taprobane?

The Fountains of Paradise

Arthur C. Clarke

I first read this book a long, long time ago as a library book. A few years ago, with fond memories, I bought a second hand paperback copy of the book to revisit at some point.
Having a desperate need to spend more time away from screens now that I’m working from home during the lockdown I picked a physical book from my shelves to give me that diversion.
The plot is that superstar engineer Vannevar Morgan has decided that his next project should be a space elevator. He has a special low-g developed wonder material that will allow it but he needs to build it on a mountain somewhere on the equator. The best spot just happens to be on the site of an ancient monastery.
This book is solid entertaining Science Fiction but honestly nothing outstanding – definitely not as good as I had remembered.
Worth a read but not worth going out of your way to get a copy.

Rating: B

subway?

A City Dreaming

Daniel Polansky

M is a magician or as he would put in it “in with the management”.
This book is a series of rolling vignettes as we see what M gets up to after washing back up in New York after drifting all over the planet.
The main character is a charming rogue and the writing enjoyable.
The problem for me was that the story never coheres. Some vignettes are utterly trivial tales of life as a debauched New York who just happens to have magical abilities and others have a genuine sense of danger and high stakes.
The stories just feel random – there’s no sense of tension and release. It’s never building to something and certainly the war between magical queens promised in the blurb never materializes.
I don’t regret reading it – there was much to enjoy – but I just felt it could have been great if was a more conventional fantasy story.

Rating: B

princesses?

Holiday in the Hamptons

Sarah Morgan

This is a re-read of a perfectly enjoyable romance novel. You can read my earlier, still accurate, review here. I picked it up because I’d just finished listening to the audiobook of New York Actually (which is the first of the Knight siblings books) and remembered that I liked this one best of the series and the audiobook wasn’t at a price I was prepared to pay.

Rating: B

radon?

Sensation

Nick Mamatas

When Julia Hernandez is infected with parasitic wasps she walks out on her husband and her old life.
She accidentally initiates a new movement and becomes an infamous wanted felon only to vanish.
When Julia’s ex spots her in a grocery store we learn about the battle between parasitic wasps and the spiders that are their normal prey and about the Simulacrum – another world made up of the places that fall between the cracks of our world.
This is a weird and unsettling piece of present day science fiction.
I found it interesting enough to keep me reading but never quite satisfying enough to feel drawn in to the story.
Recommended if you want to read something a bit off the wall and you’re really interested in the way distributed movements act.
I would never have read this if I hadn’t come across it in the library. Just another reason why libraries are great – you can browse and randomly come across something interesting (the selection online is too vast to effectively do this) and take it home with you at no cost (definitely no way you can do this in a book shop).

Rating: B+

chandler?

The End of All Things

John Scalzi

This book directly follows on from the stories told in The Human Division and thankfully starts to reveal the consipiracy behind events right from the start.
Again this is a series of connected novellas and short stories that make up a complete story.
Many characters return from The Human Division but a few new players have impactful appearances.
It’s a satisfying ending without leaving everything too neatly resolved.
Again, good solid Science Fiction written in an enjoyable fashion.
I really needed to know what happened after The Human Division and read this one as an ebook. It was nice to be that involved in a book/world.

Rating: B+

abumwe?

The Human Division

John Scalzi

The Human Division is an entry in Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” universe. Following from the events of The Last Colony / Zoe’s Tale a new political reality faces Humanity and the other species of the universe.
The book itself is made up of a series of novellas and short stories. These are mainly from the perspective of the previously redundant diplomatic service of the Colonial Union as they try to mend fences with Earth and create alliances with alien races. The central character is a familiar face from earlier “Old Man’s War” books – Harry Wilson.
As events proceed it becomes clear that events are being manipulated through sabotage, cultural manipulation and political shenanigans.
Then the book ends and you’re still in the dark!
Thankfully all is dealt with the next book – The End of All Things.
This is good solid Science Fiction from Scalzi. I enjoy his prose style – it’s not flashy but it draws you in to the story without sacrificing character.

Rating: B+

pete?

The Unkindest Tide

Seanan McGuire

This is the very latest book in the October Daye series and another where the price of the audiobook just wasn’t justifiable (at least for now).
This the book where the long teased story of the Luidaeg calling in the debts of the Selkies is told.
It’s a cracking read but another one where things happen in the plot more to extend the length of the book than serve the story.
The accompanying novella is interesting but slight and only tangentially related the the main book.

Rating: B+

kale?

Night And Silence

Seanan McGuire

As my re-read of the October Daye series progressed I finally came to the first one I hadn’t read before. So I read this one while I had it’s audiobook on the go.
October is recovering from the trauma of events in The Brightest Fell when she’s called in to investigate a missing college student – her own daughter Gillian.
This was another very enjoyable installment in the series and contained quite a few cracking twists that impact on the long arc of the series.
The only issue really was that it felt less like a novel and more like a couple of novellas mashed together.
The accompanying novella is intimately tied in with the events of the book and are very illuminating in ways that I found tantalising about the direction of the series.
Lots of fun but not any kind of entry point.

Rating: B+

purple?

This Is How You Lose The Time War

Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This is – of all things – an epistolary novella where agents of the two sides engaged in a time war start communicating with letters hidden through ever more elaborate means up and down the time stream.
This is just a fantastic piece of very well written Science Fiction. It’s a really engaging read and I highly recommend it to folks who like SF.

Rating: A-