Reading in November 2011

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Hobbit, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Messages:
    11,434
    Likes Received:
    92
    Trophy Points:
    183
    This is where you talk to us about your monthly SF Reads: whether good or bad, we want to discuss with you what you thought.

    Our Fantasy Book of the Month is Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle. Discuss here.

    Our SF Book of the Month is Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts. Discuss here.

    Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2011
  2. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,871
    Likes Received:
    78
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Well, I'm not reading fiction, but I'd guess what I'm reading belongs here. I'm halway through Margaret Atwood's new book of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination.

    There are some fabulous concepts in there. In one of the essays she speaks about SF being the last real genre that deals with myth and monsters. Now that we've mapped our world, we no longer have "here be dragons" on our maps. The unknown is now known. So, the only place left to us is space. Demons and monsters and gods and benevolent beings no longer have a place to hide here, but they can on Planet X.

    I'm thoroughly enjoying this read. There's some earlier papers/articles she wrote from when she was working on her thesis, and they're quite interesting as well.
     
  3. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,889
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    73
    I read one more story in Solaris Rising, the Reynolds For the Ages one and it was typical serious cosmological stuff interspersed with human interest that made AR the leading hard sf voice of our time. Reminded me how much I missed a Reynolds novel this year...

    So far the three stories I bought the anthology for (Hamilton, Roberts, Reynolds) delivered and more and now I am starting reading the rest with the Brown/Brooke collaboration Eternity's Children that is about one of their favorite theme (see Accord, Kings of eternity for novels from either author); the Fenn story and the Ken McLeod are also big priorities and should be next

    I am also thinking of reading Count to a Trillion as I've just seen a very strong review; i started it and it si cool but as a late December novel, i thought of going through the October/November books I want to review first (Wooding, Jemisin, Mayer and maybe McDevitt), so i'll see
     
  4. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,889
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    73
    I finished Solaris Rising and overall it had 5 very strong stories, 3 strong stories, 3 ok to good ones and 7 that did not do much for me, but with the exceptions of the Ian McDonald one and the Lavie Tidhar one, the rest were from authors I do not like so I did not expect anything else, while the Tidhar one being about a communist murderer of the 20th century that somehow got romanticized by leftist intelligentsia was sure to annoy me.

    Overall the best story was from Adam Roberts Shall I Tell You the Problem with Time Travel?, with close contenders from A. Reynolds For the Ages and Keith Brooke/Eric Brown Eternity's Children, while Peter Hamilton's Return of the Mutant worms and Jaine Fenn's Dreaming Towers Silent Mansions round up the A+/++ level stories.

    Then the stories by Stephen Baxter Rock Day, Stephen Palmer Eluna and Paul di Flippo Sweet Spots were pretty good too, though not quite at the level of the above 5, while the stories by Ian Watson How We Came Back from Mars, Ken McLeod, The Best Science Fiction of the Year Three and Steve Rasnic Tem, At Play in the Fields were ok but at least in the Watson and McLeod case far from their best and more of a filler/by the number stuff; still both are excellent writers and even their filler is decent.

    Then in addition to the aforementioned McDonald and Tidhar stories, the ones by D. Hutchinson, Pat Cadigan, Tricia Sullivan, Jack Skilingstead and Mike Resnick and Laurie Tom did nothing for me, but as mentioned i never expected anything since I do not like the writing style of any of these authors and avoid their books.

    Overall Solaris Rising is a very strong eclectic anthology with something to please any lover of contemporary sf.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  5. krisbslick

    krisbslick Executor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    28
    This month:

    Halfway through Leviathan Wakes and can't stop. I now see what all the talk was about when it came out.

    After that, finally getting around to finishing up Hamilton's Void books. Can't wait, first one was great.
     
  6. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2011
    Messages:
    319
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I just finished Kris Longknife:Mutineer by Mike Shepherd. I never heard or read anything by him before so I took the plunge strictly based on blurb written on the back cover (this is before I found this excellent website:)). I was expecting a sort of popcorn space opera but was pleased to find it well written with some engaging characters. It reminded me a lot of something Elizabeth Moon would write so if you liked Moon, you'll probably like Shepherd as well. The plot is a bit like Cherryh's Earth-Union series where distant space colonies start to break away from the inner Earth planets and conflict is looming though this is only the first book in the series so the storyline may well take a different course. I liked it enough to look into getting the next book in the series.
     
  7. krisbslick

    krisbslick Executor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    28
    That's good news.. considering I bought the whole series and haven't even started them yet. thanks for the review!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2011
  8. spaziocain

    spaziocain lost thing

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've just finished All Clear by Connie Willis. It was a mistake for Spectra to split the two books. I was uncertain about Blackout; it seemed like a historical novel with a science fictional trope (time travel) tacked on. All Clear reveals these two books to be very good science fiction; the time travel elements are very well thought out and integral to the Capra-esque story of everyday heroism. I have to admit I think The Dervish House still would have been my choice for the Hugo winner, but I don't begrudge these books the win at all.
     
  9. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2005
    Messages:
    425
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    103
    I'm just starting Hammered, by Elizabeth Bear. I've never read any of her Science Fiction before, but quite a bit of her fantasy. Should be interesting comparing the two.
     
  10. chitman13

    chitman13 Staff

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Messages:
    646
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    53
    I'm still reading Flag in Exile by David Weber, the fifth Honor Harrington book. Not making much progress simply because I haven't been in the mood to read anything, or have the time to really get into it properly.

    However, I did start a new book last night too, Penumbra by Eric Brown. I was bored, didn't fancy HH and this leapt off the shelf being one of the few books by Brown I've not read. Starts off nicely, but it's immediately recognisable as something Eric Brown would write with a starship pilot, Indian setting for one thread, and characters that clearly have lots going on in their history. I think I'm going to enjoy it :)
     
  11. T77

    T77 Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Just finished Reamde by Neal Stephenson. To sum it up I was disappointed. It wasn't a bad book - just given its length and the fact that I finished it means I liked it on some level. I thought it was way too long. I liked the beginning and where I thought it was going to go, but then it just turned into a spy thriller with them just chasing each other around.

    My recommendation would be if you don't mind a spy thriller with terrorists and a virtual world sprinkled in lightly, give it a shot. If you're looking for a Stephenson novel with some great ideas, tech and sci-fi elements it might not be for you.
     
  12. DarthV

    DarthV Sith Lord

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2001
    Messages:
    929
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Finished up Chasm City last night. For the most part, I thought it was awesome, but it seemed to get a little flaky near the end. Working on Redemption Ark right now. I'll probably start injecting some non scifi in between Reynold's books to break them up a little. Thinking about some China Mieville, that should be a nice change of pace!
     
  13. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2000
    Messages:
    10,053
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    173
    I'll be starting David Weber's How Firm a Foundation, the fifth and (as of this post) most recent Safehold novel. This was one of my more anticipated novels of 2011 so hopefully it matches that anticipation.
     
  14. chitman13

    chitman13 Staff

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Messages:
    646
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    53
    I finished up Flag in Exile by David Weber yesterday, the fifth Honor Harrington novel. While I enjoyed it, it's probably my least favourite of the HH books to date, and also a little long-winded. It's very similar to Field of Dishonor in that it is a more personal story, but does have military aspects that helped considerably. The whole 'woman in a man's society' has been played out over the past few novels where Grayson and their heavily religious society is concerned, but this one is focused on that aspect from start to finish. I understand that it needs to be examined, but it doesn't make for a very exciting story. However, Weber has this way of writing a stand-out chapter, this time fairly late in the book, that changes my opinion of the story for the better. It doesn't make the faults go away, but it does make the slog worthwhile. I hope #6, Honor Among Enemies, raises the game a little, don't think I want another book with such a narrow focus after the last two.
     
  15. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,889
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    73
    While i am still slogging my way through the mammoth 1150+ dense pages Parallel Stories/Nadas which at least so far about 600 pages and 2 out 3 parts in, turned to be far from what i imagined and the blurb implied and alternates very boring stuff with flashes of brilliance, I did some more quick sf reading.

    First a fast read of Firebird/McDevitt the 6th and hopefully last Benedict/Kolpath novel as even the author's great storytelling skills cannot save the very dated world building where the world of thousands of years in the future looks like the US of the 50's; better than Echo and again testifying to said storytelling ability, a book that made me turn the pages despite the heavy weight of the world building that at any moment was ready to crash my suspension of disbelief; still I wish the author would write something more up-to-date as the Academy novels or even Time Travelers Never Die were.

    I also read 1/2 of Hearts of Smoke and Steam by A. Mayer, sequel to The Falling Machine and a really fun book so far which i will finish most likely tonight and review next week
     
  16. chitman13

    chitman13 Staff

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Messages:
    646
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    53
    Still reading Penumbra. I like it, but then the style is typical of Eric Brown and it ticks all the boxes for me.

    Also started Honor Among Enemies by David Weber, the 6th Honor Harrington book. I like the direction it's going, but I'm starting to wonder when he'll write a story where Honor doesn't start out in the worst possible position. I can see *why* he does it, but having all six books more or less have her coming from behind to save the day (which I'm guessing she'll do here again) is starting to grate a little with despite how much I enjoy the stories and prose.
     
  17. Hellions

    Hellions Felis silvestris

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Earlier this week I finished Sundiver by David Brin. Although I did manage to enjoy it at times, I think the author tried to cram way too much and ended up with underdeveloped characters, murky politics and endless boring descriptions of the sun's nuclear reaction at work.
    Sundiver is part SF mystery and part Space Opera. The mystery just doesn't work as we're dealing with unknown quantities (aliens) and the reader has no chance to do any guesswork. Our sleuth is a tad too clever (he's a tad too "fill in the blank" for that matter) as convenient deductions keep flowing along. Everything feels shallow, the setting is mired in muddy foundations and the reader plows blindly along with bare bones explanations while frustration sets in. For example, Brin keeps alluding to the main character's extraordinary yet tortured past but never gives us the full story.
    I keep reading that the following books in the Uplift series are completely different so I'll give the author another go at some point despite the relative disappointment with this novel.
     
  18. cgw

    cgw Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2002
    Messages:
    935
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    103
    Just finished Blackout by Willis. Am starting All Clear but am not going in with a full head of steam.
    One of the ways she creates tension is by having characters not paying attention to what others are saying (running off before something inportant is said or just not letting the person say it). Like this (way of creating tension) is needed during the bombing.
    Also right at the beginning on All Clear (and I do not think this is a spoiler) the historians, who are prone to panic, feel they can not let each other know where history may be altered.
    It does not seem like normal interaction.
     
  19. livens

    livens Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Messages:
    323
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Reading The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge.

    Im a huge Vinge fan. His are some of the best books Ive ever read. So I was super excited to get into his latest book and go back to the Tines world. A few chapters in and Im not impressed.

    He has definitely changed as a writer. This is not the Vinge I know and love! Very slow pace and boring so far. If the storyline turns out to be just politics I will be very disappointed. This book really needs a second storyline off planet.

    Well, One of the main characters is having dreams about the Blight, which may not be dreams.
     
  20. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Messages:
    2,124
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I've been reading SF for decades, but somehow I kept dancing around this one thinking it would be too gloomy.
    It is indeed about one of the most horrible moments in WWII, but it needed to be written, and I needed to read it, even if I wasn't so sure before. This is only my second Vonnegut read, after Cat's Cradle, but I plan to rectify this soon.