This book is the intersection of a whole bunch of stuff that I like: - thoughtful science fiction; - noiresque detSnapshot was fantastic, but too short!
This book is the intersection of a whole bunch of stuff that I like: - thoughtful science fiction; - noiresque detective story; - well-written characters and a twisty storyline (aka Brandon Sanderson).
Mr Sanderson has a "story starts now, we'll world-build as we go" style and, despite the length of this story (or lack thereof) it works really well here again. You're quickly enmeshed in the day of Detective Davis and his partner as it kicks off, attempting to corroborate a real-world case via a vaguely-defined "snapshot" of the city that he lives in. The "snapshot" concept is mostly referenced as vague tangents (it's the kind of thing that would probably turn up in the latter third of a properly sized Sanderson story) and it's best explained by reading the story rather than a review. You should go do that now....more
A jolly way to ring in the new year! Well, kind of. At least fifty percent of the story is a pretty harrowing worst-case scenario fFinished 2017-01-06
A jolly way to ring in the new year! Well, kind of. At least fifty percent of the story is a pretty harrowing worst-case scenario for the protagonist, Trotty Veck, his family and friends.
It's very reminiscent of A Christmas Carol and, in fact, is apparently part of a series of Christmas pieces he was contracted to write, appearing one year after A Christmas Carol.
It's typical Dickensian fare, with characters you can wholeheartedly detest and, unfortunately, relate to all to well. The social injustice against which this book railed is just as familiar today as it was then....more
The premise of this story is that murdered people no longer die, they go *poof* and re-appear at home, "reset" to their physical state between 3 to 6The premise of this story is that murdered people no longer die, they go *poof* and re-appear at home, "reset" to their physical state between 3 to 6 hours ago. It's an interesting idea, but the implementation really failed - there are just way too many fundamental plot holes (ie the very existence of the Dispatchers doesn't actually bear any scrutiny at all, there's no reason for them).
That said, the story is well written and I enjoyed going along for the ride. I'd be interested to see this idea treated in a novel (and somehow have it plausibly explained) but that's not what this was about, this was a plain-old detective novel with a whacky premise.
The narration by Mr Quinto was OK, but I had trouble differentiating between the two main characters a couple of times (mostly when it was just them conversing with each other). ...more
This is the fictional tale of Wang Lung and his family, set in provincial China in the early 1900's. It was a pretty interesting tale and if not histoThis is the fictional tale of Wang Lung and his family, set in provincial China in the early 1900's. It was a pretty interesting tale and if not historically accurate then (I believe) at least accurately flavoured with the spices of the time. Note that this book was published nearly a century ago in 1931 and was probably based on the author's 17 years living in-country with her missionary parents around the time that the book is based.
The story-telling is well done and I really wanted to find out what was going to happen in the end. There are plenty of well-developed characters, although the vast majority of the book's time and effort goes into painting a warts and all picture of Wang Lung, and there are plenty of warts on display, based on current accepted social norms. The book provides a window into past opinions and habits and the casually brutal sexism of Wang Lung towards his own wife and daughters is hard to stomach. Even giving Wang Lung the benefit of the doubt for, well, hell, let's cut him slack for all of his noisome opinions and behaviours that could be deemed socially acceptable for the period, he *still* comes out looking like a completely self-absorbed bastard!
This was the last in my "Ten books by female authors" series, and what an interesting closer to the series it was! I started on this project after reading One Second After and, reading other reviews after I finished it, discovering that apparently everyone in the universe found it to be the most super-sexist book ever. A fact that I managed to miss somehow. So, I decided to read books containing women as described by women to see if I could see any differences. I didn't actually use any kind of methodology when picking books beyond following my usual interests but only actually reading things with female authors; my "blatant sexism as a closer" pick was a nice moment of serendipity!
I don't know if I really learned anything, maybe I just suck at reading between the lines? Regardless, I read some pretty awesome stories! I think my favourite discovery was Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, although The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and The Night Circus were also fantastic. I think that about 7 of the ten books had female protagonists, with the other three having an equal mix of leading women and men.
Anyway, this is all way off-topic for The Good Earth. If you enjoy historically flavoured rags-to-riches tales featuring complete bastards you should check this one out!...more
The Vorkosigan saga starts here (well, technically it starts in Falling Free, but not really), so here I am!
I found myself a little conflicted when IThe Vorkosigan saga starts here (well, technically it starts in Falling Free, but not really), so here I am!
I found myself a little conflicted when I finished this one.
My first problem was the flowery prose; I've no problem with ornate sentences, in fact some of my favourite books (i.e.Gormenghast or the The Night Circus) are fine examples of such prose, but the word choices in the early chapters kept pulling me out of the nascent story with their jarring:
Five hundred meters below, banks of clouds stretched like a white sea to the horizon. Far to the west, their mountain's smaller sister just broke through the updraft-curdled tops.
I'm looking at you "updraft-curdled", it really felt like an effort had been made to kick up the word count. Thankfully this stopped, or I stopped noticing it, fairly quickly.
The second problem I have is the speed with which everything occurs. It's like there was some arbitrary page limit that had to be adhered to so things happened in ludicrous fast-forward which took a lot a away from what is a very promising plot. This put me in mind of earlier science fiction stories and, upon completion of Shards of Honour, I checked on my review of Falling Free from a couple of years ago and discovered that I felt basically the same way about that book too: it feels like much earlier science fiction from the E. E. Doc Smith or Heinlein. Which isn't to say that it's bad, it just feels less well developed than what I've come to expect from modern science fiction.
It's a good book with a couple of very well-defined characters (Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan) and a less-well-defined, but plausible supporting cast. It's not info-dump level hard sci-fi, it's more a character study (reminds me of Pride and Prejudice now that I think about it actually) in a future world, so sci-fi by default. There's most definitely romance involved, but it's not capital-R Romance, it's an interesting story about two people and their changing relationship in somewhat tumultuous times and situations.
Overall, I quite enjoyed it but I think it could have stewed some of the plot elements for longer - that relationship really kicked into high-gear fast. I was a little lukewarm on the last few chapters but "Aftermath", the closing chapter, was fantastic and pushed this back up into three-star territory. I'll definitely be checking out the "next" in the series:Barrayar.
To be clear, I listened to the Audible Studios dramatised version of Tim Lebbon's book. This production weighs in at only 4 hours and 31 minutes whichTo be clear, I listened to the Audible Studios dramatised version of Tim Lebbon's book. This production weighs in at only 4 hours and 31 minutes which makes me feel like there may have been some abridgement to work down from the 352 pages of the novel.
That aside, this was an interesting little tale, cleverly retconned/shoe-horned into the gap between the Alien and Aliens with a cunning explanation as to why no mention of this was made in Aliens.
Overall, this is a further expansion of the Alien story, although it does feel a little bit like a copy 'n paste of Aliens with some tweaking of names and locations. If you're familiar with Aliens (or most generic thriller/horror film plots) there's very little to surprise you here, but I doubt anyone's reading this for the plot twist!
The production quality of this title was amazing and, in particular, Laurel Lefkow's rendition of Ripley is uncanny. Not just the various tones of voice but the inflection too.
Unfortunately there are a couple of downsides. The aforementioned "plot" sports a number of pretty large holes but so long as you're happy with an action packed adventure and don't dwell on the facts you're all good! The other problem is the weirdly repetitive and increasingly frequent "status reports" that are made by one of the characters. They sound like the "last week, on Alien: Out of the Shadows" intro that would be played at the beginning of a weekly radio play, except that I think they make up a substantial chunk of what is already a limited playing time (I'd be unsurprised to find that there were twenty to thirty minutes of these "recaps"). They felt really jarring and they also feature several of the more obvious problems with the plot.
So, should you read/listen to this? If you LOVE Aliens, yes! If you LOVE random action, yes! If you're looking for hard sci-fi or a credible plot, sadly, no....more