Imagine you not only knew who you were going to fall in love with, but you knew how and when it was going to end. Would you still go through with it?Imagine you not only knew who you were going to fall in love with, but you knew how and when it was going to end. Would you still go through with it? Would you even have that choice? Doug and Judy can both see the future, they both see how they are going to meet and how it will go wrong. The only difference is that Judy sees the future as a series of choices and paths, of options and opportunities. Doug sees a single path, no choices, no escape. Can they both be right?
Doug knows how they will meet, how it will feel, how it will end – after six months and three days – what they will argue about, every detail. There is no room for deviation from his path, his fate is set and he lives it exactly as he knows it will happen. After all, what's the point in fighting what you know must happen. Judy sees choices, but that her relationship with him will be an important one if she makes those choices. She also sees that the relationship must end. But, if she can only introduce some variables, she can prove him wrong. Prove that the future isn't fixed, that things could end differently. But Doug only ever sees one future, one path, one outcome. He knows he will prove her wrong.
A beautifully subtle short story of two people with different curses. He never takes risks because, what's the point? She feels she has choices, but she can see the outcome of those choices before she makes them. His fatalistic nihilism is always going to clash with her more optimistic, opportunistic, outlook. Of course they disagree over their two opposing views of the future. But how can both views co-exist in the same world – can they both be true?...more
When the war has took its part, When the world has dealt its card ... The pile of folded papers lay on the table in front of Colin. His eyes play acroWhen the war has took its part, When the world has dealt its card ... The pile of folded papers lay on the table in front of Colin. His eyes play across them: choosing, selecting, winnowing out the wrong ones. There is no difference between them that he can see: some are smaller, some larger; some are folded more tightly than others. He chooses at random and reads it out loud: Umbrella (Ella ella eh eh eh) — What kind of a title is that? Donna shrugs at her boss as she looks up from the roughly tied manuscript bundle on his desk. And, I know Self's an intellectual, but he's forgotten to put in any paragraphs, chapters or dialogue. Surely just give it back to him to at least tidy up, I can't edit it like that. What? She was totally confused now. It's meant to be like that? Some kind of Modernist stream-of-consciousness twaddle, can't somebody else –? No? She sighed, and resigned herself to this book like no book she'd ever had to whip into publication shape before. She wasn't going to thank her boss, and she certainly wasn't going to thank Will at the next Bloomsbury authors and editors social ... Sighs are repeated around the room as people take their seats. The few people who've turned up glare at James as Louise calls the meeting to order: Welcome to Book Club she announces. We're all hear to discuss James's nomination of Umbrella — (Ella ella eh eh eh). James shifts uncomfortably in his chair — he's already heard the opinions of the people in the room, the ones who didn't want to try it hadn't bothered to come. Luckily the only three people to turn up have spread themselves evenly around the too-large room. Nobody has to share the blame by sitting too close. Robert was the first one to bail – life is too short to read books he wasn't enjoying. He said. Just one star, binned, and he opted to read World War Z instead. Derivative it may be, but reading it doesn't hurt. Louise followed soon after. Throwing it under the much more light-hearted bus of We Need To Talk About Kevin. Attention turns to James. The only one in the room crazy enough to still be reading it. He claims he's loving it ... but then the accusations weigh in — a quick attempt to remind the group that Colin picked it from the pile, not him, is met with smiles but no escape: Colin couldn't even be bothered to turn up let alone finish the book — he would say that wouldn't he: it was his choice. He couldn't possibly slate a book that he foisted upon the group. But he really was enjoying it he said. Yes, he could appreciate that it's a hard read ... that the lack of breaks makes it a challenge to follow at times ... the lack of dialogue marks, the often jarring italicised emphasis, but ... but, once you read it as the stream it was written as and accept that some of it will inevitably flow over you on the first reading then it almost becomes fun. He's not fooling anyone though. His defence convinces nobody and a brief bit of maths results in the lowest average score for a Book Club discussion since it reformed. The unexpected second order of business is announced, and after a brief show of hands James is overruled two-to-one: the first rule of Book Club is that James doesn't get to nominate any more fucking Will Self books!...more
As the next-in-series reading list rolls around, so I find myself returning to the New York of 2040 (although it's presumably 2041 or even 2042 by nowAs the next-in-series reading list rolls around, so I find myself returning to the New York of 2040 (although it's presumably 2041 or even 2042 by now). This is the sequel to New York Nights and the same central character – the detective Hal – is back, still running his missing persons detective agency. This time he's engaged to find the missing sister of a famous VR star, who is herself the subject of a failed assassination attempt even as she's hiring him. Pretty exciting stuff already.
The meeting of science-fiction and crime-thriller is the same format as the previous novel. And, as with the previous novel Eric Brown's interest in including slightly more sexy-sexy than is strictly necessary becomes apparent. That time it was continual references to the fact that some of the main characters were lesbians – it just about stopped short of uncomfortable, but it was noticeable. This time we switch out the lesbians and introduce a main villain with obvious paedophile tendencies. It's never clearly laid out like that, but we have a man who is using virtual-reality to approach and seduce much younger women, before kidnapping them. And, while Hal is angry at this, it feels like he's probably slightly more angry because it's happened to the sister of his client (who he's obviously going to fall for) rather than because she's so young. In fact, there's even an implication that some of the characters think that the activity (bar the kidnapping) is borderline okay because it's in VR, therefore it's not real. To an extent this is explored as an idea – on the Internet nobody knows you're a dog – but the awkwardness comes because it's not really investigated as an idea, more just left there as a convenient excuse for the villain to try and convince himself of.
Taken for what it's clearly meant to be: a sci-fi crime-thriller sequel; it's an enjoyable read. It could have been more though if it had dug deeper into some of the topics it starts to look at. Instead it skims over the top of them and risks just feeling a bit creepy. The third book hasn't been published as an ebook yet, so I may find myself waiting a bit to complete the set....more
The book is something of a slow starter, and if you're expecting lots of military SF type action you'd probably argue that it never really picks up eiThe book is something of a slow starter, and if you're expecting lots of military SF type action you'd probably argue that it never really picks up either. But, it didn't seem to be a problem. David Weber seems to be making a play to move out of this series being exclusively military SF and into more of a 'thriller' type novel. He doesn't quite manage it – you don't ever doubt who the bad guy is; or that Honor will get her man – it's not trying to be a 'whodunit' either. In fact, it feels very much like a bridging novel, taking us from the immediate finish of The Short Victorious War into the subsequent court martial of Lord Young (for his abject cowardice in that novel's major battle). While the time of this trial fills pretty much the first half of the novel; it's not a procedural novel either – we treated to some of the details of Honor's evidence, some of the deliberations of the jury, but we see very little of the case and even less of the actual trial.
The second half of the novel is given over to a number of duels. This is probably the most interesting half of the novel, as Honor and her merry gang of chums have to work out why the duel started and who is, potentially, financing it, and why. It's not the most taxing of puzzles and you'll probably be there long before Honor. It's probably not much of a spoiler (at least once you're reading the novel) to say that Honor features in at least one of the duels, and yes, of course she wins. The duels felt a little sudden. I didn't recall them ever having been mentioned as a part of Manticorian society before, or did Weber just introduce them as a way to clean house of a few characters ready for the next phase in Honor's life, presumably in exile on Grayson?
But, flaws (and there are a few), and obvious attempts to create a bridge novel aside, it was fun. I enjoyed reading it; I enjoyed the continued world-building; and it made me want to read the next novel, Flag in Exile, to find out what Honor's life on Grayson was going to be like. And if that isn't a successful bridge-novel, I don't know what is....more
Regan Wolfrom writes a semi-regular free-stuff posting, where he collects all the free SF&F ebooks he's found on the Internet that week, on SF SigRegan Wolfrom writes a semi-regular free-stuff posting, where he collects all the free SF&F ebooks he's found on the Internet that week, on SF Signal. Conveniently, that means he gets to push his own stories from time to time. Gnome on Girl on Gnome: A Love Story was one of those that I downloaded, back in July, but hadn't got around to reading until now.
Marguerite is a girl who's never been in love. She wants to be, she just doesn't seem sure how to go about it, until while out walking she finds two plastic garden gnomes. I think we can all pretty much guess how the story pans out from the title, and it's too short a story for anything in the way of twists and turns. Although, the one swerve at the end (it's not unexpected enough to be a proper twist) saves the story from what would have been a disappointingly obvious ending.
My issues with the story were two-fold. Firstly, the sex was a little on the rapey side of things – Marguerite is a girl looking for love, not lust but love, (view spoiler)[yet she's down with the gnomes with barely a pause, let alone holding out for dinner and a movie, or even just getting their names (hide spoiler)]. Secondly, overall the story just feels too thin. There's obviously not much time for characterisation or world-building in a short story, but even Bradley the brother seems to have more depth than Marguerite or the gnomes do.
I feel slightly awkward writing this review now. The author has already commented on my 2-star rating to say that he's updated the story in the latest edition – as the short story is no longer available on Amazon I assume that he's referring to its inclusion in his new collection of short stories Catholic Guilt and the Joy of Hating Men. I think I have a tendency to be harder on short-stories than novels, but I didn't dislike this I just didn't actively like it. That said, I've got a few of his other short stories to read and I've entered the giveaway for his new collection, so it's far from a lost cause...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Another of the Baen ebook giveaways; this is Niven's, Pournelle's and Flynn's dystopian future-America novel where the Greens have won and dominated,Another of the Baen ebook giveaways; this is Niven's, Pournelle's and Flynn's dystopian future-America novel where the Greens have won and dominated, at least, the north American political landscape. As a result, any anthropogenic global warming that there was is abruptly halted and instead a new ice-age sweeps down across the American landscape. While science is not banned outright, there is now the concept of appropriate science and inappropriate science. Inappropriate science is a large catch-all for anything deemed polluting, or wasteful, and means that NASA has been completely closed down ‒ stranding a community of astronauts on the space station. With no hope of a return home or any supply runs they are managing to become self-sufficient and, in order to top up their own gas supplies, have started scooping up gasses from the Earth's outer atmosphere (fuelling even more the hatred of the off-worlders by the green Earthers who view this as stealing more of Earth's resources). It's on one of these runs that the two spacemen, the fallen angels of the title, crash to Earth and the race is on to both avoid the authorities and see if they can even return to the space station.
Strangely, as well as making most branches of science illegal, the government has also cracked down on science fiction: both authors and fans are having to operate on the fringes of society. Presumably as science fiction glorifies the now banned sciences it's been included as well, but this device is what makes this novel. The fallen angels come down the day before the annual science-fiction convention, so a rag-tag group of sci-fi fans decide to jump in a van and go rescue them. The novel makes much of the complete cultural disconnect between the two angels, for whom space represents their quite functional, hand-to-mouth existence, and the sci-fi fans, for whom space represents some kind of romantic ideal. This disconnect, and the authors' clear understanding and enjoyment of fandom culture, also provides much of the humour of the book ‒ the angels clearly think the fans are mad throughout the whole novel, yet somehow the fans' optimism, and problem solving, keeps managing to get things done.
Much is written of the politics of this novel in other comments and it's clear that Niven, Pournelle and Flynn are writing from a libertarian, anti-AGW platform. That said, if you can bring yourself to see past that, science fiction at its core is supposed to be about 'what ifs'. The 'what if' of this novel, that the green movement took power and reversed the warming that was holding back the next ice age, is an interesting idea and is artfully told with a fair amount of humour and barely any of the political grand-standing that some of the other reviewers had suggested. What I found slightly more annoying was the heavy name dropping throughout the story, some of whom (like RMS) are foreshadowed as part of the latter story, and are then never mentioned again, and some annoying overuse of PoV switching in some of the later chapters that made those sections somewhat confusing to read....more
There can be few better recommendations for any book than that you continuously feel the need to read excerpts out to those around you, no matter whatThere can be few better recommendations for any book than that you continuously feel the need to read excerpts out to those around you, no matter what they are doing (or what else they are trying to read themselves). "Oh, this one is great."; "Just this one and I'll stop."; "Ah, wait, this one is really good too.". I've only felt the need to do this with two books this year — this one because I was really enjoying it, the other because it was just so ridiculous in places.
The Etymologicon is a book of words. Well, technically all books are books of words (except picture books), but this one is about words, words and phrases. The origins of words more specifically. Each chapter digs into the origin of a word or phrase, starting with the phrase "a turn up for the books", and exploring it's meaning, it's origin, other words or phrases that share the same origins and wandering around in a sort of a rambling conversation that is interesting, funny, and by chance also educational. Somehow, like that word game in the newspaper, Forsyth starts the chapter with one word and manages to wind the conversation through to end on another, explaining his train of thought as he goes. This final word, then becomes the starting word for the next chapter.
Some of the chapters about two-thirds of the way through feel a little short and rushed, but in the main each chapter gave me something to annoy Louise with. The final chapter contains the clever twist-in-the-tail, ending as it does with the start phrase of the first chapter. Neatly closing the loop.
A short review, because I really can't think of much I didn't like about this book, so my complaints are minimal. Absolutely recommended even if you have only ever had a passing wonder about language and where some of our more esoteric parts of that language come from....more
Having overdosed on the 2012 London Olympics, it seemed like an interesting idea to compare those with the London Games of 104 years before. After theHaving overdosed on the 2012 London Olympics, it seemed like an interesting idea to compare those with the London Games of 104 years before. After the first Modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, followed by Paris in 1900 and then St. Louis in 1904, the 1908 Olympics were scheduled to occur in Rome. Unfortunately Rome struggled to find the funding. Luckily for the IOC (although far from lucky for Italy) the eruption of Vesuvius provided the perfect excuse for Italy to save face and give up their attempt to host it under the excuse of having to reallocate their funds to support the earthquake victims. Although, according to Kent, there never was any government money for the Olympics. The hosting then passed to London.
Kent's tale of the organisation of the Olympics suggests an almost unbelievable level of amateurism, yet somehow they seem to have come off. The Games even being moderately successful for Great Britain as we ended up with a haul of 56 gold medals – our highest ever. Less so for the United States however, their lower medal totals aside, relations between the US and Great Britain seem to have been strained by the Olympics not strengthened by it – hardly the Olympic spirit that the IOC were hoping for. Starting with their refusal to dip their flag to the King during the opening ceremony, and continuing throughout the Games with repeated official complaints from the US camp about perceived poor officiating, poor judging and general bias. The US did not feel they were competing on a level playing field. This underlying story of the Olympics as a struggle between the US and Great Britain is reinforced with each chapter starting with a quote from the post-Olympics report refuting one (or more) of the US's complaints.
The book itself is a humorous sporting fact-frenzy. Meticulously researched, Kent provides a fascinating journey through the 1908 Olympics. From the beginning he dives straight in with facts, figures and anecdotes – and it's far from being only about the US and Great Britain. The book does slow down a little in places, the first half is definitely the stronger, but the book as a whole is heartily recommended for anybody with an interest in how the Olympics has changed....more
The third book in the Oslo trilogy sees Harry Hole pretty much at the end of his usefulness, as a human being as much as a cop. He's a drunken mess, bThe third book in the Oslo trilogy sees Harry Hole pretty much at the end of his usefulness, as a human being as much as a cop. He's a drunken mess, barely able to wash or turn up for work. Having burnt himself out investigating the shooting of his former colleague, Ellen, he is just about to be kicked out of the force. Obviously, this is far from the first cop-thriller to use the theme of the alcoholic copy who gets fired but they just can't run the force without him. Instead, Hole gets one last case while the boss is on holiday and is unable to sign his release papers. As usual, the focus of the case brings Hole a level of sobriety that he needs to work the case. Waaler makes Hole an offer for a post-cop career.
The most coherent of the three books so far, this was clearly the end-game novel that Nesbø was building up to. With Ellen's death in Redbreast and the introduction of the Prince character too, we've followed that story through Nemesis to here. While this novel is ostensibly about the serial killer, as with the previous two, it's also about Hole's obsessive hunt for Ellen's killer, the Prince, who he believes is Waaler. This time, they must work together to solve the killings, while neither of them are really able to trust each other.
The Devil's Star is an excellently crafted finale to the series – on the one hand the suspense of the trying to work out who the serial killer is (and obviously if they'll catch him or not); on the other hand while we believe Hole is probably right about Waaler, will he be able to prove it, or will he turn out to be wrong about him anyway? With the end of the Oslo trilogy, it's time for me to go back to the start and read the first two Harry Hole novels now they're finally being translated into English....more
Though classed as a novel, this is barely more than a shortish story – not much more than a couple of hours sitting in the sun one morning to tear thrThough classed as a novel, this is barely more than a shortish story – not much more than a couple of hours sitting in the sun one morning to tear through it. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson return to come to the aid of a young lady requesting that they accompany her to a clandestine meeting in response to a curious note that she has received. The note appears to allude to the death of her father, the mysterious pearls that have been sent to her anonymously for a number of years, and some alleged injustice she has been on the receiving end of. Before long, Holmes and Watson are chasing across London and back again on the hunt for some stolen treasure that has been smuggled back to England some years before. However, who is truely entitled to say that they 'own' the treasure, and how far will those who believe their claim is true go to recover it...
Holmes is at his most manic while investigating, and we are also introduced to some more background information on the man himself – that he had once boxed, quite successfully; and that he has developed a startling ability to go undercover and use costume to create cover stories and characters to aid in his investigations. Like Poirot, Holmes enjoys pitting himself not only against the bad-guy, but also against the police, and while never as patronising as Poirot, Holmes also enjoys drip-feeding the necessary information to Watson, as Poirot does to Hastings, to 'help' him come to the right conclusions.
The story is book-ended with two scenes, one effectively shadowing the other. Initially, Watson is berating Holmes as he sits in a cocaine haze – "Three times a day for many months". Holmes justifies it to Watson and himself because "he finds it so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the mind ... I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation." At the end of the novel, with the crime solved, Holmes again reaches for the cocaine solution. While reading the novel now, the casual drug dependency is shocking, that a 'heroic' character would so obviously display his vices. Yet, when the novel was published in 1890, general cocaine use was still widely peddled as a cure-all – even if serious doctors (such as Watson) would already have been frowning upon such usage. Coca-Cola didn't remove the cocaine until 1903 (and still included trace amounts even beyond then)....more
Like many people I had managed to absorb most of the Sherlock Holmes canon through popular media - television with Jeremy Brett and Benedict CumberbatLike many people I had managed to absorb most of the Sherlock Holmes canon through popular media - television with Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch, and movies with Basil Rathbone and Robert Downey Jr. As such, I feel like I already know all the stories, the characters, the personality flaws and the arch-nemeses. Yet, I'd managed all of this without, apparently, ever having read any of the original stories. An even worse failing, as I have a Folio Society collection of some of the stories laying unread in my to-read pile for over ten years. It seemed about time to make a start with Holmes, and the best place to start is at the beginning, with the first novel: A Study in Scarlet.
The origin of the Holmes/Watson bromance, the story is told from Watson's point-of-view. Watson, returning from the war in Afganistan, needs a room mate and meets an old friend who tells him of a friend, Holmes, who wants a room mate too. And so begins the partnership. Holmes providing all the detectioning, all the sarcasm, all the rampant superiority (and all the drugs); Watson providing the everyman, the documentation, the questions we would ask if we were there and the spark to take Holmes from a detective who solves crimes from his bedroom, with no involvement or credit, to a detective who gets out there, gets involved and, through these stories, the credit for his cases. I was struck by the similarities though to the BBC's A Study in Pink episode which stuck very close to the origin storylines, if not the rest of the story.
Without providing too many spoilers, a man is found, presumably murdered in an empty house in Brixton. The word 'RACHE' written on the wall in blood. The police think they'll solve the case themselves, but we all know that any case with Holmes involved is going to be too complex, and too fiendish, for the police to solve without help. Strangely, the case itself is solved in, exactly, the first half of the novel. Then suddenly we are transported to Utah, and back in time by a generation, to be given the story that led to the crimes. It feels like an unexpected jolt. Watson is no longer our narrator, instead some unknown overseer provides the story until it catches back up to Holmes big reveal. Unfortunately, it does detract from the usual reveal that is always the right of the smartest detective in any detective novel. It's as if, even in his first novel, Doyle really isn't giving Holmes the respect he deserves. Hopefully, Holmes will have more scope to show off and be superior with a proper reveal in the next story.
For the record, Sherlock Holmes was Jeremy Brett. Downey Jr. and Cumberbatch are good, but they aren't Brett. Just saying....more
Continuing the series with the third of Burroughs's pulp-science-fiction 'romance' novels, Warlord of Mars follows on immediately from The Gods of MarContinuing the series with the third of Burroughs's pulp-science-fiction 'romance' novels, Warlord of Mars follows on immediately from The Gods of Mars. Having torn down the Martian's false religion, and rescuing several damsels in distress, he is rewarded by one of them dragging his beloved Dejah Thoris into a revolving dungeon (that not only happens to be open at just that time, but also doesn't open again for a whole Martian year) all because he wouldn't return her affections. Talk about being a babe-magnet, the women would happily lock herself in dungeon for a year in order to stop him being with anyone else.
This story picks up almost immediately and Carter's not happy. Luckily a series of unlikely coincidences mean that he'll be able to gain access (although not in time), chase her across Mars (although never quite catching her up), rescue her (only to lose her again) and eventually meet the fabled Yellow Martians – yes, another new colour of Martians, the ones that were heavily foreshadowed in the previous book and I predicted would make an appearance here. Coincidence follows coincidence but at each turn Carter is always just a little to late and Thoris slips through his fingers.
The goodies are good, the baddies are bad (although some of them are redeemable), the damsels are in distress mostly, and Martians love to fight. Luckily John Carter likes to fight too. Especially if his chosen damsel, Dejah Thoris, is singing to cheer him on. Some minor variations in this book, instead of Carter being mostly chased he's mostly doing the chasing; instead of being introduced to two new colours of Martians we're only introduced to one. Ultimately though it's the same book as the previous two – a boys-own adventure in space – but it is fun to read. This seems to tie-up the first three novels into a happy ending. Let's see what bad luck and new races can befall them in the fourth novel......more
I don't quite get what all the fuss is about. 5-star reviews are aplenty from reviewers that I'm pretty sure can actually read, but it just didn't speI don't quite get what all the fuss is about. 5-star reviews are aplenty from reviewers that I'm pretty sure can actually read, but it just didn't speak to me in the same way that it obviously did them. Where they found a beautiful captivating novel I found a story that didn't quite go anywhere and a dialogue that struck me as bordering on the repetitive.
It's a clever idea, a father and son walking across a dystopian post-apocalyptic American landscape, heading south and west to avoid the cold in what, it appears, may well be their last journey together. It could almost be heart-warming if it wasn't for the film of ash over everything or the random strangers reduced to cannibalism to survive. This is dystopian post-apocalyptic fiction before such things were everywhere.
But, the cleverness just didn't carry it enough for me. Told through little paragraphs with unmarked dialogue, the boy and his Papa have the same conversations about the same things over and over again: their fears of dying or being eaten, whether Papa will lie to the boy and about what, which houses are safe, who are the 'good guys' and so on. Like reading an episode of the Walking Dead with all of that show's unrelenting joy taken out. And I suppose maybe that's the point I'm missing: it's supposed to be miserable, depressing, even boring — because how much fun could an ash-covered dystopian post-apocalyptic future actually be?
Perhaps I would have liked it more if it had fitted better into the genre box: if we'd learnt something about the apocalypse or if things like the availability of food stuffs had seemed more consistent. But McCarthy wasn't writing a world-building genre novel for me. This feels like a very negative review, but it's not to say I hated it, I was just expecting to like it more than I did after seeing all those 4s and 5s....more
This series just keeps getting better and better. For the third time we sail out on the good ship Rocinante and its captain, Jim Holden, and crew. AsThis series just keeps getting better and better. For the third time we sail out on the good ship Rocinante and its captain, Jim Holden, and crew. As we've come to expect from Holden and friends, he's right in the middle of whatever's going on – if not actually causing it/making it worse. Although the chances are he's going to do a lot of that before the book is out too. The protomolecule artefact has finished with the planet Venus and has now created a massive structure in space. A massive structure hanging in space is just going to be a lightning rod to attract all the crazies: the government crazies, the religious crazies and the just-plain-crazy crazies. Some want to understand the artefact; some want to own it or destroy it; some just see it as an opportunity for revenge.
It feels like author duo, James S.A. Corey, has been sitting at the foot of George R.R. Martin a little too long. Each chapter cycles through a series of point-of-view characters – an expanded cast over the previous novels – and this is used to good effect to narrate the story from multiple ships, from multiple governments, and even Melba's little revenge trip sub-plot. The synchronicity is a little too convenient at times – Melba's (great cover name by the way) hatred of Holden is understandable, but it doesn't explain quite how she's able to control events quite so successfully, getting the Rocinante and its crew in just the right place at just the right time. Everything just comes together a little neatly. And I still don't really feel like I've 'bonded' with the crew as much as I think I should have after three novels. Bobbie I liked immediately – these guys I still feel like I'm getting to know. So why a five-star? Because these things don't matter. The story really is that good.
The truly strange thing about this though is that, after three full-length novels and two short stories, it really only feels like Corey has just gotten started. All three novels stand up perfectly well as novels in the series, but it suddenly becomes clear that the world-building that Corey has been doing so far was only the tip of the iceberg (or the tip of the available universes in this story). Suddenly, the artefact (presumably) is opening up a whole myriad of further universes to explore and world-build in. I'm looking forward to it......more
A birthday present in 2012, it's taken me a while to get around to reading this. I've been enjoying the Atwood Positron series of short stories insteaA birthday present in 2012, it's taken me a while to get around to reading this. I've been enjoying the Atwood Positron series of short stories instead and figured I'd leave this one on the shelf for a while, but eventually all books must come down off the shelf and be read. Seeing the third book in this trilogy, MaddAdam, in the books shops convinced me to try and see if I could handle two Atwood series at a time.
Reading Oryx and Crake straight after Ballard's The Drowned World was a slightly disorienting experience: both are powerful human disaster dystopias; both feature narrator's whose mental health makes them slightly less than reliable; and both have quite limited casts otherwise. While The Drowned World was an environmental disaster, a lagoon in a flooded London; Oryx and Crake's is a biological disaster, an engineered virus wipes out the majority of the population, leaving a solitary human – Snowman, our narrator – and a group of engineered hybrid-humans who have been designed with immunity built in. The back-story and world building is provided through a series of flashbacks throughout the story, explaining how everybody came to be who they are and what happened to Oryx and Crake, as well as the rest of us. Obviously, this is Atwood, so the detail is excellently thought out. We understand the progression from nowish, through the rise of the biotech companies, the gated communities, the employer controlling the social existence of the employees; to the whole thing falling apart and the world, as we'd know it, ending.
Snowman narrates both the present time and the flashbacks, and his narration is built around his relationship with the hybrid-humans and we can clearly see that he lies to them as a matter of course. He's built an entire mythology around their origins. Every time they approach him to ask him a question about something he layers more on to that mythology. Oryx and Crake are the gods he has created to satisfy their curiosity. Crake was their creator, a genetic scientist and friend of Snowman, but now he's gone Snowman has built him up to be their god with himself as the intermediary, or prophet. Oryx has become the goddess of the animals in his mythology, rather than her previous role which was the original intermediary between Crake and his hybrid-humans before the viral disaster.
The nature of the novel feels slightly awkward having already read Atwood's In Other Worlds: it's a science based dystopia, it's set in the future, and it's fiction. In fact, the overreaching of science is pretty much the entire premise for the novel. But we all know that Atwood is a bit snooty about the term science-fiction and instead favours the term speculative fiction. Ultimately, it doesn't matter either way. It's not quite perfect, maybe a little too long, but Atwood remains the queen of speculative (or science-fiction) dystopias....more