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 UnseenThis 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....more
Wool's biggest strength is just how readable it is. The mysteries that Howey establishes from the first pages drive the entire narrative. The dystopiaWool'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....more
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 tragedI, 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. ...more
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 whatHere'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. ...more
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 scienOn 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. ...more