Sophie Hannah's books have the strange ability to keep me absolutely glued to the pages until I have finished reading, but to leave me with an overallSophie Hannah's books have the strange ability to keep me absolutely glued to the pages until I have finished reading, but to leave me with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction and annoyance. I think perhaps, after having read most of her novels, that the short story suits her style of plots better. Usually I feel that her novels don't live up to the inevitably intriguing premise, but that didn't seem to be so much of an issue in this short story collection. One thing that still annoys me though is her characters - they are all horrible people. And not horrible in a grand or interesting way that makes me interested to read about them anyway, but in the petty mundane irritating way of regular people. And I also get frustrated by the way she tends to tell rather than show. For example, in one story, she kept mentioning that the main character had an unusual way of thinking things through that nobody understood, but at no point did I see any evidence of these unusual thought patterns. Reading a Sophie Hannah always leaves me with the feeling of wasted potential. Her ideas are so good, they just need something more....more
Kind of an addictive book to read. Over the few days that I read it, I was slightly obsessed with it and whenever I wasn't reading it, I wanted to beKind of an addictive book to read. Over the few days that I read it, I was slightly obsessed with it and whenever I wasn't reading it, I wanted to be reading it. I absolutely love the front cover for this. Clowns are just the most awesome thing... and a zombie clown? Even better! There are illustrations at the beginning of each short story and poem, too, which I thought was a classy touch. At the end of each story/poem Sam Stone has written a little about the inspiration behind it. I enjoyed reading them and it gave extra depth to the pieces. The stand-out piece in this collection for me was Clown Addict. Obviously, because clowns are awesome. It was an interesting story as well and something different. I also liked Chillers and Breathers - please write this into a novel, Sam? It's the most amazing premise I've read about in ages. Siren Song was written in an unusual style and I found it quite beautiful and moving. A couple of stories I didn't like so much were Tar, Red, Angels Love Vampires... These had something of a romance/sex element that I find boring to read about. But that's just a personal preference. I'm sure that people who like that kind of thing will enjoy these stories. I also had a difficult time with The Toymaker's House. It was quite disturbing. But the worst part for me was the first couple of pages felt amatuerish in style and weren't up to the quality of writing in the rest of the book. It did pick up towards the end, though. The first few stories were a tie-in with Sam Stone's Vampire Gene series and it has got me interested in reading them!...more
A good reason not to judge a book by its cover. I thought I would be getting something funny and quirky, instead I ended up reading a load of tedious sA good reason not to judge a book by its cover. I thought I would be getting something funny and quirky, instead I ended up reading a load of tedious stories. 'Tedious' meaning 'writers who think they're being ever so different and clever, but not really managing'. It wasn't all bad, there were even a couple of stories that I liked. The one by Nick Hornby and the one about Lars Farf, especially. The Neil Gaiman one was good too. It was probably worth buying the book just for the Gaiman story and Lemony Snicket's introduction, actually. The other stories just felt like they thought they were much better than they were and so tried to shout 'intellectualism' in the face of stupidity. Jon Scieszka, I'm looking at you. And the Grimble story went so far beyond tedious, it wasn't even amusing. Why do I want to read about what a schoolboy made for his tea every night of the week? *Huff.*...more
Eleven beautifully crafted short stories. Each story is neat and tidy, sometimes ending with a gentle twist and other times with a message, but each oEleven beautifully crafted short stories. Each story is neat and tidy, sometimes ending with a gentle twist and other times with a message, but each one had a deeper layer of meaning that lingered after I had read the story. The story that stood out to me the most was 'Breaking Strain', in which one astronaut has to sacrifice himself in order to allow the other to survive the journey, as there isn't enough oxygen left for two people. This book should be given to anyone who thinks that science-fiction can't be deep and meaningful. My only gripe with this book is that I often found it very difficult to stay awake whilst reading it. This is probably because I mainly read it late at night, but I still think an awesome book is one that persuades me to keep my eyes open when all I want to do is sleep. Maybe night time is not the best time for philosophical science fiction stories? Still a good read though, and I'll make sure to read it in a more alert and awake future....more
Good mix of styles and settings. Most of the Warhammer novels I read are set in the Empire, so it made a change to read about the Kislevites, BretonniGood mix of styles and settings. Most of the Warhammer novels I read are set in the Empire, so it made a change to read about the Kislevites, Bretonnians etc. Most of the stories in this collection are different from the usual set-up for short stories in that they feel like miniature, condensed novels. There are some of the standard short story formats in here too though. Definitely worth reading....more
Jeremy Dyson is of course one quarter of the creative genius behind The League of Gentlemen. It was a LOG fan that I read this book and in hindsight pJeremy Dyson is of course one quarter of the creative genius behind The League of Gentlemen. It was a LOG fan that I read this book and in hindsight perhaps that was the wrong thing to do. Going in with preconceived notions about what to expect I was disappointed to find none of the twisted black humour or seething undercurrent of human suffering that makes the LOG so great. Although the stories are well-written, often ending in neat twists, none of them were powerful enough to linger on in my psyche much longer than the reading of the last word. Judged in their own right they are very good but nothing particularly special....more
So maybe this book is not the definitive anthology it claims to be, but for someone only just discovering the genre of steampunk like me, I thought itSo maybe this book is not the definitive anthology it claims to be, but for someone only just discovering the genre of steampunk like me, I thought it was an interesting and useful introduction.
There was a good mix of stories showcasing different ways in which the genre can be portrayed - from in-depth science-fiction to elaborate Victorian settings. There were a couple of stories that I didn't enjoy very much, but that is only to be expected in an anthology. I couldn't help feeling in some places that perhaps steampunk is better suited to novels rather than shorter works, but that may just have been due to how some of the stories were written. In any case, it has definitely got me interested in reading more of the genre.
What I found most helpful was the author bylines given at the start of each story in which other steampunk works written by the author was listed....more