johncoxon: ([Me] Renovation)
Hello everyone! As most of you will have noticed I stopped posting book updates on here; I've migrated to Goodreads (which is a pretty awesome website). If you want to keep up with me on Goodreads then feel free to do so, I've linked my account to Facebook so it should be easy to find me.

However, I wanted to list the books that I want to read in February (as much for my reference as anything else) so here goes.

Books I'm currently reading

Report on Probability A by Brian Aldiss*
World War Z by Max Brooks
The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton*

Books I want to read

Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell*†
Cyber Circus by Kim Lakin-Smith*
The Noise Within by Ian Whates*
Hothouse by Brian Aldiss*
Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds (possibly)*
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie†
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell‡

* Author appearing at the Space Fiction event being held at the National Space Centre in February.
† Reading for book club.
‡ UK film release on 22nd February.
johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

35) ‘Stealth’ by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I read this in the issue of Asimov’s that was in the Hugo Voter Packet and I must confess I would rather it have been on the ballot this year than a couple of the others that actually got nominated. It’s the tale of a woman called Rosealma aka Squishy, who starts the tale on a station; she quickly moves off the station again before it blows up. I liked this story because of how well the flashbacks were used – it’s not a novel concept but they were exactly where they needed to be to lend context to proceedings. I also liked the central idea and the hints at what might be happening.

The rest of this entry is cloaked )

I could probably try to write more about this but I’m tired and it’s late, unfortunately. Another time, perhaps.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

35) ‘Stealth’ by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I read this in the issue of Asimov’s that was in the Hugo Voter Packet and I must confess I would rather it have been on the ballot this year than a couple of the others that actually got nominated. It’s the tale of a woman called Rosealma aka Squishy, who starts the tale on a station; she quickly moves off the station again before it blows up. I liked this story because of how well the flashbacks were used – it’s not a novel concept but they were exactly where they needed to be to lend context to proceedings. I also liked the central idea and the hints at what might be happening.

The rest of this entry is cloaked )

I could probably try to write more about this but I’m tired and it’s late, unfortunately. Another time, perhaps.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)
If you were forced, at gunpoint, to submit your five novel nominations for the Hugo Awards now, which five novels would you pick?
johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)
If you were forced, at gunpoint, to submit your five novel nominations for the Hugo Awards now, which five novels would you pick?
johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

So I read a bunch of novellas tonight (I had some spare time that didn’t get taken up by writing, or compiling a project, or working, or going to the cinema) and to save you all from the prospect of having a bunch of entries suddenly appear in your feed, I thought I’d write about them here.

I think the order in which they will go, in my voting, is ‘Kiss Me Twice’, ‘The Man Who Ended History’, ‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’, Countdown, Silently and Very Fast and then ‘The Ice Owl’.

24) Countdown by Mira Grant

This novella is actually written in a semi-similar style to the last one I read, Ken Liu’s ‘The Man Who Ended History’, and so I jumped straight in with gusto. It’s not presented as a documentary, but it’s the story of several snippets of different people’s lives, all of which build towards the end of the book. Countdown is a novella in the Newsflesh universe, alongside Feed, Deadline and Blackout; I don’t think I’m spoiling much if I tell you that this universe is mostly preoccupied with the Rising, in which the dead rise and try to eat the living. Countdown is a compilation of stories that describe the events before Feed that lead to that occurring.

Countdown )

I feel guilty that this ended up as low in my rankings as it did, but I think that’s a function of the fact that nothing here is anything new in terms of the Newsflesh universe. Grant hasn’t included any titbits that are critical to the plot of the trilogy, which is fair enough, since this isn’t required reading for people who want to read the novels – however, that ultimately ends up hurting the novella because it means I got exactly what I expected, with no surprises or expansion of the boundaries.

25) ‘The Ice Owl’ by Carolyn Ives Gilman

This novella is, structurally, very easy to follow, telling a story in chronological order from the perspective of a single protagonist (the first of the novellas I read that did so). I liked the main character, a somewhat rebellious teenager called Thorn, and I liked the background, too. It’s set in the Twenty Planets universe, which is a backdrop that Gilman also used in a previous novella and which I liked the look of – humans can transport themselves between the planets via beams of light, but since this occurs at light speed, they leave everything behind when they do so, as by the time they get back to their original destination the friends they had will have aged significantly whilst they stayed the same. This isn’t a new concept (something similar happens in Revelation Space, for instance) but it’s a nifty implementation, in my opinion, and the characters that arise as a result are intriguing.

The Ice Owl )

I enjoyed reading this, which might make it a little weird that I’ve ranked it last on my Hugo ballot. This reinforces the high standard of the novellas this year, and is a reflection of my dissatisfaction with the ending, which spoiled the story for me. If this was the first segment of a novel, and had been released as a teaser, I’d totally buy the novel; as a standalone work it fails.

26) ‘Kiss Me Twice’ by Mary Robinette Kowal

This story almost makes me glad that I still have ‘For Want of a Nail’ still to read from last year’s Hugo Voter Packet, since it completely drew me in. I wasn’t this gripped by any of the previous three novellas, and I really liked the pacing of the plot. I suspect this was not hurt by the fact that I’ve always been rather fond of crime fiction! As I finished it I wanted to read it again, and I definitely want to seek out more of Kowal’s work.

Kiss Me Twice )

For reasons I can’t adequately put into words this one tops my list of novellas this year. I would dearly love to read more about this partnership.

27) Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

I really wanted to like this story, but something about the way it was written made it hard for me to get into and even harder for me to understand properly. Valente is writing, essentially, about how an artificial intelligence develops within the mind of a human; it’s a fascinating look at this process and one that I found very interesting. Unfortunately, I really felt that the style of the writing obfuscated the concepts that were being explored, to the point where I was really slogging through the story as opposed to wanting to keep reading. Since this was the only novella that made me feel that way, that might explain why I didn’t rank it very highly.

It’s worth noting at this point that, of all the novellas here, this is probably the one that attempts to tackle the largest sfnal concept. It’s also the only one that I felt tackled an SFnal concept that wasn’t easy to get your head around. ‘The Man who Ended History’ made me think, but it did so by using a simple concept to illustrate something horrific from different viewpoints, which is a different kind of mental gymnastics; this is definitely the hardest SF of the six candidates on offer, I’d say.

It’s a shame, since Valente is clearly very clever in her style of writing and I can tell that my dislike for the tale is almost certainly a fault on my part rather than on hers. I really enjoyed how cleverly she constructed ‘Golubash (Wine-Blood-War-Story)’ (which was the story that appeared in Escape Pod #340) so I am now eagerly anticipating experiencing more of her work to see where I fall on that. But, ultimately, this novella didn’t do it for me, and so it winds up second-to-last in my rankings. (This reinforces my suspicion that Neil Clarke will end up somewhere towards the bottom of my rankings in that category, too.)

28) ‘The Man who Bridged the Mist’ by Kij Johnson

The last of the novellas that I read for this year’s Hugo Awards was also very gripping and came from the same editor as ‘Kiss Me Twice’, more or less confirming my suspicions that Sheila Williams will be doing very well when I vote in Best Editor (Short Form). This story really drew me in with the strange and ethereal Mist, and the descriptions of the crossings performed by the Ferrys are awesome to read – very vivid!

The Man who Bridged the Mist )

I have to admit that I don’t think this will place above ‘The Man who Ended History’ for me due to the lack of conceptual brilliance here. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale, but I didn’t fall in love with it in quite the same way that I did with ‘Kiss Me Twice’; as such, it goes into a comfortable third place in my voting.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

So I read a bunch of novellas tonight (I had some spare time that didn’t get taken up by writing, or compiling a project, or working, or going to the cinema) and to save you all from the prospect of having a bunch of entries suddenly appear in your feed, I thought I’d write about them here.

I think the order in which they will go, in my voting, is ‘Kiss Me Twice’, ‘The Man Who Ended History’, ‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’, Countdown, Silently and Very Fast and then ‘The Ice Owl’.

24) Countdown by Mira Grant

This novella is actually written in a semi-similar style to the last one I read, Ken Liu’s ‘The Man Who Ended History’, and so I jumped straight in with gusto. It’s not presented as a documentary, but it’s the story of several snippets of different people’s lives, all of which build towards the end of the book. Countdown is a novella in the Newsflesh universe, alongside Feed, Deadline and Blackout; I don’t think I’m spoiling much if I tell you that this universe is mostly preoccupied with the Rising, in which the dead rise and try to eat the living. Countdown is a compilation of stories that describe the events before Feed that lead to that occurring.

Countdown )

I feel guilty that this ended up as low in my rankings as it did, but I think that’s a function of the fact that nothing here is anything new in terms of the Newsflesh universe. Grant hasn’t included any titbits that are critical to the plot of the trilogy, which is fair enough, since this isn’t required reading for people who want to read the novels – however, that ultimately ends up hurting the novella because it means I got exactly what I expected, with no surprises or expansion of the boundaries.

25) ‘The Ice Owl’ by Carolyn Ives Gilman

This novella is, structurally, very easy to follow, telling a story in chronological order from the perspective of a single protagonist (the first of the novellas I read that did so). I liked the main character, a somewhat rebellious teenager called Thorn, and I liked the background, too. It’s set in the Twenty Planets universe, which is a backdrop that Gilman also used in a previous novella and which I liked the look of – humans can transport themselves between the planets via beams of light, but since this occurs at light speed, they leave everything behind when they do so, as by the time they get back to their original destination the friends they had will have aged significantly whilst they stayed the same. This isn’t a new concept (something similar happens in Revelation Space, for instance) but it’s a nifty implementation, in my opinion, and the characters that arise as a result are intriguing.

The Ice Owl )

I enjoyed reading this, which might make it a little weird that I’ve ranked it last on my Hugo ballot. This reinforces the high standard of the novellas this year, and is a reflection of my dissatisfaction with the ending, which spoiled the story for me. If this was the first segment of a novel, and had been released as a teaser, I’d totally buy the novel; as a standalone work it fails.

26) ‘Kiss Me Twice’ by Mary Robinette Kowal

This story almost makes me glad that I still have ‘For Want of a Nail’ still to read from last year’s Hugo Voter Packet, since it completely drew me in. I wasn’t this gripped by any of the previous three novellas, and I really liked the pacing of the plot. I suspect this was not hurt by the fact that I’ve always been rather fond of crime fiction! As I finished it I wanted to read it again, and I definitely want to seek out more of Kowal’s work.

Kiss Me Twice )

For reasons I can’t adequately put into words this one tops my list of novellas this year. I would dearly love to read more about this partnership.

27) Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

I really wanted to like this story, but something about the way it was written made it hard for me to get into and even harder for me to understand properly. Valente is writing, essentially, about how an artificial intelligence develops within the mind of a human; it’s a fascinating look at this process and one that I found very interesting. Unfortunately, I really felt that the style of the writing obfuscated the concepts that were being explored, to the point where I was really slogging through the story as opposed to wanting to keep reading. Since this was the only novella that made me feel that way, that might explain why I didn’t rank it very highly.

It’s worth noting at this point that, of all the novellas here, this is probably the one that attempts to tackle the largest sfnal concept. It’s also the only one that I felt tackled an SFnal concept that wasn’t easy to get your head around. ‘The Man who Ended History’ made me think, but it did so by using a simple concept to illustrate something horrific from different viewpoints, which is a different kind of mental gymnastics; this is definitely the hardest SF of the six candidates on offer, I’d say.

It’s a shame, since Valente is clearly very clever in her style of writing and I can tell that my dislike for the tale is almost certainly a fault on my part rather than on hers. I really enjoyed how cleverly she constructed ‘Golubash (Wine-Blood-War-Story)’ (which was the story that appeared in Escape Pod #340) so I am now eagerly anticipating experiencing more of her work to see where I fall on that. But, ultimately, this novella didn’t do it for me, and so it winds up second-to-last in my rankings. (This reinforces my suspicion that Neil Clarke will end up somewhere towards the bottom of my rankings in that category, too.)

28) ‘The Man who Bridged the Mist’ by Kij Johnson

The last of the novellas that I read for this year’s Hugo Awards was also very gripping and came from the same editor as ‘Kiss Me Twice’, more or less confirming my suspicions that Sheila Williams will be doing very well when I vote in Best Editor (Short Form). This story really drew me in with the strange and ethereal Mist, and the descriptions of the crossings performed by the Ferrys are awesome to read – very vivid!

The Man who Bridged the Mist )

I have to admit that I don’t think this will place above ‘The Man who Ended History’ for me due to the lack of conceptual brilliance here. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale, but I didn’t fall in love with it in quite the same way that I did with ‘Kiss Me Twice’; as such, it goes into a comfortable third place in my voting.

johncoxon: (Default)

23) ‘The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary’ by Ken Liu

This is the first novella that I’ve read from this year’s Hugo selection and if the others are of as high a standard, then it’s going to be an extremely good year. I loved this story, from start to finish.

Details! )

johncoxon: (Default)

23) ‘The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary’ by Ken Liu

This is the first novella that I’ve read from this year’s Hugo selection and if the others are of as high a standard, then it’s going to be an extremely good year. I loved this story, from start to finish.

Details! )

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

This is the second of the two novels from people nominated for a Campbell. I’m going to move onto Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen, because it’s also nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novella, and then segue into that category from there before moving onto Editor (Short Form) and Semiprozine.

Set during the Troubles of Northern Ireland, this book is a harrowing read in parts, especially if (as I am) you’re British. It’s about Liam, a young Irish lad who lives in Derry, and then in Belfast. It follows the first chapters of his life, starting out as a teenager imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Martin McGrath, an Irish Nationalist with direct experience of the Troubles, wrote an excellent analysis of the book and what’s wrong with its portrayal of the Unionists, the British and the Nationalists. I had read the blog post without realising that it was a review of a Campbell-nominated author’s novel, and so I liked the chance to reread it having some of the context for the book that it was talking about.

One important thing to note about this novel is that, despite the fact some parts seemed jarring to me and I noticed a very one-sided portrayal of the issues, involved, it made me want to know more. Speaking as a young Briton who only vaguely remembers hearing about the Good Friday Agreement on the radio, I don’t know much about the Troubles. After finishing this novel one of the first things I did was start looking stuff up on Wikipedia, and reading. As far as I can tell from browsing Wikipedia and some other sources, there were some Republicans, who did bad things; some Unionists, who did equally bad things; and the British Army, some of whom were doing their job as best they could but some of whom had far too much sympathy for the Unionists to be anything other than terrorists in British uniforms. (This is a gross oversimplification but I think that’s the gist of it; McGrath’s excellent post will give you an idea of what I mean.) I’m happy that I was spurred into learning more about this, since I think it’s really important that people are aware of the history here, but what I’ve learned has diminished my enjoyment of the book due to the above issues.

As a consequence of all this, I feel really conflicted about the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from cover to cover – although it’s a very melancholy tale so don’t read it if you don’t have easy access to hugs! – but I’m uncomfortable about how skewed the image I came away with was. As far as I can tell, the Troubles in Northern Ireland are a hell of a lot less black and white than Leicht would have us believe. The comments on McGrath’s blog highlight Leicht saying, “I guess you can say it’s my way of finding a real situation that fits extreme good versus extreme evil.” That, to me, suggests that she thinks anyone in Ireland who’s a Catholic is ‘extreme good’, and anyone who is not is ‘extreme evil’. Given that, as a Briton, I guess I would fall under the ‘extreme evil’ classification, that’s obviously an opinion that I have certain issues with.

Current views on the Campbell

When it comes to my current rankings for the Campbell Award, I think I’m voting for E. Lily Yu first, with Karen Lord second and Stina Leicht third. I love how Yu plays with the worlds she describes in her short stories in a way that seems very perpendicular to me. Lord’s novel was unusual in terms of its narrator, and Leicht’s novel is heartrending, and both were very enjoyable, but I kinda felt both were playing with pretty standard fantasy fare. In contrast, Yu includes ideas that feel really unique to her, and I think I feel that sets her apart from the others. I haven’t yet read any Torgersen, so we’ll see where I place him in the rankings.

I don’t know where to place Mur yet; I’m thinking I might read the rest of her fiction, which is available for free till the end of June, before making my decision on which number will go beside her name.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

This is the second of the two novels from people nominated for a Campbell. I’m going to move onto Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen, because it’s also nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novella, and then segue into that category from there before moving onto Editor (Short Form) and Semiprozine.

Set during the Troubles of Northern Ireland, this book is a harrowing read in parts, especially if (as I am) you’re British. It’s about Liam, a young Irish lad who lives in Derry, and then in Belfast. It follows the first chapters of his life, starting out as a teenager imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Martin McGrath, an Irish Nationalist with direct experience of the Troubles, wrote an excellent analysis of the book and what’s wrong with its portrayal of the Unionists, the British and the Nationalists. I had read the blog post without realising that it was a review of a Campbell-nominated author’s novel, and so I liked the chance to reread it having some of the context for the book that it was talking about.

One important thing to note about this novel is that, despite the fact some parts seemed jarring to me and I noticed a very one-sided portrayal of the issues, involved, it made me want to know more. Speaking as a young Briton who only vaguely remembers hearing about the Good Friday Agreement on the radio, I don’t know much about the Troubles. After finishing this novel one of the first things I did was start looking stuff up on Wikipedia, and reading. As far as I can tell from browsing Wikipedia and some other sources, there were some Republicans, who did bad things; some Unionists, who did equally bad things; and the British Army, some of whom were doing their job as best they could but some of whom had far too much sympathy for the Unionists to be anything other than terrorists in British uniforms. (This is a gross oversimplification but I think that’s the gist of it; McGrath’s excellent post will give you an idea of what I mean.) I’m happy that I was spurred into learning more about this, since I think it’s really important that people are aware of the history here, but what I’ve learned has diminished my enjoyment of the book due to the above issues.

As a consequence of all this, I feel really conflicted about the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from cover to cover – although it’s a very melancholy tale so don’t read it if you don’t have easy access to hugs! – but I’m uncomfortable about how skewed the image I came away with was. As far as I can tell, the Troubles in Northern Ireland are a hell of a lot less black and white than Leicht would have us believe. The comments on McGrath’s blog highlight Leicht saying, “I guess you can say it’s my way of finding a real situation that fits extreme good versus extreme evil.” That, to me, suggests that she thinks anyone in Ireland who’s a Catholic is ‘extreme good’, and anyone who is not is ‘extreme evil’. Given that, as a Briton, I guess I would fall under the ‘extreme evil’ classification, that’s obviously an opinion that I have certain issues with.

Current views on the Campbell

When it comes to my current rankings for the Campbell Award, I think I’m voting for E. Lily Yu first, with Karen Lord second and Stina Leicht third. I love how Yu plays with the worlds she describes in her short stories in a way that seems very perpendicular to me. Lord’s novel was unusual in terms of its narrator, and Leicht’s novel is heartrending, and both were very enjoyable, but I kinda felt both were playing with pretty standard fantasy fare. In contrast, Yu includes ideas that feel really unique to her, and I think I feel that sets her apart from the others. I haven’t yet read any Torgersen, so we’ll see where I place him in the rankings.

I don’t know where to place Mur yet; I’m thinking I might read the rest of her fiction, which is available for free till the end of June, before making my decision on which number will go beside her name.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Reading this marks my exit from reading long overdue loans and my entrance of the Hugo Awards’ voter packet: this is the first thing I have read for the Campbell award. It’s a fairly short novel (half the length of Of Blood and Honey, the other novel in that category), but I found myself getting thoroughly drawn into the story and the world that was being described; I definitely recommend giving it a read.

Spoilers! )

I hope the other Campbell nominees are as well-paced and enjoyable as this was!

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Reading this marks my exit from reading long overdue loans and my entrance of the Hugo Awards’ voter packet: this is the first thing I have read for the Campbell award. It’s a fairly short novel (half the length of Of Blood and Honey, the other novel in that category), but I found myself getting thoroughly drawn into the story and the world that was being described; I definitely recommend giving it a read.

Spoilers! )

I hope the other Campbell nominees are as well-paced and enjoyable as this was!

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

20) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

This is the last of the four books that were lent to me by [livejournal.com profile] laura_russell. It was also the longest and the one with the worst typography (I swear the font changes on a couple of pages). I enjoyed it, but it put me in mind of a book I read when I was little; Heidi by Johanna Spyri. My mother gave it to me and told me that I should read it; I got to about the halfway mark before I sought her out and earnestly asked her, “Mummy, when does the adventure start?” That’s not to say it’s a bad book, because it isn’t; I read it all the way to the end and I didn’t get bored enough or tired enough of it to put it down at any point, and I read most of it today which probably means it doesn’t get grating overly quickly. However, I’m having real trouble thinking of anything I want to say about it that needs to go under an LJ cut, which is a bit worrying since I read most of it today and it’s still pretty fresh in my mind.

There are fantastical elements to the novel, which I wasn’t expecting, and which my friend – who is not a great sf/fantasy fan – calls ‘magical realism’. The amount of racial stereotyping that pervades the book made me a little uncomfortable; I have no idea if the ideas and words expressed were okay back when it was written, in the mid-eighties, but I didn’t really feel their inclusion was merited. The book was constructed in such a way that things mentioned at the start of the novel come back and affect the end of the novel, but none of these things felt like a twist, which I’m assuming was intentional and not just a sign of the worst twists ever.

All in all, this book’s alright. Wouldn’t recommend it, probably, but you could do worse.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

20) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

This is the last of the four books that were lent to me by [livejournal.com profile] laura_russell. It was also the longest and the one with the worst typography (I swear the font changes on a couple of pages). I enjoyed it, but it put me in mind of a book I read when I was little; Heidi by Johanna Spyri. My mother gave it to me and told me that I should read it; I got to about the halfway mark before I sought her out and earnestly asked her, “Mummy, when does the adventure start?” That’s not to say it’s a bad book, because it isn’t; I read it all the way to the end and I didn’t get bored enough or tired enough of it to put it down at any point, and I read most of it today which probably means it doesn’t get grating overly quickly. However, I’m having real trouble thinking of anything I want to say about it that needs to go under an LJ cut, which is a bit worrying since I read most of it today and it’s still pretty fresh in my mind.

There are fantastical elements to the novel, which I wasn’t expecting, and which my friend – who is not a great sf/fantasy fan – calls ‘magical realism’. The amount of racial stereotyping that pervades the book made me a little uncomfortable; I have no idea if the ideas and words expressed were okay back when it was written, in the mid-eighties, but I didn’t really feel their inclusion was merited. The book was constructed in such a way that things mentioned at the start of the novel come back and affect the end of the novel, but none of these things felt like a twist, which I’m assuming was intentional and not just a sign of the worst twists ever.

All in all, this book’s alright. Wouldn’t recommend it, probably, but you could do worse.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I realised that I didn’t really have a good place to put novellas, and so I’m including them here; to me they fit better in this series than they do in the short story posts I’ve been doing. Novelettes will probably go in the short stories’ posts, though.

19) The Political Officer by C.C. Finlay

I just started reading Lightspeed Magazine #23 (yes, I know I’m behind) and this is the subscription-exclusive novella in that issue. It’s set on a starship, and concerns the movements of the ship’s Political Officer, Max, who appears to be half busybody/spy and half extension of the Government. It’s his job to make decisions that the captain can’t make – for instance, military actions that would significantly affect policy – whilst spying on the other members of the crew. I found this interesting, and I also found it interesting that the captain, the high-ranking intelligence officer and him are all the same rank, and all at the top of the pecking order in their own way. Having three people at the top of three separate chains of command seemed a bit unrealistic, if I’m honest, but I don’t know much about military bureaucracy so I’m going to let it slide.

But, more confusion, and spoilers. )

All in all, I thought this was a fairly enjoyable romp through a spaceship, but it didn’t really hugely engage me. The ideas contained herein are very secondary to the protagonist and the plot, so on the hard SF front it doesn’t score brilliantly. My recommendation: If you find it in front of you, give it a go, but don’t seek it out.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I realised that I didn’t really have a good place to put novellas, and so I’m including them here; to me they fit better in this series than they do in the short story posts I’ve been doing. Novelettes will probably go in the short stories’ posts, though.

19) The Political Officer by C.C. Finlay

I just started reading Lightspeed Magazine #23 (yes, I know I’m behind) and this is the subscription-exclusive novella in that issue. It’s set on a starship, and concerns the movements of the ship’s Political Officer, Max, who appears to be half busybody/spy and half extension of the Government. It’s his job to make decisions that the captain can’t make – for instance, military actions that would significantly affect policy – whilst spying on the other members of the crew. I found this interesting, and I also found it interesting that the captain, the high-ranking intelligence officer and him are all the same rank, and all at the top of the pecking order in their own way. Having three people at the top of three separate chains of command seemed a bit unrealistic, if I’m honest, but I don’t know much about military bureaucracy so I’m going to let it slide.

But, more confusion, and spoilers. )

All in all, I thought this was a fairly enjoyable romp through a spaceship, but it didn’t really hugely engage me. The ideas contained herein are very secondary to the protagonist and the plot, so on the hard SF front it doesn’t score brilliantly. My recommendation: If you find it in front of you, give it a go, but don’t seek it out.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

Just quickly, before we get down to business: New icon! I wanted one for the posts I make about books and whatnot. So here it is.

18) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I am, apparently, on fire right now, since this is the third novel I’ve read in recent days. I’ve been setting aside a lot more time to read every evening, especially since television is drying up as the summer looms. In previous years I’ve bemoaned the lack of visual entertainment in the summer months but, despite the fact I am vaguely planning to watch Stargate SG:1 and/or True Blood over the summer to replace the lack of TV, I am placing reading above sitting at my computer. This is a new development, but a welcome one.

Onto the book, which is about Afghanistan, and is another literary piece lent to me by my friend [livejournal.com profile] laura_russell. This is the third I’ve read, and the first that didn’t have any sfnal or fantasy tendencies. When I finished reading it I posted on GetGlue, saying “Amazing, harrowing, heartwarming, thought provoking, tear inducing.” If you want to read a great novel set amongst the turmoil of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, I’d not hesitate to recommend this book.

So sad. So very sad. )

I think I’m all novel’d out today. I’ll probably start the next one tomorrow.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

Just quickly, before we get down to business: New icon! I wanted one for the posts I make about books and whatnot. So here it is.

18) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I am, apparently, on fire right now, since this is the third novel I’ve read in recent days. I’ve been setting aside a lot more time to read every evening, especially since television is drying up as the summer looms. In previous years I’ve bemoaned the lack of visual entertainment in the summer months but, despite the fact I am vaguely planning to watch Stargate SG:1 and/or True Blood over the summer to replace the lack of TV, I am placing reading above sitting at my computer. This is a new development, but a welcome one.

Onto the book, which is about Afghanistan, and is another literary piece lent to me by my friend [livejournal.com profile] laura_russell. This is the third I’ve read, and the first that didn’t have any sfnal or fantasy tendencies. When I finished reading it I posted on GetGlue, saying “Amazing, harrowing, heartwarming, thought provoking, tear inducing.” If you want to read a great novel set amongst the turmoil of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, I’d not hesitate to recommend this book.

So sad. So very sad. )

I think I’m all novel’d out today. I’ll probably start the next one tomorrow.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

17) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Since I was away this weekend, I decided I’d take two books back with me and try to read both before work tomorrow. This was partly my desire to return them to the friend that lent them to me, and by Jove, I managed it! I read this novel second because it seemed like it might have some fantasy elements, and I’m trying to ease myself into literary fiction gently rather than just going genre cold turkey, as it were. I wasn’t expecting to like this novel, but I actually really enjoyed it; unfortunately I felt that the last fifty pages were somewhat unnecessary, and the plot would have been resolved entirely satisfactorily had it ended on p346, instead of on p396. However, this is a minor quibble, and I think I’d still recommend it.

Some musings on the work )

This was the first translation from Russian that I’ve read, I believe, and I was surprised at how well-written the book was. That’s my ignorance of such things showing through; it’s fairly obvious, now that I’m thinking about it, that the translators do more than just replicate the bare bones of the plot.

I’m really enjoying reading more, and I’m glad I didn’t put any television on my laptop before I went away. I think I need encouragement to read more often, and perhaps having a lack of options is a good way to achieve that!

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