You can't go wrong with a swordsman as protagonist, accompanied by a talking cat who is actually an avatar of a powerful AI. Wormhole technology has mYou can't go wrong with a swordsman as protagonist, accompanied by a talking cat who is actually an avatar of a powerful AI. Wormhole technology has made it possible to create multiple pocket universes, each designed differently to allow for maximum pleasure, adventure, leisure or whatever. In addition, humans cannot die. A backup can be made any time and is stored by one of the 11 AIs, which float in space. With each incarnation it's possible to do alterations to the physical body. You can imagine the opportunities.
The protagonist Aristede is a scholar of the implied spaces, a term that describes structures which haven't been planned consciously but accidentially come into existence. Something is going on though and Aristede must use all his wits to save the day.
I really liked the first half of the book. The atmosphere is very colorful and Walter John Williams manages to create a unique world with many details. When the big adventure starts to kick in my impression slowly turned into disappointment. It's just an adventure story with some nice plot twists. Aristede is the only character that allows a glance at how the people might live in such pocket universes, but barely the surface is covered. No comparison to Iain M. Banks and his culture books or to my favourite Golden Age series by John C. Wright.
With more focus on characters and their inner struggles this book could have been much better. At the end it's an original SF adventure that gives you a good time but I doubt that it will have any importance....more
Depressing little book about a woman who is completely trapped: in her marriage, in a foreign country, in the society. And the fever birds ask who areDepressing little book about a woman who is completely trapped: in her marriage, in a foreign country, in the society. And the fever birds ask who are you? There is hope though...
The plot has parallels to Anna Kavan's own life and her first marriage which brought her to Burma. ...more
Some stories in this collection are outstanding and I tend to rate the book higher but 4 stars is a fair rating. I haven't read "The Doctor of Death ISome stories in this collection are outstanding and I tend to rate the book higher but 4 stars is a fair rating. I haven't read "The Doctor of Death Island" yet but want to provide the following (spoiler free) review while the memories are still fresh.
When you open the book, slow down and take your time. The stories are not fast-paced. Instead you will find an almost overwhelming love for details that contribute a great deal to the atmosphere and, well, weirdness of the stories. If you need help to understand what's going on I suggest to have a look at the Wolfe Wiki. You won't regret it.
I didn't like the title story "The Island of Doctor Death" very much. It's well written but didn't grab me and the final conclusion was somehow disappointing. 3/5 stars.
"Alien Stone" is the first highlight. It starts like a normal space adventure but quickly twists in a way I didn't expect. I really enjoyed the ending, it made me lean back and simply say "wow!" 5/5
"La Befana" made no impression on me. 2/5
"The Hero as Werewolf" has a lot of atmosphere and provides a look at a weird society. Very intensive and well done. 4/5
"Three Fingers" made no impression on me. Simply too weird. 1/5
"The Death of Dr. Island" is the next highlight. A tremendous story with excellent characters and the only story in the whole collection that not only caught me in an intellectual way but also emotionally. I especially liked the way how the island responses to the feelings of the protagonists and how it helps to ease their mood. This is great stuff. 5/5
"Feather Tigers" is nice, reminded me a little bit of Ray Bradbury. The mix of horror and sf is not my cup of tea though. 3/5
"Hour of Trust" is a disturbing look at modern warfare - and how the current elite is about to loose. As usual it contains many clues and hints that must be put together first and the high amount of details demand a second read. 4/5
"Tracking Song" comes close to being the next highlight but I think I have to read it at least one more time to understand it better. The atmosphere is great but what is going on there? 4/5
"The Toy Theater" is a wonderful short story and although everything looks clear there are some hidden details left for the reader to discover. 4/5
"Cues" is a strange story and slowly reveals its quality the more you think about it. 4/5
"Eyeflash Miracles" is a story with many references to The Wizard of Oz. It's well written and the characters are great, however, the plot didn't satisfy me. 3/5
"Seven American Nights" is the final highlight in this collection. It provides a look at a destroyed, post-war America, where a rich Iranian tourist has disappeared after one week of travelling. From his diary the reader can reconstruct what has happened, but many things are only hinted at and clues are well hidden... After the surprising end I had to read the story immediately again and discovered many things I didn't notice the first time. This is a marvelous and very, very clever story! 5/5
In summary I can highly recommend the collection. It's a little bit funny that everyone seems to have other favourites among the stories so you have to read all of them.
One word about the book itself: my Orb edition has a rather poor quality. I don't know what kind of ink has been used, it's irritating reflective if the book is read in bright light. In addition, the typesetting in the lower part of a page contains one line that looks uneven. It's hard to describe, maybe it's only an issue with my edition......more
The overwhelming positive critics convinced me to read this book. However, I cannot share the enthusiasm. It's well written with likeable characters,The overwhelming positive critics convinced me to read this book. However, I cannot share the enthusiasm. It's well written with likeable characters, each one having a unique style and personality. The female characters were a little bit weak though, I interpreted their behaviour as common for the time (1920 - 1950) but this might be wrong. I also liked the mystery around the book Shadow of the Wind and the Barcelona after World War II.
After finishing roughly half of the book I began to ask myself what it's all about. The nice surface couldn't hide the missing depth and the plot started to become trivial. Still, I kept on reading. Then the last quarter started and I felt annoyed. The whole mystery turned into a kitschy, mediocre something turning into a big-bang final with a lot of action. Oh my gosh!
I am pretty sure that people will like the novel but don't let other convince you that this is high literature. It is not. ...more
I liked the 2nd novella most, it was interesting, provided new background information and even linked to the real former USSR.
The other two are wellI liked the 2nd novella most, it was interesting, provided new background information and even linked to the real former USSR.
The other two are well written but I had the impression that the author has started to break the rules of his own world, especially when dealing with the Dark magicians. It's a light read with wasted chances, I doubt that I will read the last part of the series....more
The story is not bad but the lack of proper character development left me unsatisfied. A good YA book, for sure, but I wonder why so many adults seemThe story is not bad but the lack of proper character development left me unsatisfied. A good YA book, for sure, but I wonder why so many adults seem to love the Harry Potter books....more
This book was the first book that I read in English (instead of the German translations). As everyone can imagine, this can take a long time but thisThis book was the first book that I read in English (instead of the German translations). As everyone can imagine, this can take a long time but this was time well spent. The Hobbit got me hooked to Tolkien, his prose is marvellous and the characters convincing. Highly recommended!
Update Juni 2013: Ich habe das Buch in der deutschen Übersetzung meinem Sohn vorgelesen. Man kann der Geschichte leicht folgen und Tolkien bewies fiel Fantasie bei Bilbo's Reise mit den Zwergen. Sie ist gut für 9-10 Jährige Kinder geeignet. Die im großen und ganzen gelungene deutsche Übersetzung ist allerdings stellenweise holprig mit sehr langen Schachtelsätzen. Ich habe zum Vergleich das englische Original laut gelesen und muss sagen, dass der Sprachrythmus weitaus besser ist.
Hier ein Beispiel:
"Aber gerade wenn die Zwerge am tiefsten verzweifelt waren, wurde es Bilbo immer irgendwie leichter ums Herz, wie wenn ihm unter seiner Weste ein schweres Gewicht abgenommen worden wäre."
"But somehow, just when the dwarves were most despairing, Bilbo felt a strange lightening of the heart, as if a heavy weight had gone from under his waistcoat."
Und noch ein Beispiel:
"Der Zauberer, der, wie der Wahrheit zuliebe nicht verschwiegen werden darf, nie abgeneigt war, seine klugen Pläne zum wiederholten Male zu erklären, berichtete Bilbo nun, dass sowohl er als auch Elrond gewusst hatten, dass sie in diesem Teil des Gebirges mit den Orks rechnen müssten."
"The wizard, to tell the truth, never minded explaining his cleverness more than once, so now he had told Bilbo that both he and Elrond had been well aware of the presence of evil goblins in that part of the mountains."
Ich kann nur jedem raten, sich an das Original heranzutrauen um die Poetik von Tolkien zu erleben....more
I love Gene Wolfe and found "The Knight" excellent but The Wizard didn't do it for me. Usually the author is able to hide the puzzles and secrets undeI love Gene Wolfe and found "The Knight" excellent but The Wizard didn't do it for me. Usually the author is able to hide the puzzles and secrets under an enjoyable surface. For whatever reason this didn't happen here and the "let me tell you this very important thing but don't interrupt me" style with massive references that might or might not play a role in the book drove me nuts. The main story advances extremely slowly and after 150 pages I had enough.
I checked a couple of reviews and obviously it gets better but not very soon. I may finish the book in the future and revise the review, in the mean time I rather read something else....more
I am still reading the book but I don't enjoy it as much as I would like to. To be honest, I have expected something different. Taking the best of theI am still reading the book but I don't enjoy it as much as I would like to. To be honest, I have expected something different. Taking the best of the setting and turning it into a modern story.
Unfortunately John C. Wright emulates the style of A.E. van Vogt too much. People are thrown in (I hope you remember the first two Null-A books well!), tell long stories and at the end of the chapter Gosseyn teleports somewhere else. This is pulp at its best and after just finishing 2 [Author:Gene Wolfe] books simply trash and not even entertaining....more
If you still plan to read the book, skip the reviews you can find on the internet. They contain some spoilers that are better avoided.
I liked the bookIf you still plan to read the book, skip the reviews you can find on the internet. They contain some spoilers that are better avoided.
I liked the book very much. The setting is strange and the secrets are slowly revealed. The characters are carefully set up and my only complain is that their development wasn't realistic enough at the end of the book.
Anyway, a good classic that is still a lot of fun to read. The Millenium SF Masterworks series is truly a remarkable series that doesn't disappoint....more
After the marvellous I am legend my expectation was high. Unfortunately reading the books was a disappointment for me. It's mostly an adventure storyAfter the marvellous I am legend my expectation was high. Unfortunately reading the books was a disappointment for me. It's mostly an adventure story with some creepy moments. In my opinion Richard Matheson misses the chance to really show what it means to shrink inch by inch. Instead we get mostly negative, desperate flashbacks and the final struggle against disappearing. I can understand the anger and desperation, but if someone has months to adjust to the new situation I would expect that he does something more than helpless crying.
What a book. The first 2 stories are intriguing but leave many things open. The last story reveals a good deal of the background and provides the missWhat a book. The first 2 stories are intriguing but leave many things open. The last story reveals a good deal of the background and provides the missing pieces. Not all of course or it wouldn't be a Gene Wolfe book. A second read is definitely required to understand what lies under the surface and to solve the puzzles. This is a book that can be read multiple times.
The main topics are very interesting. I liked the startling world with its weird natives, the violent history and a society that allows slavery. Highly recommended!...more
The first part of the trilogy was okay. Nothing outstanding but a solid adventure. The second part I liked much less. It's something I would have enjoThe first part of the trilogy was okay. Nothing outstanding but a solid adventure. The second part I liked much less. It's something I would have enjoyed in my youth but not anymore. The last part I didn't finish at all. It's a typical pulp SF book that has nothing to offer but dusty entertainment. Skip it. ...more