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  1. #31
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    Dec 2005
    Ada, MI, USA
    I finished Principle of Angels by J. Fenn a fast paced debut sf adventure that I enjoyed a lot and left me wanting more books in that universe.

    Kheesh City is an orbital city, part of a triad of such orbital cities which are joint capitals of the human Concord, where official assassination by public vote keeps politicians on their toes.

    But Kheesh has many mysteries and when an Underworld urchin loses his Angel aunt - Angels are mostly female state assassins that have implants allowing them to fly - to an offworld Screamer - those are assassins from an allied/rival orbital city that can kill with their voice - and when a classical singer from a theocratic backwater visits Keesh ostensibly for a tour, age old secrets are revealed and threaten the very existence of the city.

    Fresh voice, excellent pacing and a very satisfying ending made this book a fast page turner for me. I hope the adventures of our heroes will continue in more volumes

  2. #32
    Matter - Iain M. Banks. - finished
    - Can't comment, completely biased, It's Banksie, nuff said.

    A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter Miller
    - thought I'd read it, turns out no I haven't , loving it so far)

    The Steep Approach to Garbadale - Iain Banks - finished
    - Again it's banksie, the guy loves screwing with your head.

    Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
    -Thought I may as well read it, actually liking it, another one of those "I should really read this even if it hurts and finding out it doesn't

  3. #33
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by felixmeister View Post
    The Steep Approach to Garbadale - Iain Banks - finished
    - Again it's banksie, the guy loves screwing with your head.
    I haven't read any SF for a couple of months - I haven't read TSATG either but the last book I read was Banks' The Crow Road and I absolutely loved it. His main characters are always just the right blend of compassionate, naughty and amusing.
    Last edited by Ropie; June 25th, 2008 at 02:15 PM.

  4. #34
    A couple days ago I finished John Scalzi's The Android's Dream, a near-middle distance future actioner with a fair dose of block-buster style politics, [i.e: entertaining first and anything else second], and humour. Also there are sheep, and these sheep are vital to the future security of the earth in the wider scheme of galactic politics. When I tell you this, and then assure you that I am not joking, you'll probably begin to get an idea of the sort of book Scalzi's written here. It is fun, entertaining, and for a novel that I believe Scalzi himself has described as a popcorn flick, his "summer movie book", manages to pack in some quite coherent satire and a good number of the touching, human moments that the author is so adept at slipping in alongside the big guns and explosions. The novel lets Scalzi do a number of things which he's exceptionally good at: specifically make up diverting alien species, blow a whole bunch of stuff up, and cuss a lot. The main character isn't quite on the level of John Perry from Old Man's War, being more of Scalzi's version of the all-American rugged hero who rocks at everything, but still comes along with some interesting personal baggage. I think that I still prefer the author's Old Man's War and sequels, which bring a little more gravitas along with gunfights and explosions of equally epic proportions, but you can still sign me up for the Android's Dream follow-up, The High Castle, right now. I'm reading some fairly dense fantasy just at the moment, and I found The Android's Dream to be just what I needed to off-set my other reading: a compulsively readable, entertaining action romp, written by a writer skilled enough to make the light fair a truly worthwhile reading experience.
    Paxil withdraw
    Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:20 AM.

  5. #35

    The Host

    Just finished "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer. I really liked it, mostly because of her story-telling ability. She just has a way of capturing the reader's attention, pulling them into the story and weaving some great, emotional, conflicted plots.

    Not my favorite book ever, but a fantastic read nonetheless. I often wonder how she (and other SFF authors) come up with some of this brain just doesn't seem to work that way. But, I'm glad there are some with that talent!

  6. #36
    I like to rock the party Corporal Blues's Avatar
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    May 2006
    I recently finished reading Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge. I really didn't like it at all. It was one of those books that I had high hopes for, so despite not liking it I kept on reading in hopes that it would suddenly take a turn for the better. It didn't. I didn't like any of the characters, they were pretty flat and unlikable, the plot was kind of boring to me, and I think Vinge's writing style just wasn't for me. I had a hard time with the book keeping my attention.

    It was kind of disappointing to have the first book of summer be such a let down. I'm gonna switch it up and read some fantasy for a bit before coming back to SF.

  7. #37
    Give me liberty! Ouroboros's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
    Just starting John Ringo & Linda Evans' 'Road to Damascus', a Bolos novel.

    I've read mixed reviews, but some of the criticism levelled at it actually leads me to believe that I might find it quite interesting (some suggestion that there is too much of a political element to the plot).

  8. #38
    Speculative Horizons Moderator JamesL's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
    I've just finished Kethani by Eric Brown. I don't read much sci-fi, but I liked the philosophical approach and the fact that the novel focused more on humanity than alien life.

    While I'm a fantasy fanboy at heart, I do like to dip now and then into the other speculative genres. Having come across one or two favourable reviews for Eric Brown's Kéthani - and realising that I really ought to read more sci-fi - I thought I'd give it a go.

    Now, I'll freely admit that I don't know much about the current state of sci-fi. I'm not really sure what authors are popular, what kind of stories are the 'in' thing, and so on.

    What struck me about Kéthani however was that it was remarkable for being a sci-fi novel that was more about mankind than alien life/advanced technology.

    The premise is wonderfully simple: the alien race known only as the Kéthani have descended upon earth and offered the gift of eternal life to mankind. The way it works is as follows: a minor operation is carried out on the subject human to insert an 'implant.' In the event of the human's death (whether by natural causes or accident) the implant will be activated and will automatically alert the (human) staff at the nearest 'Onward Station' who will come and collect the body. The 'soul' of the person will then be beamed up to the Kéthani spaceship orbiting the Earth, and in six months the individual will be returned to Earth in full health (and usually a decade or so younger). The individual - or 'returnee' as they're known - then has the choice of staying on earth permanently or voyaging among the stars as an ambassador for the Kéthani, bringing their message of goodwill to the other races of the universe. While what happens to the returnees during their six-month absence is not fully known, it is agreed that all returnees demonstrate more humanity than they did when previously alive. For example, they are often more caring, compassionate and understanding.

    Rather than taking a sweeping, global look at the impact of the Kéthani on mankind, Brown instead focuses on a handful of people in Yorkshire. Each chapter focuses on a different character, sometimes narrated in the third person by the primary character Khalid, or in first-person by the character themselves. Interspersed between chapters are interludes - always told from Khalid's perspective - that detail how much time has passed since the coming of the Kéthani and often serve as an introduction to the next character's story.

    The small-scale focus works extremely well. What we get - rather than a big diorama - is a stripped-down, personal look at how these peoples' lives have been affected by the Kéthani and their ability to grant immortality. The stories are by turns sad, uplifting and extremely thought-provoking. Brown raises a number of philosophical questions: what role does God play in all this? What are the implications of not having the implant operation? Is the prospect of eternal life really as good as it seems? If you personally are against the implantation process (as many humans are), should you refuse to let your child be implanted? Is life suddenly made worthless by the fact that death is no longer something to be feared?

    Subsequently Kéthani is a novel that resonates with real meaning, as each character struggles with their own problems caused by the arrival of the Kéthani, often having to look deep within themselves to find the solution. The decisions they come to are not always what you'd expect.

    There are some flaws with the novel. The story does have a slightly disjointed feel to it, the result of many of the chapters originally being written as short stories. There is also a problem with repetition later on (the imagery used to describe the 'Onward Stations' and the scenes set in The Fleece pub are the main offenders here). Furthermore, the stories of some characters are more interesting than others and some of the individuals are not quite as well developed as some of their fellows.

    Nonetheless, Kéthani is for the most part an absorbing, thoughtful read that serves as a good reminder why fantasy kids like me should read more sci-fi.

    Rating: dddd
    Last edited by Hobbit; June 30th, 2008 at 11:33 AM.

  9. #39
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Hobbit Towers, England
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  10. #40
    Author of "The Inferior" peadarog's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by JamesL View Post
    I've just finished Kethani by Eric Brown. I don't read much sci-fi, but I liked the philosophical approach and the fact that the novel focused more on humanity than alien life.
    Sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Thanks for that.

  11. #41
    I read Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell and thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

    Crystal Rain is Tobias Buckell's debut novel and a very good one at that. Born and raised in the Caribbean he brings a strong flavour of that culture to this story.

    The inhabitants of Nanagada and Aztlan are descendant from the Caribbean, now occupying lands each side of the Wicked Highs that are cut off from each other except for the Mafolie Pass. The alien Teotl that rule over the Aztecans as gods demand blood sacrifices, while the Nanagadans live in peace with the alien Loa. The Teotl and Loa have fought each other for a great time, and now the Aztecans are coming through the mountains under the direction of the Teotl to wage war on Nanagada.

    John deBrun lost his memory 27 years ago and now passes his time in Brungstum with his wife and son. His past life is a blank to him, although he has come through situations that have killed all others around him. He is the only person to travel to the northlands and return alive, to travel over Hope's Loss and return healthy. Now the invasion of the Aztecans turns his life upside down. Travelling north with Oaxycytl, an Aztecan spy, he arrives in Capitol City wanting to join the Mongoose men and fight against the Aztecans to take revenge for the loss he has suffered.

    With the discovery of old information, a crew is put together to travel to the northlands by ship to find the Ma Wi Jung, a mysterious object said to contain the power to defeat the Teotl. John is appointed the captain and given the things he needs to get to the location where the Ma Wi Jung should be. With the Aztecans marching on Capitol City their time is limited, but they are the only hope.

    What Tobias Buckell has done here is pretty impressive. He's taken a culture that wouldn't usually be put in the same sentence as science fiction and created something that is both unique and familiar. Although not heavily science fiction related, the story has constant references to a time when humanity was technically advanced and flew between the stars. Although most of the story is told through the eyes of characters that just don't know or don't understand the technology, the times when we do get to see from the perspective of those with the knowledge doesn't give too much detail - enough to know there is more, just not quite what it is.

    The characters are also really well presented. The handful who we spend the majority of the novel with are well developed, interesting and unique - of the five or so main characters, each was distinct and engrossing. I can honestly say that there were no characters that I disliked reading and no plot thread that didn't feel rewarding.

    The only real point that I can say I struggled with was the dialect, but only early on in the book. Tobias has obviously used his background to create a great setting which is a refreshing change, but the dialect is difficult to get into. If I didn't know from reading his blog and doing a little research on this I would have struggled even more. Saying this, after getting to the quarter way mark I was barely noticing the difference simply because the book flows so well.

    Crystal Rain is a great read - not too long, but with so many ideas and such a well told story I find it difficult to believe the length, I would have expected a longer book, although this is probably one of the strongest points: the pace of the book. I was never bored of reading and each chapter added something to the whole. I just can't wait to sink my teeth into Ragamuffin and see what Tobias can do with Space Opera.

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