth for the past couple of centuries. The story delves into the cultural and emotional impact of the distant Earth’s demise on both sets of colonists, and how humans from two different worlds and societies interact with each other.
    The novel explores apocalyptic, atheistic, and utopian ideas, as well as the effects of long-term interstellar travel, high technology, and extra-terrestrial life. Additional themes include human survival, adaptation, and the challenges of starting anew on an alien world.
  • “Spin” by Robert C. Wilson
    SummaryOne night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.
    The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk–a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside–more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.
    Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.
    Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun–and report back on what they find.
    Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
  • “Tau Zero”, by Poul Anderson
    SummaryThe novel centers on a ten-year interstellar voyage aboard the spaceship Leonora Christine, and it opens with members of the crew preparing for their departure from earth. It is an especially moving departure because they know that while they are aboard the ship and traveling close to the speed of light, time will be passing much more quickly back home. As a result, by the time they return everyone they know will have long since died.
    From practically the very first page, therefore, Tau Zero sets the scientific realities of space travel in dramatic tension with the no-less-real emotional and psychological states of the travelers. This is a dynamic Anderson explores with great success over the course of the novel as fifty crewmembers settle in for the long journey together. They are a highly-trained team of scientists and researchers, but they are also a community of individuals, each trying to make a life for him or herself in space.This is the background within which the action of the novel takes place. Anderson carefully depicts the network of relationships linking these people before the real plot begins to unfold. The voyage soon takes a unexpected and disastrous turn for the worse.
  • “Ender’s Shadow”, by Orson Scott Card
    SummaryThis is Bean’s installment of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s saga. It is a great character building book for those who have read Ender’s Game and want to know more about Bean and his background.
  • “Inversions”, by Iain M. Banks
    SummaryIn the winter palace, the King’s new physician has more enemies than she at first realises. But then she also has more remedies to hand than those who wish her ill can know about.
  • “Lost in the funhouse” by J. Barth
    SummaryLost in the Funhouse (1968) is a short story collection by American author John Barth. The postmodern stories are extremely self-conscious and self-reflexive, and are considered to exemplify metafiction. Though Barth’s reputation rests mainly on his long novels, the stories “Night-Sea Journey”, “Lost in the Funhouse”, “Title” and “Life-Story” from Lost in the Funhouse are widely anthologized. The book appeared the year after the publication of his essay The Literature of Exhaustion, in which Barth said that the traditional modes of realistic fiction had been used up, but that this exhaustion itself could be used to inspire a new generation of writers, citing Nabokov, Beckett, and especially Borges as exemplars of this new approach. Lost in the Funhouse took these ideas to an extreme, for which it was both praised and condemned by critics.
  • “Martian Time-Slip” by P. K. Dick
    SummaryMartian Time-Slip is a 1964 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. The novel uses the common science fiction concept of a human colony on Mars. However, it also includes the themes of mental illness, the physics of time and the dangers of centralized authority. The novel was first published under the title All We Marsmen, serialized in the August, October and December 1963 issues of Worlds of Tomorrow magazine. The subsequent 1964 publication as Martian Time-Slip is virtually identical, with different chapter breaks.[1]
  • “The Book of the New Sun”, by Gene Wolfe
    SummaryIt chronicles the journey of Severian, a journeyman torturer from the Order of the Seekers for Truth and Penitence who after helping a client kill themselves is exiled in disgrace to journey to the distant city of Thrax where he is to live out his days as their executioner. Severian lives in the ancient city of Nessus in a nation called the Commonwealth, ruled by the Autarch, in the Southern Hemisphere. It is at war with Ascia, its totalitarian northern neighbour. It is a first-person narrative, ostensibly translated by Wolfe into contemporary English, set in a distant future when the Sun has dimmed and Earth is cooler (a “Dying Earth” story). The four volumes and additional fifth coda are:
    • 1980 The Shadow of the Torturer
    • 1981 The Claw of the Conciliator
    • 1982 The Sword of the Lictor
    • 1983 The Citadel of the Autarch
    • 1987 The Urth of the New Sun
  • “Last and First Men”, by Olaf Stapledon
    Summary Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future is a “future history” science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. A work of unprecedented scale in the genre, it describes the history of humanity from the present onwards across two billion years and eighteen distinct human species, of which our own is the first. The book employs a narrative conceit that, under subtle inspiration, the novelist has unknowingly been dictated a channelled text from the last human species.
  • “The Eternal Champion” by M. Moorcock
    SummaryThe Eternal Champion is a fantasy novel by Michael Moorcock that introduces the hero known as both John Daker and Erekosë. Originally written in the late 1950s, it constitutes the first novel of Moorcock’s sprawling Eternal Champion series. The tale was first published in 1962 as a magazine novella [1] Moorcock expanded the novella to novel length for publication in 1970. He revised the text for its 1978 publication. Along with expanding the original story, the novel makes some minor changes to narration and scenes, and also includes references to other short stories by Moorcock. The Eternal Champion is the first in a trilogy of novels known as the Erekosë series (though the lead character adopts other identities in subsequent novels). The sequel novels are Phoenix in Obsidian (1970; published in the US as The Silver Warriors), and The Dragon in the Sword (1987).
  • “The Way of Kings: Book One of the Stormlight Archive” by Brandon Sanderson
    SummaryRoshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

    It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.

    One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

    Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by overpowering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

    Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under the eminent scholar and notorious heretic Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

    The result of more than ten years of planning, writing, and worldbuilding, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

    Speak again the ancient oaths,

    Life before death.
    Strength before weakness.
    Journey before destination.
    and return to men the Shards they once bore.

    The Knights Radiant must stand again.
  • “Auf zwei Planeten”, by Kurd Laßwitz
    SummaryGerman sci-fi novel that was inspirational to young Wernher von Braun
  • “The Lifecycle of Software Objects”, by Ted Chiang
    SummaryWhat’s the best way to create artificial intelligence? In 1950, Alan Turing wrote, “Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child. Things would be pointed out and named, etc. Again I do not know what the right answer is, but I think both approaches should be tried."
    The first approach has been tried many times in both science fiction and reality. In this new novella, at over 30,000 words, his longest work to date, Ted Chiang offers a detailed imagining of how the second approach might work within the contemporary landscape of startup companies, massively-multiplayer online gaming, and open-source software. It’s a story of two people and the artificial intelligences they helped create, following them for more than a decade as they deal with the upgrades and obsolescence that are inevitable in the world of software. At the same time, it’s an examination of the difference between processing power and intelligence, and of what it means to have a real relationship with an artificial entity.

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