OK, that's not as helpful. I learned about Alan Moore when I was collecting comics in the 1980s and read Watchmen in the originalAlan Moore is a god.
OK, that's not as helpful. I learned about Alan Moore when I was collecting comics in the 1980s and read Watchmen in the original serial form.
This graphic novel is not just a well-written story about aging superheroes in a world that no longer wants them mixed with well-meaning megalomania -- it's told visually as well as verbally and mixed with numberous literary references. Really one of the most brilliant and complete pieces ever produced.
The thing I continue to love about Iain Banks is that he never underestimates the intelligence of his readers. Maybe this is more common in British auThe thing I continue to love about Iain Banks is that he never underestimates the intelligence of his readers. Maybe this is more common in British authors, but his novels are crisp, witty, and require the reader's attention. He expect us to be an active part of the process. Not easy, but always engaging.
As with many science-fiction authors, Banks has created a "universe" that he returns to in several of his novels. This is a "Culture" novel. The Culture is a very advanced civilization, presumably human, who have freed themselves from want to the point of being able to meddle in the affairs of others. They live on massive ring habitats and in intelligent continent-sized General Systems Vehicles.
In Use of Weapons, our protagonist is Zakalwe, a mercenary soldier for the Culture's Special Circumstances division -- roughly equivalent to the CIA or MI-5. A brilliant tactician and soldier, but extremely troubled individual, Zakalwe's past continues to haunt him through assignment after assignment. Banks peels back the story in layers -- a chapter of the current challenge, a chapter of Zakalwe's past -- one at a time until they come together in the very end and we learn what has truly haunted Zakalwe is not what we expected.
My favorite of Banks' novels so far is The Player of Games, which is a grown-up version of Ender's Game and, for my money, even a little better. Use of Weapons is more aggressive, more physical, and less cerebral. But that just shows how wide Banks' range is....more
I tend to choose books by author. While I'm always looking for new people to read, if I like an author, I'll read pretty much everything they've done.I tend to choose books by author. While I'm always looking for new people to read, if I like an author, I'll read pretty much everything they've done.
Alastair Reynolds is one of my current favorites. He writes hard sci-fi that tends to get a little weird sometimes and he's not beyond using the quantum ex machina device to write himself out of a jam. But, generally speaking, he tells excellent stories.
Century Rain is not what I expected from him. It starts off as your standard Earth-has-been-destroyed-and-now-we're-living-in-space-with-people-we-don't-like kind of novel. But it quickly adds a 1950's Paris detective noir story line that begins to weave into the present-day line in very interesting ways. Plus, I have to admit it, there's a little romance to spice things up. Now, girl-meets-boy, boy-helps-girl-escape, boy-and-girl-together-thwart-nefarious-plot isn't standard, either, but it all works really well together.
All in all, this is one of Reynolds' most readable stories and one I enjoyed tremendously. Plus, the ending was really just perfect. I hope he writes a sequel in this universe....more
Yet another of the cadre of great British science-fiction writers (which, I maintain, is where all the best new sci-fi is coming from these days).
ThisYet another of the cadre of great British science-fiction writers (which, I maintain, is where all the best new sci-fi is coming from these days).
This is a spy story. The protagonist is James Bond-ish, but with a critical weakness -- he's been hooked into the AI net for so long that he's lost his connection with his fellow humans. So, the AIs cut him off and he's now forced to do his job -- which involves thwarting the plans of an enigmatic alien -- without his usual advantage. Kind of an interesting twist and I have a fondness for flawed heroes.
Anyway, the story is quite well told and one of those things you have a hard time putting down.
Terrific book. The first few pages left me a little bewildered, as if I were reading the second half of a story having missed the first. But, once I gTerrific book. The first few pages left me a little bewildered, as if I were reading the second half of a story having missed the first. But, once I got into the flow, it really was, as they say, a "ripping yarn".
If you like space opera with lots of interesting characters, battles with fearsome weapons (biological and otherwise), and short, tense action scenes that end on cliff hangers, this is the book for you. Plus, Mr. Crane is an excellent character and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.
I've got to get my hands on more Neal Asher as he keeps engaged, even when the window seat on the exit row is freezing cold....more