Posts Tagged Hub

Hub, #44

Whoops. I got a little behind on reading and reviewing here, but I’d like to think I’m back in action. Or something like that. Anyways, Hub continues to put out weekly issues and I continue to enjoy them. That’s a win-win situation, for those taking notes.

“Transcendence Express” by Jetse de Vries first appeared back in the dinosaur days of Hub‘s history. You know, when it was a print magazine for a few issues. Anyways, we’re in Zambia here, where education and the like is rather minimal. Or diminishing. A teacher by the name of Liona Jansen is trying to enhance the lives of the poorer children by bringing maths and science into their heads. Unfortunately, being where she is, instructional tools are hard to come by. Jansen instead allows her class of kids to grow their own computers, a task that will soon have very damaging outcomes.

It’s a very surreal piece, mixing gritty reality with the stark contrast of future endeavors and self-doubt. I enjoyed the way Vries jumped from scene to scene, especially towards the end of the story. Technology is both a blessing and a curse, and “Transcendence Express” really makes one think about where we are going as a culture, a society, a tech-wired force that seems unstoppable at times. There are no answers here, only ideas. But they are haunting ones, articulately accurate. Definitely worth a read, and I’m thankful that Hubhad the mind to reprint it online. It can also be listened to as a podcast, which I haven’t checked out yet, over at Escape Pod.

Rating: 8.5 anonymous stars out of 10

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Hub, #43

The 43rd issue of Hub, published the week of January 26, 2008, showcases action and flair with “Coffee Break” by Ian Whates. The story opens with one man’s desire, a yearning I’m positively sure everyone has felt at least once in their life (even if they are too young to want it or understand those decaffeinated pangs of lust):

All he wanted was a cup of coffee.

He being Bud Walker, that is. And nothing can stop him from getting his fix, nothing at al–oh, wait. An explosion? Yeah, that might work. Despite the story’s beginning mirroring eerily that of the film version for Children of Men, “Coffee Break” quickly rushes into alien terroritory. I mean that. The switch is a little jarring, especially considering that for half the piece we are focused on the mundanity of a hot drink only to spend the other half battling an off-planet race of terrorists. Still, it’s fun times, with Bud showing off his skills while never forgetting that every single bullet being shot at him was just another reason why he wasn’t able to enjoy that which brought him the greatest of great joys. If the story had been, say, any longer, this might’ve grown tiresome. Because the constant battle between what Bud wants and what is stopping him from it is really all that the story is about. The aliens are helon-like, which gives to mind a fun image, but otherwise everything else looked generic. Not generic bad, but nothing too showy.

But a quibble, still: the ending felt a little weak (not a coffee joke) though, or maybe just a bit predictable. I mean, conflict-resolution here is so obvious. The first sentence alone tells you what is wanted, and sure enough it is gotten, but it could have been a little more powerful. Regardless, “Coffee Break” is a fun piece of fiction, and won’t really take anyone too long to read so why not put on a pot, sit down at your pooter, and give it a chance.

And on a more random note, I wondered to myself how many times the word coffee appeared in this story. Surely it had to outnumber the mighty the, right? Huh. Consider me weird, I guess. Or maybe I myself just need my daily fix…

Rating: 8 anonymous stars out of 10

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