I enjoyed this book, although it wasn't what I had expected based on university tutor recommendations. Instead it is, rightly enough, an expression ofI enjoyed this book, although it wasn't what I had expected based on university tutor recommendations. Instead it is, rightly enough, an expression of the author's thoughts.
A Theory of Fun... is not an academic work. Instead it provokes thoughts and compares some interesting examples and metaphors from and for game design, many of which are pulled from real-life experience. The tone is easy and conversational (almost blog-like). Its ideas are complimented by illustrative cartoons, all of which made this book feel like an opener to more detailed academic discussion. For a work which straightforwardly asks what games are and where they can lead, this seemed to me an ideal format....more
This is the first time I've read any Miéville, and while I'm not quite hooked yet, I can see what some ofAn enjoyable, disturbing and thrilling epic.
This is the first time I've read any Miéville, and while I'm not quite hooked yet, I can see what some of the fuss is about. I say "some", because quite a few reviews have shed some negative light on the author's vocabulary. I have no idea what such commentators are blathering on about.
While the book certainly is descriptive, never did I notice Miéville's supposed thesaurus-trawling. If anything, I feel that the opposite may be true - I noticed the time he spent naming the suburbs within New Crobuzon far more than his excavation of interesting adjectives. I urge you not to be put off by such comments - they're misleading and misguided, since there are far chunkier tomes than this in the fantasy and sci-fi genres....more
My second read-through as a kinder experience, as this can be a confusing and somewhat hostile read if you're not accustomed to this sort of work. "MaMy second read-through as a kinder experience, as this can be a confusing and somewhat hostile read if you're not accustomed to this sort of work. "Maul" is a single story told in two worlds: one in which the biologically male gender is threatened by so-called "Y-plague"; and an apparently virtual world used in the treatment of an autistic, male test subject. Both plots share some common events, interpreted in different ways; one man's battle against fierce 'terrorbugs' is mirrored by a shoot-out in a shopping mall.
The book has a vaguely cyberpunk feel, but is overwhelmingly feministic in tone. With men kept under threat from these plagues, it is hard not to feel the male characters are being unfairly trodden-upon. The women too are a confusing bunch, barely likeable and often quite sex-driven, though not to distraction: the characters fit the tone of the plot very well.
I'd hate to appear simple, but the separate strands in this book are quite confusing as well. While it is suggested that Sun's mall shoot-out is the product of Meniscus' simulation, it's unclear just who she represents. Strange entities like 10Esha (named after the 10E bug on trial) and GoldYlox (presumably the Y-plague) appear to influence events within Meniscus' body, but I ended up distracted by a mental pairing of events between the 'real' world and the mall.
I'm also put off by the use of language in this book - a niggling point, certainly - given Sullivan's penchant for 'street' names and words like "girlz" and "w/" (meaning "with". It's a minor grievance, but I feel like this ultimately made the book feel quite immature. It's not necessarily a bad read, but it feels like a faintly mucky one, like the 'terrorbugs' themselves....more
"Nicely drawn, a decent plot, and laden with some pretty horrendous dialogue" would be my sentence-long review.
Hypervelocity is a book which tries to"Nicely drawn, a decent plot, and laden with some pretty horrendous dialogue" would be my sentence-long review.
Hypervelocity is a book which tries to tell a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumped story, with action the likes of which a human Tony Stark could not handle. As an digital upload of his consciousness finds itself hunted on all sides, a race kicks off to see if this sloppily-coded emergent digital persona can outsmart and outmanoeuvre hackers, mechanical warriors and a persistent S.H.I.E.L.D. task force. As a posthuman science fiction, the book has some credits. His being hacked by a mysterious A.I.'s avatar makes for a nice sub-plot. As a comic however, the book makes some unfortunate mistakes, not least of which (to my eyes) is its use of language.
Peppered as it is with internet slang, which often fails to sound much better than an attempt to appear 'cool', and swearing despite the fact such words are blanked out, I found it very hard to keep taking the storyline with any seriousness. Nor too did I appreciate the use of the word "mecha" as some form of street slang. I just felt at that point that a story with promise had sadly been let down by its delivery....more
I do enjoy reading Saturn's Children, but it wears after a few read-throughs. I haven't read any other of Stross' works, so I'm not sure how this bookI do enjoy reading Saturn's Children, but it wears after a few read-throughs. I haven't read any other of Stross' works, so I'm not sure how this book compares, but I do believe it a bit of a weak one.
Freya (the protagonist)'s world has some nice ideas, many of which are expressed in the androids, gynoids and xenomorph robots inhabiting the solar system. The concept, too, is an intriguing one: humans have died off, leaving only their robotic servants in place. Sadly this is expressed in a rather confusing manner, and it can be hard keeping up with which character is which.
In a world of espionage and disguise, it is expected to have the protagonist change names. This makes no obstacle when the book is written in the first person. But to have her two enemies, her bosses and love interest change names around too? To this day, I do not know which of the Jeeves was renamed Reginald. This is even before approaching the idea of soul chips - personality constructs which can be taken at various stages in the robot's life, basically meaning there may be two alternate versions of the same character.
Annoying though it is, the identity-swapping may have bee more forgiveable if the book didn't climax in political conflict. Each time I read I find myself simply following along, a little saddened that the book did not allow me to see deeper....more
The biggest thing this book has going for it is the artwork - rendered in intimate detail with some poignant colour schemes and many an action scene rThe biggest thing this book has going for it is the artwork - rendered in intimate detail with some poignant colour schemes and many an action scene rendered in what reads like a silent choreography. Writer and artist both have created an impressive reboot for the Iron Man franchise, in a story which, in typical Ellis style, has just the right amount of dark humour and social commentary....more
This just didn't seem to be for me. Reading it as a graduate game designer, and a practitioner hoping to put some good usability features into my projThis just didn't seem to be for me. Reading it as a graduate game designer, and a practitioner hoping to put some good usability features into my projects, I was utterly put off by paragraph after paragraph which tried to sell the worth of game usability professionals, and also its viability as a study. It is, I believe, a book about the field of game usability rather than the actual practise, and in that I found it disappointing. There may be some useful advice hidden in there somewhere, but I think I'm looking at the wrong publication if I hope to find any....more
Definitely one of my favourite reads so far. In turns humorous, deeply upsetting and inspirational, it sheds a refreshing and well-crafted light uponDefinitely one of my favourite reads so far. In turns humorous, deeply upsetting and inspirational, it sheds a refreshing and well-crafted light upon transgender issues. What the book is not is a guide or a discussion. It's the author's story, the stories of those around her and a journey through her thoughts, as Boylan asks some hard-hitting, selfless and poignant questions of herself, of the perceived transgender illnesses and of life outside these concerns.
Certainly it gave me a lot to think about, but above all it's a story - and a touchingly funny one at that....more
Gritty, exciting, hilarious and filled to the brim with fascinating experiences; I loved this book.
I haven't written a review in quite some time, so iGritty, exciting, hilarious and filled to the brim with fascinating experiences; I loved this book.
I haven't written a review in quite some time, so it's difficult to know where to start. It's certainly different to anything I'd read before, combining the imaginative cityscape of Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Morpok with some brilliant characters, and confidence tricks worthy of "Hustle". I really became fond of the book's lead protagonists, and Chains as the fount of thieving wisdom in particular. The only thing I felt the book lacked, in fact, was a map; I felt sure that Lynch must have been working with one, and the Camorr of my imagining is quite the marvel....more
This is definitely a confusing book to look back upon. I started reading it in the usual fashion - as a night-time book - but then took it on holidayThis is definitely a confusing book to look back upon. I started reading it in the usual fashion - as a night-time book - but then took it on holiday and seemed to unlock the good bits simply by being able to absorb myself in each of its characters. It doesn't seem to work when read in shorter intervals.
One thing's for sure - the book starts off terribly. Very little in the way of plot, and not a terribly interesting character to be found in Adam Ewing. I almost gave up on the book when his letters tailed off mid-sentence, but as the plot moved on to the next character, and the next, it started to become much more engaging.
I almost feel as though each nested character should be reviewed separately, as the author has made a clear decision to tackle each story differently. Ewing and Frobisher's letter-based narratives come in different flavours: one somewhat stuffy, in the style of Bram Stoker's "Dracula"; the other much more engaging, but riddled with abbreviations and sentences without a subject. I found it much easier to engage with the more contemporary characters - Luisa Rey's adventures in particular - and felt I was reading an entirely different book throughout Sonmi's interview. When it came to post-apocalyptic Zachry's story I initially feared the same dialect barrier as what prevented me from enjoying Iain M. Banks' "Feersum Endjinn", but thankfully David Mitchell has written reasonably easily here.
"Cloud Atlas" is an interesting and ultimately engaging narrative experiment, with rich worlds and characters (at least, post-1900), which doesn't really deliver an overarcing purpose or reason. One might expect something more explicit to link each of the birthmarked characters in this book, but in the end it simply makes a point - that events can be linked, and there's something of a meta-logic in everyday human interaction....more
The ending of this book always gets me, the horror just as fresh as the first time I read it.
I've read this three times now, and admittedly I don't thThe ending of this book always gets me, the horror just as fresh as the first time I read it.
I've read this three times now, and admittedly I don't think it stands up quite as well as the rest of banks' Culture books, but it certainly isn't without its charms. Zakalwe and Skaffen-Amtiskaw represent two sides of a very gruesome coin, which is one of the delights in Banks' work. My reading life is forever marked by memories of the Chairmaker, as well as the unique vengeances of the Archimandrite Luseferous from The Algebraist. It also has some rich worlds - a particular favourite of mine is the valley city of Solotol - but because the protagonist moves around so much and is often leading a war there, we don't get to spend much time in these places.
Use of Weapons is ultimately a more personal story from the Culture world. While events do still affect whole regions of space, they are somehow disconnected, perhaps because of Zakalwe's role as General-for-hire. There isn't the same direct involvement as with Jernau Morat Gurgeh on Azad, or the Sleeper Service at The Excession, and as such the narrative always comes back to him, and haunting events in his past. It also has a rather brilliant title....more
I do love this book, but it's a short story which sits as prequel to the Mamoru Oshii film, rather than a story in its own right; similar in tone to tI do love this book, but it's a short story which sits as prequel to the Mamoru Oshii film, rather than a story in its own right; similar in tone to those which formed Junichi Fujisaku's Stand Alone Complex books.
After the Long Goodbye places us directly inside Batou's head, offering a uniquely detailed description of life as a cyborg. There are technical details, philosophies on man vs. machine, and some tender moments rummaging in Batou's thoughts. All of this enriched the film and its protagonist for me, but I understand it could put some people off.
There is not, for example, a great amount of action. It can also be a challenge to stay fixed upon the narrative, with all its illusions and mysteries, as we swirl around Batou's own perspective. The Breeder and Ando are both quite enigmatic characters, typical of the series as a whole, but their place feels incidental. I feel that this too is in keeping with the film, Innocence, but that it feels more poignant there. In a short story with no real equivalent to Oshii's signature 'mood scenes', such as the Etorofu parade or Ishikawa's classic car driving smoothly through the streets, it can simply feel like a bit of a let-down....more