Monday, August 3, 2020

Book Review: A Song For A New Day by Sarah Pinsker

A Song For A New Day by Sarah Pinsker
Paperback, 372 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Berkley Books

The world has changed quite a bit since this novel was released and sadly for us,  Sarah Pinsker looks like a prophet a year after her debut novel.  I am sure she is already getting more than enough jokes about how she needs to write her next book about unicorns and rainbows for everyone. As she is the winner of the PKD award for her short story collection, I was excited to dive into this novel.  Also as a writer who has written about touring musicians myself, I am always interested in stories on the subject.

ASND is a powerful debut set in a dystopian future where the world is divided into the before and after, large public gatherings like sports and music are banned. A deadly virus is on the rampage...Yes, this book was released in 2019 which means it was probably first written well before that. The world of this novel is not exactly like ours the inciting incident is a series of a terrorist attack that made much of the public afraid of public gatherings.

ASND is very much about how the internet is changing music, I wish I had read this in our Before Times but I can't help have my view of the book colored by my experience reading it. Like many during the pandemic, I am watching lots of live videos of bands I like. As a person of limited funds in the last few years, I did the math and decided I personally get more out of spending my money on books and film so I was already limiting the concerts and shows I was going to.

In a world where posting your video or pics from a concert is more important than the actual experience, I related to much of this novel.  Very wisely Pinsker split the narrative between Luce Cannon the touring indie rocker and Rosemary a fresh new fan who becomes a influencer in the corporate music world. The later works for Stage-holo a company making VR live performances, a soul-sucking experience that is a sci-fi stand in for major labels and stages with 10 feet of barricades.

With subtly executed world-building Pinsker writes about a new future where life is lived almost entirely online. Drone delivery and any community is mostly done in 'Hoodspace' a VR  accessed by hoodies, the next interface. In one sense this novel is a coming of age story as Rosemary goes to her first concert early in the novel. Music becomes her life as she eventually lands a job recruiting bands for the corporate Stage halo.

The band and musician she grows to most want to sign is Luce Cannon, whose favorite underground illegal  venue is shut down when Rosemary accidentally exposes them. With her favorite venue shut down, Luce has to hit the road and figure how to tour the dystopia.

As I was reading I thought about Great White the has-been rock band recently having a concert in South Dakota. This concert was a big middle finger to science and taking the Covid-19 seriously. Is Luce Cannon different? In hindsight, Pinsker might write this novel differently today but the virus and illness is a little glossed over, although I know it is a little less deadly.

The novel  is a great love letter to live music, and how powerful it can be. It is impossible for anyone reading this book months into the coronavirus to not wonder about Luce's insistence on playing live and wondering if it was not irresponsible?  Hindsight is 20/20, I get it but if there is one weakness of this book it is how the book glosses over the reasons the laws have banned concerts a bit. As if the man just wanted to just ruin the fun. I had a friend who quit a popular pop-punk band after years of touring who once told me he quit because "it was easy to forget the world outside of the band existed."  So it is with good reason that Luce  would be myopically focused on chasing that feeling. I am sure that is an experience many musicians are feeling today.

Does that sound like I am nitpicking? Sorry, that is not my intention. It is not fair in some senses to hold up the actual future as a mirror to this novel. It's predictive powers both giveth and takes away from it. Over all though Pinsker deserves the awards and appreciation.  ASND is a powerful well-written work of science fiction well deserving of the Nebula award it won. There is a strong argument against my minor complaints, that less is more. I think had I read this last year I would not have even noticed. The novel is a wonderful example of strange found families and connections that happen only in subcultures. The connective tissue that the shared experience of music provides is hard to explain so any time a novel does that it is exciting.

A Song For A New Day is very cool, and a breath fresh air in the speculative arena. I think this is a must-read for any musician missing the pull of the stage and live music. I think it is a must read for Science Fiction readers looking for a new fresh take on the future. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Book Review: Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by William Morrow

The wild mainstream bestselling success of Sarah Pinborough makes me super happy. She is an incredible writer, who worked her ass off in the salt mines of the horror genre for years. I am sure there are Oprah or Reese Witherspoon book club readers who think she has only three books to her name. I had the thought today as I was finishing this book that it would be interesting to get their reaction to older Pinborough books like the Dog-Faced Gods Trilogy. Those are nasty dystopian novels with a serial killer that would make your most hardcore horror readers cringe.

Before the wild success of her novel Behind her Eyes (coming to Netflix soon as a series) I didn't picture a SP novel being grouped with novels like "The Wife Stalker," or "The Other Mrs."  That said in the wake of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train Pinborough with her detail-oriented ability to plot was perfect to become the master of the feminine thriller.

I am certainly not the target audience for this novel, as this novel seems perfectly calibrated for the middle life crisis housewife that wants a thriller that speaks to them.  I am sorry if that seems reductive, I read Pinborough because I love how she plots and twists narrative with incredible skill. What she has also done is brilliantly targeted an audience over the last three books and reinvented herself.

Pinborough said in a interview: " I wasn't fueled by outside gender politics as it were, but rather my own. I reached an age a few years ago — I'm 46 now — when I became interested in telling stories about women – the good, the bad, and the ugly of women — and therefore they couldn't just be victims. That didn't interest me. I think, especially with Cross Her Heart, all the action in the novel is driven by women. There are men in my books obviously, some good and some bad, but they're not "in charge" of the book. For my past few books, and the one I'm currently writing, it's all about exploring female dynamics."

Dead to Her has many well-drawn characters but the bulk of the narrative is focused on Marcie. She is the second younger wife of a wealthy southern lawyer in Savannah Georgia. Marcie was a waitress who had a steamy affair with Jason and now has woven herself into the wealthy culture of the small town. The high society and southern backdrop make it feel different from other very British feeling books of SP's catalog but the novel seems to capture the feeling nicely.

I went into this cold, not knowing anything about the plot and so I was perfectly misdirected in the early pages. If you want that feeling preserved stop reading and come back when you are done.

If you read the description you are getting an idea of the first act, Marcie is the second wife of Jason whose older widower boss has returned with a younger black wife. She is beautiful and taking Marcie's role as the hot young second wife. The first act treads the tropes with rough edges. You really feel  Marcie's spite growing venomous as the younger Keisha flirts with her husband and opens wishes death on her wealthy older newlywed husband.

It is the rest of the novel that takes off. The story is driven entirely by the women at this point. The men around them are not exactly nice guys, and they think they are pretty important. Marcie might seem helpless at times, slave to her new privilege but that is the hidden subtext of this thriller.  It is the women in the orbit of this patriarchal subculture taking ownership of their lives and their stories at the heart of this book for both the heroes and villains.

It is Pinborough so don't assume for any amount of pages you know who is who.

Dead to Her is a great novel, that is subtle good. It appears on the surface to be fluffy thriller entertainment but it is a stealth piece of feminism. Not in a raised fist militant way, but in a grounded way it sticks a dagger into the heart of subtle but painful habits of patriarchy like a thousand cuts. There are plenty of sharp observations of male behavior that will not be fun for some men to read, it is a pity because it might be a good way for them to learn how they are treating their partners.

The more I think on it the better I think it is.  Sarah Pinborough, damn sister... you did it again!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Book Review: Star Trek Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Star Trek Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
 Hardcover, 467 pages
Published November 1994

Fancy pants critics and literary types may not like Media Tie-in novels but I grew up reading them and enjoy many of them. There are various degrees of quality in any genre, but The tie-in genre is no different. There is nothing wrong with expanded universes and prose takes on beloved comic book, Movie, or TV characters. I love it when Award-winning genre authors like Brian Evenson does Aliens, or Christa Faust doing Fringe. Hell My favorite author in the world John Shirley gave us his takes on Hellblazer, Batman, Predator, and more. When these well-established writers bring their talents it almost always raises the bar.  Some writers are just born to write in the existing universes. I was thinking of Michael Reeves in Star Wars. I don't know that he has ever published outside of Star Wars but he writes amazing books in that universe. Authors like Greg Cox and Kirsten Beyers for two examples seem born to write Trek novels and the later has become important to Trek TV.

Somewhere in the middle is a married couple Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. They have written a lot of Star Trek, besides working on the final season of Enterprise, they ghostwrote Shatner's insane off-shoot Shatner-verse and mainline Trek novels. At the same time, the couple has written Techno thrillers like Wraith and several original sci-fi horror novels.

Their early original series novel Prime Directive is incredible and with good reason, this novel Federation is considered the Citizen Kane of Star Trek novels.  I read it when it came out, a few years later and one time fifteen years ago I listened to the audiobook. I am certain it is the only Star Trek novel I would read repeatedly.

This novel has a strange place in the ST universe, while almost universally loved and praised it is almost knocked out of canon by the existence of the second TNG movie First Contact, and at the same time, I think it greatly outdoes Generations in combining the crews. Thus it has a strange relationship to both those films as well which podcaster Seth Heasley and I will discuss deeper in an upcoming episode Star Trek Story, Myth, and Arcs.

While it is possible with a little bit of handwavium to say that Federation and First Contact can exist together they really can't.  That is a spoiler and we will come back to that. First, why is Federation and Reeves-Stevens team so goddamn good at Star Trek?

Federation is a story that spans over three hundred years of future history which is an epic task for any storyteller with perhaps Miller's A Canticle for Lebowitz being the best example in science fiction. The authors here had the benefit of being able to call on the known established canon but the connective tissue involved lots of creative stabs at the times that bridged our times to the primarily utopian future. In 1994 when this book came out Enterprise had not happened or the Bell riots on Deep Space Nine so this era was mostly a mystery.

One of the few hints was an often overlooked melodramatic romantic episode of the Original Series Metamorphasis written by producer Gene L. Coon. Featuring Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri who according to the episode invented the warp drive and disappeared into deep space.  Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are transporting by shuttle with a dying Ambassador, who just discovered her life is ending despite her concern for the war she was trying to prevent. They end up on a planet with the long-stranded Cochrane who should have died 100 years earlier but is being kept alive by a (ridiculously gendered as a female) cloud of energy named the Companion.

The story ends with the ambassador dying and allowing the Companion to become human in her body thus finally being with the lifeform she loves Zefram. Considering he is a famous person Kirk agrees to keep the mission secret and leave the Companion and Cochrane in peace. TOS stories like this mostly were stand-alone as TV did at the time. Like Wrath of Khan with Space Speed, this novel seeks to answer questions about the episode and look at the consequences. In the Sixties, the consequences of each episode were dropped but often the novels did pick up these threads.

The episode is essentially the foundation of this novel. Why had Cochrane disappeared into deep space and would Kirk lying about the death of a UFP Ambassador have consequences? The TOS  storyline also takes place just days after the events of the classic DC Fontana written episode Journey to Babel.  The chapters surrounding the TNG crew are directly after the episode when Picard's mind-meld with Sarek. (which lead to actor Mark Lenard reading the abridged Audiobook)

As Deep Space Nine was dipping its toes into the long-form storytelling Federation being tied to events in the timeline is an underrated aspect of what makes this novel great.  One of the skills the authors brought to Star Trek was making it feel real and lived in. Kirk still being in pain from being stabbed in Babel, Picard unable to get Sarek's thoughts out of his head.  It gave weight to episodes that the reader remembers.

This, not the only way the Reeves-Stevens manage to give Trek weight and life. Consider the Enterprise's operation to rescue hostages.  The author thought out details of how the crew had prepared medical and engineering teams for the mission. It is clear they studied the published Star Trek Technical manuals. Halfway through the narrative Kirk and the Enterprise rescue hostages being held by a crew of Klingon and Orion pirates.

This operation in the novel is one of the best ST action scenes in any media period. Like the best of the movies each member of the crew has a job, the operation required level of skill and strategy which required the Enterprise being the best at what they do. This is a little less obvious on Picard's Enterprise and it would be easy at first wonder how this part of the story fits in.  In the third act, the threads come together in genius ways.  (Spoilers in the podcast)

As a writer myself I am a fan of plotting, and structure the three timelines are so well-woven together. Most chapters end with intense cliffhangers and the storylines parallel each other enough that they build off each other in clever ways. It is hard to talk about what makes this ST novel so great without giving up details. Seth and I cover that in the podcast.

Let's just say this. Federation combines the first two crews across the generations in a way that has a deeper meaning than what we saw on screen. It is a story that is built on themes that span the generations with stakes that require the bold canvas in a way that Generations the film didn't. It is a story that couldn't be done on film and takes great advantage of the strengths of a novel. It is subtle the crews don't stand in rooms together but trapped in a singularity across time they see each other, have to trust each other and work together. It might sound goofy and hyperbolic but it has a beauty to it that the Kirk and Picard making breakfast and riding horses didn't.

The villain Arick Thorn is my second favorite Trek villain to Khan, his hatred and drive are so well woven into the story it makes him a powerful force. It is cartoony sure but in all the right ways. He is perfect evil, weird, and driven in a way the best bad guys always are. Cochrane's story is better explained and woven into the canon here compared to First Contact and it makes more sense with the history TOS fans know.

Federation is THE BEST Star Trek novel I have read and I have read probably 100 of them over the years. I admit I burned out on them, and don't have the space to read as many as I would like with my responsibilities as a critic and general science fiction podcaster. That said I don't think you can go wrong with this one.

Podcast is recorded, I will add it here in a few days...

Monday, July 20, 2020

Old audio bonus material added to the podcast feed

So I didn't do this alot but I posted a few bits and pieces of audio content on Youtube as bonus features for this blog over the years. I added a few up over the weekend. Some oldies but goodies. 

Coming soon...Chad Stroup, Jeremy Robert Johnson, F.Paul Wilson and new stuff too.

Podcast: June Book Reviews digest

Starting with June 2020 I am going to be recording an audio digest of all the book reviews for the month.  The first one is posted here:

June 2020 book review digest here!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Book Review: Star Trek Picard The Last Best Hope by Una Mcormack

Star Trek Picard The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack
 Hardcover, 322 pages
Published February  2020 by Pocket Books/Star Trek; Simon & Schuster 
I meant to read this before the show premiered but somehow I missed it until now when I have watched Picard the series twice. So yeah I am a fan of the show and I know the return of Star Trek under the guidance of Alex Kurtzman has been dividing the fans. This review is not really about the show but Una McCormack's excellent prequel to the show. I have to say this is the first time this author's work and I was very impressed. 

This novel not only felt like the ST universe but more importantly McCormack gave the world a sense of life and function that felt grounded. That is one of the key reasons that this book not only tells the backstory to the show it makes the show better and gives it even more weight.

I really appreciated that all the conflict and drama came from the fact that Picard was attempting to mount an impossible mission. There were no action scenes or battles forced into the story to give it an action vibe. The novel is a political drama that follow Raffi and Admiral Picard on their mission to try and save the Romulan empire from disaster even when they are not interested in help.
The story sets up and tells the back story of Picard's infamous mission to try and save the Romulans. We get most of the back story hinted at in the TV series. We get excellent details on how Picard, Raffi, Bruce Maddox, and Geordi (!) move mountains to save a species that has been the Federation's enemy for centuries held in check by the thin political line of the neutral zone.
The writing is excellent, top-notch work of weaving multiple storylines and POVs. I know there is this idea out there that tie-in novels are lesser works of literature. Here again, Una McCormack proves that from a writing task that is nonsense. The structure of the story takes place over three years, balances A, B, C, and D storylines while planting seeds for 10 hours of television. at the same time the story is compelling and the characters already established by the history of Trek or the still in production script she was working from. Not a simple job but this novel pulls all that off.
A good tie-in writer knows how to use the relationship the reader has with the characters to their advantage and this is done here often. I actually think I benefitted in my reading experience because I had already watched the show. The relationship of Raffi and Picard is so important to this book and I think will ad weight when I watch the scene when Picard shows up at her trailer. 
The moral weight of Picard, his role in Starfleet and his stubborn insistence on the mission and saving lives is the heart of the novel and in that sense alone it add depth to the show. That feeling is all there in the show but it is nice to see the level Picard worked for years on the mission. It means more when you watch the scene where He walks into the Romulan bar.
The novel also fills in information that some thought were holes in the show. This comes in explaining how the sudden crisis pushes the Starfleet shipyards to increase production to the point that they need android workers to pitch-in, plus pushing workers in ways that 24th-century citizens are not used to. At the same time, Picard is pushing federation colonies and worlds to accept Romulan refugees, something that a political operative on the Federation council pounces on.
Many Star Trek purists are really bothered that the stress of the Romulan crisis is putting such stress on the Federation. But look at what a tiny virus is doing to America as this is written. the Federation at the time of this story has just survived two Borg invasions and a Dominion War. As a show Picard is about one man's idealism saving The universe we all grown to love so nothing is more Roddenberry than that.   
I know many were bothered by Picard and Starfleet's distrust of each other and the fact that Clancy told Picard off. McCormack sets all that up nicely showing the number of times they showed him respect, but Picard challenged them over and over.  

While this novel had various obvious points of view it was trying to express. When Patrick Stewart sat in the writer's room with Kurtzman, Buyer, Goldsman, and Chabon. It is clear the border and the refugee crisis with the caravan coming to the border was on their minds. Although less than a year after it was released I felt a different political weight. While half of our country is refusing science and debating science behind wearing masks. I couldn't help think about that as Picard was debating with a Romulan Senator that he needed to believe him that his planet was about to die. The man refused to believe the science choosing to believe Starfleet was using the situation to exploit and destroy their civilization. Sound familiar? 
Some little things I want to note, there is a part where a Romulan scientist talks about his love for Science Fiction, and I loved thinking about the Romulan science fiction novels with the evil Starfleet in them. 

Was it perfect? No, throughout the novel I assumed the Romulan liason Tajuth would end up being the character living with Picard because I didn't remember his name. There is a character who is a personal guard of a Romulan Senator in the third act she dies but it would make sense to be Laris.  Even though they were only in the first three episodes Laris and Zhaban were my favorite characters on the show. It would have made sense to tell there back story and deepen their relationship to Picard. I suspect that was the plan, not sure why that was not the case here. 
If you enjoyed Picard I suggest you read this before a repeat viewing, put on the soundtrack as you read it, it is a quick read.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Book Review: Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan, Ken Liu (Translator)

Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan, Ken Liu (Translator)
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April  2019 by Tor Books (first published January 2013) 

Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2020)
I have long been a fan of Chinese story-telling, it started with Kungfu movies as kids, I still have a shelf of Wuxia (kungfu high fantasy) movie DVDs.   I followed that passion to the hard to find translations of those classic novels. In research for my Wuxia Vampire novel Hunting the Moon Tribe I read the classics of Chinese fantasy like the bizarro collection Tales From a Chinese Studio and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. So  more than most Sci-fi nerds I have been dying for these translations for a long time. I know many Science Fiction readers and critics have read The Three-Body Problem trilogy, which benefited from Barack Obama putting on a reading list. 

I can't thank Ken Liu enough and hope that Waste Tide signals a fresh wave of Chinese Science Fiction translations. A few years back I read his first translation anthology Invisible Planets. That is an incredible book and a must-read for anyone who wants to get a flavor of science fiction coming from China. The book is kicked off by a totally bonkers story by Chen Quifan that was as much of a horror tale as it was cyberpunk.  Year of the Rat was the story of soldiers in a battle with genetically enhanced neo-rats. That was not the only story from the author in that collection but there was also a very PKD influenced neo-noir The Flower of Shazui that I talked about in the Dick Like suggestions on Dickheads at some point. 

Chen Quifan was on my radar at this point so Waste Tide has been on my list for some time. There are plenty of reasons it should be on your radar too. Science Fiction is a bit of a universal language while some international writers like Stanislaw Lem have been regularly translated for decades the translations coming how of Asia have taken longer to surface.  

Thanks to Kurodahan Press, a company formed by ex-pats living in Japan we have seen several Japanese translations including anthologies and novels.  Without the translations Ken Liu has brought us I am not sure in America we would ever be exposed to the fantastic fiction coming out of China. Waste Tide is a prime example of the importance of their work.

So to get focused on this novel. Chen Quifan clearly has a dark and rich imagination. This being my third story of his it is clear that the work is dripping with weird inventiveness. WT is science fiction reaching its greatest potential. Social-political message carefully woven into well thought out speculation that holds a mirror on the relationship between America and the country that produces the majority of the electronics it uses. This story not only benefits from a Chinese voice, but it depends on it.

Quifan has much to say in this novel about class divisions, environmentalism, corporate exploitation, technology addiction, and integration. I know it sounds like a lot of elements but the novel perfectly uses the setting and characters to explore multiple points of view.

Set on Silicon Isle a landmass that is partially artificial off the coast of China near Hong Kong. The majority of the isle is made up of discarded electronics and cyborg body parts that had become trendy with transhumanists. When we are first introduced to the district it is through the eyes of radical environmentalists trying to stop the shipment of electronic waste that has come across multiple oceans from New Jersey to this new hotbed recycling.
The reality on the ground is a giant waste dump that is inhabited by people called Waste People and the land is controlled by three constantly warring crime clans. We are also introduced to several native characters including gangsters but the most interesting character is not surprisingly is one of the Waste People. That is Mimi whose story becomes woven into the Mecha and transhumanist elements.  
Much of the story is told through the point of view of an American corporate lackey Scott Brundle who is a veteran of several of these international operations with a company called TerraGreen. Their model for business is at the heart of the novel and Scott Brundle's conflict over his role in it is interesting.

 "The pollution generated by the process far exceeded EPA standards"... "It wasn't worth it."

This appears to be inspired by the author's real-life experience of living near an electronics dumping ground.  I have seen some commentary that suspects the author is placing all the blame on capitalism and outside forces for the mess at Silicon Isle but that is not the case.

"TerraGreen would transfer waste and pollution overseas, to the vast lands of developing nations. TerraGreen recycling would help them construct industrial parks and production lines..."

Waste Tide is not unfairly depicting capitalism here and the local governments play a huge role. While it is easy for American readers and critics to question Chen Quifan, he has written a savage piece of speculative protest. At the same time, the novel is fun and action-filled.

This is a very politically sharp novel and it doesn't exactly paint the most pretty outcome for China's future as the main electronics manufacturing hub for the world. I found myself thinking this is a bold and daring story for an American Science Fiction author but it seems even bolder coming from a writer who lives in a country that controls information like China.

The best reason to read international science fiction is the different cultural perspectives. It is disappointing to look at reviews of this book that seem to want the same science fiction they are reading from western writers.  Chen Quifan clearly holds a mirror to China throughout. This moment however stood out to me.

“The offices in the skyscrapers were lit bright as day. The giant eye zoomed in and observed a hundred thousand faces staring at computer monitors through closed-circuit cameras; their tension, anxiety, anticipation, confusion, satisfaction, suspicion, jealousy, anger refreshed rapidly while their glasses reflected the data jumping across their screens. Their looks were empty but deep, without thought of the relationship between their lives and values, yearning for change but also afraid of it. They gazed at their screens the way they gazed at each other, and they hated their screens the way they hated each other. They all possessed the same bored, apathetic face.” 

Once the cyberpunk and mecha elements kick in during the second half of the novel, the directly political elements could get lost. Thankfully this is not a problem. While I hesitate to talk about Mimi's arc explores transhuman issues and ideas. While early in the novel the props of discarded cyborg limbs are tactile how we exist as data becomes central to the themes.

“Welcome to Anarchy.Cloud. We provide information storage and remote computing services from low orbit server stations. Our operating entity belongs to no nation, political party, or corporation. As far as practicable, we endeavor to help you circumvent laws like the American PATRIOT Act and the supplements to the European Union’s Article 29 of the Data Protection Directive, which are designed to invade data privacy in the name of antiterrorism.”


"What are you?" She squeezed out the question that had been plaguing her all this time. 
"A nuclear explosion that has been slowed down a million times; a by-product of billions of years of convergent evolution; your second personality and life insurance; the free will that emerges from quantum decoherence. I'm accidental; I'm inevitable."

Waste Tide is right up my alley in many ways. Is it perfect? No, but the faults are minor. To me the characters and setting are interesting enough to carry the book. The excellent cultural and political commentary are like icing on the cake. This is an important read for Science Fiction readers and academics. Its place in the cultural opening of Chinese Science Fiction is important but outside of that it is just perfect speculative fiction. I am willing to go 5/5 on stars and I don't take that lightly.

What is happening to your waste? What is happening to your species?  This Sci-fi masterpiece asks and answers even questions to be worth your attention buy it, read it.