I love science fiction, but military science fiction isn't my first choice. However I am willing to go along with the military aspect if the characterI love science fiction, but military science fiction isn't my first choice. However I am willing to go along with the military aspect if the characters and the setting are interesting and compelling. In the case of Broken Angels they simply weren't. The main character, ex-Envoy Takeshi Kovacs, who was interesting in the first book, Altered Carbon, becomes little more than a fighting machine who thinks about sex a lot in Angels. In addition, the fascinating technology that frames all three of the Takeshi Kovacs novels - namely that a human personality can be stored in a device called a "stack" which is embedded into the base of the skull at birth, thereby completely changing the nature of death, memory and humanity - starts to fall apart when the author doesn't take it to its logical conclusions but begins to poke holes in it as required to fit the plot.
As far as the universe Morgan has created, the sheer disregard for human life and the pain and suffering of others exhibited by the controlling governments and corporations makes the entire Kovacs universe seem like a slice of medieval hell. In the first third of the book an entire village is nuked out of existence as part of a war no one believes in and the body count just climbs from there.
If you feel like reading Richard Morgan, go find a copy of Sandman Slim, he wrote it under a different name but it's interesting and a lot of fun, which Broken Angels is not....more
I think there's every possibility that I've been spoiled by my previous experience with Charlie Huston's books. Prior to picking up Sleepless I'd readI think there's every possibility that I've been spoiled by my previous experience with Charlie Huston's books. Prior to picking up Sleepless I'd read all the Joe Pitt Casebooks, the absolutely excellent The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death and the first Hank Thompson book, Caught Stealing. Actually, to be absolutely clear I should say that with the exception of two of the Joe Pitt books, I listened to all of them as audio books because Charlie Huston is a master of dialogue and that talent really shines when his work is read by a good narrator. However, in any format Huston demonstrates a remarkable ability to create original, consistent characters that exist in original, consistent worlds that draw the reader in as only a very talented writer can - at the instance of lifting your head from a Huston novel, the reality you've been reading about and the reality surrounding you blur together slightly.
In Sleepless Huston has created a world just a half step away from our own. The action takes place in July 2010 (3 months from the time I'm writing this review), but the world has already spent the last two years in the grip of a pandemic. SLP is a prion - an infectious agent that is composed primarily of misfolded protein. In the case of SLP, the misfolded protein enters the human brain where it convinces other proteins to malform in a similar manner, thereby rendering the person incapable of sleeping. Based loosely on the real-life fatal familial insomnia, in addition to insomnia SLP causes the victim to suffer hallucinations or "waking dreams", memory lapses, and eventually death. The widespread nature of SLP has reduced the United States to a series of small armed camps jostling for position under nationally declared martial law. The post-pandemic world Huston has created is almost scarily realistic and the fact that some aspects of so-called "normal" life continue in the midst of chaos only makes it more so.
I have never known Huston to create a less-than-original character, and he doesn't do so here, however the main characters in Sleepless simply didn't have the resonance for me that most of his other characters have had. I think it is a matter of personal taste and it was not a big enough quibble to stop me from rating the book an overall four stars. ...more
Embarrassing disclaimer: Despite the fact that I downloaded this book from Audible in three parts, all clearly labeled with the title of the book andEmbarrassing disclaimer: Despite the fact that I downloaded this book from Audible in three parts, all clearly labeled with the title of the book and the part number, I managed to skip part 2 completely and only listened to parts 1 and 3. In my defense, I was able to do this with only minimal confusion - which says something about the storyline - but that doesn't cover the fact that I made a really stupid mistake. End of embarrassing disclaimer
In view of the above information, I'll restrict my review to basic comments:
1)In addition to changing the title for the U.S. edition (the UK title is Black Man), the editor should have changed the author's habit of referring to his main character as "the black man" instead of by his name. There didn't seem to be a reason to keep referring to the color of his skin and it didn't get any easier to hear Carl Marsalis referred to generically as "the black man" after the first twenty times.
2)As other reviewers have mentioned, Morgan's characters have a tendency to spend their time discussing weighty topics in a rather preachy manner. This is particularly annoying when the discussion is about a subject so basic to the world Morgan has created that it's obvious the preaching is directed entirely at the reader. (On a related note, if I had to hear one more (male) character explaining how the civilization of sociey = the feminization of society I was going to scream).
Because I have enjoyed some of his other books - Sandman Slim for example - I'd have say that Richard K. Morgan is a good writer who was not at his best when he wrote Thirteen....more
Dennis Danvers doesn't hesitate to tackle big - even cosmically huge - ideas in his fiction. In his book Circuit of Heaven, he touched on what it meanDennis Danvers doesn't hesitate to tackle big - even cosmically huge - ideas in his fiction. In his book Circuit of Heaven, he touched on what it means to be human and how far those limits can be stretched before they break. Are you still human if you are a clone? What if you have never existed in a physical body at all? What if you are a human personality but are currently living in the body of a giant lizard? And as if those ideas weren't enough, he goes even further to look at the value of life beyond even the idea of "human": what if you are a composite of several different previously standard-human personalities? At what point do your own unique experiences create a unique being with the rights and privileges we associate with being human?
Then, still in Circuit, Danvers turns his attention to the circumstances that give rise to these questions: if, as a scientist, your discovery is the seed that starts humanity on a previously unimagined - and unimaginable - course, at what point does your responsibility end? If your ideas are taken from you and used in ways you never conceived of - and would not have approved of - are you still responsible for the outcome? If so, can you "make up" for this by providing the large mass of humanity with the perfect life? Even if the perfect life does not include actual freedom of choice, only the illusion? And, without death, does life have any meaning at all?
No, Danvers doesn't hesitate to tackle the big questions. And in Circuit of Heaven at least, he manages to weave these questions into an interesting and science-fictionally plausible work of fiction. Whether or not you agree with the decisions his characters come to in the end you understand their reasons and that, in turn, makes you wonder what your own decisions would be if you were faced with a similar situation.
But that is Circuit of Heaven and all this discussion is really only a preface to explain why I was so interested in finding a copy of Danvers second work set in the same world, End of Days. Again, he tackles the big questions, unfortunately this time with much less elegance than in the first book. Rather than allowing each idea a space in which to grow, and a character to embody it as it does so, he simply crams ideas into the book, one on top of the other, allowing for only the most superficial glimpse of each of them. Rather than being multi-dimensional and conflicted, his characters are simply place holders for the conclusions he ultimately wants the reader to draw. Also, in writing End, he chose to unravel some threads from Circuit of Heaven that - in my opinion - were better left raveled. Nicely completed story arcs and plausible outcomes are ripped apart and revealed to be something completely different in the second book. Which would be fine, if while writing End of Days he re-wove them into a new pattern as strong as the first, but unfortunately he doesn't.
In the end, End of Days, is a collage of ideas about the nature of life, religion and humanity, none of which is given adequate space or consideration. The last half of the book in particular reads like the outline of what should have been two more books. Huge plot lines and decades of change are reduced to paragraphs and the character development needed to explain it all is simply written in as a sentence or two, instead of growing naturally out of circumstances and over time.
Basically, as a reader I can recommend Circuit of Heaven to anyone who enjoys science fiction and questions about the nature of life and the choices we make. If, after reading Circuit, you find yourself absolutely unable to resist finding out what happens in End of Days, find a good spoiler-y review and read it. It will give you about as much depth and insight into the events of End of Days as the book itself does. In other, harsher, words: enjoy Circuit and skip Days. ...more
A strange book that started out at four stars, slipped to three somewhere in the middle and then thudded down to two stars in the last chapters. JonatA strange book that started out at four stars, slipped to three somewhere in the middle and then thudded down to two stars in the last chapters. Jonathan Barnes has a great imagination but I had the same problems with it that I did with his earlier book, The Somnambulist: none of the characters were realistic or sympathetic and by the end the tension sort of drained away.
Still, I would pick up the next book he publishes out of curiosity....more
Interesting world building by the author who has tried to create an environment truly alien by humanity's standards. One One One is not just another aInteresting world building by the author who has tried to create an environment truly alien by humanity's standards. One One One is not just another alien planet that requires nothing more than a universal translator and a space suit to become habitable for human life. In fact, the human population on One One One requires neither of those things, as the differences are more profound than simply language or the atmospheric mix.
This is the kind of book that will keep you reading in order to find out what happens next and it won't be until you put it down that some of the inconsistencies will occur to you. All in all, a fun and undemanding sci-fi read. ...more
I would consider this a "beach read". The plot kept me interested enough to finish the book and didn't require too much of my attention. The overall iI would consider this a "beach read". The plot kept me interested enough to finish the book and didn't require too much of my attention. The overall idea - blurring the lines between reality and computer gaming - has potential that this book didn't explore....more
I gave it fifty pages, but this book never caught my interest. I'm not sure why because the premise is an interesting one. I think it has more to do wI gave it fifty pages, but this book never caught my interest. I'm not sure why because the premise is an interesting one. I think it has more to do with me than with the book itself. Maybe I'll try again at another time....more
As in most anthologies, the selection of stories in this one is uneven. A few stories stood out as excellent work, the majority were mediocre and therAs in most anthologies, the selection of stories in this one is uneven. A few stories stood out as excellent work, the majority were mediocre and there were two that I didn't bother to finish. Overall I think the collection averages three stars: not bad, but less than I was hoping for when I started reading it....more
Oh, dear. Every time I see the title of this book it makes me feel anxious. I am almost ashamed to say this in public, but I will be brave: I didn't lOh, dear. Every time I see the title of this book it makes me feel anxious. I am almost ashamed to say this in public, but I will be brave: I didn't like it.
I know. Everyone loves it and I can't explain why I don't. Normally I love all the elements that make up this book: time travel, romance, the 19th century. Just to be sure about it I have read it twice over the years; once in traditional book format and once as an audio book. *sigh* It makes me feel defective but there you are. I didn't like it.
The only reason I'm really posting this review is in case there is another person out there who doesn't like it and would be comforted to know that they aren't alone. Maybe we can start a club?...more
OK. I'm giving this a 2 star rating now because while I didn't actually enjoy it, I think it deserves another try, maybe when I'm in a different mood.OK. I'm giving this a 2 star rating now because while I didn't actually enjoy it, I think it deserves another try, maybe when I'm in a different mood.
Very dense sci-fi technology with a world view and a military history that are only explained in little pieces. Some of the science verges on fantasy (His-Majesty-In-Chains), and it is sometimes hard to follow.
I had the feeling that an important point was being made about the nature of the soul, the nature of the brain and how/if the two differ, but the lack of explanations until the end and a writing style that seemed to circle in on itself, kept me from really "getting it." That said, I do think there was something more there than the basic story and I will try again another time....more
I read the Yiddish Policeman's Union a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. The writing was excellent (I wish I had my copy here so I could quoI read the Yiddish Policeman's Union a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. The writing was excellent (I wish I had my copy here so I could quote one of my favorite bits). That said, I think the alternative reality serves mainly as the engine under the hood of the main story; you know it's there making things happen but not much attention is paid to it. I think that may actually be a tribute to Chabon's writing abilities; he created characters and a story that exist inside an alternative reality but are so recognizable that they feel familiar. That may be why the science fiction aspect feels so muted. I'd recommend this book to someone looking for a mystery with great characterization, but not necessarily someone who asked for something "sci-fi"....more