Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds

May 11, 2010 Comments off

Centry Rain is a mystery science fiction novel. Don’t read the back, it gives the mystery away. Two storylines develop: a twenty-second century archaeologist who has just made a career-ending (and possibly life-ending) mistake, and a private detective in Paris in the nineteen-fifties asked to take on the case of a suicide that the police won’t believe could have been a murder.

The storylines seemingly have nothing in common, then suddenly everything clicks into place. A fascinating and well-paced read.


Neuromancer by William Gibson

December 16, 2009 Comments off

I’ve read and loved Gibson’s recent work, Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, but I’d never before read this classic cyberpunk novel.

It’s good, but having read his later work it’s clear he has progressed enormously as a writer. This isn’t to bash Neuromancer. The story is fast-paced and gets going from the start, no messing around. However this is an earlier work, and shows it. The talent is there, but not as well-tuned as in his later work. If you’ve never read Neuromancer I’d certainly recommend it, but behind Gibson’s more recent books.

Plague Year by Jeff Carlson

October 22, 2009 Comments off

I liked this book a lot. An intelligent novel about a nanotechnology-driven disaster needed to be written, after the neo-Luddite nonsense that was Prey.

Short version; medical nanobots run amok and render every part of Earth below 6,000 metres uninhabitable. Traumatised survivors squat on a mountaintop in the Sierra Ranges. When food runs low, they begin eating one another.

That is just the introduction, mind you. The actual tale of Plague Year begins right after this. It’s a good one.

When I’m not Reading, I’m Writing

October 12, 2009 2 comments

I like to write too, but curiously I find that I cannot read and write over the same period of time. If I’m lost in a good book, I don’t have the mindspace to write, and when I’m going through the process of creating a story, picking up a book will only interrupt that.

There’s a backlog of books to cover, since blog writing doesn’t count as story writing (sorry!)

In a piece of news, my short story Salvage Rights came runner-up in a competition run through Irregular Magazine and was printed in Issue 2. Check it out!

Categories: science fiction, writing

The Watchmen by Alan Moore

October 6, 2008 Comments off

Alan’s Moore’s tale of costumed heroes grown old revolutionised the comics industry when it was published in the 80s. Writers like Moore and Frank Miller made comics something people had a reason to read.

Revisiting the series, it does not disappoint. It strikes me this time round that the story is principally about what happens when life moves on and leaves you behind. Where do you go?

This is a question asked by the original heroes, now ageing and dying, and also their generational replacements. The story starts and ends with the murder of one costumed hero by another.

For me the best moment of the tale is on Mars when Laurie finally learns the truth of her parentage, a truth she has known her whole life but never consciously admitted to herself. As Jon helps her bring the truth to the surface, it’s very moving.

If you’ve never read The Watchmen before, now is the time to do so. If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, The Watchmen is an excellent place to start.

Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter

August 22, 2008 1 comment

I read pulp fiction. It’s something I do every so often. I don’t watch CSI: Miami or what have you, I do this.

In retrospect, reading pulp fiction like this straight after going through the four books of A Song of Ice and Fire was a mistake. This book was always going to look bad in comparison with what I’d just read.

Sadly, this book is the second weakest of the 8 so-far published in the Horus Heresy series. The other books, especially the first five, did a good job of re-creating an alternative Imperium, in it’s formative years, 10,000 years before the “present day”. That all falls down in Battle for the Abyss.

In previous books, it’s made clear that the Imperium has no idea of the true nature of the ‘immaterium’ that they travel through, and any thought of chaos gods is met is atheistic disbelief. Other books also managed to create organisations unknown to us, such as the Remembrancers of the early books, and the secret cabal served by John Grammaticus in Legion.

In this book the marines seem suddenly fully aware of the nature of the warp, of the existence of daemons and chaos gods. This makes some of the conversation jarring. It’s jarring already since much of the dialogue here is woeful, but the ‘out of time’ knowledge implicit among the various characters does not help.

Battle for the Abyss forms a weak link in the series. It’s not ‘bad’ like Descent of Angels, the story is actually advanced here, but this book is simply not as good as the others as it does not remain to its supposed time period.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

August 11, 2008 Comments off

When I saw the premise for this book I knew I had to read it. London is a mobile city, and other cities are its prey. It moves around the countryside, hunting.

Mortal Engines is set in the far future, where the earth’s resources are depleted, oceans and seas dried out. Mobile cities prowl the wrecked landscape, hunting one another for precious resources. The city that stops moving, dies. Municipal Darwinism is the rule of the day.

One of London’s inhabitants finds himself cast out of the city after stumbling across a dangerous secret. Left behind the city with only a would-be assassin for company, he must come to terms with the truth about the world, and his beloved city’s place in it.

Mortal Engines is a YA book, but this 35 year-old found it thoroughly enjoyable.