A "ripping yarn" which doesn't live up to the obvious comparison with C.S. Forester's Hornblower series. It seems to be aimed at the "young reader" maA "ripping yarn" which doesn't live up to the obvious comparison with C.S. Forester's Hornblower series. It seems to be aimed at the "young reader" market, or at least those of a maritime bent, able to understand the nautical terminology, which this book is full of. Unfortunately, the prose is at times clumsy, and the writing or editing poor- the non-existent word "surfeited" occurs when "forfeited" would be correct. Still, it's an enjoyable read if only light entertainment is desired....more
Another page-turner from Birmingham although I'm wondering what's happening with North Korea and Japan as with the first novel in the trilogy. It's alAnother page-turner from Birmingham although I'm wondering what's happening with North Korea and Japan as with the first novel in the trilogy. It's all very well having an enormous geopolitical sweep, as removing America from the global economy would obviously entail, but Birmingham goes into some detail about what characters are eating and wearing, yet some potentially enormous post-apocalypse national players barely rate a mention.
There are a few technical errors again, Mormons don't drink coffee and if jihadis are going to figure in Birmingam's novels he should do some more basic research into their beliefs- is it "76 raisins" (a reference no doubt to recent discussion on the meaning of a Classical Arabic word) or "72 virgins" in heaven? Also, Turks generally speak Turkish, not Arabic. Birmingham's action sequences are very good, but there are far too many exploding bodies, even from shotgun blasts. While people who are shot don't lay quietly down and expire with a few well-chosen last words as in Hollywood films, they don't separate into various body parts readily nor do they become transparent.
There is just a little too much suspension of disbelief involved with Birmingham's novels. I don't recall the detail of Israel's nuking of what would appear to have been the entire Middle East in the first novel of the trilogy, but one wonders how this destruction has ruined the entire Mediterranean Sea.
Still, it's enjoyable reading if one doesn't take it too seriously (as I appear to have done, above :)) and I look forward to the concluding book in the series. ...more
I have just finished this book, in the British edition (without the "M" in the author name) and while I've read other Banks works this one didn't exciI have just finished this book, in the British edition (without the "M" in the author name) and while I've read other Banks works this one didn't excite overly much. Too complex, too many characters, although the basic premise of the book was sound. Plenty of moralising... I found it curious that the "terrorist culture" of this age, on this Earth, were Christians, when most people know which religion's adherents perform most of the contemporary Earth's terrorist acts. Perhaps Mr Banks transposed this culture out of fear? It doesn't pay to upset the adherents of the "religion of peace", after all, even in fiction. Anyway, it wasn't made clear WHY Christians would want to blow themselves, and others, up. Curious that one of the few references to the culture which is involved in maiming and disfiguring (or killing) women with acid in the face do so under the obscure label "Mahgrebi".
One wonders how this novel would have been received in conservative Bible-belt America given the constant references to "Christian terrorists" and also the many (and quite graphic) sexual interludes. Then again, how many conservative Christians read science fiction, given that "science" is in itself a dirty word?
So, a slow start, for me but this novel became more gripping, and readable towards the end, but ultimately, somewhat disappointing....more
Overall a good read, but there's a little too much suspension of disbelief required. The energy wave takes out "primates", what happens to other animaOverall a good read, but there's a little too much suspension of disbelief required. The energy wave takes out "primates", what happens to other animals? What about people underground (the ones who survive nuclear attacks)? In the book, birds disappear near the Wave. Some of the geopolitics is suspect- the US is removed from the scene, conveniently, China dissolves in civil war, and the North Koreans are quiescent. Russia does very little except introduce martial law (what else is new?) and meanwhile everyone that can heads Down Under. What is Indonesia doing? We don't know. One would think it would become something of a hornet's nest after the Middle East is almost totally wiped out. The other plot mechanism which bothered me was all the fires in the US. Buildings don't catch on fire when people leave them- fair enough, a few fires from crashed vehicles, power stations and factories, but the whole country? Worldwide climate effects and pollution? All a bit much. There would be more worldwide climate effects from the mysterious Wave, even if it only effects "primates".
Unlike some reviewers, I didn't mind the military hardware references, at least it didn't contain the acronymic soup and weapons minutiae of a Dan Brown work, but John B ought to do some more research on his firearms as there were a few errors in this book, if further works of this genre are intended and have such detail.
The end was good, makes one look forward to the sequel. Will Dubya reappear (hopefully he won't, the new President is much better, and infinitely more interesting)? How will they feed 300 million people when the US's agricultural heartland is a pollution-filled wasteland? If the people don't "Re-appear", what will the world try to do with all that "new" land? Will there be a big war? How will they keep the Russians out (they will at least want Alaska back!). ...more
I read "The Crooked Letter" before this book and despite the fact that "Stone Mage" is more simplistic, as befits a work written largely from the poinI read "The Crooked Letter" before this book and despite the fact that "Stone Mage" is more simplistic, as befits a work written largely from the point of view of a pre-pubescent boy, the former work gives great insights into the background of the Change. A well-written novel, with great descriptive language encompassing what is undoubtedly the Australian outback complete with camels and native fauna. A few Americanisms creep in (airplane) to Sean's work, alas, that's Australia these days....more
A good read, with lots of insights into Royal Navy life, personalities and technology, and WWII anti-submarine warfare. Not especially professionallyA good read, with lots of insights into Royal Navy life, personalities and technology, and WWII anti-submarine warfare. Not especially professionally written, with overuse of exclamation marks and the curious modern chopping of compound nouns- the author splits wardroom on many (but not all) occasions into Ward Room....more
Forget it. If you are a serious student of Frederick the Great, there are far better books about this amazing man around. To be frank, I got only a feForget it. If you are a serious student of Frederick the Great, there are far better books about this amazing man around. To be frank, I got only a few pages into this nonsense. The preface describes the "rape of Silesia" and FtG as "repulsive". Since my library copy was printed in 1947, I had to look at the cover- I thought I was reading a book about Stalin! The prose had that "50s US anti-Communist" ring to it. Of course, WWII was fresh in the author's mind when this was written, and anything German was automatically "evil", and of course, WWII was Frederick the Great's fault (no Prussia, no Germany, no Hitler, is the way the logic goes). There are a great many colourful adjectives, little substance, maybe the dates are correct, useless otherwise for research. My essay on FtG will mention this book only to show that there are negative views of FtG, otherwise, it belongs in the bin. While I'm looking to purchase Davis Fraser's much more modern (both in prose, and in enjoyment) book on FtG for my own collection, this work by Gooch wouldn't find a place in my library even if my University library decided to give Gooch to me! ...more
A good read, and less confusing, in many ways, than Winterstrike which I've just finished. I do take issue with Williams'less than appropriate knowledA good read, and less confusing, in many ways, than Winterstrike which I've just finished. I do take issue with Williams'less than appropriate knowledge of machinery and weapons- and Earth being flooded to the extent that Tibet is an island simply isn't realistic- there isn't enough water on the planet, with all the icecaps melted, to submerge the continents. Parts of Australia have never been under water in the entire history of the Earth, 4.6 billion years. How can the European Alps turn into a tidal swamp? Why would advanced humans design and utilise ornithopters, which are very inefficient?
The fact that almost all men have been eliminated is an interesting development, although how primitive human societies (and more so- the "Changed") can breed without access to the science and "designer baby" vats of the Matriarchy is a mystery....more
I went straight from no. 4 in the series to Crystal City, and remained baffled until well into the "last" of the series. I even went back to check theI went straight from no. 4 in the series to Crystal City, and remained baffled until well into the "last" of the series. I even went back to check the author's listing- there seemed to be a book missing. New characters like Abe Lincoln appeared, there was a rescue of Blacks from a riverboat, Alvin's first child died, etc. Speaking for the series in general, nice prose, and although Card is prone to pontification, some of his observations on people are spot-on and beautifully written (other than a single use of the execrable US invention "doable"). The appearance of the word "tabernacle" towards the end of Crystal City seemed ominous, and the book seemed unfinished, or at least open ended, because the Crystal City, theme of the whole series, was barely started, while the appearance of Jim Bowie and Calvin at the river bluff site also left one wondering....more
I never finished this book. It was written in the 70s, and the language and social mores would have seemed out of date even then (especially then!). II never finished this book. It was written in the 70s, and the language and social mores would have seemed out of date even then (especially then!). It was just too hard to stomach the flummery prose and stultifying plot.
About the only thing in McCutchan's favour was that he tackled a tricky subject, namely homosexuality, but then the part I gave up in disgust was when the "hero" had to protect a pretty young lady from a fellow officer, who earlier on had been caught at it with one of the younger sepoys! McCutchan's point? Not sure, maybe if I'd finished the book I'd have found out that the gay guy was really straight and a hero to boot. Or maybe not. Maybe the author thinks gay men are just naturally depraved? ...more
While "The Fresco" starts out as a fairly decent scifi novel, the plot gets lost in near-constant preaching. It's obvious Ms Tepper dislikes Israel, sWhile "The Fresco" starts out as a fairly decent scifi novel, the plot gets lost in near-constant preaching. It's obvious Ms Tepper dislikes Israel, smokers and gun owners strongly. Cultural annihilation in Tibet, West Papua and elsewhere didn't rate a mention, though. In fact, the social commentary became annoying by about halfway, by which time it was obvious that Ms Tepper was using the SF format loosely, to further her social agenda rather offer a convincing novel. The Muslim "ugly disease" was a lightheated and comical way of treating a very serious issue, and one aspect of the novel which was laudable, though.
The "fresco" of the novel itself is presented, rather thinly veiled, in the light of human religious works. This aspect could have been developed better: the suggestion that major religious books have questionable origins is obvious, of course Ms Tepper would be fearful of being TOO questioning of particular religious works. Those peaceful chaps often react violently. ...more
I've read several HT books, including several in this series. While the narrative is good and overall enjoyable reading, I found several aspects to beI've read several HT books, including several in this series. While the narrative is good and overall enjoyable reading, I found several aspects to be unrealistic, no matter that it's "alternate history". The first is the tiny part Britain plays, even being defeated in Northern Ireland by the Irish (with help from the Yanks of course). No mention of the naval battles against Germany which, but for some bad luck (and some glitches in British ship design) could have led to the routing of the German High Seas Fleet. The easy defeat of the British in the Sandwich Islands involved too much "suspension of belief" for me, along with the rise of Fascism in UK and elsewhere in Europe. The near-total subjugation of the Negroes in the South (and not far behind in the North) seemed to demean that group completely. The comparison with the Jews was obvious, yet the Negroes were in far greater numbers proportionally than the unfortunate Jews of post WWI Europe (although disadvantaged by poor education) and their largely futile efforts at times beggared belief.
The rise of a military dictatorship in the South after defeat by the North (itself unlikely given that the North was fighting on two land fronts plus two sea "fronts") was an interesting parallel with post WWI Germany, a bit too parallel for this reader!
I think I'll leave Harry's works alone for a while......more