I enjoyed this book, although it wasn't what I had expected based on university tutor recommendations. Instead it is, rightly enough, an expression of...moreI 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.(less)
This is the first time I've read any Miéville, and while I'm not quite hooked yet, I can see what some of...moreAn 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.(less)
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. "Ma...moreMy 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.(less)
"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...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 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.(less)
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 r...moreThe 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.(less)
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 book...moreI 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.(less)
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 proj...moreThis 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.(less)
Definitely one of my favourite reads so far. In turns humorous, deeply upsetting and inspirational, it sheds a refreshing and well-crafted light upon...moreDefinitely 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.(less)
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 th...moreThe 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.(less)
This third book in the trilogy didn't quite feel as pacy as the previous two, but it managed to be an intriguing adventure nevertheless. Whereas volum...moreThis third book in the trilogy didn't quite feel as pacy as the previous two, but it managed to be an intriguing adventure nevertheless. Whereas volume two felt like three episodes of the TV show, this felt more like a feature-length adventure in which Kusanagi weaves through friends and foes old and new, ducking through the anti-China factions and refugee activities book two had left behind.(less)