Posted in Uncategorized

A planet hoping read

Book/s 2312

 

Author/s Kim Stanley Robinson http://kimstanleyrobinson.info/w/index.php5?title=Kim_Stanley_Robinson

Biography http://kimstanleyrobinson.info/w/index.php5?title=Kim_Stanley_Robinson

Robinson was born in Waukegan, Illinois, but moved to Orange County, California, when he was two. As a child he loved to play in the orange groves stretching out for miles around his home, so when suburban sprawl began to encroach and the groves were torn out and paved over, the rapid change of modern life hit close to home. It was not until college in 1971 that he would stumble upon new wave science fiction and find in it an expression of that very sense of rapid change that had made such an impression upon him growing up, at which point he knew almost immediately that he would be committed to science fiction from then on.

Robinson is still the stay-at-home parent, giving him plenty of time to write, while his wife continues to work full time as a chemist. As a result, much of the couple’s social circle is made up of her friends and colleagues, giving Robinson ample material with which to write about scientists. As can be gathered from above, Robinson enjoys inserting personal life experiences or autobiographical elements in his works.

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Publisher Orbit http://www.orbitbooks.net/

Format Kindle

Where did I get this book? Amazon.co.uk

Date read 11th-13th June

Why I read? Once again, the guys/girls from Coode Street Podcast and the  galactic suburbia podcast talked me into reading this book and I pre-ordered it from Amazon.

Rating 5 stars

Gut Feeling This book is verging on Hard Science and, therefore, I am afraid that some of the nuances may have gone over my head. But, having said that I still love the ideas, the story, and the characters that lie at the heart of this planet jumping book

Summary/plot arch /World building/ Characters

This book contains; A city on tracks that is constantly running away from the sun,  artists who create bio domes, individuals who can change sex at any time (mothering and fathering children), People who chase the sun, an earth that is dying, colonies that feed off it, and terrorists who want to destroy the whole system.

Earth has been written off by its’ colonies and is dying. Its’ environment is polluted and its’ government, as much as there is, is in tatters.   Most colonists have given up trying to fix Earth a long time ago.  They are now focusing on their new home planet. A group of individuals disagree.  They argue that the only way to ensure their own safety, and stop terrorism/crime, is to fix earth. Spread throughout the galaxy, this group of individuals work together to achieve this end. We can see hints of the real world situation in this story.  How many people argue that our safety relies on solving the problems of the ‘the middle east’ or ‘Africa’?  And how many others argue that we should ignore the problems of these countries and look after our own home?

One of its’ key members, Alex, has died. Alex was the pivot on which the group moved.  It was her energy and motivation that drove the enterprise and her ambassadorial skill that pulled people towards it.  Under her magnetic influence even enemies were pacified. We meet her first at her memorial service. We find that she is a much loved and much missed individual. We find that many rely on her and she seems to be the mainstay of any group of which she is part.  One such individual is the troubled, augmented, artist Swan.

 

When we first meet Swan, she is solitary part of a group who chase the sun. This is a genius move on Robinson’s part.  We learn so much about Swan in this section.  We see that s/he is part of this group and, at the same time, a stranger within it; an isolated troubled individual who has lost the ability to communicate effectively with others.  We, also, get a glimpse of her personality in the fact that she is running towards the sun while the rest of the civilization seems to be running away from it. They are that eager to escape this scolding sphere that they have built their habitation on tracks. They Travel on the city, as if on a train, away from the ever encroaching sun.  If you want to get somewhere you travel on the city and exit it, as you would a train, when you reach your destination. Then, when you’re ready to leave, you wait for the city to pass by and hop on again.  Swan goes against the trend and like a moth she is drawn to the sun.

 

We soon find that, in this instance, Swan is not simply chasing the Sun but is travelling to Alexis’ memorial service.  Here Alexis’ partner gives her a package that was left for her by his ‘spouse’ before h/er death. This package contains; a computer file, a list of contacts and a command to carry on her mission. This command is complicated by the fact that Swan, at first at least, is not told what the mission entails.  It is further complicated by the fact that the mission is clouded in secrecy.

 

Swan must travel far and wide to meet up with these contacts. One of whom is an ex-partner and another, Warham, will play an important role within the book. She will face many dangers.  The most extraordinary being when the city is destroyed just as she and Warham are waiting for it. They are left stranded in the ‘desert’. They must contend with heat, desperation, dehydration and life threatening ill-health. They return to a destroyed city. Swan must help repair her own home world and then take part in the fixing of earth. S/he must find out who destroyed her home.   After many false starts, she and a team of colleagues decide to bring back the animals to the Planet.  Animals, now extinct on earth, have been bred off planet and are now re-introduced to earth. Gradually Swan, partially, repairs the earth and finds herself.

 

 

 

 

Themes Of course, the main themes centre on earth and its relationship with its colonies. It asks the question; how much should the colonies intervene in the affairs of earth.  It’s not too difficult to draw parallels with the situation in Syria and the ‘West’s’ dilemma concerning how much we should intervene.  This book also gives a stark warning concerning what will happen to earth if we don’t do something about global warming soon.

Issues of identity and gender, while not being the main focus of the work, lie quietly at its’ heart.  People in this world can change sex/gender several times in their long life journey.  They can augment their bodies; making them live longer and changes their very nature.  This contrasts with the more rigid gender relations that exist on our own world.  In fact, it’s difficult to speak of the book’s various gendered identities. In fact, we do not have the language to describe Swan’s or Alexis’ gendered identities.

 

Conclusion I really liked this book.

 

Posted in New weird fiction, politics, reading challenge

reading through a summer of sport #1 osama

Book/s Osama

Author/s Lavie Tidhar http://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/

 

Publisher PS Publishing

Format Kindle Edition

About the author http://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/about/

Lavie Tidhar grew up on a kibbutz in Israel and has since lived in South Africa, the UK, Vanuatu and Laos. He is currently resident back in London. He was nominated, variously, for a World Fantasy Award, a BSFA Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Sidewise Award, Israel’s Geffen Award, the Airship Award, and the Sturgeon and Campbell Awards.

“Bears comparison with the best of Philip K Dick’s paranoid, alternate-history fantasies. It’s beautifully written and undeniably powerful.” – The Financial Times on Osama.

REPRESENATION

Lavie is represented by the Zeno Literary Agency.

FOLLOW

Lavie on Facebook.

Lavie on Twitter.

CONTACT

E-mail Lavie!

Where did I get this book? http://www.amazon.co.uk

Date read June 20th 2012

Why I read? This book has been applauded by many trustworthy people including http://www.christopher-priest.co.uk/ and the guys at the Coode Street Podcast http://jonathanstrahan.podbean.com/. Therefore, I have been very tempted to read this work and so this book has been sitting on my TBR list for some time. My challenge to read all the books in that list has given me the opportunity to finally get around to reading it.

Rating 5 star

Gut Feeling I am really glad that I finally got around to reading Osama. It is one those books that makes you excited about books, reminding you why you read. It takes hold of a lot of genres.  It Mixes and shakes them.  And, in doing so, it creates something totally new.

Summary/plot arch Like many other Noire  detective novels, this book begins with a blond walking into an office of a `tired and emotional` private eye. She wants him to find the author of a pulp novel about Osama bin laden.  He travels around the world; following clues and getting into dangerous situations.  Then this world, which we learn is really an alternative world, spirals out of reality. Women appear and disappear.  Women have no substance.  The private detective must solve the case and, in doing so, he must learn about his life; uncovering secrets and destroying his own reality.

World building Perhaps, in this case, it would be more accurate to speak of worlds.  Both worlds are, at the same time, fantastical and utterly realistic. The worlds engross the reader, thoroughly immersing the reader in the character’s adventures.

Characters At a superficial level, it seems like we have seen these characters before. This book presents a gallery of; attractive blonds, drug users/addicts, cynical private eyes, tired bookshop owners, prostitutes, gangsters, corrupt cops and evil masterminds. But, we soon learn that all the characters have strange quirks and that they are hiding secrets from both; our protagonist and themselves

Conclusion

 

READ THIS BOOK. And if you like it promote it. It deserves more attention. 

Posted in awards

The Shirley Jackson Awards Website

The Shirley Jackson Awards Website  have been announced

via The Shirley Jackson Awards Website.

2011 Shirley Jackson Awards Winners

Boston, MA (July 2012) — The 2011 Shirley Jackson Awards winners were announced on Sunday, July 15th 2012, at Readercon 23, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts. Congratulations to all winners!

Previous years’ winners can be found here: 2010200920082007.

NOVEL

WINNER:

Witches on the Road Tonight, Sheri Holman (Grove Press)

Finalists:

  • The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday)
  • The Dracula Papers, Reggie Oliver (Chômu Press)
  • The Great Lover, Michael Cisco (Chômu Press)
  • Knock Knock, S. P. Miskowski (Omnium Gatherum Media)
  • The Last Werewolf, Glen Duncan (Canongate Books, Ltd.-UK / Alfred A. Knopf-US)

NOVELLA

WINNER:

“Near Zennor,” Elizabeth Hand (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)

Finalists:

  • “And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living,” Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar, Gilgamesh Press)
  • “A Child’s Problem,” Reggie Oliver (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)
  • “Displacement,” Michael Marano (Stories from the Plague Years, Cemetery Dance Publications)
  • The Men Upstairs, Tim Waggoner (Delirium Books)
  • “Rose Street Attractors,” Lucius Shepard (Ghosts by Gaslight, Harper Voyager)

NOVELETTE

WINNER:

“The Summer People,” Kelly Link (Tin House 49/Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, Candlewick Press)

Finalists:

  • “The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine,” Peter Straub (Conjunctions 56)
  • “Ditch Witch,” Lucius Shepard (Supernatural Noir, Dark Horse)
  • “The Last Triangle,” Jeffrey Ford (Supernatural Noir, Dark Horse)
  • “Omphalos,” Livia Llewellyn (Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors, Lethe Press)

SHORT FICTION

WINNER:

“The Corpse Painter’s Masterpiece,” M. Rickert (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sept/Oct, 2011)

Finalists:

  • “Absolute Zero,” Nadia Bulkin (Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters, Prime Books)
  • “Hair,” Joan Aiken (The Monkey’s Wedding and Other Stories, Small Beer Press/ The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July/Aug, 2011)
  • “Max,” Jason Ockert (The Iowa Review 41/1)
  • “Sunbleached,” Nathan Ballingrud (Teeth, HarperCollins)
  • “Things to Know About Being Dead,” Genevieve Valentine (Teeth, HarperCollins)

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION

WINNER:

After the Apocalypse: Stories, Maureen F. McHugh (Small Beer Press)

Finalists:

  • The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press)
  • Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors, Livia Llewellyn (Lethe Press)
  • The Janus Tree, Glen Hirshberg (Subterranean Press)
  • Red Gloves, Christopher Fowler (PS Publishing)
  • What Wolves Know, Kit Reed (PS Publishing)

EDITED ANTHOLOGY

WINNER:

Ghosts by Gaslight, edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (Harper Voyager)

Finalists:

  • Blood and Other Cravings, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
  • A Book of Horrors, edited by Stephen Jones (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Supernatural Noir, edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse)
  • Teeth, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (HarperCollins)
  • The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Harper Voyager)

Posted in Uncategorized

Interim blog- Endeavour awards

I promise book review this weekend. But, before that I thought that you might be interested in this.  The Nominees for the Endeavour Awards have been announced

  • The Endeavour Award, for the best book by an author residing in the Pacific Northwest, has announced its nominees:
  • Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake (Tor)
  • City of Ruins, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Pyr)
  • River Marked, Patricia Briggs (Ace)
  • Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson (Doubleday)
  • When the Saints, Dave Duncan (Tor)

The judges selecting the winner for this year’s award will be Gregory Benford, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Susan Shwartz. The winner will be announced on November 2, 2012 at Orycon 34.

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Posted in i science fiction, New weird fiction, politics, reviews, Science fiction, Weird. Weird fiction, world fiction

weaving a carpet of story

Book/s The Carpet Makers

Author/s Andreas Eschbach

 

Publisher Tom Doherty Associates

Format Hardback

Accessibility of format once again, I must comment on the beautifulness of a cover.  This one really sums up the book well. The font is small but the print was a dark hue. Therefore, the book was relatively easy to read.

Other formats available – Amazon.co.uk shows that the only edition that they have is a paperback. But, the hardback is available via Amazon market place. The situation seems to be the same for amazon.com.  Book Depository also has the paperback. There is no Kindle edition.

Where did I get this book? Amazon.co.uk

Date read May 28th 2012

Why I read?  It was chosen by the Goodreads reading ‘alternative worlds’ http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/12897-the-alternative-world. And therefore, I was encouraged to read it by a group requirement.

Rating 5 stars

Gut Feeling I would not have found this book on my own.  And, this book is not a easy book to like.  It does little to encourage the reader.  If you are into easy reads then this is not for you.   In addition, if you like hard science fiction then the inconsistencies in the science of this book will cause problems for you.  In fact, I doubt that this is science fiction but it is science fantasy.  It is set in a science fiction universe but the science makes little sense. But, despite its’ inconsistencies and difficulties, I love this book. I love the world that it creates.  I love the way that it takes the various story threads and makes a whole.  Just like a carpet weaver weaves a carpet from various threads.

Structure of work and story ark At first glance, each chapter of this work tells a completely separate tale, which has little or no connection to the one that went before.  But, if you continue reading you will find that a pattern emerges and a story unfolds.  The story begins with a father chastising his son for not taking enough interest in the family business of carpet weaving.  Then travels alongside a young girl mourning her lost love, a dying prince in a dying world and rebels trying to overthrow a non-existent ruler.

World building

For all its eccentricities, it is the world that makes this book. Its’ unique character piques the readers curiosity.  Its’ atmosphere stays with you long after the book has ended.  You can smell the sand, feel the heat and hear the noise of the bazaars.

 

 

Characters The characters are interesting enough to engage the reader but not unique enough to stay with you after the story has ended. The most enthralling character within this narrative is the world itself.

Conclusion If you like a simple narrative arc then maybe this book is not for you.  But, if you enjoy a well developed and intriguing world then you should read this book.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Olympic read #3

 

Book/s The Akata Witch

Author/s Nnedi Okarafor

Publisher  Viking

Genre- YA Fantasy

Format Hard Cover

Accessibility of format It has a beautiful cover and the type face was fairly good, smallish but dark

Other formats available Amazon UK appears only to have it in hardback.  There seems to be no kindle edition. It seems the same on Amazon.com .  As far as, I can see Book Depositary is the same, having only hardback editions.  But, Goodreads states that there is a kindle edition.  So, I may have missed it

Where did I get this book? Amazon.co.uk

Date read 19th -20th   June 2012

Rating – 5 star

Why I read?  This book has been on my TBR list for some time.   And it is, therefore, part of my Olympic read- a plan that will see me reading my TBR list, in an effort to avoid this summer of sport.  In addition, I read the authors later work with ‘who fears death’ with pleasure and so I was glad to read it.

Gut Feeling I was looking forward to reading this book for a long time and I was not disappointed.   The story is enthralling. The pace of the story makes it an enjoyable read and keeps the reader’s interest.    At the same time however, it lingers on certain aspects of the story long enough to draw the reader’s attention to its key issues.   It is an excellent read.

Summary/plot arc at the beginning of the novel Sunny, our main character, has just moved from New York to Nigeria.  We soon find that she is finding it difficult to fit in to her new school and that she is not her father’s favourite.  However, things soon improve as she makes friends with a group of people who live around her house.  With their help, she manages to find a sense of belonging and her own magical powers. She connects with a loosely connected tribe of individuals who have powers similar to her own.  This group have formed a sort of informal school, or university, in which an individual progresses by gaining knowledge.    In a side story we are told of a murderer who is killing young children.  Gradually, the two stories converge and Sunny, and her friends, must face a dangerous new challenge.

World building the world is excellently drawn and evocative. It really places the reader in the story. I do not know Nigeria.  But, this world seemed believable to me.  The author really knows this world and makes you feel that you do too.   The villages, towns, magical locations and markets all have a sense of reality about them.

 

 

Characters all the characters are well sketched.  Sunny and her friends are believable, interesting and likeable..   The characters help create an inviting, unnerving and enticing world.

Themes This book, while being a really good story, explores some really interesting themes. Firstly, the theme of identity runs throughout the work. For example, Sunny must learn to accept her identity and use it to save herself and those who she loves.  Belonging is another theme.  Sunny gradually finds a sense of belonging with the aid of her friends.  Another theme explored can be summarised in the question “what should we, as humans, truly value? Should we value money or knowledge?”  Sunny is told that, while ‘normal’ humans value money and possessions, her tribe (those with magical powers value knowledge.

Conclusion This is an excellent read and I would recommend it to young people and adults alike. It makes an excellent stand-alone read.  But, I am excited to learn that another book in this series is coming soon.