May 7th, 2008, 11:12 AM
Just finished David Louis Edelman's Infoquake, and it has to be one of the very best scifi debuts I have ever read.
Had I read it in 2006 when it came out, it would have trumped Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon, Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth, and Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself.
May 7th, 2008, 01:04 PM
I like stories
about 70 pages in to Ringworld. I can already see it's influence on other works.
I don't really see what the fuss is about. Maybe 70 pages is too early to tell.
May 7th, 2008, 01:05 PM
I like stories
That's putting it on my list.
Originally Posted by pat5150
May 7th, 2008, 03:30 PM
A man under the Oak Tree.
Pasztetówka is a kind of pate sausage. I have found in dictionary such aproximations - liverwurst, liversausage. You can eat it by squeezing it, or on bread with horseradish. Ammmm ! Very fat !
May 7th, 2008, 11:28 PM
Just finished Matter, which, although reasonably enjoyable, was ultimately a disappointing read, being far from his best work and showing some flaws which are becoming a worrying trend in his latest science fiction. The book had some patches of brilliant characterisation and world building, and Djian, Ferbin, Holse and Oramen are particularly well drawn characters. I really liked the development of Ferbin’s begrudging respect for Holse which made the climax even more touching (without giving too much away). I also liked the depiction of Sarl social mores which is responsible for a lot of the book's humour. Tyl Losep is an archetypical villain, and his knights were clichéd cronies, so these characters probably could have done with a few more shades of grey.
You get the feeling that Banks’ ran out of steam and got lazy with some of his ideas: maybe because he had so many good ones? The shellwords are an interesting idea and Sursamen is a grand creation. I liked the idea of various civilisations at different stages of technological evolution, including a race that has developed non-matter-based societies. The relationships between these races and rules about mentoring the less sophisticated societies was all nicely handled. I think culture creation has always been one of Banks’ major strengths, along with beautiful prose, which again is present in Matter. He really has a knack for capturing a still, existential moment for a character which contrasts with the epic narrative he is weaving. For example, I really liked the scene in which Djan is playing a board game with her fellow Culture citizen on her back to Sursamen.
However, Banks has been too clever and the book’s complexity is a weakness, as well as a strength, because it has resulted in a lot of flab, much like his last book, The Algebraist. I think the book would have benefited if it had chosen to focus more clearly on either Djan, Ferbin or Oramen. But instead, the three storylines compete with each other and its hard for the reader become really involved with any of the characters. I think the Ferbin storyline should have been the focus and the other two edited judiciously. One feels the Oramen strand could have been cut back significantly or almost altogether and very few of his parts are essential to the plot.
Despite my comments about Banks’ capturing introspective moments above, there is far too much internal dialogue, exposition and naval gazing in the book. But whereas most of the book suffers from excess, the ending is far too rushed. So much happens in the last chapter I found it very confusing. There seems to be some descriptive lapses and some gaps in time and even though I found the ending reasonably affecting, I think the long set up was squandered by Banks.
I have the feeling that many of the images and ideas in the book will stay with me for along time though and like all work by this writer it’s not a book you put down and forget about. Banks is always worth reading, but this is a lesser Culture effort which I would still hardily recommend. I do miss his more trim and taut and far more emotionally engaging efforts of yesteryear, like Consider Phlebas, Player of Games and the subliminal Use of Weapons, and I hope that Matter can attract a readership for these earlier books.
May 8th, 2008, 12:55 AM
I finished The House of Suns by A. Reynolds, and indeed it fulfilled the earlier expectations with a great ending. This one is a must read for anyone who loves sense of wonder sf since it has everything you want in a hard space opera based on the latest cutting edge theories about the universe.
There is even some fantasy with a princess and her evil half-brother Mordax, sorcerors, castles and the like. It seems that any respectable space opera has to have that these days . The book is still hard sf.
Another cool part I'd really loved is about how would you torture an immortal human who can control his pain centers. The Glotka way of the First Law trilogy does not quite work here - and anyway the torturers would not stoop to that - but there is something called "sectioning", involving sectioning the body vertically in 2, 4, 8... in the book it got to 256 thin slices, keeping the parts enclosed in some high tech bubbles and in contact so the body lives and can be put together, and then move them around so the "subject" can appreciate what is done to him/her, while cutting selected areas from various sections, just to give more incentive for truthfulness.
In a mostly human galaxy - no ftl but almost anything else allowed by the law of physics - about 6 million years in the future, there are countless human and posthuman civilization and one robot one - the machine people. Civilizations rise and fall, but towering over them are the Lines, groupings of originally 1000 immortal shatterlings though in time some are lost to attrition - all clones of a single person to start with - that have the most advanced ships, tech, and go on Circuits around the Galaxy, meeting once every 200k years to mix their memories. Of course travel being sub-light they spend most time in stasis or slow-time - they can and do slow time at will with "syncromesh", so of those 6 Million years each shatterling lived several tens of thousands - bookworms tunneling through the pages of history as they are called by entities that actually lived through millions of years though at a slow pace
The shatterlings are almost as benevolent gods to the "turnover" civilizations of the Galaxy and they trade and do good works like preventing stars to go supernova, moving planets out of harm's way...
The story focuses on 3 main characters - 2 shatterlings of the Gentian line Campion and Purslane - Campion is brash and just on the right side of censure for various actions or inactions - Purslane has the best ship of the Gentian line and is patient and determined, making a good match with her illicit lover Campion - the shatterlings are supposed to go alone on their circuits and not form bonds...
Also in small restropect chunks we get to see the original Gentian, Abigail, millions of years ago in The Golden Hour - that's a literal name - when humanity lived in the Solar system only and the shatterling project originated and some of how the Lines formed.
Purslane and Campion meeting illicitly on their way to the next Gentian reunion and preparing to falsify their memories before dumping them in the common mix, stop by an obscure planet to fix a stardam - that's the Gentian specialty - put in place to prevent the local sun going supernova.
Being late to the meeting, they detour to fix Campion's ship, and in the process rescue a strange robot of the machine people - Hesperus - with missing memories. Finally on their way the reunion, they get a very disturbing message and the adventure starts...
Excellent book - the best Reynolds novel by far incorporating themes from a lot of his work, including the novella Thousandth Night that had the same setting and characters but different action, the ss Understanding Space and Time and with mind-boggling tech beyond the Inhibitors' series
May 9th, 2008, 05:07 PM
After the brilliant House of Suns, I am still in the mood for large scale space opera, so Astropolis 1.5 and 2 by Sean Williams.
Astropolis 1.5 is Cenotaxis a 100 page short novel published in December 07 and covering some events between Saturn Returns and Earth Ascendant.
I got the book when published but I've kept it to read it with Earth Ascendant.
Cenotaxis is very interesting metaphysical sf and beautifully written - the best Sean Williams by far in terms of prose.
Imre Bergamasc - though not sure which one of them - and his gang - similar comment - the leader of the galactic reconstruction after the Slow Wave destroyed the Forts comes to take over Earth but a strange human that experiences time non-linearly Jasper leads the resistance for 50 years. Finally captured, Jasper tries to bring Bergamasc to his point of view, while Imre tries to understand who is this person that seems to know things about the future, while forgetting things about the past.
There is a lot of discussion about God, free will, the evolution of humanity, and some interesting action scenes.
The book is independent of Saturn Returns in many ways, though having an idea about what Forts, frags and the Slow Wave are adds context to it.
I loved it and it's a short read since the pages seem to turn by themselves. Next is Earth Ascendant.
May 10th, 2008, 09:52 AM
Give me liberty!
I polished off Neal Asher's 'Polity Agent' last week and started in on 'Prador Moon. I'm about halfway through.
Clearly this is essential reading for anyone who is an Asher fan, as to a degree it is wish fulfillment: Most people like the Prador as bad guys, so any plot dealing with their back-story and the early days of the war-effort against them was always going to be on solid footing.
It's quite short, and if I were going to level a critique at it I would say that it clearly has the feel of a sort of novella or pastiche. It doesn't quite have the same polished feel as one of the main novels. So far the plot is pretty minimal, just snapshots of the war at various points.
Last edited by Ouroboros; May 11th, 2008 at 09:11 AM.
May 11th, 2008, 10:04 PM
Though I've read about half of Earth Ascendant and it is as expected a pretty good follow up to Saturn Returns and Cenotaxis, I took a detour through some more literary fantasy and sf with M. Pavic Tarot's novel that I posted about in the Fantasy thread and then finishing 2 more of A. Crumey's novels, his debut Music in a Foreign Language and the book that made him better known, Mobius Dick, his fifth novel.
Both of these novels are set in an alternate Britain, which Germany occupied and then the communist party got in power after liberation and then recently it was overturned - kind of like events in Eastern Europe
Both are also about stories within stories, about friendship and deceit, about reality and simulation.
Music in a Foreign Language is more of a mainstream novel except for the ah setting. It is the story of a physicist Charles King and a historian Robert Waters whose paths cross by chance in Communist Britain, their 5 year old complicated relationship involving a pamphlet, a woman and a child - and the way their lives shatter when the political police pits one against the other. This story is told by an exiled English physicist who tries to cope with the death of his Italian wife and who may have some ulterior motives. As someone who lived his first 20 years under a communist regime, I found the main story of King and Waters extraordinarily well done. Not the 1984 horrors, but the small day to day indignities - waiting in line for a better apartment, bribing the secretary to type your paper faster - ,furtiveness and sense of living in a prison at the whim of your jailers, who may let you alone if you are quiet and follow the rules in public so to speak, but will turn on you ferociously at the smaller sign of outward disobedience.
Excellent, excellent book - though again more mainstream than sf
Mobius Dick is sf through and through, involving parallel universes, q-computers, literary sense and nonsense, psychological manipulation, and vignettes about Goethe, Schumann, Jung, Schroedinger and much, much more. Mobius Dick is a very sophisticated novel, and a clear homage to Philip Dick as the epilogue makes it very clear. The book seems to have induced split responses - adulation in literary circles and disdain and dismissal in sf circle, and the last response boggles my mind - actually this is how I found about Mr. Crumey, a comment about his recent novel Sputnik Caledonia on the Vector editorial blog followed by dismissals in comments from various sf bloggers. The book is excellent and if it does not tickle the sf bone as someone put in a review, so what. It is still an excellent book and you can read it as philosophical book in the 18th century style of Voltaire and co, except that instead of Enlightenment science, we have many-worlds, q-computing and 20th century science...
Highly, highly recommended too
Last edited by suciul; May 11th, 2008 at 10:08 PM.
May 13th, 2008, 04:34 AM
I've read(re-read actually) Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson. I don't read much Sci-Fi anymore. This was actually the first such book I'd read in four or five years.
I guess that Sci-Fi books just don't appeal all that much to me anymore, as I'm usually more interested in Fantasy. But I remembered that I actually liked Hidden Empire, and despite many negative comments I had read about it lately, I decided to give it another try.
I don't think that Anderson is all that skilled as a writer. I found it odd at times how he decided to describe a situation, as he would often skip through a lot in just a couple of sentences. Still, I found the book very enjoyable, as I like how the story includes several different factions, and I'll definately make sure to read more in the series.
May 13th, 2008, 11:02 AM
Well right now I’m about 80+ pages into Heinlein’s, Farmer in the Sky and I really like it. Even though I’m only a casual SF fan, I have read about a dozen books by Asimov and Clarke each. But oddly enough, I’ve never read anything by Heinlein till last month. Hard to believe I know. So…I recently bought about 15 of his books based on recommendations from this forum. I’m going to read through them in the order and genre they were written. I just finished The Day After Tomorrow this weekend. Last month I finished Starman Jones and Beyond This Horizon. Well…I guess I’m a “Juvenile” at heart, because so far I seem to prefer those titles. I really liked Starman Jones and what I’ve read of Farmer in the Sky. The Day After Tomorrow was good but Beyond the Horizon was just Ok. I’m curious to see how Heinlein’s writing approach and style changes over the 40+ year period these books will span.
May 14th, 2008, 04:56 PM
Read Sarah Hall's Daughters of the North, [originally The Carhullan Army in the UK], the other day. I'd call the novel "social science fiction", as it deals with a number of issues such as gender, identity, and the conditions that spawn and promote extremism. With all the themes flying around the book, I found it difficult to concentrate on any one aspect of what Hall was trying to say for very long, which is fine since I think the book is meant to be dense and the subjects it tackles by their very natures don't have easy answers. Perhaps, in fact, the questions the book deals with don't have answers of any kind, easy or otherwise.
The premise, briefly, is this: Floods, economic double-plus-ungoodness, and political funny-business have combined to land future England in a distopic sort of society, in which modern amenities such as electricity are rationed, Britain is dependent on the US for staple products, and individual cities exist in near isolation. A group of women have turned their backs on the nation's baseline urban society and set up a community run through farming and other labour-intensive low-tech industries in the harsh north of Cumbria. Sounds rosy? It sort of is, though interestingly and realistically hard-nosed, but much will change when military lifestyle comes a'calling. It's sci-fi based on a "what if?" social situation rather than the spaceships and aliens of which I'm usually so fond, and I very much enjoyed it. It really made me think, and I'll be reading it again. Won the Tiptree Award, incidentally.
Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:11 AM.
May 14th, 2008, 06:30 PM
Give me liberty!
I'm a few pages into 'The far side of the stars', a novel by David Drake in his RCN (Royal Cinnabar Navy) series.
These books are a cross between the naval historical ficiton of the Hornblower novels and Drake's trademark military SF (albeit with more of a space opera bent). Thusfar they have been to a high standard although there have been grumbles about originality and predictability.
My take on them is that certainly they are not as groundbreaking as the gritty, edge-of-the-blade stuff he did back with the early 'Hammer's Slammers' material, but this is easily the most fun material he's produced in years, especially after a pretty dismal foray into epic fantasy with Tor. You really get a feel off each page that Drake is writing about themes he is interested in, and drawing upon a historical period which clearly fascinates him. That enthusiasm is infectious, and there's something extremely likeable about his brandy-drinking podgy young commissioned-officer protagonist.
This latest installment in the series thematically harks back to the days when only the wealthiest in society could afford to go on a 'grand tour' to finish their education. In a time when only the rich could afford the expense and risk of world-wide travel, Drake in his introduction talks about a historical incident where a group of Russian nobles bought a south seas schooner and chartered it to take them around the Americas at the end of the 19th century, hunting, exploring ruins and seeing native rites. Fascinated by this romantic idea, standing in such contrast to our own ever-shrinking world, Drake set out to write a novel loosely involving such a premise.
In 'The far side of the stars' the Princess Cecile and her veteran crew have been leased out in peace-time as a glorified pleasure vessell for the elite to explore the fringes of space. Naturally, not everything goes according to plan and Captain Leary and Signals Officer Adele Mundy finds themselves once again embroiled in galactic politics and impending military disaster for Cinnabar.
It's early days, but I'm expecting at least a few parties where Daniel drinks and eats beyond his means, possibly a few liasons with provincial girls, a hostage-taking scenario and all of it to be pulled together for a rousing space battle towards the conclusion.
May 14th, 2008, 08:10 PM
For me this series went: 1st good, 2nd better, 3rd - that's Far Side very good, then 4 retread to mediocre, but let us give it one more chance, 5 even worse, so I stopped following it. It just goes nowhere.
Originally Posted by Ouroboros
If you like the characters and like to see them repeating the previous novel interactions, then you will probably like the series. If you want a series and its characters to evolve the way Honor does for example, then you will be disappointed.
May 16th, 2008, 11:28 AM
I like to rock the party
I'm a little over 100 pages into Crossover by Joel Shepperd and enjoying it. So far it has been more about plot set up and character development then it has been about action, but I feel that will come soon. There was one kick-ass action sequence that was really sweet and I look forward to more of the same. So far it looks like this book will balance out action/plot/political intrigue fairly well.
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