Nevare has the life he's always dreamed of lined up for him and ready to go. He's handsome and strong, he's in the academy to become an officer in the...moreNevare has the life he's always dreamed of lined up for him and ready to go. He's handsome and strong, he's in the academy to become an officer in the cavalry, he has a family that's proud of him and he has a beautiful young lady waiting to become his wife. But then, as this book, the second in a trilogy, opens, his entire life begins to slowly unravel and turn inside out. This is an interesting story filled with characters I could easily empathize with, but I think at over 700 dense pages it was just too long for its own good. Most of the action in this story takes place within Nevare's mind as battles of will power and trips into the dream world. It's a powerful cautionary tale of the evils of intolerance with a heart wrenching ending that makes me want to read the final book in this trilogy no matter how much slogging I had to do to get through the first two. If you didn't enjoy the first book in this trilogy, you probably won't enjoy this one either. This one is even slower but much deeper.(less)
I learned a lot from this book. It goes into detail about the development of a baby's mind and why certain "games" are useful to play at certain ages....moreI learned a lot from this book. It goes into detail about the development of a baby's mind and why certain "games" are useful to play at certain ages. Very informative!(less)
After reading this book I still had no idea who Phlebas was or why we were considering him until I googled it. If you're literary enough to get the re...moreAfter reading this book I still had no idea who Phlebas was or why we were considering him until I googled it. If you're literary enough to get the reference to the T.S. Eliot poem, you'll understand the general tone of this book.
A great story, but perhaps a bit slow. Lots and lots of time spent on descriptions. Fifty pages later and I'd realize the same event is still occurring. Definitely enjoyable, though, and I'd like to read more from this author.(less)
I was reluctant to read this book at first because it's just so mainstream and popular and I tend not to go for bestsellers. Besides, it's a story abo...moreI was reluctant to read this book at first because it's just so mainstream and popular and I tend not to go for bestsellers. Besides, it's a story about the life of a dog--how interesting could it be? But it turned out that I loved it. Yes, it was a story about the life of a dog, but more importantly, it was the story of a family. I started reading this book on the bus on my way to work and I was in a smiling good mood all morning. I read some more on my lunch break and I was grinning all afternoon. I laughed out loud as I read more on the bus after work and when I got home I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I lay on the couch and read it until my husband got home from work, and then like Marley the big happy puppy, I ran downstairs to greet him and welcome him home. My husband went to play on his computer in the other room and I went back to the couch to finish the book--I couldn’t quit! That’s when I discovered (why was this a surprise?) that this book about the life of a dog does not have a happy ending. I was literally multiple-Kleenex-necessary bawling by the end of this. Embarrassingly, my husband came out to check on me right as I was at my cryingest and I couldn’t stop. You should’ve seen the look on his face. He was quite relieved when I waved my book at him to indicate I was just crying about Marley (I was too choked up to talk). I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much at a book. But I loved it! An easy read not requiring much brain power, but definitely a fun ride!(less)
I first read this book when I was 12. It was probably the first book I ever read from the "adult" side of the library and was definitely the first adu...moreI first read this book when I was 12. It was probably the first book I ever read from the "adult" side of the library and was definitely the first adult sci fi/fantasy book I ever read. It was the book that started my love for spec fic and therefore had a lasting effect on my life. So I decided to give it a reread now, more than 20 years later. And it really is still quite good. There were things that bugged me about it that didn't bug me when I was 12 (like how every woman in the book is gorgeous and how the main character is perfect other than being constantly upset about being short), but if I ignored those things, this was a fun and engaging read.(less)
This book somehow just didn't do it for me. The story started out with a lot of potential. A graduate assistant at MIT builds a machine that's suppose...moreThis book somehow just didn't do it for me. The story started out with a lot of potential. A graduate assistant at MIT builds a machine that's supposed to do something fairly mundane, but he discovers that because of some error he made the machine actually travels through time. He sets off trying to figure out how and why this is happening. Except the story kind of falls apart halfway through. It gets out of hand and ridiculous and boring. This book really isn't worth your time to read.(less)
Wow. This was definitely a wow book. I loved the characters. Every single one of them was incredibly interesting. In the not-so-distant future, a small group of mental freaks is sent out to the edge of the solar system to investigate a possible alien presence. The narrator, Siri, underwent a hemispherectomy as a kid (had half is brain removed) and as a result lost his empathy entirely. To compensate, he can all but read minds just by looking at body language and facial expressions. How cool is that? And he's just the beginning of the mental quirks in this crew. The aliens, when we finally meet them, are physiologically very cool. Oh, and did I mention this ship (which is alive) is captained by a vampire?
The story incorporates flashbacks from Siri's past to illustrate how dystopian human society has become and to help raise the question: is sentience a help or a hindrance to intelligence? Is sentience an evolutionary dead-end? Very cool things to ponder. (But in the end--does it matter? Even if sentience is standing in the way of intelligence, it seems life would be very boring without it and I'm not about to give it up! Oh wait, did that just prove the point?)
Towards the end I thought the author went a bit over the top with the sentience versus intelligence bit. Crazy things were happening that somehow made Siri understand deep things, but only made me confused. If it wasn't for this part, I would've given the book five stars.
The ending was my kind of ending: it definitely comes to a close, but nothing is wrapped up neatly. I love that.(less)
I found the premise for this book to be very interesting. Really, it's a mystery. One night, on a night very much like tonight, the stars go out. The...moreI found the premise for this book to be very interesting. Really, it's a mystery. One night, on a night very much like tonight, the stars go out. The moon is gone, too. The sky is just black. What happened? Why did it happen? And can it be undone? I can't say much more about the plot without giving away spoilers, but mostly this is the story of society's reaction to this event and in particular, one very intelligent man's quest to try to figure it out. I enjoyed the way the story was told by jumping back and forth between the present and the future until the two converged. I never knew what was coming next and I certainly never guessed how it would end. My biggest complaint about the novel is that I never understood why they called it the Spin. This book won the Hugo Award in 2006. It is the first of a planned trilogy, but this book could easily stand alone, leaving something to the imagination.(less)
"I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army." I was grabbed by this first sentence and by the en...more"I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army." I was grabbed by this first sentence and by the end of page three, I was absolutely hooked with no way of wriggling free.
This story is set in the not too distant future where life on Earth seems to be fairly similar to what you and I are used to. Life away from Earth is another story entirely. The universe is Star Wars-like, filled with myriad intelligent species with body types and customs vastly different from our own, all vying for the scarce colonizable planets. The only way for an American citizen to get off Earth and into the stars is to join the Colonial Defense Forces--the army that fights for new planets and protects the colonies we already have. But the CDF doesn't want young, inexperienced recruits, they want soldiers who already have the experiences of a lifetime--you can't join until you turn seventy-five. Oh, and once you leave Earth, you can't come back.
Told from a first-person perspective, this is the rollicking ride of an old man leaving behind everything he's ever known to make his way through the ranks of the CDF towards hero-dom. Along the way he fights in every manner imaginable, from blasting giant spiders who hurl chunks of rock from planetary rings, to stomping beings only an inch tall with his boots, to trying to contain an intelligent slime mold that will digest you from the inside out given half a chance. It's fun and engrossing and I absolutely did not want to put this book down. It also had some deeper messages about love and marriage and what it means to be human, but it certainly never got too deep. This was a brain-optional good time!
Now if you would please excuse me, I'm going to go add every other book ever written by John Scalzi to my wish list!(less)
This is an omnibus of four of the five novels of the Patternist series, Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark and Patternmaster. For some reason unkn...moreThis is an omnibus of four of the five novels of the Patternist series, Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark and Patternmaster. For some reason unknown to me, the third book in the series, Survivor, is not included in this omnibus.
The first novel, Wild Seed, was by far my favorite. It is the story of Doro, a man with a special power that allows his spirit to jump from body to body, leaving the discarded bodies dead. He quickly discovers that it gives him more pleasure to occupy the body of a person who also has some sort of special power, be it telekinesis, telepathy, shapeshifting, or the power to heal self or others. He starts collecting these people and breeding them, creating offspring with greater and greater powers for his personal use. Eventually he comes across a woman who is as long-lived as he and more powerful than any he has come across before. He realizes that she is more useful to him alive as breeding stock than the short-term pleasure he could get from her by occupying her body, and realizes that she already has many children who could also be useful to him. But she won't submit easily. She only agrees to do his will if he agrees not to harm her children. But Doro is not to be trusted and conflict ensues. This breathtaking story spans several centuries. I was blown away by the writing style, I felt the author was speaking directly to me. By the end of the novel I found Doro's single-mindedness a little disturbing, but otherwise this was an awesome novel.
The second novel, Mind of My Mind, picks up a few hundred years after the first leaves off. Doro's creations have gotten stronger--strong enough to begin challenging him. This book was still quite good but somehow not quite as good as the first one. I was left at the end wanting to know what could possibly happen next, but that will be left to the imagination.
The third novel, Survivor, is not included in this omnibus and I have not read it.
The fourth novel, Clay's Ark, is completely different from the first two. One of the minor characters from the second novel is briefly mentioned in the third novel, but otherwise it is completely unconnected (perhaps explained by the missing third novel). This could easily have been a stand alone novel and I quite liked it. This is set in the dystopian near future. The first starship (named Clay's Ark) ever to carry humans to another planet has just returned to Earth, but it is bringing with it a highly infectious microorganism that changes the very essence of those it infects. Infected people are compelled to spread the disease to as many as possible and to reproduce as quickly as they can. The first infected people try desperately to retain their humanity--they live in the middle of a desolate desert and kidnap and infect only enough people to quiet their compulsions in an attempt to protect the rest of the world from their disease. This works for several years until one of the people they capture and infect escapes and heads straight for LA. A very chilling story and my second favorite in this omnibus.
The last novel, Patternmaster, was definitely my least favorite. This is set even farther in the future when most of the people on the planet are either powerful descendants of Doro or are infected with the Clayark disease from the previous novel. These two factions are at constant odds and each would like nothing better than to wipe the other out. The descendants of Doro, with all of their amazing mental powers, have lost almost all of their mechanical ability. The future has developed into what is almost a typical fantasy world. Everything is low tech and "magic" is common. Outside city walls are evil creatures, the Clayarks, that want to kill everybody. The story involves the interaction of some very powerful brothers vying for leadership positions in this setting. Somehow I just didn't find it to be very interesting. It's ok and this is a very short novel so if you've read the first three novels I definitely recommend finishing this one too, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend picking up a copy of Patternmaster on its own.
Over all I definitely enjoyed this omnibus. I loved the first story and really enjoyed the fourth. The second was good and the fifth was ok. I really wonder, though, what happened to the third story?(less)
The story of "Fledgling" was very similar to another book by Octavia E. Butler--"Dawn"--but it just wasn't as good. In "Fledgling", the main character...moreThe story of "Fledgling" was very similar to another book by Octavia E. Butler--"Dawn"--but it just wasn't as good. In "Fledgling", the main character is an amnesiac vampire with human DNA waking up among humans and learning to deal with vampire society and vampires who hate her for her super-vampire qualities brought on by her human genes. In "Dawn", the main character is a human waking up from a coma among aliens and learning to deal with alien society and humans who hate her for her super-human qualities brought on by the aliens tinkering with her genes. Very similar, but somehow some of the pizazz is missing from this one. While I was reading "Dawn" I was thinking, "Wow, this is cool!" While I was reading "Fledgling" I was thinking "This is good." It's very readable, it's very engaging, and it's a very interesting idea, but this is not Butler at her best or at her most original.(less)
Written in the 1920's, this book is the contemporary of works such as The Lord of the Rings and it reads somewhat similarly. It often quotes made-up...moreWritten in the 1920's, this book is the contemporary of works such as The Lord of the Rings and it reads somewhat similarly. It often quotes made-up songs and poetry and is given to flights of fancy so far out there that I sometimes found it hard to follow. The basic premise was a good one and I enjoyed the story itself, but the characters were fairly silly and hard to sympathize with. The writing was beautiful and amazingly colorful yet I sometimes had trouble paying attention and comprehending what I was reading. I would often discover when I reached the bottom of a page that I had no idea what had just happened on that page and had to go back to reread. It was hopeless if ever I tried to read this without being able to give it my undivided attention. I liked how the story ended but it seemed a little abrupt. If you're a fun of Tolkein or of Neil Gaiman's Stardust then I'd recommend you give this a try, otherwise probably not.(less)
Imagine a world in which there is no gravity and yet there is still air. How would such a world come into existence? This book is set in the distant f...moreImagine a world in which there is no gravity and yet there is still air. How would such a world come into existence? This book is set in the distant future in which a giant bag of air has been built in space, with an artificial sun in the middle. Nations are built on wheels that are spun to create gravity. As a boy, Hayden Griffin, witnesses his mother's death at the hands of an enemy nation. He vows to kill his mother's killer, but as he attempts to get close, he is swept along onto a military vessel that's mission is a secret ploy to defeat an even more powerful enemy nation that threatens them all.
The story is a lot of fun, with lots of rollicking low-gravity sword fights. The world building is very interesting and the characters are sympathetic and three-dimensional. Despite all this, something was lacking. I can't put my finger on exactly what it was, and it would be going too far to say that the story fell flat, but for some reason this didn't quite do it for me. A good story, but definitely put-downable.(less)
Are you kidding me? This book won the Nebula? This book won the Hugo? For starters, it's a stretch to categorize this as fantasy or science fiction. I...moreAre you kidding me? This book won the Nebula? This book won the Hugo? For starters, it's a stretch to categorize this as fantasy or science fiction. It's set in 2008 and technology is exactly the same as what we have available to us today. The only difference is an alternate history. The alteration is that land in Alaska, namely Baranof Island, is set aside as a temporary refugee settlement for Jews during WWII and Israel loses its battle for independence in 1948. So now, in 2008, Sitka is a thriving Jewish community. The main character is a homicide detective in Sitka and the story involves Jews, alcohol, chess and murder. The story, honestly, is quite boring. I fell asleep three times while reading this book. I never fall asleep while reading. The writing, however, was amazing! It was chock full of incredibly interesting and offbeat metaphors and similes. I haven't read any other books by Michael Chabon so I don't know if having a boring story is a recurring problem for him (although I've been told by a friend that it very well might be), but writing the way he does, if he could come up with an interesting story I'm convinced he could produce an amazing book. But this was not it.(less)
I kept waiting for something to happen in this book, but not a whole lot ever does. Definitely not plot-driven. It's supposed to make us think about w...moreI kept waiting for something to happen in this book, but not a whole lot ever does. Definitely not plot-driven. It's supposed to make us think about what makes us different from animals, what makes us think we're better, what makes us think it's ok to kill them. Perhaps if you've never thought about these things before then you'll find this book intriguing. Otherwise it's mostly just slow and sad.(less)