China Miéville said that he wanted to write a book in every genre. Embassytown (2011) is his experiment in science fiction, and more specifically, in...moreChina Miéville said that he wanted to write a book in every genre. Embassytown (2011) is his experiment in science fiction, and more specifically, in space opera. And oh, what a beautiful piece of science fiction it is – elegant, cerebral, audacious. Sf might be the genre of ideas, but many of those once outlandish things have become tropes of the genre, as common and clichéd as love triangles or dark and stormy nights. It’s wonderful then, to read a novel like Embassytown, proving that sf can still push the limits. Not that Miéville ever disappoints in that department.
This is an adventure in thought experiments. This is idea porn. It's the most cerebral fun I’ve ever had. The End of Mr Y is a cocktail of postmodern...moreThis is an adventure in thought experiments. This is idea porn. It's the most cerebral fun I’ve ever had. The End of Mr Y is a cocktail of postmodern philosophy, quantum physics, metafiction, science fiction and adventure. If any of that sounds intimidating, rest assured that this isn’t like reading Derrida, Heidegger, Baudrillard or any of the convoluted philosophies that Ariel Manto likes to immerse herself in. Early on she says that she “quite like[s] the way you can talk about science without necessarily using mathematics, but using metaphors instead” (29) and that really goes for all the key theories so beautifully woven into the story. The End of Mr Y is in itself a thought experiment for all the science and philosophy it explores, a mind-warping vision of a postmodern existence where language creates reality rather than just describing it.
It’s not often that you come across a novel of such immense scope as this one. In fact I’m not sure I ever have. Existence makes The Lord of the Rings...moreIt’s not often that you come across a novel of such immense scope as this one. In fact I’m not sure I ever have. Existence makes The Lord of the Rings look like a short story. Not in terms of length, of course. At 560 pages, it’s long but hardly epic-fantasy long. But in those 560 pages, David Brin has given us a detailed and realistic future world, a large cast of characters, a decades-long story, articles on topics such as the apocalypse, first contact and artificial intelligence, and a discourse on humanity, the universe and the very nature of existence. Reading it was something like the literary equivalent of boarding a spaceship and, after a long journey, finding myself floating before the star-dusted canvas of space. Not that I know what that’s really like, but you get my point – it’s requires some effort, but it’s really impressive.
Many Lopes is a lonely, miserable American working a government job in Korea. He hasn’t seen his wife in two years, and she finally...moreWhat a great book.
Many Lopes is a lonely, miserable American working a government job in Korea. He hasn’t seen his wife in two years, and she finally gives up on their long-distance relationship and leaves him. Manny chose to work in Korea partly to experience another culture, but as a dark-skinned American he tends to be treated as either a celebrity or a freak by the locals, who are fascinated (and sometimes disgusted) by black people. To add to the list of things that make Manny feel like crap, he’s a puny 5 feet 3 inches tall – a “creole shrimp” as he suggests. But that’s about to change…
Also in Korea is Fred Isaacson, a particularly loopy religious fanatic who believes it is his personal mandate to pave the way for Yahweh’s return. Apparently the Lord has chosen the Korean people as the instruments of Armageddon, so Isaacson tries to sell them some experimental quantum technology – a “Little Big Bang” contained in a metal egg. But the deal goes wrong and results in several accidental quantum explosions – one of which turns poor diminutive Manny into a 6000-foot tall colossus. Manny is so massive he doesn’t even realise what’s happened. At his size (he’s far, far bigger than the figure on the cover), humans are microscopic and the landscape looks alien. For the people on the ground however, every one of Manny’s steps causes catastrophic damage. The army does everything they can, first to stop him, but then to use him as a weapon of mass destruction. Manny isn’t really susceptible to that kind of manipulation, but the Americans gain leverage over him when a second giant is discovered – a North Korean assassin.
Terra Whiteman left me dangling from another cliffhanger at the end of The Antithesis: Book 2α. I was trapped. I had to read the next instalment right...moreTerra Whiteman left me dangling from another cliffhanger at the end of The Antithesis: Book 2α. I was trapped. I had to read the next instalment right away so I clicked my was over to Smashwords and bought the ebook (it’s only $2.99; money very well spent).
(view spoiler)[Book 2β picks up a few days after the end of Book 2α. Qaira is in hospital recovering from his fall from the Archaen ship after his devastating battle with Lucifer. He managed to chop off the Archaen’s hand but also got his entire team slaughtered and would most likely have been killed too if Leid hadn’t come to save him. The battle destroyed half of Sanctum and killed over a hundred thousand Nehel, but achieved absolutely nothing. This is enough to make even Qaira realise what an arrogant, selfish, stupid bastard he’s been and he makes a public apology. When two Vel’Haru come to take Leid back to their home world to be punished for violating the terms of her contract, Qaira caves completely. Devastated at the prospect of losing her forever, he swears to end the conflict and let the Archaens make the Atrium their home if only the Vel’Haru will let Leid stay with him.
The two Vel’Haru agree, and a decade of peace and social reform follows. Sanctum is not just rebuilt but improved upon, with the help of the Archaen’s advanced technology. A slow process of integration begins, and even Lucifer and Qaira manage to work together. Leid and Qaira get married and they live very happily. (hide spoiler)]
Everything is just dandy, but, based on book one, you know that this story can only end in an epic disaster.
Read the full review on my blog Violin in a Void["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It's absolute overkill from beginning to end, but it's quite good fun. Reading Deathstalker is the literary equivalent of going to see a blockbuster f...moreIt's absolute overkill from beginning to end, but it's quite good fun. Reading Deathstalker is the literary equivalent of going to see a blockbuster for the sheer thrill of awesome special effects, superhuman warriors and amazing fight scenes. In other words, watch out for the one-liners, expect no subtlety, sit back and have a great time as a few bold rebels face insurmountable odds going up against a cruel galactic Empire.(less)
Who would have thought zombies could be so… tender? To me zombies are gross and scary, sometimes funny, but not much else. Then webfiction author A.M....moreWho would have thought zombies could be so… tender? To me zombies are gross and scary, sometimes funny, but not much else. Then webfiction author A.M. Harte surprised me with Hungry For You, her collection of short zombie fiction which transcends the typical zombie mythos and uses the hungry, decaying monsters as metaphors for love and obsession. It makes zombies less scary, more revolting, but also morbidly fascinating.
I feel cheated. Spares isn’t really about spares – clones created to provide convenient, fuss-free body parts when their rich, conscienceless original...moreI feel cheated. Spares isn’t really about spares – clones created to provide convenient, fuss-free body parts when their rich, conscienceless originals damage their own. The spares might be there at the start, but then they get… amputated. The story that remains is an able, fast-paced thriller, but it’s not the one I expected or the one I would have preferred.
A really entertaining read, even though some of the 'technology' was eye-rollingly implausible. Cameras in the eyes of pictures everywhere? Books that...moreA really entertaining read, even though some of the 'technology' was eye-rollingly implausible. Cameras in the eyes of pictures everywhere? Books that can record what bits you read and how often? Come on.
But it's fun anyway. Jane Charlotte is a good mystery narrator, constantly dropping in juicy tidbits of information that you can't wait for her reveal more about later. She is an assassin for a secret organisation, but after killing someone she wasn't authorised to, the normal authorities have been allowed to arrest and interrogate her. The narrative is divided into two parts - the discussions Jane is having with the prison psychiatrist in the present time, alternated with the story she is telling him about her life and 'Bad Monkeys' the assassination division of the secret organisation.
In addition to dropping tantalising hints about dirty secrets, Jane also lies to her psychiatrist and the reader quite often, resulting in plenty of twists along the way. The ending itself is a twist, both in the plot and in the twist conventions of mystery stories. It's not a profound one, but I found it satisfying enough.