I have been a Gregory Norminton fan since his superb Arts and Wonders, and while neither Ghost Portrait nor Ship of Fools have reached the heights of I have been a Gregory Norminton fan since his superb Arts and Wonders, and while neither Ghost Portrait nor Ship of Fools have reached the heights of that one though still being pretty good, I was willing to follow him when he wrote a contemporary mainstream novel despite that I very, very rarely read such.
I have not regretted it since Serious Things is an extraordinary novel of redemption. The narrator, an overweight, shy, gay bureaucrat aids and abets in a prank that has serious consequences as a student at a posh public school. You see, he had a crush on the prank instigator, an aristocratic nose in the air student that somehow sort of befriended him, mainly because he needed admiration.
Our narrator lives with this childhood sin weighing heavily on him all his life until in his mid thirties he meets by chance his former friend, now a rich banker with a trophy wife and seemingly not bothered by the past.
In alternating present and past chapters we follow the two friends to the inexorable denouement... ...more
Another unputtable down historical novel about spies before WW2 - not really a thriller though it has some action, but the characters, the world buil Another unputtable down historical novel about spies before WW2 - not really a thriller though it has some action, but the characters, the world building, the intrigue and the sense of ominous are much, much more important in Furst than the action.
Spies of Warsaw is as good as any Furst novel - since the first page of Dark Star hooked me into Alan Furst novels years ago, I have read all his backlist and his new 4 or 5 novels published since, as soon as possible and none disappointed me - and you really need to read it to feel its pull on you, how much you get to care about the characters, how much you get this sense of impeding disaster that everyone feels powerless to stop - unless of course they rejoice in it.
This is a self-published novel full of typos and written in a pedestrian style, but it captures perfectly the soldier life in the roman legions under This is a self-published novel full of typos and written in a pedestrian style, but it captures perfectly the soldier life in the roman legions under Augustus as far as we know it from historical records. Add to that interesting characters, superb battle scenes and a very nuanced and most likely closer to truth portrait of Tiberius than in Robert Graves and the classical historians and the book gets five stars from me and I am in for the series as long as it keeps delivering similar novels. ...more
This is a 2008 book I bought and read around publication which was released in e-book form in 2011 (so my inclusion at 2011 releases) and I re-boughtThis is a 2008 book I bought and read around publication which was released in e-book form in 2011 (so my inclusion at 2011 releases) and I re-bought together with its companions (Metropolis, Terra) as the price was very low and I wanted to finally read properly Terra and read metropolis.
I did also a quick reread of this one to write a little on FBC about it and it was as good as I remembered; below is my FBC mini-review:
Editor Eric T. Reynolds comments on Ruins Extraterrestrial in the introduction.
"We have long been fascinated with ruins. Even people who lived during ancient times were interested in the artifacts left by even more ancient cultures. Ruins hold so much mystery that even the best analysis can give only an impression of a long-vanished culture. Whether future ruins of Earth or those found on distant worlds, their artifacts are small pieces to larger puzzles that can never be absolutely complete. To study them we have to think beyond our present world experience. This is true of earthly ruins as well as those of non-human origin.
Cultures that evolved independently of us will have developed societies far beyond our imagination. And yet, that’s what carries us forward and motivates us to take those long trips across the void, confronting unknown obstacles in order to bring back knowledge from the remnants of a vanished civilization. How safe the visits will be will vary. Exploring alien ruins can be dangerous, both unintentionally on the part of those who left them, as well as by design. Some might still have a presence that can be triggered by the arrival of an unsuspecting archaeological team. Others will be completely dead."
Table of Contents: Ruins Extraterrestrial:
Introduction by Eric T. Reynolds Stonework by Wendy Waring Beyond the Wall by Justin Stanchfield The Empty Utopia by Christopher McKitterick Borrowed Time by Gustavo Bondoni Charybdis by Sue Blalock Introduction to the Findings of Team 150B-T.2U by Raiden Mesc Gerarti by Elizabeth Kate Switaj The Dam by Harvey Welles and Philip Raines The Fateful Voyage of Dame La Liberté by Lavie Tidhar Memories by Robert B. Marcus, Jr. Watcher in the Dark by Suanne Warr Jigsaw by Douglas Smith Heartcry by Willis Couvillier When All Is Known by Cheryl McCreary Red City by Rob Riel Combustible Eden by Davin Ireland The Price of Peace by Tristan S. Davenport Song of the Child-Prophet by Jonathan Shipley Flies by Paul L. Bates Planetfall by Jack Hillman Inheritance by Trent Walters Inclusions by Camille Alexa I, Fixit by Ted Stetson Among the Shards of Heaven by Jennifer Crow
Looking back at the anthology I notice some familiar names that have become mainstays in the sff community since I've read the book, most notably Lavie Tidhar and Douglas Smith, while I also got and plan to soon read Christopher McKitterick's 2010 novel Transcendence.
The stories range from dark to humorous, from human perspective to alien one, from explorers from civilizations that are like ours, to explorers that come from strange cultures, from pure exploration to accidental findings and from peaceful settings to warlike ones. As they are only a few pages short, the stories feature usually only a few characters but almost always something interesting either happens or is discovered, so there are a few twists, great atmosphere and world building that is just exceptional given the few pages each author has to work with. There is even a two pages story where the place is the only character!
Overall I would say that Ruins Extraterrestrial (highly recommended) is the perfect place to start the exploration of this superb trio of anthologies. ...more
Superb book; takes a little to get into, but once it builds momentum about 1/3 to 1/2 into it just becomes impossible to put down. Looking forward to Superb book; takes a little to get into, but once it builds momentum about 1/3 to 1/2 into it just becomes impossible to put down. Looking forward to book 2....more