Without getting into specifics, which you can read on the hundreds of other reviews, the first part of this book reads like a naturalists paper or a g...moreWithout getting into specifics, which you can read on the hundreds of other reviews, the first part of this book reads like a naturalists paper or a government report. That may seem like a criticism but it's not. The first part is essentially a biography written from known correspondence, third party reports, official records and eyewitness statements. It couldn't have been written otherwise. That makes it all the more disturbing and at the same time believable. The descriptions of vivisection were not particularly disturbing and were anticipated. I found the first part of this book to be enjoyable, short, and entirely forgettable.
The second part is the codex which are drawings made by the protagonist in his research along with some notes. These are very nicely done and almost worth the price of admission on their own. Again, a bit of color a la Audobon would have gone a long way.
However, the one thing that would make this book great, oddly, is the binding. It's cheap Chinese printing shows throughout the book from the overly glossy pages to the junior high school textbook feeling of the binding. It thoroughly detracted from the experience of reading a book like this. The use of more ivory colored paper of higher quality and a decent cloth binding with a 19th century feel would have propelled this book to a "complete experience". It's unfortunate that such an imaginative work got such a shoddy treatment. (less)
Part space opera, part horror, part detective fiction, in almost equal parts, Leviathan Wakes is actually a good read. This particular novel had come...morePart space opera, part horror, part detective fiction, in almost equal parts, Leviathan Wakes is actually a good read. This particular novel had come highly recommended, especially when I was at Readercon this past summer. However, despite how much I enjoyed the book this is unlikely to be anything more substantial than a summer fling, but it is a good summer read. The author(s) missed a couple of opportunities, in my opinion, to really add depth to the story in several places and glossed over some story line issues, such as about two-thirds through the book when our two main protagonists are so sick they can barely climb a ladder and have spent weeks in sick bay, and then practically the next day after their first day out of bed (and remember, one can't and the other only barely can climb a ladder in near zero G) they find themselves exploring an abondened military ship and doing all sorts of things. Really? Anyway, there were a couple of issues like that but I'm mostly being nitpicky. This is a good, well-thought out book. I wouldn't call it hard sci-fi but there isn't anything that makes you slap your head and wonder if the author(s) finished third grade. This is what I personally call a "dessert book". It's fun, tasty and has no nutritional value. But you will enjoy it.(less)
I'm a little late to this (pre)Victorian party, but I have to say that this was the most enjoyable book I've read in the past year or so. The story wa...moreI'm a little late to this (pre)Victorian party, but I have to say that this was the most enjoyable book I've read in the past year or so. The story was rich, involved, and well-written with three dimensional main characters that felt both believable and real. The world that Clarke built, while based on England, reminded me more of Tolkien in its richness and history.
Now, the story is very well-done. The characters face adversities and stumble through trying to determine the correct courses of action but just like real-life, they fail, succeed, make mistakes, have regrets, etc. The characters have some major character flaws but somehow that won't stop you from cheering for them. Clarke adds some social commentary about issues like class, women's issues and race but does so seemlessly. The ending of the book wasn't exactly typical either, the "good guys" win, but only sort of, and at the end not all of their problems have been solved and they face many new ones. All-in-all, this was just an amazing book.
Don't be put off that this is labeled as fantasy. It is not like any of the other recent books or series published. It is much, much better and I unreservedly recommend it.
I have to admit, I'm conflicted about this book. I was expecting a fairly breezy and forgettable story based on the nerdy premise of redshirts realizi...moreI have to admit, I'm conflicted about this book. I was expecting a fairly breezy and forgettable story based on the nerdy premise of redshirts realizing that they are "redshirts". The beginning part of the book is just that, a number of two dimensional characters slowly coming to the realization that something is wrong with their reality. Then Scalzi changes things up and gets all existential on us. This kind of threw me to be honest and I felt somewhat, well, cheated. Then I realized I was wrong. I had thought of this book (and it is how it is marketed) as a sci-fi humor story when what it really is is a pseudo-philosophical treatise on the meaning of existance and free-will. This is really the story of a writer's creations coming back to him and telling him he needs to be a better writer, how the creations deal with their reality being another's fiction; then we have the world of the creator and how the reality of his creation coming to chastise him creates angst in the people affected by the creations coming back; and then we, as readers, know that this story is just another level of the fiction as that world's reality is our fiction. So, are we living a fiction? Do we have control over our fate? If you're asking these questions I can recommend a number of philosophical treatises, but not this book. This book is well-written and Scalzi really is an excellent writer. However, his main audience for this book is other writers. Open this book knowing what to really expect and you'll get more enjoyment - but don't expect to be any smarter.
BONUS DRINKING GAME: read the other reviews; every time you see the word "meta" take a shot of your favorite beverage. To start you off, I've used the word "meta" twice already... (less)
Part "A Brief History of Time" and part "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", this is a series of loosely interconnected stories each of which is based...morePart "A Brief History of Time" and part "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", this is a series of loosely interconnected stories each of which is based on an astronomical or physics fact. This fact usually provides the setting or background of the story. For example, "At One Point" begins;
"Through the calculations begun by Edwin P. Hubble on the galaxies' velocity of recession, we can establish the moment when all the universe's matter was concentrated in a single point, before it began to expand in space."
Each of the stories begins with a fact such as this. Now, Here is the first line of this particular story;
"Naturally, we were all there, - old Qfwfq said, - where else could we have been?"
The stories are very short but very informationally dense. The sheer ludicrousness of having multiple people in a single point is automatically balanced by the thought of where else would they have been. And all of the stories are like this.
This isn't a book that will have you laughing out loud, but it does live up to its claim on the cover of being brilliantly imaginative. Calvino is a wonderful writer and I have to say this is one of the most original books I've read in a very long time. Cosmicomics is delightfully intelligent. (less)
I like Palahniuk and as many others have said in the past, Fight Club is genius. So I thought, what the heck let's try one of his newer books. However...moreI like Palahniuk and as many others have said in the past, Fight Club is genius. So I thought, what the heck let's try one of his newer books. However, this book was a disappointment with its tired trope of how hell is SO much better and more interesting than heaven. He throws in the standard amount of snide intelligentsia comments about right wing politics, celebrity culture, and environmental/health issues. And he does it all with style, actually, he does it all with many different styles and none of them are well thought-out or cohesive. The story changes direction at odd times and in odd ways, but not in a "good" kind of odd. It is just jarring in a "what the hell" kind of way. This isn't so much a novel as it is a writing exercise gone horribly awry. There is parody here, but it is unfortunately Palahniuk becoming a parody of himself. I've read some of his other stuff and he is so much better than this. Take my advice, don't let this book be your initial introduction to him.(less)
Here is a range of stories that go from ok to very enjoyable. Anthologies in general tend to be hit-or-miss but this one hits almost every time. There...moreHere is a range of stories that go from ok to very enjoyable. Anthologies in general tend to be hit-or-miss but this one hits almost every time. There are some stories that I think would push the boundaries of the definition of "steampunk" but in this case I think that's a strength, not a weakness. Kelly Link has chosen a nice selection of stories that cover a myriad of topics, tropes, and timelines and even the "just ok" stories were still enjoyable. I really enjoyed the fact the story settings range from a weird west style colonized planet, to a house co-located in a magical/fantastical/fairy place and then ends with a mechanized ancient Rome (Carthago delenda est!) with a myriad of other place settings added in. If it is your opinion that steampunk can be more than brass goggles and turbo-powered dirigibles then my recommendation is to check this anthology out. (less)
Well, let me start by stating that this is an A. Lee Martinez standard story. The extremely powerful protagonist and helpful everyman (everyperson?) g...moreWell, let me start by stating that this is an A. Lee Martinez standard story. The extremely powerful protagonist and helpful everyman (everyperson?) get into some kind of issue/trouble and save the world/universe/reality or whatever while overcoming an unforeseen plot twist. I've just about described every book he's written but you know what, I still love him. He's one of my favorite authors despite the formula because he makes it work. Without giving anything away let me say I loved this book. His "get right to the point" writing style coupled with a golden age view of science fiction make this one of the most fun reads I've had in a very long time. If you've ever read the old Lensman series by Doc Smith you have a feeling for the universe he's set up. Couple that with some "Mars Attacks" and "Starship Troopers" and you have one great ride. Seriously, a huge robot powered by the giant radioactive brain of Marie Curie? This is great stuff! Nobody will ever confuse Martinez's writing with that of Arthur C Clarke or Isaac Asimov, but so what? There is no law against reading a book that is pure fun, and that's what this is. Buy it, enjoy it, I promise you won't be sorry you did. (less)
Haunting and kind of sad, this is more of a graphic short story than a graphic novel. Actually, when I think about it, I'd say it's more of an illustr...moreHaunting and kind of sad, this is more of a graphic short story than a graphic novel. Actually, when I think about it, I'd say it's more of an illustrated warning about the cost of loving books. The author never states whether she feels the cost is too great or not, she just tells a story about the cost and leaves it to you to decide on it's worth. It also left me with a feeling of futility. And that's what's great about this book about loving books. It makes you look at your life, your love of books and most importantly, their meaning in your life and why you love them. It makes you think, it makes you review your life, and it does these things in pretty short number of pages. And isn't that a good definition of art? (less)
Thought provoking and well-written, Magary imagines a near future where a cure for aging (but not death) has been discovered and is eventually made av...moreThought provoking and well-written, Magary imagines a near future where a cure for aging (but not death) has been discovered and is eventually made available to all. The author uses the trope of found records to recreate a story. Other reviewers have compared the storytelling to Handmaids Tale but to be honest, I instantly thought Dracula. The author uses this plot device to good ends though and moves things along at the right pace.
While I don't agree with a few of the speculations the author presented some of his ideas are downright scary. Ideas such as the "living living" which is derived from "living dead" and has some of the same connotations. The story can easily be viewed as an allegory to overpopulation but his brief ruminations on the meanings of life and death are also worthy of further thought.
Everything that you think would be discussed in a book like this is mentioned, but he takes a number of ideas and really makes them bear fruit. Magary has written a book with enough style and originality to make this well-worth a couple of hours of your time. So, grab yourself a cold $300 glass of water, place your shotgun by your side (but keep it close), keep an eye out for bright orange electrics and lose yourself in a very realistic future.(less)
This author has definitely read his Chandler and Hammett. But then again, the cover proclaims that this is a North Pole Noir tale. This book gives you...moreThis author has definitely read his Chandler and Hammett. But then again, the cover proclaims that this is a North Pole Noir tale. This book gives you exactly what you'd expect in the style you expect it in while managing to mix in characters and elements from almost every Christmas tv special, song and movie ever made. This tale of murder and intrigue takes us from Whoville to Potterville to the Island of Misfit Toys. There is a few chapters of sheer genius in the book; like when our elf hero is taken to Potter's Mansion in Potterville, escapes and runs upstairs only to find that residing in each room is one of the groups from the 12 Days of Christmas and he must escape them to get away (he doesn't, but I don't want to give too much away). The story isn't so much noir as noir parody, although it's hard to tell because of the subject matter if the author did this on purpose or if it is just his enthusiasm running unchecked. Regardless, it's a fun Christmastime read.(less)