Review: Chasing Utopia and Dystopia at Worldcon 75

“Utopia lies at the horizon.
When I draw nearer by two steps,
it retreats two steps.
If I proceed ten steps forward, it
swiftly slips ten steps ahead.
No matter how far I go, I can never reach it.
What, then, is the purpose of utopia?
It is to cause us to advance.”
~Eduardo Galeano

What is the boundary between dystopia and utopia? Well, it might not be so easy to make a distinction between them. At a discussion on Beyond the Dystopia at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, the panelists – Juliet Kemp, Joe Abercrombie, Tom D. Wright, Vincent Docherty and Taiyo Fujii – covered various topics related to dystopia and utopia.

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Review: Nightwings by Robert Silverberg

“Having lost our present and our future, we had of necessity to bend all our endeavors to the past, which no one could take from us if only we were vigilant enough.”
~Robert Silverberg, Nightwings

Plot summary

“Robert Silverberg’s enduring classic about one man’s journey to find salvation for a planet on the brink of destruction.

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Review: Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta

“Most of the soil we walk on once grew and breathed, and once it had the shape of the living, long ago. One day someone who doesn’t remember us will walk on our skin and flesh and bones, on the dust that remains of us.”
 ~Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water

Plot summary

"Global warming has changed the world's geography and its politics. Wars are waged over water, and China rules Europe, including the Scandinavian Union, which is occupied by the power state of New Qian. In this far north place, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets.

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Review: Made in America by Bill Bryson

“Eenie, meenie, minie, mo” is based on a counting system that predates the Roman occupation of Britain, that may even be pre-Celtic.”
~Bill Bryson, Made in America

Plot summary

“Readers from Toad Suck, Arkansas, to Idiotsville, Oregon – and everywhere in between – will love Made in America, Bill Bryson’s Informal History of the English Language in the United States.

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Review: This is How You Die – Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

‘Is there anything you want to do before we put our heads in plastic boxes for two days?’
I thought about this for a second, then held the side of her face and kissed her.
We both zipped up our suits just in time to see the reactor blow: a column of green radioactive fire, belching black smoke. Di squeezed my hand, our big boxy heads knocked clumsily together, and I tried to think of something romantic to say.
‘Well, I guess that’s why they all die of cancer.’
~Tom Francis, This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death

Plot summary

“If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published best seller, Machine of Death.

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Review: Neuromancer by William Gibson

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
~William Gibson, Neuromancer

Plot summary

“The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace.

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“If you strip away all the trappings of personality and lifestyle, what are the core components that make me me?”
~Blake Crouch, Dark Matter

Plot summary

“Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

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