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What would make a society burn all its books? Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury June 5, 2010

Posted by taryn in best books ever, good covers, sci fi.
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“Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns.”

Book cover of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyGuy Montag knows this only too well. He’s a fireman, tasked with burning any books that Americans are hiding in this alternative future, for the good of humanity.  In this America, books are forbidden, learning is looked down on and they’re perpetually at war.

Fahrenheit 451 considers what kind of society would allow this to happen. Montag’s America is one full of violence and hate. Stories have no meaning. People are glued to their screens, but can’t articulate what they’ve involved in with their “family” of screens. Children are spoon-fed facts; they’re not allowed to ask why, to question the facts or history. They’re encouraged to drive fast  and murder seems to go unpunished.


Let’s play ball! Summerland by Michael Chabon June 5, 2010

Posted by taryn in best books ever, fantasy, good covers, young adult.
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Cover of Michael Chabon's SummerlandThis is on my list as a must-read for young and adult readers.

Pulitzer prize-winning author Michael Chabon creates an incredible fantasy world where an unlikely hero has to save the world … with baseball

In Summerland, Chabon sets his literary sights on creating an American fairytale, it’s like a modern American version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe featuring the greatest of all American sports, baseball.

Summerland is a place where the sun always shines and it never rains, not in the entire history of Clam Island. It’s where everybody plays baseball. The people of Clam Island are obsessed with baseball, as is Ethan’s dad. But Ethan is hopeless at baseball. He is so bad, he often just stands at the plate and lets the balls go by, much to the despair of his teammates.

But one day it rains in Summerland and everything changes. Ethan is recruited by a bunch of baseball-mad ferishers (American fairies) who want him to save the four worlds … with a baseball team.


The stuff of nightmares – Malorie Blackman June 5, 2010

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Book cover for The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie BlackmanNightmares are horrific and terrifying, but at least you always wake up. What if the only way to escape Death was by experiencing nightmare after nightmare?

This is a great book for both old and young readers.

Kyle is fourteen and loves to run. He runs miles and miles every morning. Is he running away from his parents’ divorce? What happened to his dad? One day, on a school trip into town, something terrible happens.

The train he and his classmates are riding suddenly and catastrophically derails and is hanging, precariously off the tracks.


'Fahrenheit 451' has texture March 23, 2009

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“Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores.”

‘Interesting Times’ will make you LOL March 23, 2009

Posted by taryn in Uncategorized.

The ancient curse goes: “May you live in interesting times.” This is a classic Pratchett, inspired by China in the early 20th century.

Well worth it – The Knife of Never Letting go by Patrick Ness September 25, 2008

Posted by taryn in space opera, young adult.
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Recently I read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. It has one of the best first lines ever:

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.

“Need a poo, Todd.”

Love it. Todd is the only boy in a village of men. He lives in a world where you can hear everything that everyone thinks. And all the animals too. Todd is fast approaching the day when he becomes a man, it’s significant because he is the last one in his village to do so. What are the men holding back?

I heartily recommend this book, especially for young adults. It’ll make you laugh out loud.

There is a great review up on the Guardian today, where it just won the Guardian’s children’s fiction prize. The judges call it challenging but not bleak.

Ness said

“This story felt like something that’s got to be really gone for, really shouted out from the rafters, and teenage fiction is where you can do that and still not be shoved into genre. In its most basic form it’s about information overload, the sense that the world is so very, very loud. Then I took the next logical step of what if you couldn’t get away.”

cover image of the knife of never letting go

Peter F Hamilton interview in the Guardian today September 24, 2008

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Check out Master of his universe, an interview by the Guardian on Peter F Hamilton (you can also listen to the podcast). Choice quote:

“Um, to somebody who has never ever read it [science fiction] before I would suggest I’m not your best first choice,” he says disarmingly. Then he relents slightly. “If you’ve enjoyed Battlestar Galactica, you should love my stuff,” he says. And if you like whodunnits, he can recommend the Greg Mandel sci-fi/detective series that made his name.

As do I. I recently really loved The Dreaming Void and this is a pretty good summary:

The void in question is at the heart of the Commonwealth, our universe in the 34th century. Alien races have been discovered, but life is still mostly a story of human struggle. Humans are stratified into highers, who have abandoned their bodies altogether to pursue an enlightened, mostly bodyless existence, and others who have thwarted ageing with genetic manipulation. But the biggest conflict has been created by the void at the centre of the universe. Based on the dreams of a messianic figure, a new religion has sprung up theorising that paradise can be found in this void. A pilgrimage is launched, but other human and alien factions take the more rational view that journeying into the void will trigger a “devourment phase”, in which the void will swallow the entire universe.

Love this quote:

“The hyperdrive is a black box with a button on that you press and it takes you where you want to go. Do not open the box and try to describe the circuitry inside. That’s the basic rule in science fiction.”

There is an interesting comment on religion in sci fi

“The whole point of science fiction is that you explore the effect of ideas on a society,” says Hamilton.

For the firefly fans August 15, 2008

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Check out this online Dark Horse comic by Jim Krueger and Will Conrad called Serenity: the other half. Also in the news, Shepherd Book gets a comic explaining his back story.

…what I’m reading at the moment August 14, 2008

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1. Space by Stephen Baxter (Thanks, David!)

2. Astropolis by Sean Williams (Book 2 of Saturn Returns)

3. Affluenza by Oliver James (An interesting psychological study of need to consume. He conducted interviews around the world)

What I hope to be reading soon:

Victory of Eagles, Naomi Novik, released 7 Aug!

Gypsy Morph (Genesis of Shannara Book 3), Sept 4.

Nation, Terry Pratchett, Sep 11. Does this guy pump out novels or what? This one is a children’s novel and I don’t think it is set in Discworld.

The Riven Kingdom, Karen Miller, Jan 2009.

George RR’s long awaited Dance of Dragons. [Sigh] The new release date is April 2009.

Traitor’s Gate (Crossroads Book 3), Kate Elliot, May 2008.

feathers – the new scooby snack August 7, 2008

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Jeff Noon, Vurt. Published 1994

Noon has created a fascinating world ruled by feathers – a heady drug that takes users into another dimension. Most of the people in this crazy new Manchester are searching for their next vurt feather like it’s heroin, they’re always on the run for their next, bigger, headier hit.

Scribble frenetically pushes the plot along constantly searching for his lost lover. She was lost in a yellow vurt and in exchange they got an alien, who strangely they could eat or sell if they wanted to. The thing communicates only in coos and wants only feathers. Scribble and his beatnik, scooby gang race around Manchester seeking the elusive vurt and a lot of bad shit happens along the way. Like they’re on a really nasty acid trip. Disturbingly we realise that Scribble’s lover is also his sister, and it ain’t gonna be that easy to find that vurt or get her back out.

Vurt creates a world, where for starters his own name is synonymous with the drug of choice. Humans have transcended, they have melded with dogs and shadows to create all sorts of weird new creatures. But the desire to be immersed in the vurt is everywhere.

It’s lyrical, mad and surreal. This was a fantastic random discovery of mine and I was surprised to see it was written in 1994. (It also won the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke, so take their word for it).

There are some classic scenes and quotes, the cheshire-like Game Cat is awesome.

“My mind was alike a stranger, a cold-hearted stranger with a gun in his hands”

“A glass of Fetish. Clean drugs. Good Friends. A hot partner”

“Sometimes it feels like the whole world is smeared with Vaz”

This is a book with a slap of mystery, a dollop of violence, sex, drugs and dj-ing and a dash of urban poverty. Highly recommended.

Thanks to northern green pixie for the cover image.

a satisfying urban fantasy and romance August 7, 2008

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NB: When I picked up this book I had no idea who Stephenie Meyer was or what other books she had written. Obviously in the last week she has been all over the press and news with the launch of her latest book. I read and reviewed “The Host” in blissful ignorance.

The Host, Stephanie Meyer. Published 2008.

Sometimes you find a book that fits right in with where you are, emotionally, physically, etc. There is something fantastic about finding a nice thick book and having a couple of days of freedom to dive right in. And this book is thick. Brick sized. One of my favourite things about reading is getting lost in a world, believing in the characters and their plight. I’m feeling a bit of unrequited love at the moment, so the romance was just fine with me.

Be warned, The Host is 60% romance, 20% urban fantasy and 20% survival . It’s a fast paced read, pushing you through the short chapters.

Melanie is one of the last real humans on earth. She has been surviving, barely, with her younger brother until she runs into another survivor and falls madly in love. Souls, spidery parasite like aliens, have taken over Earth, humans’ bodies and their lives. They have colonised over 9 planets but have found earth the most difficult, the most emotional. Some humans even manage to resist the Souls implantation and wrest back their bodies.

Meyer’s story starts with one of these Souls, “Wanderer”, waking up in Melanie’s body. Melanie’s mind is resisting her host and Wanderer can’t seem to forget her motherly love for Jamie and romantic love for Jared. She finds herself, illogically, searching for them…

There are some great ingredients in this story:

  • the duplicitous invasion of Earth
  • how the human rebels live
  • Meyer’s descriptions of the other colonised worlds
  • the continuing debate on what exactly makes us human
  • the love and romance

I like the men in this story, they mostly compassionate, honourable and genuine. What the book lacks is any real evil or bad characters, everyone is conveniently won over. I was surprised when I found out this was supposed to be an adult novel. I thought it was young adult. It is surprisingly chaste, the love and passions that drive the characters rarely get beyond a kiss. “Partners in the truest sense” now sounds unbelievably cheesy, but I bought it when I read it.

If you’ve got a bit of spare time, like a bit of romance mixed in with your spec fic then, suspend your disbelief and give “The Host” a whirl.

justice, warlords and magic: good stuff June 6, 2008

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Kate Elliot, Spirit Gate, Crossroads Book 1, Orbit. Published 2007.

I have not read any Kate Elliot before and picked this book up on impulse, seeing that great cover, a great teaser page and the Orbit tagline.

People that ride eagles and serve justice? Very very cool. ‘The Guardians’ a mysterious and magical race? Cool. A fanatical, evil and magical army, hiding from justice? Also very cool. Strong and diverse female characters? Nice one.

This is high up on my list for a must-read. Elliot races through the plot and leaves you wanting more. She introduces a whole new world and set of characters part way into the book. I was a bit annoyed at first with the sudden scene change, but it quickly drew me in with its characters and Chinese/Warlordian parallels.

For hundreds of years the Guardians ruled the Hundred, but these unearthly beings have faded from human sight and no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, patrolling from the skies, still represent the Guardians’ power. But there is a corruption in the land that not even they can control, and fanatics are devastating villages, towns, and cities, slaughtering all who oppose them. Outlanders Anji and Mai are fleeing their homeland with a company of dedicated warriors. On reaching the Hundred, they form an alliance with Reeve Joss, and determine to stand against the devouring horde. But, as region after region slips into chaos, a young woman sworn to the Goddess may be all that keeps them from annihilation

Now, I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Shadow Gate to arrive.

Check out her blog, some interesting musings, enough to get lost in for an hour or so?

(The UK cover, above, is so much better than the US/Aus cover, below).


A rough and insane Cleopatra June 6, 2008

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Cover of Empress

Empress (Godspeaker Trilogy Book 1) Karen Miller, Published April 2008.

Karen Miller is a great storyteller. If you liked her previous series Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, you’ll enjoy this new series. Fast-paced and easy to get into, I sped through Empress and am keenly awaiting the next book: The Riven Kingdom.

Empress is the first in line to a new trilogy outing by Miller, Godspeaker. Mijak is turning into a desert, some of its provinces are failing, some are still green and fertile. Its citizens are fanatical about their Gods and making war. Mijak is a ruthless place run by Warlords and priests who divine the Gods will through entrails, blood, sacrifice and scorpions.

In the barren wastes, Hekat is sold into slavery but from the start knows that she is precious and destined for something great. Empress tells her merciless rise to power.

Mijak has a great ancient Egyptian feel, you can almost imagine Hekat as a power hungry and insane Cleopatra. Add to this a bit of puzzling magic and magical items (never fully explained), great “knife-dancing” and the battle, sacrifice and other violent scenes are gory and detailed. The plot holds no quarter, just when you think things can’t get any worse they do.

Check out the contentious reviews over at Amazon, over the book and Hekat in particular. Granted Hekat is not the most heroic or virtuous of characters but she cannot be ignored – I hated her for most of the book. Nevertheless she stands alone in her own right and I found her quite refreshing (plus there are lots of other nice characters to identify with).

Read an extract and decide for yourself.

I also found this interesting cover over at fantastic fiction, I think the UK cover is much better visually and the cheesy tagline doesn’t do much for the cover (Her name is Hekat and she will be slave to no man).

Empress - Alt cover

Did Fleming create a lover or hater? May 28, 2008

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In all the hoopla about Sebastien Faulks’ new Bond novel The Devil May Care, I read this great Guardian/Observer article ‘Bring on the Bond Girls’ by 7 female women on their reaction to the books, feminism, Bond’s sexuality and Ian Fleming’s writing. A few of the musings made me want to read the books, quite a few made me laugh out loud, some of the comments on the misogyny and rape in the books are pretty disturbing. Time to look at the books fresh?

(Thanks to Articulate for the pic)

A lovely fantasy twinset May 28, 2008

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What do you call two books in a series? A twinset? Musings aside, this is another great offering from Orbit, one of my favourite sf&f publishers. A fast-paced classic fantasy tale, this is one of my must-reads.

The Innocent Mage

The Awakened Mage

Asher is a strapping young fisherman living in a small fishing village of Lur. He heads to the big city to make a bit of cash to buy his own boat and look after his Da. He scores an excellent job liaising between the races and advising the young and magic-less (and disabled) Prince Gar.

Lur is ruled by the Doranen, an arrogant and magical elf like race. They escaped to Lur from the evil tyrant Morg and now a magical barrier is all that protects them. Asher is an Olken, one of the original inhabitants of Lur. They are banned from using Doranen magic, on penalty of death, but rumous abound of their own ‘earth’ magic, forced underground. Asher of course has loads of this new magic, is the prophesised one and is pulled this way and that as Morg tries to break the barrier and underground Olken magickers try to use him.

The characters are fascinating and flawed (kudos to another strong female character) and the world itself is very entertaining. Love the magic scenes, the weatherworking (love a bit of blood in magic). The world Miller has built is very cool and easy to get absorbed in.

The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage are called the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. I read these back in October 2007 and have also passed them over to my 14 year old sister who loved them. Albeit she found the ending not quite to her liking and a bit depressing.

Read an extract of The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage.

The Innocent Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker 1), Karen Miller, Orbit, April 2007.
The Awakened Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker 2), Karen Miller, Orbit, September 2007.

Look at this! Farseer graphic novel March 16, 2008

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Wow, how cool is this? The Farseer Trilogy in a French graphic novel.

Farseer graphic

Thanks, to Patrick for this.

disappointing, but hobb nonetheless March 16, 2008

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I bought this book, mostly to see the end of the trilogy. I love Robin Hobb, the Farseers and tRenegade’s Magic by Robin Hobbhe Liveship traders trilogy are two of my favourite fantasy series of all time.

*Aside – The cover art of this series and all of Hobb’s books are fantastic.*

This series has been essentially about a clash of cultures – the western style Gernians vs the American Indian style Specks. The Gernians are pushing trade routes and “civilisation” into the forests, unknowingly killing the Speck’s ancestor trees. The Specks’ magic takes hold of Gernian Nevare, and drives him to betray his people.

If you have read any of the other books in this series, it continues along the same track, Nevare/Soldier Son is thrust along a course he doesn’t want, he hates himself and for most of the book is a hostage in his own body.

The forest scenes and descriptions are lovely, very visual and inspiring, they make me want to get ‘back to nature’. They definitely bring that spark and serenity of the forest to life.

All in all, I found this series disappointing. (As do the majority of Amazon reviewers). It is depressing with hardly a glimmer of light. Well written with great characters, magic and awesome forests, but the main character just doesn’t inspire and brings the whole series down.

I have to agree with Eyeris, the ending is a big fat ‘what the? THAT was all the magic wanted!’. It is so convenient, all wrapped up withn a few pages, the ruthless magic that had all but destroyed Nevare’s life wanted something so small. Sigh.

Anyway, it has made me go back to the Farseer trilogy. I love it. Soldier Son just doesn’t compare.

Renegade’s Magic (Soldier’s Son Book 3), Voyager, Jul 2007.

Ditmar Awards for Aussie SF February 23, 2008

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The nominees include some of my faves from last year including Saturn Returns and Dark Space. Extras by Scott Westerfeld is there.His Risen Empire is one of my all time favourites. I think a visit to the bookshop is in order…

Check out the list.

a quality sf novel February 11, 2008

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Iain M Banks Matter“In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one brother it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one – maybe two – people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she’d thought abandoned forever.”

Matter is a slow burn (plot-wise). It’s set in his familiar Culture universe, but manages to mix in medieval fantasy with the sci fi that Banks does so well. The extract publicised by Orbit is actually the whole first chapter, so will give you an idea of the pace. It takes a fair amount of back story/ scene setting before the plot really gets moving. For detail hounds like me though, it’s not really a problem and the subsequent race to the finish gets your blood moving.

Prepare yourself for some lengthly discussions of ‘Shellworlds’. I had to re-read one section a few times where Banks is describing the Sursamen Shellworld. But the artificial planet/Shellworld is fascinating and deserving of much scene setting. Worlds within a world, built by some mysterious and extinct race.

The Ship names are as hilarious as ever, my favourite being Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill. The scenes in the Culture are full of Culture gadgets, environments, Culture versions of holosuites, glanding and AI.

The feudalism of the Eighth [level] on Sursamen is a refreshing counter to the Culture ‘verse. The Sarl are a blood thirsty war race, determined to conquer nearby levels/worlds. They use gunpowder, flying beasts, horses, swords, chariots and pistols.

The dialogue, in usual Banks style, is fabulous. The Sarl are, unsurprisingly, old English in style, while The Oct, a species who are supposed to mentor The Sarl and believe they are descended from the original creators of Shellworlds, speak in a lyrical, philoshophical extreme Yoda style. Confusing, bizarre and completely alien.

I liked Steven Poole’s review in this weekend’s Guardian – cheeky and critical. I didn’t notice the links to Lord of the Rings, 2001 or Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I do agree that the ending leaves a bit to be desired and seems unbalanced compared to the first few acts.

However, Matter is well worth reading and persevering with, this is satisfyingly good sf.

Iain M Banks, Matter, Orbit, Jan 2008

Neil Gaiman – online giveaway February 11, 2008

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For his birthday, Neil Gaiman has announced that he will give away one of his books online and for free. He’s asking you to help him decide which of eight books you would choose to give to someone who has never read his work before, to get them excited about his writing.

What a great marketing idea!

I had a look through  the selection and I have read a few of the titles. I voted for Smoke and Mirrors. It was the very first Gaiman I read, passed to me by a good friend. I loved it and it started me on more Gaiman. Smoke and Mirrors is a collection  of Gaiman’s short stories and is a great introduction and teaser I think. It’s low risk, low commitment  but easy to read and a really great set of short fantasy stories.

Jennifer Fallon – The Demon Child Trilogy February 7, 2008

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Medalon by Jennifer FallonJennifer Fallon is another one of those authors, who I’ve heard of but yet to sample. Over Christmas I got seriously stuck in to her first trilogy:- Medalon, Treason’s Keep and Harshini. If you’re looking for some quality medieval magical fantasy then this is it! And don’t just trust me, Medalon was nominated for the Aurealis Award.

Medalon is a world where four countries live very different lives. Medalon is ruled by the Sisters of the Blade, female atheists who abhor religious ‘pagans’. They have spent years purging their country of paganism and a race called the Harshini. To the north there is Karien, a country of religious fanatics. To the south and south west smaller pagan fiefdoms. The gods are at war and so are their followers. There is a prophecy of a Demon Child who will be half Harshini and who will kill a God.

Treason’s Keep by Jennifer FallonJennifer Fallon is a great writer and storyteller, her characters have depth and irrationalities – they change their minds and they create animated and sparring relationships with each other. There is magic and atheism in her world, gods who behave like stubborn children, politics and strong female characters. The books kept me awake and I just had to get to the end.

Book 2 suprises with some fantastic new characters and subplots. Book 3 is a satisfying conclusion and keeps the tension running high.

Looking forward to diving into a few more Fallon books. Luckily for me she has got a few more books up her sleeve. Hooray!

Harshini by Jennifer Fallon
Her blog is great reading as well, check it out. I particularly enjoyed these entries: Must Love Dogs and ‘The great debate of our time’. She also tips for aspiring writers, movie reviews, author’s notes and all sorts of extras about the world she created.

Will definitely be reading more Fallon

These covers are the best and I think for the latest UK edition.

SF & F News January 23, 2008

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Lot’s of Orbit news today. The publishing house has a few of my favourite authors including Marianne de Pierres, Iain M Banks, Sean Williams, etc.

  • Sean Williams’ Saturn Returns has been nominated for the Philip K Dick Award. Fantastic space opera, read my review.
  • Iain M Banks’ new culture novel Matter is due out in February, you can read an extract here. The extract didn’t really grab me, I’ll wait for the complete book.
  • Karen Miller apparently shot to the top of the UK charts for The Innocent Mage in 2007. This is a great series, looking forward to more from this author. I’ll be posting a review of the series shortly.

best of 2007 January 17, 2008

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A quick round up of 2007, from my perspective…

best sci fi author

neal asher (narrowly beat marianne de pierres and sean williams)

neal asher was a new discovery in 2007. He wins my best sci fi author of the year, for having a great style, galaxy and a multitude of stories to read.

best fantasy author

naomi novik

naomi blew me away this year with the Temeraire series. Enthralling medieval fantasy writing, each book has its own complete story. It’s a great alternate history earth with fantastic dragons I’d like to jump on. Plus muskets, ships and battles. What more could you want? I’m looking forward to the new release due later in 2008.

I also hope Peter Jackson gets on and does the movies! Read the article.

biggest disappointment

william gibson, pattern recognition

This book was an ordinary mystery. I was expecting some sci fi blow your mind stuff. It’s not to be. I think the biggest disapointment was being recommended this book by so many esteemed friends and colleagues. Boo. 

Also, as a marketer and generall ‘spread the word-er’, the brand and ‘cool hunter’ aspects were weak in my opinion.

(william gibson narrowly beat out trudi carnarvon for the black magician series).

Aurealis Awards January 10, 2008

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The nominees for the Aurealis Awards (Australian sci fi and fasntasy writing awards) were announced back in December. If you’re looking for a reading list then this is a good one to start with.

The winners will be announced on 26 January.

A few of my fave books for 2007 were on there including Dark Space and Saturn Returns.

-David says- Hey Taryn, good to see you’re back. I’ve listed my own favourite books read here: http://icantstopreading.blogspot.com/

Marianne de Pierres – Dark Space January 9, 2008

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This is a fabulous book by a great author – Marianne de Pierres. If you like any of the Parrish Plessis novels you will enjoy this one. It’s very different from the Parrish Plessis world, but like those novels rich in its details, its culture and technology.

This is a riverting space opera with an italian edge. Capisce! Politics, action, masses of strange aliens and a good dose of sci-fi theory make it a fast-paced and intelligent read.

Amazon’s synopsis is not bad:

“While drifting in space, lost, due to navigational failure, a mineral scout discovers God. When word gets out, academics from the studiums across Orion scramble to gain the Entity’s favour. However, not all the sentients of Orion hold this ‘god’ in awe – some, like the philosophers of Scolar and the Transhuman’s of Extropy are deeply suspicious. Onto the grand stage of inter-planetary academic politics, intellectual conceit and dubious theology walks Baronessa Mira Fedor. Her planet has been torn apart by the invasion of a race of giant tardigrades. Only the Orion League of Sentient Species can lend aid, but OLOSS are preoccupied with communicating with god. Mira, together with the larrikin, misogynist Jo-Jo Rasterovich, is left to her own resources to find help. In doing so she unmasks a galaxy-size intrigue. But will she live long enough to tell anyone…? ”

She’s done an interesting trailer for Dark Space. But, it doesn’t really give any teasers for the book’s plot at all…

She also has a very cool website, great illustrated design.

Trudi Canavan – Black Magician Trilogy September 27, 2007

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black-magician.jpgThis series was a true disappointment. There were some great threads in the story, but the dialogue and prosewas so simple, dull and obvious. The voice of the heroine didn’t come through a all.

I didn’t hate these as much as I hated Kylie Chan and I managed to read through the entire trilogy. Afterwards I felt a bit used, a bit bored not excited or inspired that I have recently after reading Neal Asher, Naomi Novik or Marianne de Pierres. It was also a disappointment as I usually like the Orbit authors.

In its defence, this is the first fantasy/magic series I have read to include a homosexual character and explore the issues of being a homosexual magician in a conservative atmosphere. Also, younger readers might find it much more enjoyable than I did.

This is a classic rags to riches, urchin to master magician, nancy drew type story.

Sonea is a poor commoner whose family have barely managed to escape the slums of the city. During the annual purge of the city, when the less desirable are swept from the city by the magicians she discovers an inherent magical power which sets the guild of magicians after her. The first book follows her as she discovers her powers and suffers in school, book 2 sees her getting into more trouble than she can handle and book 3 culminates the ‘black’ part of the story with a dose of romance along the way.

William Gibson – Pattern Recognition September 26, 2007

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william gibson pattern recognitionAn interesting read, but not one of my favourites. The first few chapters in particular are very tough going, however, it does get better! Hold in there. Gibson writes his heroine all messed up by jet lag, feeling like her soul is twisted and left behind in the atlantic.

Cayce Pollard is a cool hunter, she has a physical aversion to brands and works for corporates vetting their design, logo development and hunt for the latest style. But, her passion is for the ‘footage’ a series of mysterious and enchanting film stills released all over the net.

Ultimately, this is a mystery, sending Cayce to London, Moscow and Tokyo in search of the elusive footage. Inspiring descriptions of cities kept me reading, but the story petered out at the end.
Check out this synopsis at the author’s website.

Gridlinked – Neal Asher September 26, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, sci fi.

Gridlinked - Neal AsherI picked up this book after reading Pmarc’s list of the top ten sci fi books of the noughties. Its well worth a try. This is another one that I couldn’t put down – I’ve had a great month of reading :)

In this world, AI’s run the universe and honestly, why would you trust any one else to?

Ian Cormac, Special Agent, has been ‘gridlinked’ for thirty years, ten over the max, and is going through serious withdrawal. He has been sent to investigate the destruction of the AI, city and ‘runcible’ on a far off way world. He is being chased by a terrorist hell bent on revenge and his team of mercenaries cum robot golems.

It’s classic spy mystery pumping action.

And the good news is – there are loads more to come.

Check out this review over at Sci Fi site.

Saturn Returns – Sean Williams July 28, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, sci fi, space opera.

Saturn Returns - Sean WilliamsThis is great – go out and get a copy now, I couldn’t put it down :)

Orbit describes it as a “space opera balancing cosmic-level threats with a very human murder mystery”. I think its a fast paced guns-a-blazing-mystery dealing with questions of identity PLUS a central character with partial amnesia, what more could you want?

Sean Williams has created a fascinating gothic galaxy recovering from a galactic-wide disaster. Humans have spread far and wide across the galaxy, some remaining in one body, Primes, living and dying others, Singletons, opt for having many clones and absorbing and sharing memories and then there are the group minds.

The hero, Imre Bergamasc, is a Singleton and has been resurrected with half of his memories wondering who tried to kill him. He is driven to reunite with his old comrades from the ‘Corps’, find ‘Himself’ and discover what kind of person this Imre Bergamasc really is.

Williams uses the idea of Tempo and being able to manage the rate of time passing with relish in car chases, starship clashes and travel.

PLUS there is a character who speaks only in Gary Numan lyrics (what the? you think) …but it works.

This is the blurb from Sean Williams’ site

Dark experiments, dangerous ruins, fleeting ghosts and deadly conspiracies…

On the edge of the galaxy in a distant and terrible future, Imre Bergamasc reborn into a pieced-together body with the certain knowledge that he was the victim of an elaborate murder plot. But neither his mind nor the history of his former life are as easily reassembled, so he sets out to follow the fragments of his memories and discover the reason for his elimination. Through interstellar graveyards megacities and bizarre star systems, he pursues whispers connecting the death of the worlds he once knew to his own murdersp. Tracked by forces determined to thwart his efforts, Imre combs the wreckage of the future for the truth about himself–no matter how unbearable it may be.

Here’s another good review from Graeme. You can also visit Sean’s blog.

Q> What the heck is gothic-noir? I’m not even sure the difference between space opera and sci-fi… but I like it!

UDPATE – Sean Willians has just completed Book 2 – and a book 1.5 is coming out in October in the UK. I’m looking forward.

Top ten sci fi of the noughties July 27, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, cyber punk, sci fi.

Check out this great post by Marc Andreessen on the top ten books of the noughties. Its a great list. Some of them I’ve read, some I was thinking of reading. In fact I went out and bought Gridlinked by Neal Asher and I am completely loving it!

Thanks, Marc.

Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny June 24, 2007

Posted by taryn in sci fi.

Lord of Light - Roger ZelaznyAgain, like Light I found the first few chapters a challenge, but once I got a bit deeper into the story I was hooked. What’s not to like about a scenario where humans have colonised a new planet with their own offsrpring and exert control by being Hindu Gods and quashing any new technology? Enter Sam…

“His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god.”

(George RR Martin wrote the intro for this reprint and says that this short para drew him into the book. Another reason I liked the idea of Lord of Light – if George RR likes it… it must be good.)

Sam is one of the ‘Firsts’ who doesn’t agree with the status quo, wants to bring heaven down as it were and you are drawn into his struggle, a karmic society with reincarnation, prayer machines, ‘sky’ chariots and a raft of mad aliens – all written in a semi religious buddhist/hindu context.

I like Diary of a Phanatique’s review and synopsis of the plot. Another interesting review from SFsite too.

Now I need help, I started the book knowing that there is a massive pun . I’m rather embarassed to say I missed it. If anyone would like to illuminate me that would be fab.

I love the cover, the illustration of the lotus is fantastic. The Gollancz crew did a great job on the covers of this series.

Light – M. John Harrison June 23, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, sci fi.
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Light - M John HarrisonThis book was recommended to me by some great spec fic lovers and has been widely touted as the best thing to hit spec fic in years. I hate to disagree but in my opinion Harrison hasn’t outdone Iain M Banks, who is still my favourite author in terms of mind blowing science fiction. However, Light was a riveting and challenging read. My favourite character was the seriously derranged Michael Kearney, an astrophysisct and serial killer obsessed by numbers and a fractal/alien/figment of his imagination that stalks him. Jump forward a few thousand years and the story follows a K-ship captain, the captain-ship relationhsip takes on new meaning here when you’re part of the ship, and down on the planets a crazy ‘twinker’ who is addicted to living his life in a holographic story (sounds pretty fun to me). It is all set under the wacthful eye of the Kerfulci Tract – a bizarre galaxy with no event horizon.

I loved the threads of the story, the merchant-corp world that Harrison creates in the future and – having moved to London recently myself – Harrison’s modern London.

Definitely worth a read. Check out these much more articulate and imaginative reviews – SF Site which delves into the Harrisons style and another at Bookslut – I do have to agree here the first few chapters were a bit hard going but its well worth it in the end.

I was v dissapointed to find that I missed out on this fabulous cover (Thanks VanderWorld).Light M John Harrison - Trade Paperback

The Dispossessed – Ursula Le Guin June 11, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, sci fi.
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the dispossessedThis was fantastic, although I found some of the physics a bit hard going.

I loved the style, structure and ethics of the book. I have seen a range of Ursula Le Guin’s books in stores but had never been convinced enough to pick one up. This book is a great intro to her writing.

I really like the world she created, the possibility of a section of humanity splitting from the capitalist and creating a quasi communistic lifestyle on a planet so harsh that it is a struggle to survive and luxury is considered a fruit juice or a room to share with a partner. The society is certainly not simple, not farmers and still corrupt, unfair and unjust but decidly human and decidly anartchistic. I found it interesting as an exploration of of their anarchistic society. The details, social norms and the structures that the society has had to create after a few hundred years being anarchistic, isolated and to survive in a barren wasteland. Very believable, very intricate and logical.

I like the untraditional story style, the flashback style chapters. Definitely worth a read. Another one of Gollancz’s top ten.

I was suprised to read this comment (Review by Nicholas Whyte) that Ursula Le Guin described it as “a heavy, argumentative book”, I’d struggle to find it either. Yes for the time probably a radical critique on someone from the West writing against capitalism, but apart from some of the physics I wouldn’t call it heavy. I found it pretty fast paced and easy to read myself. Certainly compared with the massive tomes that are the norm for spec fic today.

Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke June 1, 2007

Posted by taryn in fantasy.
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9780747579885.jpg I had seen this book on the shelf for ages and I kept picking it up, reading the back, flicking through the millions of pages and thinking ‘is this going to be worth it?’ and ‘should I?’

Yes, I darn well should have! The book is HUGE…but its definitely worth a read.

What I loved most about this book was the footnoting – like Terry Pratchett the footnotes are separate stories in themselves and often go over a few pages. Its a great way of introducing background and context. Not too much info, good writing and a fun aside from the main plot.

The most frustrating thing in the book was the plot with the wife! I found it so annoying that they kept coming so close to revealing and fixing all …but no. It is kind of fitting in the end.

Funnily, I kind of expected this book to be similar in world to the recent Magician movie, but was pleasantly suprised. The setting is quite similar to Temeraire, so no wonder we enjoyed it.

-David says- I loved this book too. Long drawn-out period dramas don’t usually do it for me, but I couldn’t get enough of this. The challenge to the magicians of York had me interested, and the talking stones in the cathedral had me hooked. The pacing was fine for me, I just dived in and didn’t bother coming up for air.

This is a great synopsis from Waterstones:
Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

Gradisil – Adam Roberts June 1, 2007

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9780575076310.jpg‘Revenge needs to space to grow’ is the hook for this book. And it certainly does grow throughout the book as we follow a family through three generations of obssession with the ‘Uplands’, a belt of space above the atmosphere where the rich or technically able can live without interference from those down below.

The plot follows the characters in their efforts to become Uplanders, make the Uplands a political force or avenge their beloved leader, it is also like a mini history of the Uplands search for independence.

Politically, the people seem isolated, ethnocentric, disconnected and involved at the same time.

I kept going away and coming back to this book. The world is interesting, some characters are great, others awful. I couldn’t stand old Gradi and felt quite sorry for them all at the end.

I loved Salt but I’m not sure whether I would recommend it straight away… but you can read an extract here.

Temeraire (Book 1) – Naomi Novik June 1, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, fantasy.
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TemeraireThis is a great read, what a joy after Kylie Chan! Great plotting, each chapter leaves you wanting more – this is the kind of book you’ll end up reading until 4am.

The Dragons are fantastic creatures – intelligent and possessive of their riders. The bond developed between the rider and dragon reminds me of Robin Hobb’s Fitz and Wolf relationship. Except they are HUGE – can you imagine running a dragon like a ship? After reading this it’ll seem to make perfect sense. The geneology of the dragons has been well planned with a myria of species

The historical setting is primed for conflict with Napolean Bonaparte, a great nemesis, his plans for world domination (mwah hahah), and of course stragically cunning with his use of offensive dragons. And

And hurrah, although the lead character is male, there are plenty of women in the book who are jumping into the fray on the backs of their dragons.

You can read an excerpt at Naomi Novik’s website.

NB: Naomi was a computer programmer who found she liked writing more than programming while on Neverwrinter Nights.

£1,000 ‘Ethical Futures’ Short Story Award May 17, 2007

Posted by taryn in news.
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For non professional writers only apparently? From the news release:

Ethical Futures: £1,000 short story competition about the future of the human race
Imagine a world where people are able to choose from a menu of ‘enhancing’ techniques: IQ, strength, disease prevention, age extension. What would life be like in such a world? What ethical dilemmas might it raise?
Your story will be judged by Justina Robson, author of Quantum Gravity: Keeping it Real series. Dr Anjana Ahuja, Science Notebook columnist for The Times, Cory Doctorow, science fiction novelist.
Competition open to non professional writers and video producers. Entries should be no more than 2,000 words or 10 minutes in length. Closing date: 30 June 2007.

See http://www.theRSA.org/ethical

I am Legend May 16, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, fantasy, horror.

I am Legend

While I was waiting for crappy Kylie Chan to arrive, I delved into some other much better sci fi/fantasy and landed upon I am Legend by Richard Matheson.

This is a great book, well worth a read. Since it was published in 1958, there are bound to be some copies in second hand book stores for a song!

Stephen King himself wrote a glowing introduction to this book and I have to agree – Matheson manages to keep upping the tension and the pace.

“When you thought it had to be over, that your nerves couldn’t stand any more, that was when Matheson turned on the afterburners. He wouldn’t quit. He was relentless.”

I was very dissapointed to read this review over at Book Covers Blog, I think you have to think a little bit about when this book was written – 1958. Sure this story of isolation amidst an end of the world type virus might seem obvious now – think 28 Days Later, Cell, etc etc but it was first.

I really empathised with the hero, he is so flawed, teetering on the brink of madness and I loved the ending – won’t say anything to spoil it but very refreshing.

You can read an extract and a bit of Stephen King’s essay here.

I found this book through the Orion/Gollancz books series, they all have great covers. I love this cover- stylish, simple and scary! The texture is also really rough and the book has rounded edges too. V old school.

The titles in the Gollancz series are:

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, Cities in Flight by James Blish, Ubik by Philip K Dick, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, Gateway by Frederik Pohl and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. (Thanks to Diary of a Phanatique)

I’ve read most, so I’ll try and add the reviews here.

One of the first books in our book club was The Forever War….thanks David!

The Greatest Mystery: Making a Best Seller May 16, 2007

Posted by taryn in news.
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Check out this article from the NY Times if you’re interested in book marketing, what books sell and why publishers bid for books.

It has some interesting quotes and examples from the US publising industry.

Also, apparently Romance Writers USA does demographics. I wonder if anyone is doing it for Sci-Fi/ Fantasy…

Kylie Chan – White Tiger May 9, 2007

Posted by taryn in don't bother, fantasy.

Ok, why? David/Ellen, why?

Even though I haven’t finished this book, I feel compelled to write a brief review as David has chosen to propose about six books!

I am really struggling to get into this book. Maybe its because of the clumsy language. Maybe its because I have actually lived in HK and know the places the author is writing about — ahem –trying to describe.

Actually, I think its because the story line is so predicatable and cheesy. Nanny in love with her boss who is going to teach her magical judo? Please.

Anyways I am going to read it dammit as I ordered it from Australia – but if you were considering buying it, I would say don’t bother.

Note: I have given up at chapter 3. The sad news is that there is a book two.

I will send them to my 14 year old sister and see if she likes them…

A Storm of Books! May 7, 2007

Posted by davekay in news.

We are reading our way through books left, right and centre!

The current reading is Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series, about the life of Julius Caesar. All four books.

We’ve already read through Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (3 books) without mentioning it here, oops! The books are great – Hornblower with dragons, which suits me just fine. The sooner they make this into a series like Hornblower or Sharpe’s Rifles, the better.

After Conn Iggulden’s series, I might try to get Ellen to read some William Gibson – Pattern Recognition is a great book too.

Iain Banks March 28, 2007

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j12.jpgI saw Iain Banks at The Oxford Writing Festival. He is my new hero, hilarious, self-deprecating and witty, what a legend.

His latest book Garbadale is great – v funny and bittersweet. It is dedicated to lost loves. Definitely worth a read – get it now! Iain is a great storyteller whether its sci fi, the intricacies of unrequited love or general family madness. There are some cool settings in Singapore, Shanghai and HK and if you’ve been to any of these places you’ll recognise them. Banks is great at painting different (but accurate) pictures of places.

At the festival, I asked Iain for some reading recommendations but I forgot to write the authors down and now I’m kicking myself!

Some things you might not know:

– Don’t ask him “Where do your ideas come from?” or some other variant, he doesn’t know he just loves to explore all these ideas and see where they go.

– He is writing a new sci fi novel at the moment, he tends to alternate between mainstream and sci fi.

– He works very closely with Ken Mcleod – Learning the world author – which I have read but have yet to review…

– His favourite whiskey is Laphraig, and he had the best time writing and drinking and being driven around when he wrote the book Raw Spirit.

– He loves to read.

– He wrote a novella at age 14 and rewrote it into a novel at age 16.

– He reads alot of new scientist and has loads of ideas written down, but doesn’t have any unfinished manuscripts hanging about…

The Next Book Club Books Are…. January 31, 2007

Posted by davekay in news.

The Risen Empire – Scott Westerfeld (from Taryn)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke (from Ellen)

White Tiger – Kylie Chan (from David)

Since David took so long to read The Risen Empire, Kylie Chan’s Red Phoenix is added to the list!

Scott Westerfield – The Risen Empire January 8, 2007

Posted by taryn in best books ever, fantasy, sci fi.

The Risen EMpire

I know this wasn’t on the list to read, but I picked it up at Dymocks before I left and really enjoyed it! Read it, I command you.

The book has a host of things I liked: A love story (I’m a sucker, yes, but when you’re parted from your loved one its much more intense) between two likeable, strong and complex characters, a great female character battling with her empathic abilities and her job as Senator, awesome AIs who have character and finesse, battleships, honour and action and of course the old political subertfuge, rebellion and betrayal.

This is a fast paced book, with a lot going on on the different planets. The world itself is great medieval yet sci-fi – and I love a personlity cult dictatorship. Facsinatingly evil.

Anyways, if you haven’t read it, do and let me know what you think.

Scott Westerfield’s Blog

LibaryThing is Cool December 9, 2006

Posted by davekay in news.

I found the LibararyThing through Miss Snark and I’ve been adding books steadily since then. The only issue I’m finding is actually selecting the editions that I have, since relying on Amazon searches to find a book is the not the best way to go. Other than that, very cool.

I will put books reviews up soon Taryn, promise!

Juliet Marillier – The Well of Shades (Book 3 of The Bridei Chronicles) November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in fantasy.

I have really enjoyed this series. This book can easily stand alone and apart from the series, the story is strong and the two main characters – Faolan and Eile – changed just the way I wanted them too. I stayed up until 3am completely sucked in.


My favourite thing about these books is the romance, Ana and Drustan, Bridei and Tuala, and Foalan and Eile. I was totally shocked when Faolan started to thaw, he had begun to change in the last book, but in this one he completely turns around. I love Foalan, he’s the type every girls wants to save, brooding, hurt, honourable. It was great when his family turned out to forgive and love him. I didn’t expect Faolan to fall for Eile or her for him either, considering. There were some moderately graphic details of Eile’s abuse which was disturbing but necessary.

Honestly, I had to read through to 3am to find out if they got together! Am I a sucker or what.

I’m wondering what Marillier is planning with this series, its not like George RR with many issues left unresolved, or a Katherine Kerr where the rebirth scenario creates a greate excuse for a new storyline. I was kind of hoping that Carnach would turn against Bridei just for the fun of it.

The Christian vs Druid thread is not as strong in this book, although Brother Suibne’s letters feature as an aside and scene change.

I think that the main problem with the series is now that Broichan has reunited with Tuala, there isn’t really a great nemesis/antagonist to pit Bridei against. Breda was a pretty weak antagonist. Marillier is setting up Colm for this, but I’m not convinced. Marillier is closely following Pictish history, you can read more at her website…


Gene Wolfe – The Knight November 28, 2006

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I think I jumped into this book with high expectations – Neil Gaiman professed it to be ‘important and wonderful’ after all, and I love Neil Gaiman.

I was drawn into the world that Wolfe created, a young boy taken from the modern day to another place, a place full of elves, ogres, knights, serpents, dragons, flying castles, levels of worlds, etc.

However, I found the style of his storytelling a bit difficult to get into. Wolfe writes as a brother writing of his adventures home to his older brother he left behind. I don’t like this style as it often gives authors the excuse to do a great big info dump on how the worlds work by saying “i just give you some background on this brother” or “I may as well explain this now”. Now, I’m not syaing that this isn’t a perfectly respected form in the craft, but as a reader I don’t like it. I find it lags, I want to get back to the story. The second half of the book had less of this and I enjoyed it much more. However, the end – I was want to bitch about this here so…

——-spolier warning————–

…I was really getting ito the story, the journey, things are finally falling into place when all of a sudden he drops everything and wanders off into the elf-world. Time goes faster for the middle world when you are in the elf world, so he knows hes on a time-critical mission and forks off onto a tangent that Wolfe only introduces halfway through! And then it ends! The annoyance, no resolution for me, the lead into the next book is awful. I wanted to know what was going to happen with the giants and the rescue thread not the Viking horsewomen of the sky!

I found the rest of the book quite similar, just I was getting into a story or path, some bizarre thing happens to the main character, he goes into another world and loses track, wanders around and leaves me more confused than ever.

I was interested in the similarity between the new world and earth, that kept my curiosity going.

I wonder whether this is a boys book, because I just couldn’t get into it. David, I would be interested in your take.

–David says–
This books has what I would call a ‘dreamlike’ quality to it. The main character drifts through the world, encountering people and situations seemingly at random. It fits for me since the main character is a boy in a man’s body, attempting to be a boy’s naive version of what a knight should uphold.
I found the world Wolfe had built an intriguing one, based on viking lore (I think). There is a second book called The Wizard which might make some things clearer.
Is this a boy’s book? That’s a fair call, since the book is certainly lacking for female characters defined by anything other than what they want the central character to do for them. The other male characters are acting under their own motivation, but never the women.

Grace Dugan – The Silver Road November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in fantasy.
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Thanks, David for lending me this book – I honestly couldn’t put it down. I was totally absorbed by the story of Zuven’s journey to discover who she was and what she wanted. I also loved Yetala, a young noblewoman ambitious, strong, courageous and breaking new ground in the military school. Great strong female characters. Although a few times I did wish Zuven would get more involved or get into a heated discussion.

The world that Dugan has created is fascinatingly different from any I have encountered before, possibly with a middle-eastern feel, although I can’t be certain. Mountainous, yet arid, feudal mixed with a little byzantine or maybe islam? I have a great picture of the world she has created, particulary the rural part. Dugan has created a fascinating cultural picture complete with visual, written and physical details. I loved the idea of intricately sewed/painted flagscarf – it reminded me of beautiful handpainted silk scarves I’ve seen from Indonesia.

Dugan is an Australian writer, and a Queenslander. This was her first book and I was interested to see it was worked on at both Clarion and Veruna. I would be interested to read other books that were published out of this process (perhaps I already have and don’t know it).

–David says–
I loved Grace’s first book, and I can’t wait for the next one. The book never went in the direction I was expecting, and while in the end I was disappointed with Zuven’s decision, she was following what her heart told her to do, which is what the book is ultimately about. A more experienced reviewer than me might call Grace “a refreshingly new voice in fantasy” and they’d be right, too.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson November 28, 2006

Posted by taryn in cyber punk.
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I’m heading o/s in a week or two and David was kind enough to lend me some books before I left – the least I could do was read them, the first one I jumped into was Snow Crash.

I haven’t read alot of cyber punk, but I couldn’t put this book down. The hero of the story, Hiro Protagonist, love the name, is fascinating – hacker, samurai, detective and lovesick pizza guy.

I was absorbed by the punk world he created, corporation-states, the mafia and of course Greater Hong Kong – I loved that touch. Anyone who has been to HK will recognise the feel of it in the book.

The only downer for me was the info-dump in the middle of the book where we work our way through the intricacies of the religious angle of the plot, but the chases, fights and new bizarre setting grabbed me again.

The great thing about this book is that it was written in 1992 – it has hardly dated at all – perhaps programmers will disagree, but I thought it was a recent release. Considering it’s publication date it must have been a trailblazer for cyber punk. I would now like to read Stephenson’s new series about alchemy..

Interesting side note – Stephenson thought he had invented the word ‘avatar’ for the book, but humbly acknowledges Habitat in the endnote.

pandora’s star and judas unchained November 15, 2006

Posted by taryn in sci fi.
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A storm of words has been created for us nerds who enjoy reading speculative fiction (sci-fi and fantasy) and hopefully will provide a forum to discuss books that we are reading.

Thanks to george rr for the name.

Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton

I loved this story – great characters, great conflict, great conspiracy, backstabbing politics, murder, mayhem and cool technologies. I especially like the universe that Peter has created. I was a bit doubtful after reading Misspent Youth which I loathed. The main character was despicable to me, his betrayal and selfishness and arrogance! But Pandora’s Star was a winner and I will definetely be on the lookout for any other books from this author.

According to Hamilton’s website The Void Trilogy is set in the same universe but 1000 years on, will be out in early 2007.

David says:
I loved this duology. Once again Hamilton paints a convincing picture of human society in the future. I am always impressed with how he does this so well, but differently, in each of his settings. What happens in rejuve, stays in rejuve.

While only two books, in terms of words, this series is longer than many trilogies. Peter Hamilton doesn’t succumb to the plague of multiple points of view that certain other authors use to increase their wordcount, which only blurs the storyline and confuses the reader. The characters here are tightly defined, and you’ll quickly grow to care about them, or at least want to know what happens to them next.
It’s not necessary to have read any of Peter F Hamilton’s work to enjoy this. Get reading! (for the record, I enjoyed Misspent Youth).