An inventive fusion of the fantastical and the alternate. Riffs off everything from H.G. Wells to classic weird fiction whilst telling a fast-paced,An inventive fusion of the fantastical and the alternate. Riffs off everything from H.G. Wells to classic weird fiction whilst telling a fast-paced, fun adventure tale. Still felt as though it was missing something....more
I don't think I can see The Hunger Games movie. Not because I didn't like the book or because I don't think it'll translate well. No, I just don'tI don't think I can see The Hunger Games movie. Not because I didn't like the book or because I don't think it'll translate well. No, I just don't think I can see such an uncomfortable story rendered on-screen. And make no mistake: The Hunger Games isn't a comfortable story. It takes its Survivor-On-Steroids plot - twenty-four children pitted against each other in a game that only ends when all but one are dead - seriously. There's no escape into gonzo exaggeration, there's no "hey, we were just kidding" or deus-ex-machina ending. It's the story of a teenage girl trying to survive in a dark future where the capitol of the shattered remnants of North America keeps its satellite districts in line by forcing them to give up one boy and one girl every year to participate in the Hunger Games - and then forcing them to watch as their children kill each other.
But the one thing I really like about it is that it takes a trope normally found in spy fiction - that of trying to figure out who you are when your survival depends on playing to someone else's expectations - and puts it in a very different space, as the lead and point-of-view character Katniss discovers that putting on a good show for the audience can earn her care packages from the outside. But when doing so means developing a romance "plotline" with the boy from her district, how does Katniss know whether his responses to her are genuine, when every move could be calculated to ensure he's the only one who survives? Worse - how does Katniss know whether she feels something genuine with him?
The Hunger Games keeps to its premise so well that there's little chance of a truly happy ending, and while the book ends with a lot of issues unresolved, there's really nowhere else the plot could have gone. It simply needs at least one more book to tell.
So I'm just going to have to track #2 down some time soon......more
Glasslands is three intertwined stories in one book, but all the stories have the same focus: What does the end of an interstellar war of genocideGlasslands is three intertwined stories in one book, but all the stories have the same focus: What does the end of an interstellar war of genocide that has raged for decades mean to those who fought in it?
The first thing I like about it is that it gives us an ensemble cast who mightn’t all be likeable, but are certainly sympathetic. Even the Elite whom we get to see the action through the eyes of, though hardened and opinionated, is certainly no less motivated by a desire to protect his people than Kilo-Five, the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) black operations team who get the lion’s share of the plot.
The second thing the chance to delve into what the Spartan programmes mean to our core characters, especially now the war is (technically) over.
Are there any downsides? Well, Glasslands is clearly first in a series, and while a lot of stuff happens, there doesn’t seem to be a traditional structure to it. Threads interweave, separate then tangle again, but no one seems to get a straight up buildup, climax and resolution. This is the “getting to know you” novel where we meet everyone and set up the troubles they’re going to have to deal with in future instalments.
Also, while I didn’t find the thousand-yard-stares and pontifications on war and soldiering in some earlier books to my taste, I can imagine some finding the amount of time characters spend being sullen around each other and dancing around issues just as tiring, especially as Dr. Halsey and Chief Mendez trade sullen barbs and occasionally actually argue about the things they did for the Spartan programmes.
But it’s still a good, quick-paced read. The multiple storylines mean there’s rarely a dull moment in the books; if things get quiet for one lot of characters, Traviss is able to jump to the next group right as they’re walking into more trouble.
There’s also one heck of a combat scene which we get to see from the perspective of Black Box, Kilo Five’s AI, while he’s riding in the armour of the Spartan Naomi. It’s a unique but in no way less exciting take on Halo’s action movie combat....more