SF/F Reading in February 2017

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Boreas, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Ditto! I have about 500 unread books on my kindle (over half the 990 of the mod's combined total which you guessed to win the kindle). I am calming it down quite a bit now though .. I only buy books if they're reduced to 99p ..
     
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  2. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    I'm over half way The First Law... Mmn, it started really well. Great characterization and very promising plot. However, it seems to have reached a plateau. Charactes and plot seem to be floating up in the air for a bit too long now: Glokta is growing rather repetitive in his role and inner dialogs. Logen seems to have lost his voice, he's turned a bit wishy washy. I find Jezal predictable and Ferro, well, she reminds me of one of these dogs with rabies.
    Plot wise the scene has been set for a while now. It needs to move forward, sideways, upwards; I don't care which way it goes, but it has been stagnant for too long.
    I'm still enjoying it and shall continue with it. I'm just a bit puzzled. Probably my expectations were really high as everyone seems to really love this series. Guess I'm getting old and picky...
     
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  3. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Well, I did give you a much more cautious appraisal for The First Law. I still had fun reading it, mostly because I liked some of the dialogue/conversations between characters. Loved Practical Frost's mangled speech.
     
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  4. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    Yep. You told me so...
     
  5. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    I read the first but no further - I thought it opened well and then, like you, I started to find point of views a little static.
     
  6. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    I agree:
     
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  7. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    I finished The Blade Itself and although I enjoyed some sections of it, I found it overall disappointing. I’m not going to continue with this series. However, I have heard many good things about his standalone Best Served Cold. Should I go for it or should I simply admit Abercrombie and I aren’t meant for each other?

    Now, for my next SF read, The Expanse or Old Mans’s War? Not sure what to go for. I’m also considering Wool

    Edit: The Match I by P Kearney also looks very interesting. Has anyone read it? @kenubrion? I bought it after you posted this book amazon offer.
    I enjoyed very much Kearney's narrative in his book Wolf In the Attic...
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  8. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    I've started reading Dark Eden by Chris Beckett this morning. Only 1 chapter (10%) in, but the setting is interesting so far, and I like the way the vocabulary has evolved since these guys have (obviously) been on this planet.
     
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  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I definitely intend to read this, so I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!
     
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  10. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    Just started Wool by H Howey.
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've been reading quite sparingly for over a month, maybe 20-30 minutes every 2-3 days on average just before falling asleep. But I finally finished The Voyage of Sable Keech by Neal Asher. And it was as good as the first instalment of the Spatterjay trilogy. The plot became so much more involved and complicated, and some of the implications were seriously fun. Damn, there were some truly titanic struggles in this volume. Neal Asher writes some freaking awesome battle sequences, whether between AI war drones or biological behemoths. He's continued to develop the life-cycles and evolutionary markers of the supremely deadly fauna of Spatterjay, and it's a fantastic job of ecosystem world-building. The genus Titanicus Whelkus was one of the major highlights of this novel for me. Ye gods, what a monster!

    I've got to re-iterate that Asher handles multiple points of view very well. He'd better, because there are about six different major perspectives in this novel with a few more minor ones, and one major perspective contains a number of sub-perspectives. Yet he ties them up well. And once again, Asher brings this instalment to a very good close with all major plot points neatly resolved within the larger ongoing story that is yet to finish. And like in The Skinner, where there was one incident that I found a little difficult to accept even though I found the outcome fun, there is one such resolution of a particular plot-thread that I'm also not as keen on. Not because the outcome is necessarily bad, but because some of the reasoning didn't make as much sense to me given the enormity of what transpired within the particular plot-thread. Or maybe I just missed something.
     
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  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Started on Greg Bear's Beyond Heaven's River last night and finished the first chapter. It's his second science fiction novel. The beginning here is almost as tantalisingly strange as was in his first work, Hegira.

    How are you both finding your reads so far?
     
  13. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Absolutely loving Dark Eden. It's a very contained story at the moment, but with a lot of backstory, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes. It's basically about a colony of humans descended from two people who became stranded on a 'dark' planet 150 odd years ago. Their evolved language and understanding of Earth is really well written.

    I'm also listening to Lock In by Scalzi. It's quite confusing if I'm being honest and maybe audio isn't the best approach with it. There's a huge web of characters who are all involved in the story to varying degrees and I'm starting to struggle. I may have to rewind a bit ..
     
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  14. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    I have read about 80% of Wool, and I’m loving it. This is the pentalogy of the Wool novellas. I have read some criticism regarding the structure but I don’t agree with it. They are not at all disjointed and they very much flow into each other as if they were mere chapters.
    The dystopia background introduces a wonderful set of characters and this is, in my view, the best asset of the book. Regardless of their age, social status and sex, there is a weight, a maturity to all of them as result of the living conditions.
    A silo is their home or it might as well be described as an ant nest, but without the excitement of the outings. Well, there are some outings, but they equate more to a redeeming sacrificial ritual for the well being and entertainment of the silo residents.

    I really like the main female character, Juliet the mechanic, a female behaving like a female and not like some kind of she/male with the aggressive, arrogant cockiness and cynical attitude you so often see in female characters within urban fantasy.
    And Bernard the villain, oh! I adore the fact I despise him so much… You feel better venting off your frustrations on a well deserving villain.

    Wool is a very entertaining story about people’s psychology, a study in human behaviour. How do we behave when our world, as we know it, and our community ethics are crumbling? How do people react when facing the tearing of their world? Do they always cling to the false security that provides being penned like sheep? Do we behave differently when one feels that, as an individual, can have an influence or at least one feels the weight and moral obligation to test the boundaries? Ah! and the plot is also great, especially for readers who, like me, enjoy our fair share of crime novels.

    I’m curious about your opinion when you finish it. Bear’s Forge of God was not only a fantastic story, but I also found it very emotionally impacting. I was looking the other day which book by Bear should I go for next. Anvil of Stars, the sequel to FoG feels to me somehow different. Probably, it will also be a great read, but I guess it will be a different type of “great”

    Tempting... but I don't think I will be picking this up soon. I have in my head so many book I think I will be enjoying more than TVoSK. Either that or I get extra paid holidays...
     
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  15. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've kinda been avoiding/waffling on picking up Wool for the past few years. But this:
    is definitely a strong recommendation. I'm also not too fond of overly aggressive female characters as you describe them, and a good villain to hate is always a bonus.
     
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  16. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    I think you would enjoy it...
     
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  17. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    Finished Wool. Really loved the remaining 20% I had left.
    I have already bought Shift and Dust but, as I like mixing things up a bit, I have picked up Old Man's War by Scalzi. Looking forward to this one too.
     
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  18. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    So far it's not at all like what I expected. Actually, I don't know what I really expected because I'd forgotten what the premise of the novel was and it's been sitting on my Kindle for a long while. His first novel didn't even feel like SF initially, even though you realise it is very hard SF as the novel progresses, but hidden behind quasi-mystical and historical terms. This novel starts out overtly as science fiction, but there's still a queer or surreal quality to it, something that feels more in line with 1970's New Wave SF. I've just gotten through a WWII Japanese bombardier's story of having lived countless self-created lives over 400 years, while being perfectly cognizant that these lives were mentally manufactured by him, but at the same time having aspects of reality interjected into these lives so that there is some real, relevant information from him to learn from. Yes, it's bizarre, but fascinating. These early Bear novels are not at all like the later hard SF work of his I read, Blood Music.
     
  19. Elvira

    Elvira Well-Known Member

    Interesting! I think I would enjoy more Bear's less surreal, less New Wave type of books.
    Somehow, I’m trying to find another Bear to recreate what The Forge of God meant to me: a clever plot, fantastic characterisation, surprising ending and emotionally beautiful.
    I have been "staring" at Darwin’s Radio and also and Queen of Angels

    I’m half way through Old Man’s War and I’m finding it a very enjoyable read, uncomplicated, fun and well balanced. However, after 25% I thought I was going to grow tired of the humour; a bit reminiscent of Grumpy Old Men. Fortunately, the pace, mood and plot are heading to a better place...
    By the way, do you know whether the film Avatar borrowed some ideas from OMW? Just wondering...
     
  20. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    The film Avatar borrowed from everything, and especially from Pocahontas. Old Man's War last third is when it finally gets above average. As you've noticed, the main plus for the book is its fast pace. The writing, esp. expository heavy dialogue, and some scenarios that end up becoming even more clichéd precisely because Scalzi tries so hard to avoid it being so (including overtly informing the reader of his attempt) are all big minuses. The whole novel is a much lesser version (even a slight caricature) of The Forever War, which can hold its own as a strong anti-war narrative amongst mainstream examples of the twentieth century. As light entertainment, OMW works.
     
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