After years of hearing glowing reports about the work of Terry Pratchett, I was excited to receive a copy of The Long Earth, Sir Terence's new collabo...moreAfter years of hearing glowing reports about the work of Terry Pratchett, I was excited to receive a copy of The Long Earth, Sir Terence's new collaboration with Stephen Baxter. But I was sorely disappointed by this tale of traveling to, literally, the end of the earth(s).
Maybe it is just the nature of a collaborative work; I'm as unfamiliar with Baxter's work as I am with Pratchett's, but at least I'd heard of the latter. But my complaints about this particular cooperative effort came early and often:
• Too many niggling contradictions and inconsistencies • Characters project and assume to explain events • Feels like a sketch, with details just penciled in • A bit of a rip-off of Around the World in 80 Days • Humanity has learned nothing from history in this alt-universe • Deeper, symbolic meaning never presents itself • Most egregiously, it seems like merely an opening salvo in a new series, with more attention paid to earning potential than artistry
It wasn't all bad: it was funny at times (if slow), there was one really likeable character (Sister Agnes), the quantum physics theme was interesting, and I do like stories told from multiple perspectives, which is the narrative strategy used here. But overall, it was one big "MEH".
The book I read and reviewed here was a galley provided to me by the publisher via my local Indie bookstore. I did not accept any payment in exchange for a review, and was in no way influenced to provide a positive review. I now consider my ass covered, FTC.(less)
What the hell?!? I've been so looking forward to reading some Zelazny, and picked this one up at random (I admit it, I liked the cover art) from the l...moreWhat the hell?!? I've been so looking forward to reading some Zelazny, and picked this one up at random (I admit it, I liked the cover art) from the local secondhand bookshop last week. What a universal disappointment. It has all the makings of a great story -- true science fiction tropes like cloning and cryonics, plus an entertaining mafioso-assassin protagonist -- but it failed miserably for me. I was prepared for "innovative" stylistic choices, but this just read as if every 6th page was missing. I really do think Zelazny had a good story here, and maybe if, as I've read elsewhere, his wishes to keep Part 1 as a series of flashbacks following Part 2 had been honored by his publisher, it would work better. But, as it stands, I just found it confusing in the extreme.
I remain hopeful that my next Zelazny read will improve on this one; it shouldn't be hard.(less)
In The Artificial Man", Davies took an interesting trope (how a flawed man can be artificially "evolved" into the Übermensch), set it 50 years into hi...moreIn The Artificial Man", Davies took an interesting trope (how a flawed man can be artificially "evolved" into the Übermensch), set it 50 years into his future (2016, only 4 years from this reader's vantage), and wrote a page-turner that ended in disappointment.
Reading more as a mystery than science fiction, ultimately I thought Davies waited too long to change the perspective of the narrative from protagonist Fraser/Arnold to the supporting cast for the reader to comfortably switch their allegiance; I just didn't know Karen & Gallea long enough to care about them, to say nothing of how ridiculous their instant googly-eyed romance was.
The Artificial Man is reminiscent of my most recent read, Zelazny's Today We Choose Faces, wherein an anachronistic/amnesiac warrior-"hero" is thrust through time to become a better copy of himself; Zelazny's version was more subtly wrought, albeit even less successful in a broader sense. Davies' treatment of this subject has even compared to Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint, which I greatly preferred, with each rendering his own iteration of human consciousness evolution. I probably won't pursue more of Davies' work; I'd rather just read PKD.
Funny, reading 18 short stories about "the future" that were written 60 years ago, but they stand up well and I enjoyed trying to guess what would occ...moreFunny, reading 18 short stories about "the future" that were written 60 years ago, but they stand up well and I enjoyed trying to guess what would occur in each; it's a testament to Bradbury that I wasn't, even from my modern vantage point, always successful in my efforts.
There are a few clunkers ("The Long Rain", "The Highway"), but several standouts as well: "The Veldt", "The Last Night of the World", "The Concrete Mixer", and "The Rocket" come to mind. My favorite, though, is without a doubt "The Exiles" (published elsewhere as "The Mad Wizards of Mars"): authors of supernatural tales, banished from earth and resurrected on another planet in a future where science is king, kept alive only so long as one of their books still exists and is read. Bradbury is at his best when he is defending books!(less)
What is old is new again, eh? If you look beyond the mere time travel bit, and see instead the social satire, maybe you can imagine the Victorian elit...moreWhat is old is new again, eh? If you look beyond the mere time travel bit, and see instead the social satire, maybe you can imagine the Victorian elite/Eloi as our contemporary American 1%ers, living it up on the backs of the impoverished East-End working-class/Morlacks, our 99%? Hmmm? Are you the diner, or the eaten? (less)
Time travel! Jack the Ripper! Automatons! What's not to love?!? Well, as it turns out, almost everything.
I know everyone else here is raving about it,...moreTime travel! Jack the Ripper! Automatons! What's not to love?!? Well, as it turns out, almost everything.
I know everyone else here is raving about it, but I could barely stomach The Map of Time; it took every ounce of stick-to-it-iveness I could muster to get through this convoluted, interminable literary maze. WHERE, I ask you, was the EDITOR in this hot mess? There is the kernal of a potentially good story here, had about 2/3 of the fat been excised. The only way it could have been more byzantine is if Nancy Grace had shown up to interrogate Inspector Lusk about the Ripper murders.
It's not like the guy can't write. He's a decent, if grandiose, storyteller and he mimics to perfection the florid style of the period he set this novel in. And the theme Palma writes about -- choice and the Butterfly Effect of exercising it -- is one that is both powerful and personal. Plus, he knows how to turn a phrase: "...loneliness that sticks to him like a birthmark."
But come on, Félix, enough with the meandering, the inconsistencies, the convenient last-minute reprieves for waylaid story-lines. And the unnecessary reminders from the narrator about his omniscience have to go.
I was all set to love this book, what with it being about the re-writing of the history of the earliest science fiction and all, but it wasn't to be. The one good thing that came out of it? It inspired me to read the original H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, and it was love at first sight.
This ARC was provided to me by the publisher via my local Indie bookstore, and no money was exchanged.(less)