Tag Archives: SF

Book Review: Ancestral Machines, Michael Cobley

ancestralmachinesThis is the first book that I’ve read from Michael Cobley. I was drawn to it by reviews such as “An absolute cracker of a space opera” and “Here is a space opera which unashamedly honours the roots of the genre”. Also, it’s good to know that there are other related books by the same author in the Humanity’s Fire trilogy.

That said, I found the book overly complex, with a vast array of characters and numerous distinct plot lines that took hundreds of pages to come together. Too often, we were introduced to characters who then seemed to disappear completely. For example, two women in Captain Pyke’s close-knit crew, Dervla and Win, were introduced as integral members of his team. Once captured, the team took on impossible challenges to save them – but unfortunately, we never heard about Win again!

The most memorable character(s) of the book was the drone Rensik Estemil. Hugely intelligent and an effective fighting machine, he somehow got trapped in a mesh box (Faraday cage?!) – but escaped by casting off a mini-Rensik drone which saved the day.
Four stars

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Cities In Flight, James Blish

cities-in-flightThis is another in the SF Masterworks series and I’m not alone in thinking it’s brilliant:

Exciting, intelligent galaxy-spanning stuff that these days would require six brick-thick volumes. This is the real heady wine of science fiction – Terry Pratchett

.

The story starts with two inventions – spindizzies (kind of anti-gravity engines) and anti-agathic drugs (that enable citizens to live for a thousand years) – and takes the reader on a journey to explore their exploitation. On the way, we encounter vast experimental stations on Jupiter, cities taking flight from earth to explore the galaxy, the economic collapse of the galaxy and even the end of time itself.

20141118-205616.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Time Out of Joint, Philip K. Dick

Time Out Of JointThis book is part of the SciFi MasterWorks series, so I had high expectations, especially as it was written by the lauded Philip K Dick. However, this book is different to others that I’ve read by him – it starts very slowly, seemingly in a normal family in a sleepy American town. Only much later does the plot encompass a more science fiction element, and a more sinister reason behind the daily puzzle that Ragle Gumm must complete is revealed.

The edition of the book that I bought has a very helpful afterword that explains how the author was trying to break away from the pulp science fiction stories into non-sci-fi novels. They bill “Time Out Of Joint” as the first of a cross-over book between the two genres. He specifically intended it to break away from the sci-fi treadmill that he was on, because he knew his current publisher would reject it in its original form!

This book is interesting for what it says about the author’s own history, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the story alone.

Three Stars

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: The Centauri Device, M. John Harrison

The Centauri DeviceThis book is part of the Science Fiction MasterWorks series, which hints at its pedigree, although the series covers a broad range of SciFi styles. This one tells of adventures in space, where we follow the trail of John Truck and his ship the My Ella Speed.

I loved reading this book: it frequently has sentences that are so well written, you have to stop to read them again. Delicious writing to be savoured, certainly not a book that you can devour in a single sitting. I didn’t particularly warm to John Truck, he seems to be a character to whom things happen and usually go wrong, he just goes with the flow that frequently gets him into trouble. Maybe it’s his habit of getting everyone around him into trouble (or killed) that’s unsympathetic! It’s the bigger picture that’s so brilliant, the imagination and audacity of the chapters about “The Interstellar Anarchist, an Aesthetic Adventure” are epic.
Five Stars

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov

FoundationTrilogy
Having read several other books set against the background of the Foundation saga, I decided to go back and read the original books. I was impressed by the pace with which Asimov tells the stories – where David Brin’s sequel is 430 pages, each volume in Asimov’s trilogy is about 230 pages. Yet none of the passages in Asimov’s books feels rushed – it’s just that he tells a part of the story in beautiful prose, then moves swiftly on to another period/place. The gaps that he leaves give other authors the space to fill in their own stories, which is how the sequel trilogy fits in. In fact, I enjoyed Asimov’s trilogy much more this time having recently read the others.
Five Stars

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Foundation’s Triumph, David Brin

20150111-181854.jpgThis is the third of the second foundation trilogy written by authors Benford, Bear and Brin. It tells the story of Hari Seldon’s ‘Last Hurrah’ as he undertakes a voyage away from Trantor in his old age. I really appreciated how this author brought the many threads of the stories together, including the motivation behind many of R. Daneel Olivaw’s plans. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve fully grasped the inter-robot battles and the reasons why many did not support Olivaw’s Zero’th law revolution.

20150111-182424.jpg

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Foundation and Chaos, Greg Bear

20141005-141505.jpgFoundation and Chaos is the second in a trilogy of books written after Isaac Asimov’s death by distinguished Science Fiction writers. The first was Foundation and Fear, which was okay but included lengthy passages concerning Voltaire and Joan of Arc which I didn’t really follow. This book is much better and centres on the growing populations of mentalics, humans with an assortment of mental powers (like persuasion). It also includes Hari Seldon’s trial as a traitor against the Empire (his prediction of the fall of the Empire being seen as treachery). The debate between rival bands of robots (the Giskardians led by R Daneel and the Calvinians), differentiated by their adoption of the zero’th law or otherwise, is fascinating.

Four stars

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review