I feel so totally betrayed by this book that I don't even care if this is a spoiler. I was led to believe, by my library, my wife, and the Danish Crim...moreI feel so totally betrayed by this book that I don't even care if this is a spoiler. I was led to believe, by my library, my wife, and the Danish Crime Academy (who gave it a "first book award - that seems a little unreasonable given that it's merely the first collaboration by a pair of authors using A.J. Kazinski as their pseudonym) that this was a mystery. It turns out to be a fantasy in the Dan Brown style - but with far less of the thriller to it.
If somebody had really been out to kill the 36 righteous men, I'd be good with that. But if God creates 36 righteous men, and then routinely kills all but one, then (a) that's sick, and (b) doesn't God actually do things for a reason?
A well written and edited book, but ultimately the story let me down.
One night a Berlin-type wall goes up around the "Zones". Inside the wall, life g...moreA well written and edited book, but ultimately the story let me down.
One night a Berlin-type wall goes up around the "Zones". Inside the wall, life goes on much as it might have done in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II - right down to the daily commute of slave labourers to work in outside factories. Now, ghettoization is nothing new in human history, and the fact that this happened isn't unreal - but why did it happen? We never find out. Why does nobody outside the Zones care? In Warsaw, the Nazi overlords whipped up already existing anti-Semitism and many people were happy to see the Jews confined to the ghetto, but in Project Hope, the Zones are still getting TV from outside, and as far as anybody can tell, nobody even notices that they've been walled off from the rest of the world.
I liked the characters, but they need a better background.(less)
Post-apocalyptic, Man & Dog (well, wolf), Gordie Dickson: what's not to love!
It's years since I read this, but it had a profound effect on me, and...morePost-apocalyptic, Man & Dog (well, wolf), Gordie Dickson: what's not to love!
It's years since I read this, but it had a profound effect on me, and I really want to find a copy.
Edit: I got hold of a copy.
I'm fascinated by the depth of research that went into the Man/Wolf relationship (somewhat forced on him by his wolf researcher, Dr. Harry Frank, who wouldn't let him get away with anything!) but perplexed how at times he gets even the simplest things wrong. For the second time in a week (the first author who did it was forgettable and forgotten), I read how it was important to stay "upwind" of a predator so that it couldn't smell you. No, you stay "downwind": just as water flows from "upstream" to "downstream", air flows from "upwind". And speaking of "upstream", when Jeebee follows a stream uphill, and finds himself at a branch where two streams flow downhill, how can he possibly even have to investigate to know that one of those streams is man-made? Honestly, Gordie, it can't happen in nature.
That said, I loved the book when I first read it, and I still do on re-reading. The ending doesn't actually make much sense to me, but the journey does, and I love the interaction of man and wolf.(less)
There's no conclusion to this book, and I feel ripped off.
One of my GR Friends is reading books with strong female protagonists. This book's only strong characters are female, but it doesn't do a thing to redeem it.
Oh, and Cadigan had to actually explain the roots of the character name "Body Sativa". Please... the first rule of comedy - never explain a joke.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I had an argument in the summer about Kevin Anderson's credentials as an author. I think he's technically a pretty good wri...moreI'm really torn about this.
I had an argument in the summer about Kevin Anderson's credentials as an author. I think he's technically a pretty good writer, but I'm still not sure he's any good at ideas - after all, a lot of his best selling stuff is actually Frank Herbert's ideas. So, anyway, I expected this should be pretty good, as the ideas are Neil Peart's.
And Neil Peart is one-third of the last of the great prog-rock bands, "Rush" (are there any prog-rock bands left in their original lineups?). Neil says he's been a member of Rush for 38 years, so I guess that means I have been a fan since they were founded... sigh. I thought they were older than me.
I was disappointed to find that it was all very Young Adult - which is becoming a laughable stereotype when we deal with Steampunk. But then, when your central theme is the lyrics to 66 minutes worth of album (which necessarily has to involve considerable time given to instrumental solos), how deep can you really go?
Still, I appreciate the ending. And Peart's afterword is almost worth the price of admission.(less)
Where the books of the "First Law" trilogy span a continent, and their sequel Best Served Cold spans another, The Heroes goes in a completely differen...moreWhere the books of the "First Law" trilogy span a continent, and their sequel Best Served Cold spans another, The Heroes goes in a completely different direction. Most of the main characters were introduced in the original trilogy, but the action focuses on one battle for a piece of the Northland surrounding one small town, over just a few days.
While the story is full of "heroes", "The Heroes" is actually a stone circle on the hill commanding the battlefield. This isn't your usual "epic fantasy" both because of its narrow focus, and because there's no simple struggle of Good versus Evil. I expected not to enjoy the story, both because I love "Good versus Evil", and I'm kind of sappy about happy endings, but I was surprised to find myself pretty well enthralled (though I might have skimmed through some of the more graphic battle scenes).
There are no truly Good guys (except possibly Harod dan Brock, who is presented as being pretty much too good to survive), but there are no truly Evil guys either. Black Dow is as evil as they come, but even he comes off as someone who's just doing what he has to do, in the only way he knows how. As for the Heroes, as much as anything, this is a story about the tenous connection between actual heroism and being known as a hero. We have a character who can perform 10 heroic acts before breakfast - but in reality has no concern for his own well-being, and more frighteningly, none for the well-being of the people he's supposed to be fighting with, either. There are at least two "heroes" who are outright cowards - one who's fooled everyone around him, and another whose instinct for self-preservation might save those around him, but only if he doesn't need to throw them to the wolves, first.
In the end, one can only try to "do the right thing". It probably won't make you a hero, but you might sleep comfortably.(less)
In the first place, Krauss spends far too much time God-bashing, instead of just sticking to the science. Fine, he...moreI found this book very frustrating.
In the first place, Krauss spends far too much time God-bashing, instead of just sticking to the science. Fine, he doesn't believe that God created the universe, but there's absolutely no good reason to even bring it into a discussion of how our universe has been created from nothing.
In any case, ultimately, his arguments seem no better than a belief in a supreme being as creator. Krauss waves his hands and tells us that most of the universe consists of "Dark Matter" (fairly easy to believe, as it is simply matter that we can't detect with current instruments), and "Dark Energy" (a seriously kludgy substance that exists purely to make physical theory match observed reality, via the "Cosmological Constant"). How is it that if we believe in God, we're credulous cretins, but if we believe in Dark Energy we're "scientists"?
He even had the nerve to introduce Occam's Razor. If we are to use the Razor, perhaps we shouldn't jump so blindly on the Cosmological Constant bandwagon — a part of Einstein's General Relativity that he seriously regretted, and considered an error.
Now, my knowledge and understanding of physics is probably about as good as it gets for someone without a degree in physics, and I didn't have too much trouble following the science in the book — but it was hard enough that it can hardly be considered as being a book for the layman (that is, the science is far harder than A Brief History of Time). Perhaps he could have provided arguments that would convince me, but if so, the book contains too little physics to convince anyone of his case, and too much for most readers to follow.(less)
Not my favourite Weber. The story of a crack military unit being stranded on a hostile planet and fighting their way across a continent to rescue has...moreNot my favourite Weber. The story of a crack military unit being stranded on a hostile planet and fighting their way across a continent to rescue has been done before, and better, in many books, of which his sometime collaborator David Drake's Redliners is, in my opinion, the best.
In addition, I really dislike the whole "interstellar empire" subgenre. I can't imagine a scenario in which interstellar civilization, even with faster-than-light travel, can work with hereditary nobility - and if it could, I don't want to live in that civilization. To cap it off, the "bad guys" in this universe are "eco-freaks". They're even less likely to be able to run a galactic civilization. Give me a break!
The primitive inhabitants of the planet Marduk are about as inhuman as a species could be (gigantic, six-limbed, amphibians, with wicked horns) while still eating food edible by humans, and yet from page to page you could easily forget they're not human - because they act just like humans.
An interesting outing from a new-to-me author, but I can't say I cared much for any of the characters, less for the disillusioned-communist backstory,...moreAn interesting outing from a new-to-me author, but I can't say I cared much for any of the characters, less for the disillusioned-communist backstory, and it wasn't much of a whodunnit - we know almost from the start who dunnit, and the list of possible who-was-duns is small.
So, I'd try another book by Indridason, but won't be pushing him to the top of my to-read list.(less)
This is a book that you're likely to form an opinion of in the first few pages. It's a good story, but the style may well put you off. The entire tale...moreThis is a book that you're likely to form an opinion of in the first few pages. It's a good story, but the style may well put you off. The entire tale is told in the form of an oral examination for entrance to "The Academy". Frankly, I hate the style, but I'm sure it was pretty well done.
The story itself is interesting, with a twist that I anticipated, but not so soon as to ruin the ending. The editing is pretty good - my one quibble is that multiple voices are not supposed to speak in a single paragraph.(less)
The title refers to the time left, at the start of the novel, to the official handover of Hong Kong to China by the British. As a thriller set in the...moreThe title refers to the time left, at the start of the novel, to the official handover of Hong Kong to China by the British. As a thriller set in the politics of the period, it's great. The author obviously understands the political and cultural environment of the period, and one can only desperately hope that he's exaggerating (though I suspect not...).
Unfortunately, his understanding of some of the technical details of his plot seem a bit weak. Our hero, Chief Inspector "Charlie" Chan, discovers a cache of "pure" Uranium 235, but fortunately leaves its actual recovery to others - who die gruesomely of radiation burns within a couple of days. Well, I grew up immersed in nuclear physics - my father taught it to nuclear plant operators - and I was pretty sure that couldn't happen. No less an authority than the US Centers for Disease Control agrees with me. Without generating too much of a spoiler, suffice it to say that earlier he accepts personal testimony as definitive without apparently back-checking the facts, and later he has to send evidence to Scotland Yard for analysis, which surely any competent lab could have handled in Hong Kong.
Still, if you're not overly worried by a few little incongruities, the story is fascinating (and scary - more for its depiction of China, and what China's growing economy means for the rest of the world in the future, than for the actual criminal acts that are ostensibly being investigated.(less)
I've always enjoyed Forward's novels, but somehow missed this one.
Near-future Science Fiction must be one of the hardest genres to write, because it...moreI've always enjoyed Forward's novels, but somehow missed this one.
Near-future Science Fiction must be one of the hardest genres to write, because it is so easy to guess wrong, and have your readers laughing at what you thought life would be like in the next few years. So I was astonished by the accuracy of Forward's predictions. For a novel published in 1984, dealing with fields in which scientific knowledge has advanced so far in the intervening four decades, it's astounding how much he's got right!
I loved Wolf Hall and waited anxiously for my local library to get a copy of this sequel; so I was a little taken aback when a reader on an unrelated...moreI loved Wolf Hall and waited anxiously for my local library to get a copy of this sequel; so I was a little taken aback when a reader on an unrelated discussion group said how much she'd disliked Wolf Hall. With that, I read Bring Up the Bodies in a slightly different light.
I still loved the book, but I have to admit the writing style is unusual, and could be distracting. It's almost first person: everything is told from Thomas Cromwell's point of view, and nothing happens without his presence, but "he" usually refers to Cromwell himself. It's almost as if Cromwell is personally telling a story in the third person. This sort of thing usually makes my brain hurt and causes me to throw the book across the room (though, of course, I'd never do this with a library book!), so I can understand why someone else might find it unreadable.
Beyond that, you probably need to be a fan of the Tudor period of history, and probably Henry VIII in particular. It seems that practically all of the characters are named with variations of Thomas, Richard or Henry. That's not Mantel's fault: these are all historical characters! I wouldn't be surprised if certain minor characters got left out of the story purely because they would add yet another Tom, Dick or Harry (and I guess it's no coincidence that "every Tom, Dick and Harry" is English idiom for "everybody"). This, and the generally turbulent politics of the period, lead to a storyline that has to be extremely confusing if you don't at least understand the church politics of the time (Reformation), the major houses of the English nobility, and of course, Henry's serial monogamy.
Those issues surmounted, it is a brilliant book. It's not intended to be a history, so no doubt license is taken with actual events, but it presents a fascinating and thrilling, possible, retelling of the events of Henry's reign — from the beggining of his dissatisfaction with Anne Boleyn to her execution and the coronation of Jane Seymour.
If you have trouble with the history, check out the equally good TV series The Tudors, which is historically quite accurate, and covers the same ground (particularly season 2) from different viewpoints.(less)
Howard W. Campbell, Jr, is writing his memoir as he sits in an Israeli prison cell, accused of war crimes in Germany during World War II. If you belie...moreHoward W. Campbell, Jr, is writing his memoir as he sits in an Israeli prison cell, accused of war crimes in Germany during World War II. If you believe Howard W. Campbell, Jr, he's guilty as charged, but he's the only person whose direct testimony we're given. He surely was a high-ranking Nazi propagandist; he might have been an American spy. Certainly, some Americans seem to have conspired to protect him from war crimes charges at the end of the war, but even the man who recruited him as a spy doesn't seem to think his great service to the allied war effort makes up for the damage he did as a propagandist. On the other hand, the Israelis seem willing to acquit him if only he can prove the existence of the spymaster.
Throughout, Vonnegut dances around the questions of what a person's moral duties are in a time of worldwide insanity. We'd all like to think that we wouldn't be the people who helped send Jews to Auschwitz, but would we be able to stand against such insanity? Certainly Vonnegut has no interest in telling us either where the line between good and evil should be, or on which side of the line either author or readers stand.
In the end, Howard W. Campbell, Jr. seems to consider his death the final touch in his propaganda campaign. So it goes.(less)