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  1. #1
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Reading in June 2008

    This is where you tell us what you're reading in SF this month. Good or bad, please let us know what you thought.

    Over to the Book Clubs....

    The Fantasy Book Club discussion is on The Black Company by Glen Cook. A new recent classic of the genre?

    The SF Book Club's having a rest for now.

    Join in if you can!


    Mark / Hobbit
    Mark

  2. #2
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    I finished two sf novels, an excellent - probably the best pure hard sf I've read or close to it - Incandescence by Greg Egan and a "brain-crack" addictive adventure-mil sf that had me awake until 2.30 am to finish it Claws that Catch - Vorpal Blade 4 by J. Ringo and T. Taylor

    Einstein's General - mind you not the "easier" special one - Theory of Relativity as a lyrical novel with characters that you care about. That's Incadescence. Actually it has 2 strands, one in the Amalgam-Aloof Universe of Mr. Egan, and one inside a strange planetoid Splinter where the locals, DNA "cousins" of ours have a content life as mostly farmers/gatherers living in tunnels inside. The "Wind" coming from "Incadescence" provides the food that literally grows on rocks and they just have to tend to it and to various "animals". And since they have a compulsion for association - and work is what people do, and there are no families, there is little conflict.

    But one day a "normal" farmer female Roi meets a strange elderly male Zak who asks Roi to help him with some experiments determining the "weight" distribution inside Splinter -this weight distribution is quite strange since as we slowly learn it's not gravity the way we feel on Earth but something trickier and much more complicated - Mr. Egan has quite a few equations and a lot of extras on his website at gregegan.net, but I would recommend to first read the novel and struggle with our heroes to make sense of everything - Roi is suspicious at first that Zak wants to "recruit" her, but slowly some kind of knowledge hunger wakes up in her and she freely associates with Zak forming a new kind of work team - which is accepted since as mentioned work is what people do on Splinter. Slowly they attract other people that have developed this hunger for knowledge and when disaster almost strikes Splinter, they become more and more important.

    The back story unfolding as a detective one starring some Amalgam citizens Rakeesh and Parantham "invited" by the mysterious Aloof to investigate a possible DNA planet inside their high energy domain in the Galactic Center provides a lot of answers about Splinter and its inhabitants, but its story per se is less interesting overall. Maybe because Rakeesh is an essentially immortal posthuman, and Parantham is an AI descendant, a "novus" not of the 7 or so original organic lines of which DNA is one - not that it matters that much because any Amalgam citizen lives sometimes embodied, sometimes as AI depending on choice and appropriateness, while the Splinter "people" though with wildly different bodies and senses from us, are much more similar in interests and occupations...Hard to emphatise with Rakeesh when he is so bored that everything in the Galaxy has been discovered or lies in the mysterious, unreachable Aloof territory..

    The ending while resolving the story line is open enough to allow for a sequel, which I would really want to read. The best Egan novel by far, commensurate with his mind boggling superb short fiction.

    Claws that Catch is a mash of so many things including purple space spiders, space dragonflies ridden by friendly aliens acting as fighter escorts, a cosmic music stage using 4 Jovians and the output of a star that can be used as an awesome weapon by singing, exotic particle physics, cliched military wedding, anime characters, and so much more. It's just a compulsive ride and the last 3rd is action non-stop. Read the sample chapters at Baen and enjoy - do not complain if you get addicted though
    Last edited by suciul; June 1st, 2008 at 12:45 AM.

  3. #3
    Intrigued diletante Nicolas's Avatar
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    I just finished Century Rain, by Alastair Reynolds, which i enjoyed enormously. His characters sometimes feel a bit stereotyped and underdeveloped, acting in function of the story rather than the opposite, but the fluidity of the writing, the quality of the descriptions, the carefully placed revelations slowly unfolding the mystery and the continuous acceleration of the pace made it difficult for me to put down.
    There is room for a sequel as well. I have now read 5 novels and a few short stories by Mr Reynolds and he still fails to disappoint.

    Now i'm having a coffee, and will soon start Guards, Guards! by Terry Pratchett, which i feel like re-reading right now.

    After that, Neuromancer probably, as it has been suggested to me in my query regarding books about bars (thanks Ropie). I have had it on my "to read" pile for months but still haven't done it. I buy a lot more books than i read...

  4. #4
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    After that, Neuromancer probably, as it has been suggested to me in my query regarding books about bars (thanks Ropie). I have had it on my "to read" pile for months but still haven't done it. I buy a lot more books than i read...
    I started it recently but put it down after a few chapters. It's a dark and broody tale and to me, better suited to an autumn or winter evening, so I'll personally be leaving it until then.

  5. #5
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    I finished Earth Ascendant by S. Williams which is volume 2 in the Astropolis series. Volume 1 Saturn Returns was an unexpected hit for me last year after the very disappointing Geodesica 2. Volume 1.5 Cenotaxis a small press novella about the conquest of Earth by Prime Imre Bergamasc Returned Continuum was excellent.

    Earth Ascendant though is good but not at the level of the previous 2. About 300k years after Cenotaxis and 400k after Saturn - that is the time scale in a no ftl Galaxy - The Returned Continuum is putting back the Galaxy but this time led by Primes - "regular" humans - with Singletons - multiple humans - in positions of power but not dominating, while the previous glue of the Galaxy, The Forts - the several hundred galaxy spanning posthumans consisting of millions of frags linked by Q-coherence allowing instantaneous exchange of info - are still dead due to the mysterious Slow Wave. Luminous and The Barons are still unknown powers sabotaging the new continuum and killing any fort-to-be.

    As First Prime, Imre tours the galaxy at light speed to bring new systems in, cement loyalties of old systems, while Helwise is Regent on Earth with Render - a prime - keeping an eye on her and Alice Angeles a frag that somehow survived the destruction of its fort as general factotum, while Freer is the Marshal in charge of many systems.

    Helwise/Earth is hunting the other copies of her, while each Freer is loyal to Imre. Emlee is still Imre's bodyguard and confidante/occasional lover.

    The secret ingredient of the Continuum is the Apparatus of Cenotaxis and only the inner circle knows about it

    Most of the book is about the difficulty of running the Continuum, the ambitions of Helwise, while the really interesting parts about The Barons, Luminous, Domgard, Himself - that is Imre the Singleton/Fort that killed our Prime Imre before the Jinc resurrected him in Saturn Returns and now is up to something, but with higher stakes so he is leaving our Imre and the Returned Continuum on their own unless disturbed - are given relative little space.

    Though the story advances to some extent in the hundred k or so years of Earth Ascendant, this is clearly a middle volume and one which concentrates on the less interesting parts - for me at least.
    Still it was a good enough read and I really want to find out the mysteries of Astropolis, so the last volume is on my buy list.

  6. #6
    Registered User spiralguru3d's Avatar
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    Hi all, I'm new here!

    I've just started Ender's Game, and will be reading Revelation Space next, and then the first of the Honor Harrington books.

    Will post how I get on as I finish them.!.

  7. #7
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    I'm currently reading Consider Phlebas By Iain Banks. I read Wasp Factory last month and decided to give his Science Fiction a try. I might try To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer after that

  8. #8
    A couple days ago I finished Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods, a fairly slender book which deals with the cyclical nature of human error through telling three stories, one after the other, in which three different versions of the same characters fall in love whilst the world ends around them, [though in one case it could be argued that it is ending in microcosm.] Settings range from a far-future doomed human-occupied world in the first section, to ... well, that would be telling, but I shall say that the second section is a speculative historical, while the third is a near future distopia.

    Interestingly, a couple of the characters go out of their way throughout the novel to state how much they don't like science fiction, something which Ursula Le Guin calls attention to in her [excellent, and overall positive] review of the novel in The Guardian. Despite what degree of genre snobbery may or may not be going on here, this is most definitely science fiction, and very interesting science fiction at that. The theme of repetition comes up a lot, from repeated phrases and passages, to repeated appearances of certain books and other items, and the cyclical apocalypses themselves. The middle section, [which is the part on which the whole thing turns arguably, and which also gives the book its name], is rather short, and the love story and backdrop were both underdeveloped considering the amount of weight they are asked to carry.

    Also note that the novel is preachy. However I did not find that this bore it down too much. This is, after all, a theme-based novel. Winterson's prose is also very stylized, and while I enjoyed a lot of the poetic flourishes some people may find this irritating.

    At this point the forum booted me out of the reply field and I lost a bunch of what I'd written. A thought-provoking and engaging book about repetition, destruction, and the funky things societies might do when under stress. Oh, and there's some gender studies sort of stuff in there too.

    I also finished reading Depth of Field, the second third of Iain M Banks's Matter. It was good, though still lacking the razor's edge of brilliance that I found made The Player of Games exceptional.
    ________
    Coach Purses
    Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:16 AM.

  9. #9
    I like to rock the party Corporal Blues's Avatar
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    I've been really busy with school lately, and have had very little time for reading enjoyment, but when I have had time, I've been enjoying Gateway by Frederik Pohl. I'm only about a 1/3 of the way through, but it is fairly light, fun, and interesting. I can't wait for Bob to get in one of those Heechee ships.

    Sigfrid the robot shrink is a pretty great character too.

  10. #10
    I am half way through The rise of Endymion, I am reading the huge paperback Endymion omnibus, people give me strange looks when I wield that book on the train. It's a bloody cracking read. After that I don't know whether to sniff out something fresh or dig into my book collection and get stuck into some Culture books. I have always fancied re-reading the revelation space books again though.

  11. #11
    Registered User spiralguru3d's Avatar
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    I've just finished Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I wish I had read the book when I was a teenager. I think if I had, I would still be telling people what a brilliant book it was. As it is, I think the good outweighed the bad, but have no great desire to go on with other books in the saga.

    I am starting "Revelation Space" tonight. I'm about to put the kettle on for some tea and settle down to read for a couple of hours. I've seen some very mixed reviews of it so here's hoping.. =)

  12. #12
    Book Depository Junkie suupaabaka's Avatar
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    Working my way through A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge. I love the concept of the Tines, and the various levels of consciousness within the Milky Way Galaxy. His prose is generally good, though some sections became dreary. I'm looking forward to seeing how he ties it all together.

    Proably deserves the awards it received!

  13. #13
    A man under the Oak Tree. bio's Avatar
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    spiralguru3d try one another - Speaker for the Dead is far better than Enders Game. Xenocide is readable, but the rest of cycle is in my opinion only waste of time.

  14. #14
    Give me liberty! Ouroboros's Avatar
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    I limped my way through to the end of David Drake's 'The far side of the stars' (RCN series). While certainly enjoyable enough, a combination of my moving house and being snowed under at work meant I couldn't give it the attention it deserved.

    Personally I don't think it is the strongest of the series. While there are some inspired moments, it rambles slightly and the several planetfalls made by the Princess Cecile over the course of the book almost feel like seperate short stories rather than a cohesive plot. Drake pulls it together rather suddenly for a rather perfunctory 'spacebattle against overwhelmingly superior enemy forces which is won thanks to a cunning plan'.

    Which leaves me finally coming to the end of a reading list I assembled about eight months ago. I've finally gotten through the guts of a huge order I put in to Amazon, mostly for Baen books unavailable here very easily.

    Just a few left to polish off. At the moment it's a toss-up between John Ringo (and co-author whose name eludes me)'s 'The road to damascus', a Bolos novel with a rather dubious reputation, or else Neil Gaiman's 'Stardust' (been saving this one, though). Or I could always polish off the rest of my 'Drakas!' short story anthology.
    Last edited by Ouroboros; June 11th, 2008 at 05:43 PM.

  15. #15
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    Reading DUNE ....300 pages into this and it's OK so far..nothing amazing as of yet...although the book i read before this was The Name of the Wind which was a great book...Does DUNE get better...are the next books on the same par as dune??

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