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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

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

Posted by taryn in space opera.
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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.

Marianne de Pierres – Dark Space January 9, 2008

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

Saturn Returns – Sean Williams July 28, 2007

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