📚 The Way the Future Was by Frederik Pohl

21/2022 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

A look back at the beginnings of SF fandom through the eyes of one of the people in at the proverbial ground floor. In addition to becoming a noted SF author and editor, Pohl was also one of the group of people who founded much of fandom, including the Worldcon conventions (though he ended up being one of the group banned from the first Worldcon thanks to an early fandom clash…), and knew essentially (and quite possibly literally) all of the classic SF authors. If you’re at all interested in the early years of fandom, this is a fun and easy read covering his life and the fandom world from the 1920s through the mid-1970s.

Michael holding The Way the Future Was

📚 The Empty Chair by Diane Duane

20/2022 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

A strong end to Duane’s Rihannsu series – though it does begin in media res, and as it has been years since I read the preceding book(s), it took me a bit to regain familiarity with some of the characters. Her take on the Romulans, while very different than that explored by the official canon, is very strong and well worth reading.

Michael holding The Empty Chair

📚 The Annals of the Heechee by Frederik Pohl

19/2022 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

A little action, a lot of interesting playing with AIs and “machine-stored intelligences” generated from people when they die, allowing them to keep on going (a concept introduced in earlier books, but more thoroughly explored here). And, again, an unfortunate subplot involving sexualizing young girls (and in this case, for a little variety, adding a predilection for sexualized abuse as well); thankfully, nothing untoward ever actually happens and this is a relatively minor subplot, but the character’s appetites are made well known, and are an entirely unnecessary addition. The Heechee series has a lot of interesting stuff in it, I just wish Pohl hadn’t felt the need to keep putting these bits in as well.

Michael holding The Annals of the Heechee

📚 Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl

17/2022 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Much like Gateway, the prior book in the series, there’s a lot of really neat hard SF worldbuilding. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of uncomfortable-by-today’s-standards focus on whether the 14-year-old girl is going to jump in bed with her brother-in-law or the raised-by-horny-computers orphan. Gateway had a little bit of this sort of thing — the main character at one point in that book is in a relationship with a woman who is described as said-she-was-18, looked 16, but even that was questionable — but here it’s a fairly major thread for the first half of this book. Thankfully, it more or less fades away in the latter half, but it was rather painfully obvious that Pohl (who was in his early 60s when he wrote this book) was absolutely part of the “old white men indulging their puerile fantasies” crowd of mid-century SF. In the end, the interesting SF parts kept me invested and I’m proceeding to the next book in the series.

Michael holds Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

📚 Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success by Susan Albertine, Michelle Asha Cooper, Tia Brown McNair, Nicole McDonald, and Thomas Major, Jr.

16/2022 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The basic concept and ideas are good (flipping “college-ready students” to “student-ready colleges”), but at times really needed a stricter editorial eye (the point where a sentence begins “In short…”, but then goes on for nine lines, and is already three sentences into a page-and-a-half paragraph being a prime example).

Michael holding Becoming a Student-Ready College

📚 Gateway by Frederik Pohl

15/2022 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1978 Hugo Best Novel

The main character’s something of an ass (admittedly, this is part of the story, so at least he’s not an ass for no reason), but the general conceit and worldbuilding is fascinating. Humanity has found the remnants of an alien race, including a fleet of FTL ships…but nobody really knows how to work them. Take one out and you might come back with treasures worth millions, you might come back with nothing, you might come back dead, you might not come back at all…and the odds aren’t in your favor.

Michael holding Gateway