For the second time, Orson Scott Card had me thinking I would hate his characters and managed to pull things off. That's the good news.
The bad news? T...moreFor the second time, Orson Scott Card had me thinking I would hate his characters and managed to pull things off. That's the good news.
The bad news? The biology of this book doesn't age well with time. It reads like there's supposed to by a mystery about the biology, but if you've read much modern science fiction it is all immediately self-evident. This leads to clues and hints being left by the author which are all totally irrelevant if you've already figured it out.
That said, it's still a good read. The problems the book has -- both knowing the ending and first disliking characters -- are all the same problems I had with Ender's Game -- so it wasn't like anything was all that unexpected. The ride was still overall enjoyable.
However, if that's going to be a technique he uses in other books it is going to get boring. Making me hate and then like the characters only works so many times, then I just start hating the author. (less)
I liked it well enough I'll be reading to the whole set. I think Mr. Card's religion influenced the only aspect of the book I didn't like: When he tal...moreI liked it well enough I'll be reading to the whole set. I think Mr. Card's religion influenced the only aspect of the book I didn't like: When he talked about why girls don't do well in the program it verged in sexism. Mind you, one of the main supporting characters is a girl, so had he simply cut out the explanation it would have been fine. As it was...
The book is about children. Children playing military games, mind you, but children all the same. I'd have no problem with an eight year old reading this book, but due to the sexism I'd want to talk to them about it.
I listened to this recently from Audible (not sure the publisher or narrator). (less)
I don't particularly read military books in general, but I saw the series this book was in at my local library and I thought, "Why not try it?"
Captain...moreI don't particularly read military books in general, but I saw the series this book was in at my local library and I thought, "Why not try it?"
Captain "Black Jack" Geary was in a famous battle at the start of the war. He was lost and became a famous hero. One hundred years later his escape pod was found by a fleet lost in the heart of the enemy's territory. It is the same war, now one hundred years old. He finds war is not fought the way he expects. His fleet is filled with rash commanders prone to rushing headlong in to combat.
There are real physics in the story, which is refreshing. Given that the author also has a real military background to draw from the story contrasts sharply with some of the stories with both Hollywood physics and "military" stories written by folks without even paramilitary experience.
I have to say this may well be the first genuine military SF book I've read. I've certainly read books that had some military components, but as far as being true military SF, this may be the first.
I liked it. I'm already listening to the second one.
I listened to an audiobook from my local library, I'm not sure about the publisher or reader. (less)
So, the book was going smoothly, I was enjoying the ride...
Then there's a rape scene.
Why was there a rape scene? Timing.
How is the rape scene resolved...moreSo, the book was going smoothly, I was enjoying the ride...
Then there's a rape scene.
Why was there a rape scene? Timing.
How is the rape scene resolved? A brief paragraph about the truth of the horror of rape.
What happens next? Now the sex starts.
Needless to say, (1) I thought the rape was unneeded -- particularly being that it has zero long-term impact on the characters involved, and (2) the way the rape was delivered, cleaned up, and swept away felt grossly unrealistic.
I finished the book, but after the rape scene I really could have just stopped. There's no way to redeem a story after it goes down that road.
Did the rape ruin the book for me? No, the rape ruined the author for me. I won't be reading any of his other works.
Rape scenes are actually the only reason I add authors to my short list of "never read another story by this author." Now, I'm not totally against rape in stories. I don't like needless rape, and "timing" is not a compelling reason to rape one of your characters. Things like rape need the gentlest of touches and, most importantly, they need real emotional consequences.
I listened to an audiobook from my local library. I do not remember the reader or the publisher. (less)
Some people really like Neil Gaiman. For me he is consistently a mixed bag. (The word that comes to mind is "Meh.")
I liked a few of the stories. I did...moreSome people really like Neil Gaiman. For me he is consistently a mixed bag. (The word that comes to mind is "Meh.")
I liked a few of the stories. I didn't actively hate any of the stories.
... but I did find myself wishing the book would move faster so I could just be done with it... and some of the stories felt almost incomplete...
Perhaps I would have liked this book better had I read some of his other books. I know a few of the stories take place in the same universe as "American Gods" but... I tend to find short story collections typically an easier approach to an authors work. Add to that, due to my own spiritual beliefs, the stories from the same universe as "American Gods" didn't really strike me as compelling. (Not offensive, mind you, just not compelling -- like unsustainable hardwood samples in a world of full carpet when I already have "green" laminate flooring.)
I've read a few of the things he's written, so he's not completely new for me. I liked "Good Omens" that he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, but I found "Neverwhere" a bit lacking. I thought, "he's supposed to be popular" and "this should give me an overview of his work." In the end, it left me wondering if what I liked about his other books is the exception more than the rule.
I listened to an audiobook from the library. I don't remember the reader or publisher. Had I been reading a paper copy, I probably would have grown tired of it and stopped. (less)
I've been a fan of Greg Bear for some time. This book did not let me down, and I look forward to reading the sequel.
It starts with people having massi...moreI've been a fan of Greg Bear for some time. This book did not let me down, and I look forward to reading the sequel.
It starts with people having massively deformed miscarriages. The expelled tissue looks more like an ovary on the inside than anything that would have a chance of ever living. Is it a disease that has rested in our DNA since the dawn of man -- a disease we can no longer fight -- or is it a natural process -- an evolutionary process -- that we've not seen since the birth of homo sapiens?
The social implications in the story are very interesting. The disease originates from our own bodies and only attacks committed heterosexual couples. In the background, there's an issue of abortion as due to fear of giving birth to dead monsters a massive number of people abort their pregnancies.
I listened to an audiobook from the library. I do not recall the reader or publisher. (less)
This was my first book by this author. I enjoyed it.
It has: faster-than-light travel, nanotechnology, post-humans, self-aware (and existential) artifi...moreThis was my first book by this author. I enjoyed it.
It has: faster-than-light travel, nanotechnology, post-humans, self-aware (and existential) artificial intelligences, subdurmal armor, etc. Nothing too outlandish for sci-fi at this point, but *not* hard sci-fi.
The planet Ventus is in the process of being terraformed by nanotechnology. Due to the nature of the planet it will never completely finish. (Without a little help, the planet will revert to a state that is not friendly to human life.)
It is a planet with more than just plants and animals. It has "mechal" life which is inorganic, and -- like everything except the humans -- cooperated in the terraforming process.
Ventus is also a planet with a Flaw. Humans can neither speak to nor hear any of the systems that run the planet -- and those systems do not like foreign machines.
Set in this environment is a piece of a dead planet-sized "god" being chased by the people hired to kill him.
It's near-future sci-fi. The new technology all seemed quite believable.
It's pretty fun over-all, but the very end of the epi...moreIt was a pretty fun read.
It's near-future sci-fi. The new technology all seemed quite believable.
It's pretty fun over-all, but the very end of the epilogue was a little disappointing and left me with a "blah." It wasn't enough to ruin the rest of the book (I've read books like that before) so I'd still recommend it.
It's reasonably action-packed. It is called "Mars Girl" but the action centers more on a news caster called to cover the story. (less)
When I found a book called "Zombie" through FBReader's Online Library feature, I was interested. (It came from FeedBooks.) Unfortunately, the story wa...moreWhen I found a book called "Zombie" through FBReader's Online Library feature, I was interested. (It came from FeedBooks.) Unfortunately, the story was quite ho-hum.
It is enjoyable if you take in to account the time that it was written in.
The principle feature of the antagonist (the Damned Thing in the story) doesn't jibe with what we now know of the way light and color work. Neat idea at the time, but science proves it can not happen. (Check out "Additive Color" and "Subtractive Color" on Wikipedia for a quick run-down on how things happen in the real world.)
I checked the "spoilers" box so I could elaborate: The mention of something in the sky obscuring the stars is totally fine. The apparent mention of the grass being disturbed without a visible cause is not fine. Anything not emitting its own light is subject to the laws of subtractive color: light hits the item and color it reflects is the apparent color. Presumably it exclusively reflects colors outside the visible spectrum. That's fine, though, as we have a color name for something that doesn't reflect colors in the visible spectrum: Black. The Damned Thing would be completely black. No fuzzing of the person's outlines, absolutely no transparency. Perhaps black enough to not present a reasonable outline, but clearly a black blob of a beast.
The idea that something would be completely transparent for all of our visible spectrum is a possibility, of course. (Even if it didn't occur naturally, an lab accident has been the excuse for modern Invisible Man movie plots. Why not have that happen to an alien?) In that case, too, you wouldn't have what is being described in the story. In that case, at all times the doomed man's limbs would appear to be visible.
The story is very indistinct and hazy when it comes to the appearance of the Thing. Unfortunately, it appears to be inconsistent with regards to how it is seen. Can you see through it? Yes at times, and no at others.
So, due to my inability to accept a lab accident on an alien spacecraft causing an alien to be completely invisible to the naked eye after the crash landing, yet sometimes regain a misty haze when under stress (causing the doomed man's limbs to appear to vanish) I just couldn't buy-in to the story. (less)
There are 24 separate stories in this book. Here's where I am so far...
Chapter 1. ONE EYE, TWO EYES, THREE EYES: I like magic goats. Add some mutants,...moreThere are 24 separate stories in this book. Here's where I am so far...
Chapter 1. ONE EYE, TWO EYES, THREE EYES: I like magic goats. Add some mutants, and I'm in heaven. Excellent.
Chapter 2. THE MAGIC MIRROR: This is better known as "Snow White." The key difference from the film? The protagonist is 7 years old. To me this makes the story so much better.
Chapter 3. THE ENCHANTED STAG: I liked it.
Chapter 4. HANSEL AND GRETHEL: The father is so much less likable than I remember from my youth. It appears abandoning your first children at the second wife's whim is not only ancient but forgivable.
Chapter 5. THE STORY OF ALADDIN: Aladdin is a shiftless good-for-nothing who stumbles on the lamp due to being a gullible mark.
Chapter 6. THE HISTORY OF ALI BABA...: Ali Baba is really just a nice guy. He marries a woman as poor as him and though he is poor, he doesn't want a lot of money. He isn't particularly sly, and this would result in his doom were it not for his brother's slave.
Chapter 7. THE SECOND VOYAGE OF SINDBAD THE SAILOR: Kind of ho-hum.
Chapter 8. THE WHITE CAT: Full-blown awesome. A talking cat, and an ugly fairy named Violent who rides a dragon and eats the prince in front of the princess. I like this one better than the Andrew Lang version.
Chapter 9. THE GOLDEN GOOSE: What did I get out of it? It is okay to be lazy if you treat others with kindness and respect. -- I like that kind of moral.
Chapter 10. THE TWELVE BROTHERS: This is another tale of a crazy father wanting to kill his children for some no-good reason. Not one of my favorites.
Chapter 11. THE FAIR ONE WITH THE GOLDEN LOCKS: I liked it.
Chapter 12. TOM THUMB: This reminded me of some sort of early stream-of-consciousness or some drug-induced tale. Trippy, but not really my thing.
Chapter 13. BLUE BEARD: This story has a number of interesting aspects to it. Blue Beard isn't any sort of monster, just a bit of a freak with a frightfully blue beard. There is a key that is also a fairy that is his friend.
Chapter 14. CINDERELLA; OR, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER: Cinderella is impossibly good-natured from the start to the finish of the story.
Chapter 15. PUSS IN BOOTS: Who doesn't love a talking cat that out-smarts an ogre?
Chapter 16. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD: The key difference? The fatal spindle was owned by a little old woman who just never got the memo that spinning was illegal. Also of note, when the spell fades, the castle itself disappears.
Chapter 17. JACK AND THE BEAN-STALK: "I became your father's guardian at his birth; but fairies have laws to which they are subject as well as mortals." -- That reminded me of The Fairly Oddparents and the laws and regulations the fairies have in that show.
Chapter 18. JACK THE GIANT KILLER: Jack sure does like to kill giants. It is nice, as the giants appear to like to gobble people up.
Chapter 19. LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD: Short, simple, with a decent ending.
Chapter 20. THE THREE BEARS: This is different than the one I was familiar with involving Goldilocks and a family of bears. The main character is named "Silver-hair" and the bears are Big, Middle-sized, and Small and not father, mother and child.
Chapter 21. THE PRINCESS ON THE PEA: Very short, and nothing of note.
Chapter 22. THE UGLY DUCKLING: Everyone hates the ugly duckling. I hadn't realized just how much the poor creature was abused. Though this isn't really a fairy tale by any means. More of a farm-tale, like Charlotte's Web or Babe.
Chapter 23. THE LIGHT PRINCESS: This is nice, a witch that curses her niece with a lack of gravity when she isn't invited to the girl's christening.
Chapter 24. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: [coming soon:] (less)
Do you remember back in the early 1990's when authors would give away the first 3-5 chapters of a book to try to convince you to buy the rest? That is...moreDo you remember back in the early 1990's when authors would give away the first 3-5 chapters of a book to try to convince you to buy the rest? That is what David Moody is doing here, except he failed to properly edit the chapters down and is trying to pass it off as a novel.
What is worse, instead of trying to get money for just one book out of you, he's split up the remainder so you have to pay twice for one complete story. That's right, one novel, split in to three pieces with only the first piece free.
It sounds like a good way for a mediocre author to trick people out of their hard-earned money to me. If you don't believe me, pick up Autumn, part 1 which is available as a free ebook, and as an audio dramatization.
Let me warn you, though, there is no plot to this book. It is 100% setup for the rest of the novel. It introduces the characters, it introduces the conflict, and just barely sets things off before the book is abruptly halted -- to begin in the next part.
The main characters are introduced. These characters are aimless. They vaguely want "someplace safe". All throughout the novel this is nothing more than a vague aim, as the author is only setting things up to redefine what it means to be "someplace safe."
The common complaint, of course, is that the characters sit around for a painful amount of time bickering and doing nothing. Really, if he put the three parts together this would still be painfully slow, but at least something would happen afterwards. This is the single biggest area where this "novel" could be shortened to 3-5 chapters in a larger book. It does nothing to draw us in or to like the characters. Would we care if any of the characters die? Not after an introduction like that, I tell you.
I understand, I may be one of the few people to think of smashing the kneecaps of semi-safe zombies with cricket bats. It seems a painfully obvious thing to me for a person to do, however that may be based on my genre knowledge.
Personally, though, a very early task would be to get masks and gloves and start shoveling the bodies in to trenches. All through the book, even the walking dead are actively rotting. There is nothing healthy about being near that. Your best bet is to act early to get the filth as contained as possible. Does it mean they would slowly pile out of the graves later? Well, maybe, but maybe taking construction machinery to them to shove them in the ground would have been enough to make the top layer tough to shift, preventing a good portion of the initial problem.
Is it an interesting setup? Yeah, the whole concept of zombies slowly progressing isn't one that I have encountered much. The problem is, this is just a setup. Since there's nothing resembling a plot, there is nothing resembling a climax. What do you get when you don't have a climax? Why, nothing but a sad, pathetic let-down, and that is what this book is. (less)