I can't believe I read BOTH Sword & Laser picks this month, and this one I listened to. I wish I had read the print, only because the narrator hasI can't believe I read BOTH Sword & Laser picks this month, and this one I listened to. I wish I had read the print, only because the narrator has that particular British storytelling voice that makes me want to nap immediately - a snowy day, roaring fire, cozy blanket voice. I had a hard time focusing on the story itself. This to me is somehow connected to my ideas that I don't particularly care for fantasy, and I think the rating reflects that too - an okay book, just not really my thing. Somewhat interesting premise but obvious that good will prevail, that the two characters once introduced will meet, etc. ...more
I checked the book out of the library when it was nominated for the Nebula Award, after letting the review copy I had expire. Now it's the April 2016I checked the book out of the library when it was nominated for the Nebula Award, after letting the review copy I had expire. Now it's the April 2016 for Sword and Laser, so I felt even more impetus to read it.
This is a novel you must spend some time with, not just dip in and out of. I started out reading it in small parts and only really started to understand it once I committed to it on vacation.
The world in this novel is incredibly unique. It is our world, but far into the future. Apocalypses come on a regular basis, in the sense that most people living in the world die. But not everything dies. Some old structures live, some people have survived, and some documentation on how to survive a season makes it through. These fragments are memorized by the children in societies taking it seriously, and are threaded throughout the novel as well.
The stories of three women start to become the primary narratives, and Jemisin alternates between them like clockwork. One is a young girl sent off for training after being discovered to be an Orogene, a human with peculiar powers, able to help control the seismic activity of an unstable earth. But untrained, the Orogenes are destructive and feared. Over all they are treated as slaves. Another is a woman who is forced into mating with a man in an authority role, because of her abilities (or just because she is breedable). Last is a mother whose son has just been killed by his father, because he started displaying the same traits. She is moving through a rapidly crumbling world when she encounters a "boy" - who is actually not a boy at all but a creature who eats rocks.
Have I confused you yet? I did spend quite a bit of time confused. Not because the author isn't clear but because the world is so familiar yet broken (as the series states!), time appears linear but may not be, and the end of the world seems to be inevitable no matter what any of the characters do. The journeys the three women take allow the reader to see more of this fascinating world, and new connections are made just as this novel comes to a close. I have no idea what will happen next!
This is one of the few novels that has shown up in my dreams, and that is some strong imagery. Compared to the other novels on the Nebula list, I'd probably root for this one to win because of it's complexity and originality....more
I read this book on impulse. I had ignored it when it was the monthly pick for the Sword and Laser book club, because I had read His Majesty's DragonI read this book on impulse. I had ignored it when it was the monthly pick for the Sword and Laser book club, because I had read His Majesty's Dragon and felt like it wasn't for me. Then it was listed as a Nebula finalist, and my library had the eBook available for immediate download, so I just... started. The story pulled me in, although the writing itself is not spectacular. I liked the way the author came up with the idea, the character name coming from her own childhood's Polish fairy tales. I liked the way the magic was handled, where the world had a certain method of teaching and learning it and still Agnieszka had to find her own way. I liked the early twist of the "dragon" considering what the author is known for otherwise. I liked the scary wood; since I grew up in the woods I always feel like they have their own living breathing characters.
At some point I watched a video interview with the author where she indicated she has worked with her grandmother to translate some of the Polish fairy tales she grew up with, and I would VERY much like to read those.
What I didn't like - well as with any fantasy novel, series or standalone, I don't like to read or watch fight scenes. Boring, who cares, etc. So I skimmed large portions of the novel. There were a few battles where magic was really important so I read those more carefully. Still, battles? Just not my thing. The other thing I didn't like was the simple language. The author claims that this is not intended for YA (and I suppose the two sex scenes prove that) but how many ways can you describe the color red in a magical world? Surely with a word better than red. Choices like that were throughout the novel. It's not that I prefer flowery language that slows me down, but I do think that a fantasy setting is an appropriate place to show your writing chops, and let go of them during the battles, since I won't read those anyway.
Still it was a quick read and I enjoyed it enough to discuss it on Episode 054 of the Reading Envy Podcast....more
I pre-ordered this book because I was excited for it - I have enjoyed Anders' short stories and this one sounded interesting. It defies genre boxing fI pre-ordered this book because I was excited for it - I have enjoyed Anders' short stories and this one sounded interesting. It defies genre boxing for the most part - there is fantasy, magic, science fiction, apocalypse, and the strange healing power of madrigals. But I like how all the parts fit together, and didn't find it messy or like the author was trying to cram too much in there.
I think part of why these elements work is that they aren't the point of the novel. The focus is the friendship of Patricia and Laurence through several periods of their lives, beginning in childhood. Patricia discovers some witchy abilities and Laurence finds an affinity in science and engineering. They are outcasts who can't even comfort one another in the worst years of peer pressure. I liked the characters of these two people and actually grew frustrated when the author would skip major events, which would later just be mentioned in passing. I wanted to be there, to bear witness to those events, to see the pain and growth. I think this is what makes the book four stars instead of five for me - I wanted it to be more connected. I wouldn't have minded a longer read to get the chance to experience more of their stories.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read, one I had to take breaks from so I did not read it too quickly. ...more
I read this because it was selected as the May book for the Sword and Laser book club and I hardly ever get a chance to read along! I had not heard ofI read this because it was selected as the May book for the Sword and Laser book club and I hardly ever get a chance to read along! I had not heard of this author or this book in either form (it is also known as The Sea-Kings of Mars.)
It is important to look at the era a book was written. This is from 1953, pre-moon landing, pre-scientific Mars information. It isn't surprising, then that the main character (Carse) and all the other humans on Mars don't mention struggling to breath or survive. You just have to suspend a lot of disbelief.
Is this the first book with time-lords? Perhaps Doctor Who fans should be reading this book. It's like Indiana Jones on Mars meets time travel meets pirates. It was actually a lot of fun to read and I thought some of the descriptions were more beautiful than I would have expected from something pulpy, and the different groups were creatively presented. Who wouldn't want to envision Mars in a former glory era? Ah heck, I'm adding a star.
I can't remember which book it is I read, maybe Burroughs, but I remember a short tale about a trip to the moon where all the people needed were rifles and fur coats. This feels kind of like that. I didn't care for the main character who is a bully and a thief but still enjoyed the book overall....more
I probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announI probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announced as one of the Nebula nominees.
It's not my normal fare, in other words. It was described to me as a steampunk-fantasy court drama novel, but I would characterize it more as a coming of age, fish out of water, court drama novel. The steampunk is far in the background and as much as I don't geek out about those kinds of details, I think more of them would have made the world more interesting - more magic too, please! It's there, but so far in the background.
The other parts of the world, from the elaborate family names to the complex kingdom rulership borders, to the elfin-goblin conflicts, were interesting and didn't feel like many other things. Actually I did keep thinking of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin but I'm not sure others will see the parallels.
The best part, in my opinion, is the character of Maia the goblin emperor. I think the author writes him very compassionately, although flawed. He has quite the wardrobe.
I am surprised this isn't the first in a trilogy or series because it feels like everything just gets settled by the end, and after all of this world has been created, it might be nice for the author to keep writing in it.
You would think this fulfilled my fantasy reading for the year, but no. My usually post-modern literary book club has selected a fantasy novel for our next read, one I never would have read.... well here we go....more
When this was the first Sword and Laser pick of the year, I was thrilled. After all, one of my 2014 reading goals was to finally read Delany. I'm notWhen this was the first Sword and Laser pick of the year, I was thrilled. After all, one of my 2014 reading goals was to finally read Delany. I'm not sure what to think of this particular book as an introduction to his work!
I think I need this book to be a graphic novel. It is brief, just over 150 pages in my edition, but is chock full of ideas. At first they seemed random but as the parts of the story filled in toward the end, they became more obviously intentional. I'm certain Delany knows more than I do, and that it would take me months to untangle all the references, both named and unnamed, in what is really more of a novella. Genetic mutation, alien invasion, ancient history of western 1960s culture, Einstein and Gödel, the limitations of humanity, the future of the universe.... this isn't even scratching the surface.
If this were a graphic novel, I could try to grasp the human mutations created by an alien race millennia after humans have destroyed themselves. Lobey, the hero (Orpheus, yes. Jesus? Maybe not. And other things) who hears the music others have in their heads, ends up going on a quest after the ... girl (?) he loves dies. More and more "people" are dying, actually, and he seems to be around for these deaths, and eventually he is warned that this might be a repeat of how humanity died off before.
If there were pictures, I could understand the three accepted genders and the non-accepted creatures kept in kages. I could see the bull, the super computer, and the dragons. Delany seemed to really enjoy writing the fight scenes, and really one ended each of the three major sections of the story.
Some of the writing stuck me, just little bits like: "Dragons swarmed in sunlight." "Who wants to take part in an orgy of artificial insemination?" "A fly bobbed on a branch... and thought a linear, anthropod music. I played it for him, and he turned the red bowl of his eye to me and whispered wondering praise. Dragons threw back their heads, gargling. There is no death. Only music."
Going back to Gödel, here's an interesting quotation from Judy Jones and William Wilson about his incompleteness theorem, which is an important concept in the book:
"And it has been taken to imply that you’ll never entirely understand yourself, since your mind, like any other closed system, can only be sure of what it knows about itself by relying on what it knows about itself."
I think that's how I feel about the book - I will never entirely understand it, because it's relying on Delany's knowledge and what Delany connected together. I'm not Delany, therefore my understanding can never be complete, and he did that on purpose.
Don't despair, fellow readers, just bask in the blissful non-understanding of the book.
The very first Hugo winner of all time, The Demolished Man is more like a crime novel that happens to be in a science fiction universe, an earth whereThe very first Hugo winner of all time, The Demolished Man is more like a crime novel that happens to be in a science fiction universe, an earth where nobody has committed a murder in 70 years because so many people are trained to be telepathic.
The people who have telepathy are referred to as Espers, and go through training, and fall into three categories depending on their abilities.
This is a good read because of the action (fast-paced) but also because I love all the little details of the world. I wish I could see a movie version because I want to see people fighting in their heads, having telepathic party games, and more than anything I want to see the Rainbow House of Chooka Frood.
Number 99 was an eviscerated ceramics plant. During the war a succession of blazing explosions had burst among the stock of thousands of chemical glazes, fused them, and splashed them into a wild rainbow reproduction of a lunar crater. Great splotches of magenta, violet, bice green, burnt umber, and chrome yellow were burned into the stone walls. Long streams of orange, crimson, and imperial purple had erupted through windows and doors to streak the streets and surrounding ruins with splashing brush streets....
A molten conglomerate had oozed down through the floors to settle on the floor of the lowest vault and harden into shimmering pavement, crystal in texture, phosphorescent in color, strangely vibrant and singing."
This is the April pick for the Sword and Laser book club. I found it as an ebook through my local library's holdings and zipped through it this weekenThis is the April pick for the Sword and Laser book club. I found it as an ebook through my local library's holdings and zipped through it this weekend.
This is clearly a book I probably would have connected with more if I'd first read it as a youngling, before I was old and jaded about dragons and romance. I can see how this book set many things for the dragon-and-rider subgenre, alongside dragonrider-dragonrider romance. The story is interesting, especially the somewhat complicated social codes and the intricacies of the between.
A few examples of what makes this such a representative/leading work:
"She would have to be extraordinarily wary. Dragonriders were men apart. Anger did not cloud their intelligence. Greed did not sully their judgment. Fear did not dull their reactions."
"The dragon reflected its rider as much the rider the dragon."
The one moment that I found moving despite myself was the first connection between Lessa and Ramoth (her dragon) - that was well written and emotional, and I marked it to make sure I said so. And while I don't expect I'll read any further than book 1 in the series, I suspect there could be consequences to what happened in this book, and many more stories to tell. (I notice one is called The Dolphins of Pern, hmmm.....)...more
This was the February pick for the Sword and Laser, and I'm glad I read it. It feels more like a translation of a Chinese mythological tale than a novThis was the February pick for the Sword and Laser, and I'm glad I read it. It feels more like a translation of a Chinese mythological tale than a novel written by a guy named Barry in 1984. That's a good thing, in my opinion. It has a lot of the humor found in bizarre characters and nonsensical cultural practices (because of an emperor's whim or fetishization, I am not saying that the Chinese are nonsensical) that I have seen in a lot of *actual* Chinese literature, and Japanese too. The fantasy elements are rampant in mythological beings, some characters who seem to live forever, and situations/people who don't quite follow the laws of nature.
The two main characters become Master Li and Ten Number Ox. Li has been consulted to cure the children from his village who are comatose after a silkworm incident, and they go on a quest for a legendary root. Master Li is quite a character, and always seems to know just enough to pull them into crazy adventures and out. Perhaps that is just his slight flaw?
Much of the story has beautiful imagery, and that adds to a pleasant and quick read....more
I was going to pace myself reading this, but the first story was so good that I just couldn't stop. There are five stories contained within the omnibuI was going to pace myself reading this, but the first story was so good that I just couldn't stop. There are five stories contained within the omnibus, with linked characters within the same post-apocalyptic underground silo. The people have been living in this silo for hundreds of years, it isn't safe to leave, and their greatest danger is an uprising.
Each section ends with a bit of a shocker, and it made me want to keep reading. I actually think the last one (view spoiler)[ could have gone far more depressing and it would have better matched the tone of the book. What if Juliette becomes another Bernard, instead of promoting truth and openness? Or worse, what if truth causes more deaths than lies? Maybe Howey trained me to think he'd be cruel, but it seemed too optimistic. (hide spoiler)]
The longer stories did tend to drag on a bit, which is the reason for the four stars, but I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. And for all those people criticizing the author for sexism due to a forgivable public error, I'd like to point out the weak men and strong women that inhabit this book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
(Finished the book but my readalong group won't finish until end of December, so I'll update the blog links as they post, and return for a full review(Finished the book but my readalong group won't finish until end of December, so I'll update the blog links as they post, and return for a full review.)
Reading this along with a group of book bloggers in November and December, so this will be a long read (the book itself is not that long!). In December, the Sword & Laser group is also reading it, so this book will be in our collective memory.
Just couldn't get into it, but still want to read Tad Williams, maybe I'll try his sci-fi. I blame my upbringing, but I just can't get excited about aJust couldn't get into it, but still want to read Tad Williams, maybe I'll try his sci-fi. I blame my upbringing, but I just can't get excited about angels. ...more
This was the August 2012 pick with the Sword and Laser group. I probably would never have thought to read it otherwise, so thank you Veronica!
There arThis was the August 2012 pick with the Sword and Laser group. I probably would never have thought to read it otherwise, so thank you Veronica!
There are things about this story that have me interested in what happens in the entire trilogy (and from what I gather in the discussion forums, the second trilogy following the first trilogy). The Skill vs. wit vs. questing, the clashing of cultures, and Fitz's development as an assassin - these elements are all still interesting and unexplained at the end of book one.
More than anything, there were things that surprised me. I didn't see everything coming. I need that kind of experience as a reader!...more
This was the novel I was procrastinating on reading from the Hugo nominee list, and then it was selected for the Sword and Laser pick. I thought I migThis was the novel I was procrastinating on reading from the Hugo nominee list, and then it was selected for the Sword and Laser pick. I thought I might as well go ahead and read it, dragging my feet a little bit.
I'm not the hugest fan of novels in space.I know that seems strange coming from someone who reads as much science fiction as I do! I just prefer when it is indicative of some greater concept, but this book is more like a mystery or crime novel with the setting of space.
I think the last 100 pages are the most interesting. Finally everything happens, and the reader feels the same bafflement as Miller and Holden do, working through problems on Eros, an asteroid that ends up at the center of an interplanetary (but not interspecies) war.
Before those 100 pages is a lot of ships exploding and half-assed relationships and policemen/ship captains who can't quite behave themselves. It got a little tedious for me.
James S.A. Corey is actually a pen name for two authors, who share the writing of this and other books in the Expanse series. When I found this out, it explained a lot, because the reading is not smooth. Characters seem inconsistent and almost jumpy. I think they will probably improve as they write together more, but I'm not sure I'll come along for that ride....more
Tried reading this because it was a Sword and Laser pick. Not terrible, and I might have liked it in the end, but I didn't finish by the time the bookTried reading this because it was a Sword and Laser pick. Not terrible, and I might have liked it in the end, but I didn't finish by the time the book was due back at the library. I might still try something else by Stross someday....more
This is my favorite of the Murakami books I've read (and I've read about half). Where I sometimes feel distant from or frustrated with his characters,This is my favorite of the Murakami books I've read (and I've read about half). Where I sometimes feel distant from or frustrated with his characters, I loved Aomame and Tengo, as well as several of the characters in their periphery. I loved the alternate reality. I loved how music permeated everything, and I listened to the works mentioned during most of my reading of the book (it starts with Janacek and moves through Haydn 'cello sonatas before touching on the St. Matthew Passion and Horowitz's piano playing). I loved the way the story was told, alternating points of view with trailing threads between - it was mastery.
The usual silly themes of spaghetti and cats were present, but what Murakami does with cats in this book has to be read to be believed.
The only thing I'm not sure about is the little people... that whole idea wasn't resolved to my satisfaction. From what I've read in interviews with the author, they just showed up one day, and I'm not sure he knew what to do with them either.
"Aomame said, 'Even if things were the same, people's perception of things might have been very different back then. The darkness of night was probably deeper then, so the moon must have been that much bigger and brighter. And of course people didn't have records or tapes or CDs. They couldn't hear proper performances of music anytime they liked; it was always something special.' 'I'm sure you're right,' the dowager said. 'Things are so convenient for us these days, our perceptions are probably that much duller. Even if it's the same moon hanging in the sky, we may be looking at something quite different. Four hundred years ago, we might have had richer spirits that were closer to nature."...more
This is the first book I've read by Brandon Sanderson, and it was chosen for one of the Sword and Laser books. An interesting enough concept but I fouThis is the first book I've read by Brandon Sanderson, and it was chosen for one of the Sword and Laser books. An interesting enough concept but I found myself skimming a lot. There is nothing here that would make me want to purchase the book or read it again, but I didn't hate it. The concept of Elantris was interesting, and I enjoyed the bits where they were figuring out the magic, and I liked the little floaty orb beings that also served as video conference calls. Ha!...more
Interesting concept but frustrating to get taken out of the story for thinly veiled science lectures that didn't make sense for the characters havingInteresting concept but frustrating to get taken out of the story for thinly veiled science lectures that didn't make sense for the characters having those conversations. An interesting application of quantum theory though, and I was intrigued by the immortality concept that gets mentioned in passing. Also, I'd be fine never reading the phrase "time immutable" ever again. He must use it 50 times....more
I know, I know. When Stephenson writes really smart, I get annoyed while I force myself to finish the book (Quicksilver). When he writes a (sometimes)I know, I know. When Stephenson writes really smart, I get annoyed while I force myself to finish the book (Quicksilver). When he writes a (sometimes) action-packed crime novel full of terrorists and international espionage and virtual worlds (Reamde), I get stuck near page 100 or 200 and allow myself to be talked into pushing onward, and start regretting it around page 700, and feel annoyed when I finally finish.
Here's the thing. I like a fun crime novel. I read all the Stieg Larsson books. I like books about virtual worlds. But longer does not make something better. In fact, stretching this story out into twice the length necessary just made half of it skim-worthy and tedious. The ending didn't even really have one of those really great pay-offs that make crime novels worth it.
I'm not sure I can articulate the magic of Stephenson that I know can be experienced (Snow Crash). I just haven't seen it since. This is really more of a two star book using my rating system, but a few things redeemed it slightly such as the female characters.
The original story of the fuzzy planet. A good story, but I was more compelled by Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation, which is basically a retelling of Little FuzzThe original story of the fuzzy planet. A good story, but I was more compelled by Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation, which is basically a retelling of Little Fuzzy. It is funny, I think I prefer Holloway when he is more of a questionable character. The fuzzy creatures are adorable. Who could resist?...more
I'm not sure how I would have felt about this book if I'd simply read it, but lucky me, I listened to it read by Wil Wheaton, which was really great.I'm not sure how I would have felt about this book if I'd simply read it, but lucky me, I listened to it read by Wil Wheaton, which was really great. I didn't see the surprises coming, and now I'm going back to listen to Little Fuzzy, which Fuzzy Nation is based on. ...more
There is some great discussion going on of this book in the Sword and Laser Group, highly recommended if you want to delve deeper into discussion of cThere is some great discussion going on of this book in the Sword and Laser Group, highly recommended if you want to delve deeper into discussion of consciousness, humanity, and a post-sex society, all of which are included in this book.
This book is thought provoking, although the premise is strange, and it is possible to start going in spirals of confusion if you think about it too much. That happens a lot with unreliable narrators, and ours happens to have half of his brain surgically removed as a child, so he is still building new neural pathways for different brain tasks. He is also on a space probe with a vampire, a linguist who has had her brain divided into 6 parts on purpose (multiple personality disorder being so 20th century), and so on. Blindsight as a concept has to do with your brain processing things your eyes can't see, or that your brain thinks your eyes can't see, and is pretty important for what happens when they encounter what might be an alien species.
I am sometimes entranced by minor characters, and I really liked Chelsea, possibly the only person with any humanity in the entire book. The rest of it is pretty bleak, plus Earth might be on its way out, considering that the vampires might be taken over (yes, strange to see vampires in hard science fiction, but Watts has an appendix in the back explaining why they are there).
"The real you, if it even exists, is invisible...."
(I didn't officially read this for the Sword and Laser bookclub, but almost everyone in it read it and discussed it, so I still added it to that books(I didn't officially read this for the Sword and Laser bookclub, but almost everyone in it read it and discussed it, so I still added it to that bookshelf. It is nice to read a book that so many other people are reading, so I don't have to read in a vacuum!)
Rothfuss makes me take back everything I say I hate about fantasy. His books are well paced, his characters are well written, and it keeps me completely hooked until the end.
I know there is another book in this series but I'm not sure I need it. This could have been an end, so many things tied up or left nebulous in a way that didn't need resolution really. I'm not so interested in the Bast character, which is possibly the only negative thing I'd have to say about the entire book. Every time they took a break from the storytelling to bring us back to the present, I think in an attempt to make us curious about the mystery of Now, I was like, meh, get back to the story.
I wouldn't have been surprised if the entire book had taken place at the University, but was pleased at the twists and turns it took instead. I don't think I saw any of them coming, which made for a more interesting read. I absolutely loved the culture and character of the Adremre, probably my favorite part of the entire tome. The storytelling got on my nerves a bit, while it added a lot of depth to the story I'm not sure it was necessary (the stories around the fire, the stories told by the ferulian, and so on), it did contribute to the length of the book.
I am left wondering - is Kvothe cocky? I think we're supposed to like him, but the things mentioned in passing about how everyone talks about him, how he pursues women now, how he sits in bars hoping to hear stories about himself... I wonder if the version we're getting of him isn't a bit flattering. Of course, it is supposedly told by him. Something to remember....more
I wouldn't have read this without the prompting of the Sword and Laser group, nor do I think I would have gotten even close to absorbing the complexitI wouldn't have read this without the prompting of the Sword and Laser group, nor do I think I would have gotten even close to absorbing the complexities if I had been reading it on my own. All the hidden bits about the previous civilization, all of the unreliable narrating, all of the hints Wolfe gives the reader... these must really only be unveiled through multiple readings of the entire four volumes of The Book of the New Sun. I have to admit that I am not that patient, but appreciate the originality of the story and the characters, as well as the storytelling technique. ...more
Any book that makes me laugh out loud automatically gets four stars or more, and this had several moments particularly in the beginning that made me gAny book that makes me laugh out loud automatically gets four stars or more, and this had several moments particularly in the beginning that made me giggle. Yes, giggle. I couldn't help it. I might really be that big of a geek.
I didn't mind the daddy issues, probably because his dad reminds me of mine, off in the brainy inventor universe, and enjoyed the mind fuck that time travel has to be.
A quick, fluffy science fiction read that doesn't involve aliens. How can you lose?...more