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Books I would like to see reviewed

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message 1: by Allen (last edited Aug 24, 2010 07:44PM) (new)

Allen Massey (gamassey) | 21 comments A few years ago I read Ilium and its sequel Olympos by Dan Simmons. It would be very interesting to hear a review from Luke on these two books. They are both pretty complex stories with some exceptional science and large ideas. However I felt there was something wrong with the plot. Not to mention there were tons of unanswered questions.

Ilium
Olympos


message 2: by Tamahome (last edited Aug 24, 2010 09:57PM) (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments I'm on 292/563 of Endymion, and am enjoying it well enough. But I might go audiobook to give my eyes a rest.


message 3: by Monkey (new)

Monkey | 1 comments E.E. Smith's Lensmen series got me into 'space opera' so getting Luke's views on how it's 'aged' would be intriguing. Also, I’ve noticed there are no reviews yet of any Harry Harrison – so something from him, say Deathworld 1?


message 4: by Allen (new)

Allen Massey (gamassey) | 21 comments Monkey wrote: "E.E. Smith's Lensmen series got me into 'space opera' so getting Luke's views on how it's 'aged' would be intriguing. Also, I’ve noticed there are no reviews yet of any Harry Harri..."

A review of the Lensmen series is a great idea. I think one of the first SF novels I ever read was Triplanetary. What great stories those were! Just when I thought the weapons could not get any bigger Doc Smith would figure a way to accelerate a small planet to light speed and send it crashing into the bad guys.


message 5: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 279 comments Mod
Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. Endymion is intriguing, but I was burnt quite badly with Fall of Hyperion. Lensmen is a good idea too, but I think I've read most of them.

As for Harry Harrison, I must admit he is an author I can't remember trying. Is Deathworld a good starting point? His Stainless Steel Rat series is one of the most "down-voted" books I've ever expressed an interest in reading on my podcast. I mean, when I mentioned it, a number of people emailed me an said I shouldn't bother.


message 6: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 53 comments Deathworld has the merits of being on Project Gutenberg and relatively short. He also wrote Make Room! Make Room!, AKA Soylent Green, though unfortunately Hollywood invented the best parts of the movie.


message 7: by Allen (new)

Allen Massey (gamassey) | 21 comments I recently read Deathworld again. It is a pretty representative of Harry Harrison's writing. If you don't like the Stainless Steel Rat books then you probably will not like Deathworld.


message 8: by Zivan (new)

Zivan (zkrisher) | 37 comments I've also been hearing about the Stainless Steel Rat, I think it was mentioned on the SF&F podcast, and I saw a new one out on Audible.
I'm also thinking of giving it a try.
It does look a bit like cheep cowboy in space Sci-Fi at first glance, so I"m not sure about it.

You asked for a Jack McDevitt recommendation, I can only tell you to avoid "Seeker", while the idea seemed fine, the book never caught me. After hearing your review of DeepSix I think I'll be avoiding this author. At least until I"m totally out of other options.

I'm now rereading John Varley's Gaean trilogy, it's quite a good read. Since the books are mostly about the characters, and almost all of it takes place within the microcosm of Gaea, it doesn't feel outdated to a distracting degree.


message 9: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 279 comments Mod
I enjoyed Jack Mcdevitt's Engines of God novel! Don't write off an author after a single reading.


message 10: by Allen (new)

Allen Massey (gamassey) | 21 comments After reading the original Frankenstein, take a look at the Frankenstein trilogy by Dean Koontz. I thought they were very good, especially the first one Frankenstein: Prodigal Son: A Novel.


message 11: by Tom (last edited Aug 28, 2010 07:44AM) (new)

Tom Rowe (spinnerrowe) | 21 comments I've read McDevitt's Chindi which is a sequel to Engine's of God and Deepsix. It was very similar to Deepsix in that some of the same characters find a big dumb object, and then the story then becomes another rescue mission with only incidental exploration of the object.

I've also read Seeker by McDevitt in which the charcters are trying to find a missing artifact in space. This book is much better because they focus on the mystery of finding the artifact. There is still peril, but it is intertwined with the mystery. I would recommend Seeker. It is avaiable on Audible.


message 12: by Tamahome (last edited Aug 28, 2010 07:48AM) (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments Has anyone read McDevitt's Ancient Shores? That's the only sf book on Stephen King's reading list at the end of On Writing.


message 13: by Joe (new)

Joe Sweeney (joesweeney) | 5 comments I like the 2 Endymion books quite a bit. They're more personal stories than the 2 Hyperion books, focusing on fewer characters. It's a space and time adventure with a love story too. Take me with a grain of salt though because I loved Fall of Hyperion.

I HATED Ilium and Olympos. It's like Dan Simmons took his favorite ideas from other books (faxing/farcasting), threw them in a pot, and stirred. Oh, and let's throw in some ancient literature too because why not? I can't figure out what the point of it was.

As for a book I would like to see reviewed, how about some Clarke? Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood's End are 2 of my favorites. They're old-school and heavy on the science (especially Rama).


message 14: by Martin (new)

Martin Noutch | 2 comments There's a lot I like about Harry Harrison, besides his nifty name. I think The Stainless Steel Rat is great - at least a 3 star by Luke's method - although now rather dated and very much a young writer's work. Who will cast the first stone into that midnight pool?
And as Sean has noted, the fellow was also responsible in some degree for Soylent Green - a film with a fantastic concept and everything else wrong with it - so if nothing else, a powerful object lesson in making science fiction film. But I could convince myself to like anything Charlton Heston did.
So I will be another Yea-sayer and push for the Stainless Steel Rat.


message 15: by Chris (new)

Chris | 10 comments Tamahome wrote: "Has anyone read McDevitt's Ancient Shores? That's the only sf book on Stephen King's reading list at the end of On Writing."

Ancient Shores is pretty good. In fact, it's the only McDevitt book I enjoyed for the most part.


message 16: by Allen (new)

Allen Massey (gamassey) | 21 comments Any plans to review The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton (the third book of his 5 part trilogy)? I am waiting for it to be released on Audible.


message 17: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 279 comments Mod
Allen wrote: "Any plans to review The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton (the third book of his 5 part trilogy)? I am waiting for it to be released on Audible."

Yes, definately. I'd rather not listen to it on audible, and instead read it like I did the other two books in the series. It's one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I think it will be the first series I will have reviewed in full on the podcast.


message 18: by Allen (new)

Allen Massey (gamassey) | 21 comments Excellent!

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Evolutionary Void was released as an ebook on the same day the hardcover came out. Unfortunately they priced the ebook at $15 (which seems about $5 to high).

I just don't understand how the hardcover can sell for $18.48 and the ebook is just $3 less. Seems like the materials, printing, binding, shipping, warehousing and distribution costs must be more than $3 per book.

It just makes no sense to me. especially when I know in a couple of weeks I can purchase the Audible version most probably read by John Lee for about $7. (I get any two books per month on Audible for $13.95) How does that make any sense at all?


message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom Rowe (spinnerrowe) | 21 comments I just listened the first two void books last month in the hopes of going right into the third, but got carried away and listened too quickly. They are so good. I did make the mistake of simultaneously reading Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction and began confusing the two worlds. I have since put Reality Dysfunction on hold and am now reading some Philip K. Dick which is sufficiently different that I can keep the two worlds separate. Lesson learned: Don't do two different books by the same author at the same time.


message 20: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments You can listen to Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. That's the prequel.


message 21: by Chris (last edited Sep 08, 2010 09:17PM) (new)

Chris | 10 comments Luke wrote: "Allen wrote: "Any plans to review The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton (the third book of his 5 part trilogy)? I am waiting for it to be released on Audible."

Yes, definately. I'd rather not listen to it on audible, and instead read it like I did the other two books in the series. It's one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I think it will be the first series I will have reviewed in full on the podcast.
"


I'm really looking forward to this review, b/c even though I love everything else by Hamilton (except Misspent Youth), The Void Trilogy has done absolutely nothing for me. I know that you, Luke, are a fan, it'd be great to have some insight on why everyone else loves these books.


message 22: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments I'm really looking forward to this review, b/c even though I love everything else by Hamilton (except Misspent Youth), The Void Trilogy has done absolutely nothing for me. I know that you, Luke, are a fan, it'd be great to have some insight on why everyone else loves these books.

I liked the Void books too, the scifi parts more than the fantasy parts. I actually read Dreaming Void before Pandora's Star, because the latter was a slow starter for me.


message 23: by Chris (new)

Chris | 10 comments Tamahome wrote: "I actually read Dreaming Void before Pandora's Star, because the latter was a slow starter for me."

See, I'm the complete opposite. I *loved* Pandora's Star, but The Dreaming Void just felt like such a slog, both parts.


message 24: by Martin (new)

Martin Noutch | 2 comments I *loved* Pandora's Star, but The Dreaming Void..."

I found Pandora's star a big empty object. I read it about five years ago and was really disappointed by a weakly-constructed plot, if I remember right. I haven't had any luck at all with Hamilton.


message 25: by Peter (last edited Oct 15, 2010 07:16AM) (new)

Peter (zemplintemplar) | 4 comments I'd be interested in a review of the first book (Souls in the Great Machine) from the obscure Greatwinter trilogy by the equally obscure Sean McMullen. To be perfectly honest, I haven't read it, so don't worry, I won't either feverishly recommend or mercilessly bash it. From what I was able to gather from various professional and amateur reviews around the net, the quality of the writing and worldbuilding in the trilogy is quite polarising among readers.

The synopsis and basic decriptions of the books' setting feel like they're dripping with all sorts of wicked-ass ideas... Which is not necessarily a good sign... Far too many debuting authors seem to get caught and sink too deeply in the so-called "Refuge in cool" type of approach (sort of like Stephenson in Snow Crash). Ideas everywhere, but they don't connect or feel arbitrarily weird and outlandish for the sake of being weid and outlandish. So, I predict Souls in the Great Machine could be a pretty big can of worms to open and review... :-P

So, once Luke finishes reviewing the more anticipated titles, he might try taking a look at the first book of the trilogy, just for variety. Maybe it will turn out to be an interesting title, who knows. And if not, we'll at least enjoy Luke taking a few apt potshots at plot holes or badly written dialogue/characters. ;-)

P.S. I had a lot of good laughs with your excellent and meticulous reviews of Deepsix and Starship Mutiny, Luke. :-D Keep up the good work !


message 26: by Isabel (kittiwake) (last edited Dec 22, 2011 02:11AM) (new)

Isabel (kittiwake) | 60 comments "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde is set in a future Wales, a long time after the 'Something That Happened', and the people aren't exactly human any more. I loved it and and wrote a huge review full of spoilers, and can't wait for book 2 to come out.

"The Star Fraction" by Ken MacLeod is the first in a series that I really should continue reading so,etime soon, as I have already acquired the next three books. One interesting thing is that there are two follow-ups to this novel, set in alternate time-lines that spring from the outcome of a single decision. Although I didn't enjoy the story so much, MacLeod's "Newton's Wake" is the book that made me think most about the premise of backing yourself up regularly and downloading your mind and memories into a new body if you die.

I see that someone has already recommended "Kiln People". At one point I had 2 copies, with one being called Kiln People, and the other Kil'n People.

As Russell Hoban has just died, I have to recommend "Riddley Walker", one of my all-time favourite books, set in a Kent where civilisation has regressed to a mediaeval level. It is written in a corrupted form of English that I found much easier to read than the similar language in "Feersum Endjinn".

I've just been listening to the 1984 review and Luke's views on Internet privacy and Wikileaks, and thought he might enjoy "Blind Faith" by Ben Elton. I'm a long time Ben Elton fan, and his novels always make me laugh as well as giving me plenty to think about.

"Holy Fire" by Bruce Sterling is about rejuvenation technology and how it changes society, especially its effect on the young.

"Desolation Road" by Ian McDonald is set on Mars in a small settlement that grows up by the planet-encircling railway line. It's such a long time since I read it that I can't remember much about it, but there is a touch of magical realism and one thing that links it to "A Canticle For Leibowitz" (not the Catholic church saving the day, so it shouldn't put Luke off it).

A recent read was "Puppies of Terra" by Thomas M. Disch, in which the earth was invaded by aliens in about 1970 and humans are either pets brought up by loving alien masters in ''kennels' (actually nice campus-type estates), or dingoes. It's much better than the stupid cover picture would suggest.

I'm sure I can come up with more suggestions, but that'll do for now.


message 27: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) Any plans for some Guy Gavriel Kay? I'm leaning towards The Sarantine Mosaic (Two books, but should be taken as one) for some excellent review material.


message 28: by John (last edited Feb 04, 2012 07:41PM) (new)

John Iscariot (johniscariot) Robert L. Forward's 'Dragon's Egg', is a brilliant idea/story - even if the characterisations are flatter than a pancake. It is one of the few 'Hard Science' science fiction stories I have encountered that makes the science accessible to luddites.

Walter M. Miller's 'A Canticle for Leibowitz' - Arguably the greatest of the apocalyptic-style stories. [Ack didn't go back far enough to check if you'd read it...but only 3 stars??!!! SACRILEGE *grin*]

Would be nice to see Luke tackle Steven Erikson at some point, although with 10 volumes in the series, just reading one might be a little pointless (and unlike Robert Jordan, he's not just rewriting the same book over and over and over...)

Finally, I wold welcome his view on Peter v. Brett's 'The Painted Man'. When I read this, I thought, really good story, excellent magic system, nice characterisations, but quite simple in execution, an excellent teenage [late teenage] piece of fantasy. The you read the second book and the complexity and everything else goes up a gear - thought it really interesting that Brett used an entire book as a primer for the world, magic and everything else, without it reading as a primer. [The third book comes out this year].


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 32 comments After hearing that he re-reads 1984 every few years (I do this too!), I'd definitely recommend that Luke read We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It is thought to have been read by George Orwell while it was still banned from Russian publication. While a quick read, I found it just as compelling as 1984, and I'll be adding it to me re-read pile. And it is a short pile!


message 30: by Ixion (new)

Ixion | 5 comments Light, by H. John Harrison. A bit more Cyberpunk than most, but quite a bit of sci-fi in it.


message 31: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments Ixion wrote: "Light, by H. John Harrison. A bit more Cyberpunk than most, but quite a bit of sci-fi in it."

I loath some of the characters in that book. I stopped reading after the girl ship slaughters her crew. But Neil Gaiman loves it.


message 32: by Sean (last edited Jul 27, 2012 03:20PM) (new)

Sean (carcosa) | 2 comments I mentioned these to Luke before, but I thought I would list them here as my introduction to the group:
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro;
Survival (book#1 Species Imperative) Julie Czerneda;

I recently joined Goodreads after finding out about it through Lukes podcast.

Good to be here,
Sean


message 33: by Tom (new)

Tom Rowe (spinnerrowe) | 21 comments Isabel wrote: ""Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde is set in a future Wales, a long time after the 'Something That Happened', and the people aren't exactly human any more. I loved it and and wrote a huge review ful..."

I loved "Shades of Grey." It took me a bit to figure out how the whole color thing worked. Plus, his website has some very interesting photos and pictures.


message 34: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 279 comments Mod
Okay, I've heard good things about 50 Shades of Grey...


message 35: by Sean (new)

Sean (carcosa) | 2 comments Is it true Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction? I think someone said something about that somewhere I just don't recall where. Could be complete nonsense.


message 36: by Tamahome (last edited Jul 28, 2012 08:25AM) (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments It's true, but supposedly the author always intended to publish it later. Here's a very even-handed review from a prodigious reader, Karen:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 37: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 53 comments 50 Shades of Grey, the S&M fantasy novel did.

Shades of Grey is just a normal novel unconnected to sparklepires.


message 38: by Sandi (last edited Jul 28, 2012 08:32AM) (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 12 comments Hello? How did we get from Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey to Fifty Shades of Grey? I can't think of two books that could be any more different yet have such similar titles.

Fifty Shades of Grey can in no way be considered science fiction and the fantasy isn't the kind of fantasy that falls under the SF&F umbrella.

I'm so very confused.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 32 comments It was Luke, I swear.


message 40: by Isabel (kittiwake) (last edited Jul 28, 2012 09:29AM) (new)

Isabel (kittiwake) | 60 comments Sorry Luke, you can read Fifty Shades of Grey if you want to, but don't try to claim that you are only reading it because I suggested it : )


message 41: by Ixion (new)

Ixion | 5 comments Tamahome wrote: "Ixion wrote: "Light, by H. John Harrison. A bit more Cyberpunk than most, but quite a bit of sci-fi in it."

I loath some of the characters in that book. I stopped reading after the girl ship slau..."


It's not a book for everyone, to be sure. I think I kept reading to the end to see just how the characters would get their comeuppance since like you say, many of them are loathsome.

But I found it to be far more thought provoking than most books I've read. Normally I keep on reading to see what happens next, but not with Light. Every few chapters I found myself putting it down to just think about things in the book. Particularly after one of the characters does something heinous; instead of thinking it was just stupid and poor writing, I would ask myself why the character did that, then when I answered it to my own satisfaction I read on to see if I would be proven right or wrong.

It was a very odd read for me, hence why I suggested it.


message 42: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 279 comments Mod
I was doing a funny.


message 43: by George (new)

George (gmoga) | 13 comments Luke wrote: "Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. Endymion is intriguing, but I was burnt quite badly with Fall of Hyperion. Lensmen is a good idea too, but I think I've read most of them. "

Oh, no, Endymion is MUCH worse that the Fall of Hyperion (and I actually liked Fall of Hyperion, unlike Luke). I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who read Hyperion, it spoils the entire feel of the first series.


message 44: by George (new)

George (gmoga) | 13 comments Ixion wrote: "Light, by H. John Harrison. A bit more Cyberpunk than most, but quite a bit of sci-fi in it."

I would also love to hear Luke rant about how bad that book is. ;)


message 45: by Ixion (new)

Ixion | 5 comments George wrote: "Oh, no, Endymion is MUCH worse that the Fall of Hyperion (and I actually liked Fall of Hyperion, unlike Luke). I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who read Hyperion, it spoils the entire feel of the first series."
Agreed. Even if you don't compare Endymion and Rise of Endymion to Hyperion, they're weak books. If you read them without seeing the name of the author you might think they were written by different people - sort of like Chapterhouse Dune and Hunters of Dune.

But if you want to get back to a story by Simmons that is closer in quality to Hyperion, then Olympos and Ilium are the two to read.


message 46: by Ixion (new)

Ixion | 5 comments George wrote: "Ixion wrote: "Light, by H. John Harrison. A bit more Cyberpunk than most, but quite a bit of sci-fi in it."

I would also love to hear Luke rant about how bad that book is. ;)"


I wouldn't call the book bad; a bad book wouldn't be nominated for various prizes. (It won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2002, received a BSFA nomination in 2002, and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2003.) But there are many aspects of the book that force readers into a Love or Hate dichotomy, and leaves little room for ambivalence. Speaking for myself, I hate about as much as I love in the book. And I would be very curious to see where Luke's feelings were.


message 47: by Tamahome (last edited Jul 30, 2012 07:46AM) (new)

Tamahome | 55 comments Neil Gaiman picked Light as one of the best books in 10 years for Audible. But I found the part I read very unpleasant and chaotic. It was New Wave at the time I guess.


message 48: by George (new)

George (gmoga) | 13 comments Being nominated is not a guarantee for a good book (or one that I personally like, let's put it that way).
I also started up liking Light, but until the end I was like "whatever". Hating it would imply some sort of connection with it - albeit a negative one - but I just didn't feel any.
It has some nice ideas and subtle references between the timelines/POV throughout the book, but the whole thing is too convoluted and chaotic (as Tamahome said). The end seems so hollow and the way there forced by the entity, not in any way something the characters chose. And the characters are just to screwed up (not a bad thing per se), but they don't do anything to change and resolve their issues. Everything comes from the mysterious entity, about which we don't really find out anything meaningfull.


message 49: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 279 comments Mod
BEING NOMINATED IS NOT A GUARANTEE FOR A GOOD BOOK!


message 50: by Ixion (new)

Ixion | 5 comments Luke wrote: "BEING NOMINATED IS NOT A GUARANTEE FOR A GOOD BOOK!"

I never said it was. What I said was that bad books aren't normally nominated for prizes like the BSFA and the Arthur C Clarke Award as a reason I wouldn't call it a bad book.

Someone not liking a book is not the same as saying it's a bad book - I can say all I want that I hate everything I've ever read by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, but if I said they wrote bad books then I would deserve all the ridicule that came my way.


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