Every review about Endymion inevitably mentions the Hyperion Cantos, so lets get it over with at the start. No, Endymion is not as good as the precedi...moreEvery review about Endymion inevitably mentions the Hyperion Cantos, so lets get it over with at the start. No, Endymion is not as good as the preceding two novels, yet neither does it really pale in comparison. It is, indeed, on a different level, but it still is worth the while—with one reservation I will point out in some sentences.
It seems that Simmons has tried to incorporate a frame tale again, as he did in Hyperion, but this time in the form of the protagonists visiting different planets with different tales. This works to some degree and there are some very good sections of prose to grab my attention. Yet the main difficulty I had with the narrative was that it seemed so... unguided. I had a vague idea of where this was all going, but the reservation I have is that this is again only the first part of a duology, so I am holding up my hopes for The Rise of Endymion, the successor to this novel.
I.e., Endymion is a good start to an incomplete narrative; The Rise of Endymion is essential to read hereafter. I hope it delivers.(less)
I have a problem with all Wolfe's books I have read so far: they make me feel dumb. This can be attributed to two, maybe three things. (1) Wolfe meticu...moreI have a problem with all Wolfe's books I have read so far: they make me feel dumb. This can be attributed to two, maybe three things. (1) Wolfe meticulously crafts his stories so that they tread beyond normal "...and then this happened, then this and then this!" narratives. That is to say, this is exactly what he does in the Book of the New Sun, but in such a fashion that I rarely have a moment to breathe in between passages. Everything flows to and fro, which makes this a very exhausting and challenging read. (2) What is true? Wolfe's use of unreliable narration has been discussed to much extent, so I dare not even try to begin to describe it here. Suffice it to say that the Urth of the New Sun gives (unreliable?) answers to questions raised in the previous novels, but that it also raises just as many if not more. (3) I am stupid and not worthy of understanding.
So, what do we actually have here? This so-called coda to the Book of the New Sun fluently continues Severian's quest, be it with a switch from the fantasy with subtle sci-fi nuances here and there in its predecessors to the inverse of this. Abandoned civilisations? Check, but these happen to live on a spaceship. Weird creatures? Check, but they are not what they seem. Weird people? Check, but they are also not who they seem. A really weird finale? Check. Well, actually, double-check, because I could not quite wrap my head around it at first. This is something typical of this series, I now finally understand, having read all five novels: your internal gears should remain active long after having finished one of them. There is much to be discovered as not all is disclosed—which is exactly what this kind of fiction is about. At least, to me it is.(less)
This review could say something about Asimov being one of the Big Three science fiction writers, further divulging in how 50's' sci-fi tried to predic...moreThis review could say something about Asimov being one of the Big Three science fiction writers, further divulging in how 50's' sci-fi tried to predict future events and technology, but I won't go there. Partly because I don't feel like writing a long review, but mostly because Foundation is a quite soft science fiction novel. That is, it does not tread into much detail about technology, which increases its contents' persistence. It focuses on the effects of predicting the future through the power of science, which of course brings all kinds of questions to mind, which are regrettably not addressed directly. Rather, the goings-on of people over a 150 year time span are described, which is quite ambitious when stated this way, but is rather limited in its instantiation. I think the main problem of this novel is that it does not deliver... Using the power of science myself, I can construct a reason for why this is so: it is the first of five (excluding two prequels). I did not know this story would develop over so many books beforehand, so the lack of any real conclusion to it thus far was a letdown for me. Still, parts 1 of such sagas can be interesting, but there was a lack of real conflict and complexity that stuck with me during my reading. Alas, when I finished the book, I did not feel motivated to continue to its sequel. One final point of light: there are some nice scenes and overall ideas dispersed in the novel's pages, of which the latter are of course the main motivation why I read sci-fi and which probably also justify why Asimov was coined as one of the Big Three. Maybe it's because I'm used to newer sci-fi, but Foundation didn't captivate me.(less)
Yes, this novel is about Language, capital L. Miéville lives up to the genre of weird fiction by treating us with an insight into an alien culture (th...moreYes, this novel is about Language, capital L. Miéville lives up to the genre of weird fiction by treating us with an insight into an alien culture (the Ariekei), far off in the future. The weird (and therefore good—this is sci-fi after all!) thing is that these aliens are presented as being truly alien, i.e., their perception of the world does not overlap completely with that of the humans present in this novel. I hate to be a spoiler; because the nature of these aliens is so thickly interweaved with Embassytown's plot, I will refrain from making too much references. Still, let it be said that the aliens' language forms the crux of the story. For that matter, this novel has some interesting ideas for linguistic and/or philosophy students.
For me, Embassytown can be divided into three parts. The story opens with a long memoirish part in which the protagonist, Avice Benner Cho, talks about her youth and intersperses two storylines taking place at different times untill they join their respective end and beginning. Nice structure there, that's a plus. World-building is thus performed on a small scale: Avice makes references to things, explains little and describes practically nothing, so filling in the details is left to us, the readers. I can manage that, mostly because I am used to Miéville's mindset by having read some of his other novels, but without my a priori know-how, the story so far can be somewhat difficult to get into. Though I was sometimes impatient for the story to get really started, in hindsight I think that this introductory part was not overly long. The following two-thirds of Embassytown need context and that is what Avice's experiences provide.
The second part of the novel felt a bit too meandering for me: this happens, that happens, alright—but where are we going? At several occasions, I had put the novel down for a day or two with mixed feelings. Yet each time I picked it up again I found myself intrigued by the story, the setting, the aliens. I fear that Miéville is just one of those writers that have this skill. In parentheses, one of his other skills is extending his extensive vocabulary (random picks from a few pages: 'boisterous', 'mulch', 'filigrees', 'valedictory-in-case', 'convivials') with cool neologisms, as he did in Perdido Street Station and The Scar. Anyway, part three followed part two, as it so often does, and the tone is set for the climax, the final battle, the ...! Oh wait. Did he really do that? Yes, he did. The finale is much more subtle than you might expect from a sci-fi novel, but this should not really surprise anyone, considering the matter of the novel. As I said, I will not spoil the fun.
What I can say is that China Miéville still is good with words and mighty original. And weird, yes. My state of mind went from "What is this all about?" to "That. Is. Cool." and back again; overall, this novel is worthy of one's attention when he or she is looking for a wildly different science fiction experience. It's something new, weird and thought-evoking. It's not for everyone, so I will paraphrase the Ariekei by saying: "read this / not read this". But seriously, do read this. It's cool.(less)
It's hard. Starting reading the second part of a story of which I have read the predecessor years ago, that is. As per divine intervention, I found ou...moreIt's hard. Starting reading the second part of a story of which I have read the predecessor years ago, that is. As per divine intervention, I found out that there is actually a pretty nice website devoted to Simmons' Ilium/Olympos-duology, viz. http://ilium.pbworks.com. This was really cool, because Ilium had a diversity of storylines on itself and I got a chance of reacquainting myself with them. With this little refresher course behind me, I still had some problems with getting into the story. A tale that features so many plots, references and allusions is bound to be challenging. And lo, so it came to pass. Luckily, Dan Simmons is up to the task of keeping things interesting—though I think I have missed out on this novel because Shakespeare's The Tempest did not crossed my vision yet, nor did Homeros' Iliad in its entirety. Nonetheless, Olympos remains an interesting novel, with—as Ilium did—separate storylines and enough characters to keep one busy for quite a while. I don't feel like spoiling the story and/or clou of the story, but think about Proust, Shakespeare, quantum-stuff, Brane Holes, the siege of Troy and something of the scope of this novel becomes clear. It's never easy, yet never too hard as well. I found myself amused by Simmons' literary experiments and the references that I did get; he is smart with words and story. Still, this novel left me behind with an unsatisfied feeling. The storylines converge, there is some closure, but it all feels to hasty, especially concerning one of the main villains. Yet maybe I'm just missing some reference or allusion. More than 800 pages long, Olympos succeeded in conjuring interesting ideas and telling a story that is at least somewhat original. Well, at least the combination of epics, classics and sci-fi. Ilium did not convince me completely, but Olympos did. This duology was totally worth my while. I think I'll return to it after having read The Tempest, Iliad, Odyssee, À la recherche du temps perdu and all the other stories that are referred to.(less)
While the setting sounded truly interesting, I would hardly call this book a page-turner. It is not here to be experienced as a story with head and ta...moreWhile the setting sounded truly interesting, I would hardly call this book a page-turner. It is not here to be experienced as a story with head and tail, but, as many before may have mentioned, as a circle that encloses your brains and makes you wonder... That is, if you manage to read until the end of the (material) novel, which could be bothersome, for Delaney sets so many things in motion that make you wonder... "what has this to *do* with the story?" Yet I found it convenient to see this book both as a mystery (not to be solved -- Gibson) as well as a conglomeration of different social settings. When I figured out the latter, I understood the whole a bit more. It's completely understandable that some people would actually throw the book against a well after a few hundred pages (or even less), but those who stick through untill the end should enough reinvigoration there to close the chapter on this one with at least a hint of a smile as well as a feeling of exaltation. One last note goes to Delaney's writing: marvelous. I was amazed at the sentences he construed; he also incorporates interesting style shifts now and then. All in all, a difficult novel to (keep) read(ing), but the possibility to solve at least halve of the puzzle at the end combined with Delaney's intelligent compositions made it worth the while for me.(less)
Not that good. Though the writers are sort of well-known, I expected much more from my first acquaintance with them. Having read the blurb on the cove...moreNot that good. Though the writers are sort of well-known, I expected much more from my first acquaintance with them. Having read the blurb on the cover, I thought this would be an interesting novel and I actually kept thinking that the first few times I picked it up, with characters that had a chance of being interesting and a setting that was at least something different than any sci-fi novel I have read until now. However, the story continued, characters meet other characters, hilarity ensues when inside jokes are made (good chance I missed half of them, but that's my bad), but nothing really sticks. I think I see what the authors were trying to perform, but alas, it didn't work for me. I would only recommend this book to anyone that considers him-/herself to be such an avid fan as the ones described herein.(less)