My Reading: Past, Present and Future 07.17.18

OHPast: Only Human (ebook) by Sylvain Neuvel

I suppose politics are an inherent theme in science fiction. Current global politics rears its controversial head in several SF novels published in 2018, one of which is Only Human. *

OH is the third and seemingly final book in The Themis Files series. Neuvel wraps up his tale of giant robots controlled by aliens who visit Earth thousands of years ago and left not only some of their machines, but also their DNA. At the beginning of the story, the protagonist, scientist Rose Franklin, returns to Earth with her associates Vincent Couture and his daughter Eva Reyes, after almost ten years. They had been transported to the planet of Esat Ect, the world where the robots had been created.

Franklin’s return with the robot Themis creates political upheaval of Earth’s governments. In the years of her absence, the United States takes over the rest of North America and parts of Central and South America with the only remaining robot from Esat Ect. Russia now has Themis. Is World War Three around the corner?

Nuevel formats the story in segments of government reports and personal journal entries between events on Earth after Franklin’s return and back story on what happened while she was on Esat Ect. Much happens in this final episode of The Themis Files and at some points, it feels like Nuevel is rushing to finish the story. Although he paints an interesting portrait of the inhabitants of Esat Ect, I felt like the final picture shows a vague canvas. I would have like more details about the alien world. This did not ruin the story for me, however.

If you are a fan of the previous two books in this series, you should find the ending satisfying, although rushed. I thought the commentary of Earth’s current political climate interesting. Dr. Franklin concludes, “We’re children, Vincent, we’re all children. We were thrown into a grown-up world before our time.”

* For other SF books published this year with reflections on current world politics, I suggest Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell and Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

Present: The Emperor’s Soul (audio) by Brandon Sanderson

tes“Brandon Sanderson. Brandon Sanderson.”

That’s all I’ve heard lately.

“Such a great world-builder he is.”

I’m late in catching the Sanderson wagon, but I’m seeing what all the hubbub is about. I am listening to his short novel, The Emperor’s Soul.

Shae, a master in the art of forging, finds herself a prisoner after trying to steal from her nation’s capital. Her only hope is to use her forging talents to help create a new soul for the Emperor who secretly lies in vegetative state.

I have to admit even though I’ve listened to only the first half of the story, I find Sanderson a wonderful storyteller and, yes, a master of world-building.

To my delight, I just realized I already have his well-known Mistborn series in my ebook collection. I’m looking forward to reading those by the end of the year.

Present: Grapes of Wrath (audio) by John Steinbeck

gow2Wouldn’t you know it. I borrowed the audio book of Grapes of Wrath and I lost track of when it was due. Poof. It was gone from my library audio app on my phone. To add insult to injury, someone else had already checked it out before I could renew it. I guess this proves the enduring popularity of this classic.

After being incarcerated, Tom Joad had just found his family at his uncle’s house. They haven’t seen him in three years. Pa Joad wants to surprise his wife by presenting their prodigal eldest son to her while she is in the kitchen.

And that’s where I left off.

I hope to finish this book within the next few weeks. One of my favorite phenomenon of reading is measuring how my life has changed since the last time I read a book. Not having read The Grapes of Wrath since ninth grade–I’m not going to say how long ago that was–I’m sure I will find new insights about myself and the world I didn’t see when I was fifteen years-old.


I have a hard copy of John Scalzi’s Head On: A Novel of the Near Future. I plan on starting this second book in Scalzi’s Lock In series this week.

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