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All the Birds in the Sky (2016, Tor Books) 4 stars

An ancient society of witches and a hipster technological startup go war as the world …

Review of 'All the Birds in the Sky' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This book was recommended to me, soon after I'd finished Robin Sloan's Sourdough, and then declared that modern-day magical realism was exactly the genre that meant the most to me, particularly the stories in which California-based millennials struggled to find humanity and meaning in a tech-centric world. It's a kind of science fiction where all the technobabble is familiar and real, but a dose of mysticism is needed to keep Silicon Valley palatable. Venture capitalists already believe in too many fairy tales.

All The Birds In the Sky is decidedly more magical than realism, and because it's more about the duality of magic and science, both worlds are represented more or less equally. The refreshing take here isn't that it's magic versus science, at odds with each other, forever warring for dominance and yet must be maintained in some kind of cosmic balance. Or even the Harry Potter version, where …

The Three-Body Problem (2021, Head of Zeus, Head of Zeus -- an AdAstra Book) 4 stars

Cixin Liu's trilogy-opening novel about first contact with aliens and the clandestine struggle with them …

Review of 'Three-Body Problem' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars


The three-body problem in physics states that although it is trivial to model the path of two bodies (e.g. binary stars) revolving around each other, it is currently impossible to create a model that can accurately predict the future positions of three bodies around each other, as minute instabilities add up over time to create a chaotic system. This book postulates that the nearest star to the earth, Alpha Centauri, as a ternary star system, is such a chaotic system; despite its unpredictability, a race of sentient species have evolved to sentience on an immensely inhospitable planet. When they learn of the existence of Earth, and realize it is in a stable solar system with a relatively mild climate, what would such a civilization do?

The book reminds me of Carl Sagan's "Contact" (well, the movie; I haven't read the book) but goes beyond the touchy-feely aspects of …