First, I would classify this book as science fiction more than anything else. Although it does indeed deal with the supernatural, it is set after a tiFirst, I would classify this book as science fiction more than anything else. Although it does indeed deal with the supernatural, it is set after a time called the Sundering, when a giant comet or asteroid or something put an end to the normal geography of the earth and killed off most of its inhabitants except for the little corner of the world wherein the story occurs. Second, if you want a fast-food, give it to me now story, DO NOT pick up this book. The first part, in which the characters are introduced & the first series of weird events take place, is very slow, and after having finished, I can totally see why. But if you are NOT a patient reader, and if you don't like the sort of Victorian feel in a tale, this book is NOT for you. Third, I totally LOVED this book!
brief plot summary, no spoilers:
In the vicinity of Salthead, life goes on, complete with the normal characters you might find in any sort of Victorian/Dickensian-type story...the crusty miser who sits around thinking of ways to make people miserable; the venerable professor, who is raising his niece to be a finely-educated young woman with the help of her governess; the publicans at the inns where the townfolk gather for ale & socializing, yada yada yada. It is a place where mastodons are used for travel, and one might see the occasional megathere or saber-tooth cat. However, what is not normal is the appearance of a sailor, drowned long ago after he set sail to forget the love of his life or the little boy with the red hair whose face melts, or the appearance of said sailor's ship out of nowhere moored at the town's docks. Titus Tiggs, the above-mentioned professor, hears about these weird things and after a while, finds that there is someone who might hold the key to the mysterious happenings. So off he and a party of friends go to talk with this friend, where they learn just what's going on. Now they must take action, because things could most easily go from bad to worse. Set in three parts, the first part covers the intro to the characters, the place, and the supernatural events plaguing the townspeople; part two is the discovery of what is causing these things, and part three of course is the denouement.
This is just a nutshell overview and doesn't begin to cover the breadth of this amazing story. My advice to readers who are interested in the book: BE PATIENT!!! Everything in the beginning (which may be a little slow for many readers) has a reason for being there. If you are just patient, you will definitely be rewarded with a wonderful tale. Now it's on to the second book!...more
After reading this book I went to look at reviews and discovered why I was so confused while reading this: it seemed really sort of choppy and disjoinAfter reading this book I went to look at reviews and discovered why I was so confused while reading this: it seemed really sort of choppy and disjointed until I found out that this was actually 2 smaller novels in one. The first book centers on the character of Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez, a Jesuit priest who is part of a mission to investigate a planet called Lithia. The inhabitants of Lithia are lizardish-type aliens. They live in peace among each other, with no war, no crime, no dissension, because they live according to the principle of reason. If things don't make sense, they simply aren't done. Ruiz-Sanchez is there with 3 others who are trying to determine if Lithia should be open to inhabitants of earth. The first book is outstanding: Ruiz-Sanchez makes what he feels is a startling discovery about the population and for that he is excommunicated from the church. I won't say what, but you'll love this part of the story. On leaving Lithia, the team is given a present: one of the aliens sends the egg of his son with them to Earth. The second book focuses on the alien Egtverchi, who is born on Earth and grows up away from his culture. He has no instinctive understanding of the reason that guides his native culture, and as time progresses, becomes somewhat of a celebrity. I won't say more about this either, but suffice it to say, the book does give you a lot to think about.
I loved the first part of this book, but the second part (which is also good, don't get me wrong) is not as nicely formulated and gets a little confusing at times. I definitely recommend it to all readers of sci-fi as a no-miss read. ...more
This book held my interest literally around the clock. However, I was quite disappointed with the ending -- not, perhaps (although it is true) becauseThis book held my interest literally around the clock. However, I was quite disappointed with the ending -- not, perhaps (although it is true) because the story didn't end the way I though it should but because the end where you're wondering what is going to happen now is just flat. Flat as a pancake. As I read the last page I said to myself "huh?" and wondered if the author was like sitting on a deadline & couldn't think of an ending or what. Or perhaps it's just me and I'm not imaginative to make up something along the lines of where the author was going.
Anyway, up to that point, this book was excellent. This is definitely the only book I've ever read on time travel that was actually somewhat believable even though the subject is so out there and even though the story caused me to slow through the paradoxes brought on by the travel to and from the future and the past. I'll try to summarize the plot here.
The main character of this story, Josh Winkler (from whose vantage point the story is told), lived with mom, dad & brother Kurt in the small town of Euclid Heights, living a seemingly normal life until one day after he arrived at the local community pool where his brother was going to teach mentally disabled children how to swim and found his brother & a friend locked in a container at the bottom of the pool. The boys were the victims of the local bully (Jack Ketch, who is also called "jock itch") who was pulling a usual prank which got out of hand. Josh's brother's friend dies; Josh's brother is revived but has permanent brain damage the rest of his life. That all happened back in the 60s; now Josh is married to Flo, the sister of Kurt's friend Vaughan who drowned, and has a daughter, Penelope (Penny). Josh is a struggling artist who hates working, really, and Flo is a doctor. They have a very good home life together and Josh is very close to both of the women in his life.
One day, Josh is coming back from buying groceries for dinner, and he gets a "warm, liquid feeling" in the middle of a storm. He discovers that he has actually moved back in time about 15 minutes. He tells his family; Flo thinks he's nuts and schedules him for an MRI to detect early brain tumor activity. Penelope (Penny) thinks it's cool but you can tell she's not really sure about her father after this. But the weirdest is yet to be. Out of the storm comes a wet girl wearing a long dress with an apron on top of it and the story she tells is that she, Constance Morceau, had been with her boyfriend in her parents' apple orchard, and that the next thing she knew, a storm came, she was running to get out of it, and she ended up in this present time. Now she just wants to go home and needs help getting there. Josh, who is so taken with his own time travel experience, becomes somewhat obsessed with finding out if this girl is telling any semblance of the truth, while Flo figures she has some kind of angle & it involves cash. Eventually, Josh will help Constance, but it will cost him everything he loves.
A Shortcut in Time is a definite "not misser." It is very well written (except for the end). You end up caring about each character, with the exception of Jock Itch maybe, but I had strong negative feelings about him throughout the story. Thus, the characterization is very very good. The pace of the novel is quick and doesn't drag and the author doesn't get bogged down in the hows of time travel, just the fact that it happens. After all, if the main character doesn't know how this happens, then who's going to explain what's happening? The writing is SO good,in fact, that the author almost makes this book believable.
If you like Sci-fi, you will love this one. Keep in mind that this is not great literature; it is a book you can have fun with and ponder the inevitable paradoxes of time & existence that result. I was sad when the book was over...as far as I'm concerned, he could have kept going....more
It is a good thing I like fiction that's off the beaten path because this book is definitely out there. Very dark, very deep and I'm sure I'm going toIt is a good thing I like fiction that's off the beaten path because this book is definitely out there. Very dark, very deep and I'm sure I'm going to read it again in the near future because I'm sure many of the nuances in the book have escaped me. It is totally a novel about coincidence on a majorly cosmic scale; full of symbolism that I can't even begin to explain (but there are several scholarly treatises on this novel that do so that I plan to peruse over the next few days).
In the year 999 a group of 999 Celtic villagers take to the sea in boats to escape the tidal wave that will usher in the new millenium. There were supposed to be 1000; one of them, a 17-year old girl, is left in a tower overlooking the sea. In the year 1999, 2000 women & children are ushered off the cliff into the sea by a group of white-robed cultists. Actually, there were only 1,999; again, history repeats itself as one of its numbers realizes the significance of events and flees her fate. This is Kristin; from there her life takes her to LA, where, at the end of her rope, answers a bizarre personal ad from someone looking for someone in the depths of despair. Eventually the man who placed the ad finds her and takes her to his house in the Hills. The man has no name; he is known only as The Occupant, and he is an apocalypser -- but not in terms of the apocalypse of millenial time, but in terms of chaos & the horror of a world run amok. He starts the millenium clock ticking at a time of his boyhood, when he wakes up one night to the noise of a gunshot,goes down the hall to have his mother usher him away from the scene of the killing of a young girl in her & his father's bedroom; then he is thrust out into the chaos of anarchy in the Paris streets, never to see his mother again. He notes that Kristin is the center of chaos, and labels in indelible ink a date which at first is insignificant but later the reader understands the meaning of this date as only part of a chain of surreal links in the cosmic chain.
I don't think once through the novel can give anyone a handle on the story; my take on it is that the characters themselves don't really matter in the long run but it is human history of chaos and entropy that counts here, along with the notion that things have a habit of replaying themselves, and that all of history is a long chain into which humans time and again form their connections, regardless of space, place or time.
If you like postmodern literature, you're going to love this one. Definitely NOT recommended for readers who want the book to do their work for them...this one demands full participation.
First, a word of warning: do NOT expect to know the answers to the questions you're going to have by the end of this book. They aren't there. So if yoFirst, a word of warning: do NOT expect to know the answers to the questions you're going to have by the end of this book. They aren't there. So if you read this book, get to the end of it and say "this stinks! There's no resolution! I hate this book," don't say I didn't warn you! The book isn't about finding the answers...it's the journey that counts. And if by the end of the book you don't have any questions, you need to go back and read it again because your curiousity should be absolutely on fire!
Second, if you are a hardcore Christian, this book just might bother you enough because of the subjects it deals with. Remember: it's Fiction!
This novel is the first of the Riverworld Series, in which the reader is introduced to the Riverworld, so called because its main feature is a continuous river that doesn't seem to end. The main character is a real character, here in his fictional garb, the explorer Sir Richard Burton. One moment, he's laying in the arms of his wife, dying; the next moment, he's floating among countless numbers of sleeping people, the only one awake until he sees a canoe with strange markings floating toward him, carrying humans in it, who put him back to sleep. Shortly thereafter, he wakes up, buck naked, his mustache (his pride and joy) gone, along with all of his hair in fact, with only a cylinder attached to him. As he awakens, he realizes there are others there as well, all in the same condition. Eventually he comes to realize that they have all at some point, died, either before him or after him. All told, every single human being that ever lived on the Earth at any moment in its history are there in the Riverworld, resurrected, it seems. At first the main problems are seeking shelter and safety; afterwards, Burton is not content to simply accept his fate, but the explorer in him wants to get a boat onto the river and follow it wherever it leads and to see what lies beyond. What he finds is not pretty: it seems that people are just repeating their old bad human-nature habits. His real quest, however, is to find the who, the how and the why behind this massive resurrection.
I guess what amazed me about this book was the idea that humans are humans no matter what the situation, time, place, whatever. And while I didn't always like Burton's character, the author did an amazing job with the creation of this guy. I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in the series, although I've heard that none of them can top this one. I have to say that this is probably true, considering how well done this book was.
I would recommend it to sci-fi readers who aren't in to all the techno aspects of sf; this is more like a fantasy type thing. Also, if you are a reader interested in the questions of the soul as spirit or physical entity, you might also be interested.
This is quite possibly the most circular novel I have ever read. I cannot possibly even begin to explain what that means without giving the entire stoThis is quite possibly the most circular novel I have ever read. I cannot possibly even begin to explain what that means without giving the entire story away. So I will provide a brief synopsis. First, however, I have to tell you that I loved the basic idea of this book. What was utterly fascinating is the brilliant explanations & illustrations of paradox, and the idea that time is not linear, it is only our perception of it that is linear. I do have to tell you that some parts of the book were just weird and these I didn't spend too much time thinking about (you'll know them when you get to them). Overall, this is really a good and very fun read, but you have to read it slowly.
The story is told via the medium of Daniel Eakins' diary. Eakins has only one living relative, his Uncle Jim. Uncle Jim keeps Daniel going through college even when he hates it; he motivates Daniel through money. Then one day he comes to Daniel and tells him to keep a journal and he will up his allowance every week substantially. He also tells Daniel that he is worth $143 million. But when Jim dies, Daniel finds out he's really worth like $6000; there is nothing else for Daniel except a box that Jim had left for him. Jim opens it and inside is a belt...and he thinks Uncle Jim was senile until he looks at it more carefully and notices the word "timebelt" written on it. Soon Daniel figures out that this is a working version of a time machine.
Very fun novel and yeah boy, full of those paradoxes and their consequences (or lack thereof) that I dearly love reading about in science fiction.
Jeff Winston, as the reader finds out on page one, dies. Hell of a story opening, but then just as Grimwood is describing the pain exploding in WinstoJeff Winston, as the reader finds out on page one, dies. Hell of a story opening, but then just as Grimwood is describing the pain exploding in Winston's chest, Jeff finds himself back in 1963, memories & knowledge of the future intact. So the first thing he does is to bet on the Kentucky Derby and win a fortune. He goes on to live a rich life then inexplicably, at the same time and on the same date in this life, he dies again. Then it starts over again...each time just a litle different. Eventually, Jeff finds out that he is what another calls a "replayer," and that he has to continue to go through his life over and over again.
For those of you interested in the sci-fi time travel with tachyons or machines that boost people back & forward in time, you'll be disappointed. Frankly, the author doesn't provide us with any sort of explanation of how or why this happens...it just does. However, what he does give the reader is a superb novel with a wonderful story about choices & inevitability.
A wonderful addition to my sci-fi shelves. I recommend it very very highly, especially to those readers who like reading about time travel.
The Gates of Anubis is found in the Sci-fi section, but leans way more toward the fantasy side. You'll see why after you read it. I absolutely loved tThe Gates of Anubis is found in the Sci-fi section, but leans way more toward the fantasy side. You'll see why after you read it. I absolutely loved this book...and it is one I would definitely recommend. The action literally never stops from one page to the next, and it is all so entertaining that you won't want to put it down. I VERY highly recommend it if you like sci-fi/time travel/fantasy stories.
A brief synopsis: Brendan Doyle is an expert in the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and as our story opens, we find him in the air flying to London to interview for a position as a consultant on STC for one of the world's richest men. The rich man is also very eccentric; he has promised Doyle $20,000 for his brief stay if he gets the job, but guarantees $5,000 just for coming to the interview. So Doyle, it seems, can't lose. So he interviews, gets the position (not a spoiler, you find this out right away), and the next thing you know, he finds himself back in 1810 London, waiting for Samuel Taylor Coleridge to start his lecture. Doyle has been hired to make explanatory remarks to a group of millionaires who have each paid $1 million to jump back through time, attend the lecture and return back to the present. But their arrival back in time is seen by someone who wants to know how they did it, so Brendan is captured and the rest of the time-traveling group returns back to the present. Doyle is in the clutches of a very strange Egyptian magician, and this is just the beginning of a very long and very strange story. He will eventually encounter a deformed & twisted clown, a creature who can shift bodies and automatons which come alive to do various nefarious deeds. Will Doyle ever make it back to the present? And what happens to him while he tries? I can't even begin to go into this story because any more would totally ruin it for the reader.
Just go with me on this one...if you like this sort of thing, you will be richly rewarded. I couldn't put the book down and did so grudgingly when I had to sleep. ...more
I have to admit I couldn't follow the science here to any great degree, but that really didn't deter me from what I consider one of the best sci-fi noI have to admit I couldn't follow the science here to any great degree, but that really didn't deter me from what I consider one of the best sci-fi novels I've read in a while.
Red Mars is the first of three books dealing with the colonization of Mars. Starting in the year 2026, the story deals with the first 100 men and women selected to go to Mars -- scientists and others known collectively as "the first hundred. " Not all of them see eye to eye on how things should go on the planet -- Some envision it completely terraformed, some see it as an opportunity to launch a new and perfect society, completely Martian, without depending on life being molded in Earth format -- a vision of a new totally Martian existence. To be really honest, I thought the political wranglings to be the best part of the book -- especially warnings about the future of society as big business tries to takes control of everything. Sound familiar? Considering it was written 15 years ago, I'd say he's not too far off the mark.
While not really going into plot here (trust me -- plot synopses are everywhere), let me say that I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy hard science fiction. If you're looking for little green men or other types of monsters, you won't find it here. I would guess that a lot of people will find it too long, so if you want something quick & easy requiring very little thought, you're not going to like this one either. If you're a reader who likes to pause and think, then you'll find a multitude of things to ponder between the covers.
I plan to go on and finish the trilogy, so that should be a recommendation within itself. Be sure you have lots of time before embarking on this book. You'll need it....more
While this is my first book by Ackroyd, it won't be my last, especially since I have 3 or 4 more on my bookshelves! At first glance, this seems to beWhile this is my first book by Ackroyd, it won't be my last, especially since I have 3 or 4 more on my bookshelves! At first glance, this seems to be a ghost story: a young man, Matthew, inherits a bizarre house from his father. Neither Matthew nor his mother even knew that his dad had owned the house, so it was a complete mystery to him. It was located in Clerkenwell, somewhere Matthew never ventured, and from the moment he walks in, he feels something about the house, and soon starts noticing strange things there. It is also a look at London past, present and future, all of these terms being, of course, relevant depending on the time period in which the story is being told. There are actually two stories here, that of Matthew, who in acquiring the house begins to question his past; and that of Doctor John Dee, who had been the previous owner of the house in the 16th century, who looks to the past present and the future; as the author notes on page 132, "John Dee...had, in one way or another, belonged to every time." And time and the temporal realm is another key theme of this novel.
I don't pretend to understand the alchemical symbolism throughout the novel, but maybe by the time I read it again, with a bit of study, I can do better the next time. For now, suffice it to say, this is another one I'd rate definitely NFE (not for everyone); it was good, but I felt so ignorant reading it that I didn't really get a chance to enjoy it....more
I really really wanted to like this book because Daniel Easterman is really one of my favorite escape-reading authors. I thought the premise was good,I really really wanted to like this book because Daniel Easterman is really one of my favorite escape-reading authors. I thought the premise was good, and I will admit that the book held me in suspense, at least through the first few chapters, but overall, I didn't like it very much.
Here's the premise: The KKK in 1932 backs their candidate, Charles Lindbergh, who succeeds in the presidential election rather than FDR. Lindbergh, known for his Aryan views, allows the KKK a great deal of power, and as the story opens, we find that Jews are in concentration camps in the US. Facism abounds and old southern prejudices are taken to new heights against African-Americans. Lynchings are not only legal, but they are advertised spectator events. At stake is US involvement with Hitler, siding with the Nazis in an alliance against other Europeans in WWII.
Sounds good, yeah? And parts of it were. But on the flip side, Easterman made some silly historical mistakes (especially at the end!!), and soemtimes the writing was a bit soap-opera-ish....more
Under the Skin is really kind of a cross between horror and sci-fi done as a work of literate fiction. This is one book that you cannot really synops Under the Skin is really kind of a cross between horror and sci-fi done as a work of literate fiction. This is one book that you cannot really synopsize without giving it away, so I'm not even going to try. If you like the less scientific type of science fiction, if you like horror, then this book is definitely one you'll want to read.
There is a word that fits the tone of this book: macabre. Yet, you could also see it as a look at segments of humanity -- and what the definition of "human being" really means. At first confusion will set in, then as the author slowly reveals a little more detail in little pieces at a time, things become very clear. The book is very well written, very cleverly constructed and just downright scary after it jells in your head. I hope you'll come away from it like I did, thinking about what the term "humanity" really entails.
A LOT of people who read this did not like it, but I thought it was great. I would recommend it to people who enjoy a good science fiction story (notA LOT of people who read this did not like it, but I thought it was great. I would recommend it to people who enjoy a good science fiction story (not the really "hard" science fiction).
In 1912, a young Guilford Law watches as a strange light takes over the sky; the next day he and his family wake up to a new world. Europe, it seems, has totally disappeared, including the millions of people who lived there; in its place is an almost prehistoric landscape, which of course, the US wants to claim for its own but that's another story. This new area is called by some "Darwinia." Fast forward to years later; Law is now a member of the first expedition to explore this new land, but there are those who do not want this expedition to succeed. Guilford begins to have strange dreams, as do the other expedition members, and they all point to a reality that Guilford does not want to believe.
I must say, I read the first third or so of this book without stopping -- it was that good. The rest of the book, while not as brilliant as the first part, was okay and offered an entirely new view of history as we know it.
I love this author and cannot wait to read more of his work; try Darwinia if you want something completely different....more