This is the type of fantasy that's right up my alley. Its a little urban, a little dark, and has some lovely sci-fi elements mixed in. Alif the Unseen...moreThis is the type of fantasy that's right up my alley. Its a little urban, a little dark, and has some lovely sci-fi elements mixed in. Alif the Unseen rightfully boasts a Neil Gaiman pull quote on the cover, as it is much in the same vein of American Gods. Like Gaiman's novel, Wilson incorporates fascinating mythology into her story. Jinn and spirit worlds clash with modern technology since our protagonist is a greyhat computer hacker.
Clearly, Alif the Unseen is an amalgam of various storytelling elements and genres and Wilson is mostly successful in weaving those into a narrative. There are bits that drag and the pacing seems a little off at times, but the book is overall an entertaining read. Extra points for a non-white protagonist and exploring an oft-ignored culture in genre fiction.(less)
Wool's biggest strength is just how readable it is. The mysteries that Howey establishes from the first pages drive the entire narrative. The dystopia...moreWool's biggest strength is just how readable it is. The mysteries that Howey establishes from the first pages drive the entire narrative. The dystopian feel harkens back to classic science fiction rather than the much more derivative take young adult authors have taken as of late.
The episodic feel of each of the five parts was a function of the book being originally self-published and I feel that this ended up being a strength. The first parts established the hook and world building while the final parts attached you to the characters. As I'm sure many felt reading this book, little to no work would have to be done to adapt it as the prose is simple and drives the plot relentlessly forward.
The most excitement behind this book seems to be that it was self-published or that the film rights were picked up, but Wool is definitely worth the read regardless.(less)
I, as I imagine many other readers, pushed through this series because Bean is a great character. The past, present, and future hold danger and traged...moreI, as I imagine many other readers, pushed through this series because Bean is a great character. The past, present, and future hold danger and tragedy for him and he remains compelling throughout.
Unfortunately, throughout the Bean series, Card chooses to focus on the events of a tumultuous Earth still full of nations with imperialist tendencies. For the last few books and this one, Card tells of betrayals, back door deals, and troop movements throughout Asia and Europe. I would forgive Card for focusing on this aspect of storytelling if the payoff or end result of this politicking had a meaningful or even earned ending, but alas it did not.
I'd guess roughly seventy percent of this book is spent introducing new plot developments and characters despite being what was formerly the last book in this series (there's now a superfluous fifth). That's seventy percent more book than I wanted to read certainly, because our protagonist's seemingly unavoidable tragedy is the driving force of the entire series.
I can't blame Card for not wanting to write about kids in Battle School anymore and his afterword even implies that Ender's Game is pretty much the only gateway into the rest of his writing. However, reading unsatisfying political thrillers with beloved Ender's Game characters as bland mouthpieces has been grating to say the least.
My obsession with completeness and the strength of Bean's character drove me to finish, but I'm sorry to say the conclusion to the story was only subpar. (less)
Here's my beef with suspense-y or horror science fiction: it always involves space mining. If you dig into that uncharted planet's soil, you know what...moreHere's my beef with suspense-y or horror science fiction: it always involves space mining. If you dig into that uncharted planet's soil, you know what's going to come out? Face-eating aliens, obviously. Suspense-sci-fi is a weird sounding subgenre with too much punctuation, but I really like it. Case in point: The Explorer.
The Explorer reminded me a bit of Duncan Jones' film Moon or the video game Dead Space. Both are creepy SF stories that just happen to involve mining at some point. What is most reminiscent of these respective titles is the loneliness and isolation of space. Even when our protagonist Cormac is in a ship full of compatriots, Smythe digs down deep into his psyche to find darker thoughts and feelings. Yet all of this inner turmoil and darkness is for a cause: the exploration of the dark unknown corners of space.
Smythe takes man's ages old desire to explore and makes the reader question the morality of privately funded vessels, the psychology of group dynamics, and even questions fate. The result is an interesting, pulpy, and occasionally meta read. (less)
On the second try, I finished Mr. Bacigalupi's novel. It was no easy task. Bacigalupi chooses not to ever "info dump" on you like a lot of other scien...moreOn the second try, I finished Mr. Bacigalupi's novel. It was no easy task. Bacigalupi chooses not to ever "info dump" on you like a lot of other science fiction. As a result, it's easy to miss important details and many connections must be made by the reader alone. Add into that a foreign (to me) culture with a number of italicized terms that are understood through context alone and a fairly high concept plot about bioengineered food and you have a beast of a novel.
That's not to say that it wasn't enjoyable. Although the depth of the subject matter and prose was challenging to the point that I read at half the speed as usual, the overall story was fascinating and completely original. I think the best science fiction has a heavy morality play behind it, asking ourselves if this is the future we're building towards and what lessons the characters learn even after so much human progress. (less)
Boneshaker was one of my first forays into steampunk and I must say I still remain skeptical of it as a subgenre. For a book that had sweet gasmasks,...moreBoneshaker was one of my first forays into steampunk and I must say I still remain skeptical of it as a subgenre. For a book that had sweet gasmasks, zombies, and an underground labyrinth full of toxic gas, it read surprisingly slowly. I wasn't terribly invested in the characters and the most interesting parts to me at least, the history and background of this world, were glossed over. Perhaps this is a symptom of the steampunk genre? How can you focus on writing convincing characters and an interesting plot when you have to concern yourself with where to shoehorn in an alternate history, airships, and a reason for most people to wear goggles?(less)
**spoiler alert** The Hunger Games was such a fast-paced, immensely enjoyable, action-filled book that I wonder if any follow-up would have not felt l...more**spoiler alert** The Hunger Games was such a fast-paced, immensely enjoyable, action-filled book that I wonder if any follow-up would have not felt like a disappointment. What do you do for a sequel? Throw Katniss in the arena again? Hint at more love triangles? Establish a lazy overarching uprising to lead into book three? Yes yes and yes, it would seem.
Katniss tries on pretty dresses again. She wonders what boy she really wants to be with again. Lots of people die, but not usually at the hands of other competitors or "off screen" again. When all of this is retread, I have a hard time feeling that a sequel was justified. The world that Collins built is plenty interesting and there would have been plenty of other avenues to explore, but this just feels like a stop-gap measure to appease the fans and write that third book so it's a trilogy. At this point, I want to read the controversial third book not out of the urge for completeness, but to read what I hear is a change of pace at the very least. (less)
Being a Colorado resident, I'm lucky to share a state with a number of awesome sci-fi/fantasy authors. During a recent interview with Rob Ziegler on M...moreBeing a Colorado resident, I'm lucky to share a state with a number of awesome sci-fi/fantasy authors. During a recent interview with Rob Ziegler on Machine Readable Podcast, I spoke with him about Seed.
Despite having misinterpreted the book as a zombie book, (I thought "post-humans" HAD to mean zombies rather than evolved superhumans) I really enjoyed Seed. Ziegler's mishmash of Spaghetti Western, eco-flavored science fiction, and military action proved to be as entertaining as something that's really entertaining. Multiple storylines coalesce into a riveting conclusion that leaves the reader wondering whether or not the human race is suited to this new world. Just like any good science fiction story, Seed makes us question our current practices and the human condition. (less)