Poul Anderson was an exciting and prolific writer of both science fiction and fantasy. I've never read one of his authored or co-authored books that IPoul Anderson was an exciting and prolific writer of both science fiction and fantasy. I've never read one of his authored or co-authored books that I did not enjoy. This story was no exception. Sure, it had its dull moments and got a little complicated at times, but the plot was well drawn as were the characters.
The story takes place centuries after a nuclear holocaust wiped out most of earth's population and left much of the land devastated. Three major civilizations have emerged: The Domain which covers most of what is now Northern Europe, the Murai, a queen led nation of South Pacific seafarers and the Northwest Confederation based in the Northwest corner of North America. There are other smaller groups such as the Mong and the Yuan, Asian survivors of the disaster as well as the Espanyans in Southeastern Europe.
The Domain is protected by an immense dirigible called Skyholm which can deliver lasers anywhere in the Domain. The Murai are militarily, the strongest and see themselves as the keepers of the peace. They constantly look for any fissionable material in order to confiscate it. The Northwesterners or Norries as they call themselves are divided into lodges, the strongest of which are the Wolves. The Murai defeated the Norries in the Power War when they tried to build nuclear power plants.
The plot is built around the efforts of the Norries to build a nuclear-powered space ship without anyone discovering what they are doing. The major sub-plot involves the protagonist Iern of the Domain being usurped as leader in a coup just as he is about to be elected by Jovain, a jealous, vindictive rival. Iern escapes to the Northwest and enlists in the space ship effort after falling in love with Ronica Birken a Norrie who helps him escape the clutches of Jovain.
This book won a number of awards including a Hugo and a Nebula. It contains most of the themes that Anderson used in many of his writings: liberty, adventure, individualism, tragic conflicts, human foibles and others. I'm not sure this was Anderson's Magnus Opus, but it's not only long at close to 500 pages but has been reprinted numerous times in the 35 years since its first appearance.
There are times the plot drags but the time is put to good use exploring the characters' motivations and plans. The ending is action-filled and very exciting. The conclusion ties up a number of loose ends and leaves the reader with hope for the human race.
I highly recommend it to not only sci-fi fans but anyone who enjoys an exciting yarn taking place in an imaginative universe with lots of parallels to our own. ...more
This has to be a guilty pleasure: a novel about a wizard with an office in Chicago, making himself available to people who need magical help.
This isThis has to be a guilty pleasure: a novel about a wizard with an office in Chicago, making himself available to people who need magical help.
This is the third book in the Harry Dresden series. I'd read Book 1 and liked it. I liked it more than this one. Butcher has added a great deal more violence and sex but that doesn't necessarily mean he's created a better story.
In this story, the plot revolves around some malevolent force trying to kill Harry, his associate Michael, his police supporter Lt. Murphy and his girl friend Susan Rodriguez. The barrier between the Nevernever and Earth has been weakened and ghosts are showing up on the earth side and creating chaos. Harry can't seem to figure out who the entity behind all the trouble, someone they call the "Nightmare", is.
As he follows the clues, his friends and others are possessed and/or hurt badly. Harry is weakened. Michael loses his sword. Lt. Murphy drops into a coma and Susan is attacked by vampires. Harry keeps pushing, though, and as you might expect, solves the riddle in the end.
My problem with the book, is that Butcher spends far too much time explaining and exploring the sub-plots. On the other hand, his descriptions of the battles between the "Good Guys" and the "Bad Guys", many of whom are women. by the way, are excellent. I just think he could have moved things forward a little faster than he did.
You can enjoy this without reading the previous books in the series. I recommend it as light reading....more
I love alternative history. This book is a well done piece of work postulating the British signing an armistice with Germany after Dunkirk.
As you migI love alternative history. This book is a well done piece of work postulating the British signing an armistice with Germany after Dunkirk.
As you might expect a resistance to this arrangement is organized under the leadership of Winston Churchill. David Fitzgerald, a civil servant working in the Dominions office that oversees the affairs of the Empire, is recruited into the movement by his best friend, Geoff Drax, He begins passing information on to the resistance unbeknownst to his wife Sarah, a lifelong pacifist. In the process he also works with an experienced cell leader, Natalia from Slovakia, who never reveals her family name.
The basic story revolves around the cell members trying to get scientist Frank Muncaster to America because he possess information that would benefit Germany. The problem is that Frank's in a sanitarium because he went ballistic and attacked his U.S. based brother who had bragged about what he was working on in America. This is the information the Germans want.
There are a few sub-plots, the major one involving, Gunther Hoth, a Nazi SS member assigned to find out what Muncaster knows and get him to Germany.
While there are times the narrative drags a little, the characterizations and descriptions of an England under the thumb of Fascists and the German SS are very well done. There were times I had trouble putting the book down....more
Poul Anderson does as good a job with so-called "Space Operas" as anyone. With an inventive plot and memorable characters, this storyWhat a fun story!
Poul Anderson does as good a job with so-called "Space Operas" as anyone. With an inventive plot and memorable characters, this story was a joy to read.
A group of medieval Englishman are preparing to leave on a crusade when a spaceship lands with the intent of conquering Earth as a colony of the Wersgor people. The Wersgor had conquered a number of planets and were continually on the lookout for suitable new ones to invade. Out of ignorance and fear, more than anything, the Englishmen attack the spaceship and manage to slay almost everyone on board, the Wersgor having no experience with hand to hand combat.
The entire group boards the ship thinking it would save them lots of time getting to the Holy Land. The sole surviving Wersgor, though, sets the autopilot for the planet he came from. The story unfolds from there as the English work to survive on an alien planet.
I have no idea if this book is even still in print but if you find one in a used book store or at Goodwill, buy it and read it. It's worth your time....more
The bottom line on this book is basically if you are a fan of Martin, you'll like it. If you are picky and try to compare this collection of three novThe bottom line on this book is basically if you are a fan of Martin, you'll like it. If you are picky and try to compare this collection of three novellas with the "Fire and Ice" series, you will be disappointed. I obviously liked it. It would be suitable for a YA reader but if you suspend your judgment for a while, I think you can enjoy these simple stories.
These stories were written years ago and even though they take place in Westeros, do so 100 years before the Targaryens were thrown out. Hedge knight, "Dunc" or Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire "Egg" or Aegon of the Targaryen family wander through the lands of Southern Westeros stumbling into situations they would be better off avoiding. They get themselves into these pickles because Dunc refuses to be unchivalrous or violate the principles he learned from his mentor who rescued him from the slums of King's Landing. Both Dunc and Egg always end up surviving these dangers but it's often a close thing.
The book is lushly illustrated which adds to its YA look. Martin promises more stories but given his slowness in completing the Fire and Ice series, I don't intend to hold my breath while waiting. Have fun with this one....more
I attended a lecture by Stephenson upon the release of his latest book, "Reamde". I was impressed with his sense of irony and especially with his adviI attended a lecture by Stephenson upon the release of his latest book, "Reamde". I was impressed with his sense of irony and especially with his advice to aspiring writers.
Based on the lecture, particularly the Q and A session, I decided to read some of his stuff and was told to start with this one, "Snow Crash". Some acknowledge Stephenson as the creator of a new genre, Cyber SciFi, so I was even more motivated since I enjoy Sci-Fi and Fantasy, though in small doses.
Unfortunately, I was not overly impressed with this effort. Perhaps my expectations got in the way. I struggled to finish the book and was ultimately disappointed with the ending, kind of a whimper rather than a bang, to borrow an idea from T.S. Eliot.
The plot basically involves the uncovering of a plot to take over the world by scrambling and infusing people's consciousness with an ancient Sumerian "program" that moves people to speak in tongues and also allows an outside force to control their behavior.
The plot, however isn't as important as Stephenson's picture of a future world in which hackers rule a virtual "Metaverse" and various commercial interests rule the physical world. The environment he describes is imaginable and in many ways is an extension of where we are headed today. It's astounding that this book, published in 1992 is as accurate in its predictions of where we are headed as it is.
The story jumps back and forth between the two major characters Hiro Protagonist, a katana adept hacker, and Y.T., a messenger who delivers her packages on a technologically advanced skateboard. There are some other important characters like Juanita, a beautiful genius hacker, Raven, an insane Aleut who has the power to detonate nuclear weapons, and dozens of others populating Stephenson's fictional world.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The ideas Stephenson presents are fascinating but ultimately the book drags with all the descriptions and a fairly muddled plot. It will be a while before I pick up a Stephenson book again....more
I am so proud of myself. I dumped the book a third of the way in.
It's a mish-mash of thriller, fantasy and historical fiction. Very poorly written wiI am so proud of myself. I dumped the book a third of the way in.
It's a mish-mash of thriller, fantasy and historical fiction. Very poorly written with impossibly stereotyped characters. I realized that I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen so I skipped to the last three, mercifully short chapters, and voila, I was right.
The ending is also unbelievable because the whole book is based on an unbelievable premise followed by an unbelievable epilog.
Thankfully, I was not one of the people who had to wait 5 years for this, the fifth volume, in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" Series. I got my hands onThankfully, I was not one of the people who had to wait 5 years for this, the fifth volume, in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" Series. I got my hands on a Used Hard Cover only a month after finishing Book 4, and managed to race through the close to 1,000 pages in 10 days or so.
I won't even try to summarize the interwoven plot threads here. After focusing on minor characters in Book Four, "A Feast For Crows", Martin returns to the major players in this book. My favorite is Tyrion, the Imp, a little person, born into the wealthy House Lannister, and now a slave in the Eastern Lands. He constantly cheats death by his wits. He cares little for so-called Honor and does what he needs to do to survive but in the process usually does the right thing.
Another favorite is Arya, of House Stark, who though a mere 11 years old, manages to survive and in some ways prosper. She uses her wits and surrenders all preconceptions to make a life for herself in a strange land. Jon Snow, her bastard brother, has risen to be the commander of the Night's Watch, which protects the realm from the forces that exist beyond the Wall, a huge barrier of ice, thousands of feet high. He too must learn to do what works rather than follow the strictures of the medieval code he was raised in.
Jaime Lannister, a one-time golden Boy, who is now a one-handed knight, is beginning to realize that he can't be the bully he was before his hand was cut off. He is a successful military leader but can no longer intimidate people with his fighting skills.
Daenerys Targaryen, the Dragon Queen, continues to rule her city. Unfortunately her dragons have become unruly and are feeding on children as well as sheep. She struggles mightily to rule consistent with her principles of "no slavery", etc. but is foiled at every turn by people who know better, supposedly. She's so darn dutiful, she comes across as boring.
There are others of course, many others. One of the most despicable is Reek, who was once Theron Greyjoy, a Prince of the Iron Isles and has been humiliated and brainwashed to the point where he sleeps with his master's dogs. There is Melisandre, the Red Priestess who has the last of the Baratheons, the legitimate ruling family, totally cowed. One of my favorites is Dolorous Edd, who always sees and comments on the dark side of things.
I still appreciate, Martin's organizing the book around the Point of View of the characters. The ruthlessness of the villains, here, is somewhat overplayed and the bloodshed that pours out throughout the book is a bit much. Nevertheless, I can hardly wait for Book Six of the promised seven books. Martin is going to have to begin to tie all these threads together and bring some closure to many of the sub-plots and, quite frankly, make something definitive happen.
Let's hope the next book doesn't take 5 years to gestate....more
Well, I don't know how best to epress how much I am enjoying this series: "A Song of Fire and Ice". "A Clash of Kings" is volume 2 in the series. I acWell, I don't know how best to epress how much I am enjoying this series: "A Song of Fire and Ice". "A Clash of Kings" is volume 2 in the series. I actually think it's a better written book than Volume 1 but then Martin didn't have to spend a lot of time setting the scene in this book.
Volume 2 picks right up where Volume 1 left off. The major characters continue to evolve. Joffrey, the child king, becomes more and more of a jerk, Jon Snow, the bastard and Night Watch Brother loses his arrogance and begins to mature into a fearsome warrior, Princess Arya continues to get in trouble while trying to work her way back to Winterfell, Sansa, her sister, and Joffrey's fiancee has the scales taken off her eyes, Tyrion, the Lannister Imp shows what a basically good person he is, though his father will never admit it, Cersei, the widowed Queen Mother, shows what an absolutely amoral person she is, Catelyn, the widowed Mistress of Winterfell is unbelievable as the dutiful doyen, Bran, the crippled young lord continues to develop his extrasensory abilities, His older brother, Robb, King in the North, though only 16, proves both his manhood and his military prowess, Varys, the court eunuch, continues to play all sides against each other, Theron Greyjoy shows his true colors as a disloyal, arrogant power seeker, and Danaerys, the Dragon Queen, continues to search for a way to reclaim the Iron Throne her father lost.
There are other characters too which makes this series as interesting as it is. There is also enough action to satisfy any reader's need for more than narrative exposition and dialogue. The battle at the end of the book is as well described as anything Bernard Cornwell, the dean of battle descriptions, has done. I can hardly wait to get to volume 3. ...more
I Don't know how I missed this one. Except for the slightly dated technological stuff it was a great read. As with any Preston/Child novel, the readerI Don't know how I missed this one. Except for the slightly dated technological stuff it was a great read. As with any Preston/Child novel, the reader must suspend their disbelief. Once that is out of the way, the authors have a sure hand when it comes to ratcheting up the suspense. It's not necessarily twists and turns so much as putting the character in life threatening circumstances and prolonging the resolution of the danger.
The plot here involves a scientist, Guy Carson, who is working a scut job under a jealous supervisor when he is asked by GeneDyne CEO and founder, Brent Scopes, to take over a very important project at the GeneDyne facility, near Mount Dragon, in a remote arid section of New Mexico. Guy’s new assignment is to genetically manipulate a very deadly virus so that it will inoculate people against the flu forever. Carson works in a Level 5 facility, with protective biohazard suits and extensive decontamination procedures. His assistant, Susana Cabeza de Vaca, is very feisty and sarcastic. At some point, as you can imagine, there is an accident which throws the entire facility into chaos. Simultaneously, Guy’s onetime college professor, Charles Levine (Brent Scopes’ most vocal enemy) manages to contact him. Guy and Susana discover that there are many secrets about, not only their project, but others before they got there. The plot unfolds from there as events in both New Mexico and GeneDyne headquarters in Boston work to a climax.
I was somewhat surprised that the authors could produce such an entertaining story in this, their second book together. I highly recommend it....more
In some ways this book was very imaginative and in some ways just another Heinlen-like hero story.
The protagonist, Cadmann Whelan, is in charge of secIn some ways this book was very imaginative and in some ways just another Heinlen-like hero story.
The protagonist, Cadmann Whelan, is in charge of security in a situation where there seems to be little need for it. Homo Sapiens has dispatched a space ship to colonize a new planet. To get there while still young, the travelers must be put into deep freeze. Some of the colonists come out of the freeze with their intelligence negatively influenced. Avalon, which is what they've named the colony seems perfect but monsters await.
The title uses Heorot, from the Beowulf saga, to set the stage as Avalon is beset by a Grendel like predator. Though, the colonists manage to kill it, turns out there are more on their island. In a final twist, though they slay the few they find, a cruel twist of biology puts the colony in terminal danger.
Whelan is the lone hero who is un-appreciated and reacts like a spoiled chld but in the end is the saviour of the survivors. A little bit too much of a Space Opera for me.
The pacing of the plot is pretty good especially as the story reaches its climax. The characters are not very original nor real but play their designated roles to keep the plot moving.
There is a tremendous amount of violence in the book and a little bit of non-explicit sex. The unspoken moral of the story is: "Don't fool with Mother Nature." A lesson we must eventually learn ourselves.
There is a sequel, Beowulf's Children which I plan to pass on. ...more