his girl friday?

Steel Beach

John Varley

Steel BeachThis book is very much a tribute to the style and themes of Robert A Heinlein.
Hildy Johnson is a star reporter for a top Luna City dirt sheet. Life is good except for the bit where he keeps on attempting suicide. And just why is the Central Computer taking such a close interest in his case?
This book seems to occupy a strange place among Varley’s work, almost entirely taken over by the aping of Heinlein. It also seems to both be part of and simultaneously outside Varley’s previously created timeline.
I’d recommend this to people who are huge fans of Heinlein and can stomach the politics, violence, suicides and cold blooded murder of innocents.

Rating: B-

anarchy?

The Man Who Was Thursday

G.K. Chesterton

Syme is a poet and an anti-anarchist policeman. He cleverly gets voted on to the Supreme Council of Anarchists as Thursday (The council members all have days of the week for names).
The rest of this story details his adventures as he attempts to derail the activities of the Council.
This is a blackly comic, surreal tale, with many layers of meaning.
I’d recommend it, but I don’t really know why. Anyway you can get a download of it via project gutenberg like I did and read it as an e-book.

Rating: B+

where’s my cow?

Thud!

Terry Pratchett

The latest Discworld book. This is another focussing on Sam Vimes, and the City Watch.
The city is on edge, Dwarfs and Trolls are spoiling for a fight as Battle of Koom Valley day approaches. A high-ranking religious dwarf has been killed and Vimes has to find the person really responsible before the city falls apart. All the while making sure he makes it home for 6pm to read ‘Where is my Cow’ to young Sam Vimes jr.
Vimes is my favourite Discworld character after the outstanding ‘Night Watch’ and this book has done nothing to change that.
Not in the very top rank of Discworld books, this one is nonetheless very strong and has some interesting things to say. It’ll be interesting to see how the events that happen in this book play out in future books.
I’d recommend this to anyone. Pratchett is a genius.

Rating: A-

vine street?

Do Not Pass Go

Tim Moore

Monopoly (the board game) has got a lot to answer for and this is the latest thing.
Moore visits the London streets featured in the game and looks at how they have changed since they were picked for the board game in the 1930’s.
This is a mildly amusing, occasionally frustrating and digression filled read.
The main pity is that Moore is capable of being funnier than this and that he sometimes comes across as terribly half-hearted in his approach to the project.
I liked it OK. I wouldn’t class it as a must read, well unless you have a burning desire to read a mildly funny travel/historical guide to London’s monopoly streets.
If that description fits you, then great, otherwise I’d recommend it only as something to borrow from a library.

Rating: B-

locket?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

J.K. Rowling

The sixth book in the Potter series. In which, as usual, stubborn Harry finds himself in mortal danger because he doesn’t ask the right questions at the right time, lets his paranoia run deep, starts dating his best friend’s sister and Dumbledore gets killed. By Snape (The Half Blood Prince in question). Hm. The last book will be interesting I can already see some things that will happen, I think.
It’s far from a masterpiece, but it is a real page turner. I think it took me about six hours to read!
I’d be deluding myself to offer a recommendation for this book – people will either read it or they won’t.

Rating: B+

brief update (6)

Pattern Recognition

William Gibson

A near future novel about the implications of branding, guerilla marketing and niche internet communties set two years before the novel came out.
This is the story of a person whose sensitivity to brands makes her ideal for marketing companies wanting to know if their strategies are likely to work or not.
She gets involved in an intrigue related to a community she participates in to do with snippets of film that appear in strange places on the net.
With complex and dangerous results.
This is probably Gibson’s most satisfying novel, if not his flashiest.
I’d really recommend it.

Rating: A

brief update (5)

The Sacred Art Of Stealing

Christopher Brookmyre

Another rather enjoyable thriller, this time mostly set in Glasgow.
Angelique de Xavia, the scots-asian police officer introduced in “A big boy did it and ran away”, is pulled out of a match at ibrox to get
involved in an unusual bank heist in the centre of Glasgow. The plot deals with the implications of the robbery and the attraction between the lead robber and de Xavia.
It starts off remarkably well, then tails off. Worth a read though.

Rating: B

brief update (4)

Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud

This a serious discussion of the nature and potential of sequential art written in comic form.
It’s a very persuasive and powerful piece of work.
Probably for people who’d like to have some insight into the theory and practice of comics.

Rating: A

brief update (3)

A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away

Christopher Brookmyre

An essentially silly and massively enjoyable thriller.
It tells the story of Ray, a new father and a new teacher, and what happens when he sees an old university friend at an airport when the friend is meant to be very dead.
Littering the story with all sorts of references to pop culture makes this a very enjoyable read if rather unbelievable.
If you like big dumb action packed thrillers with a very Scottish voice, you’ll like this creation.

Rating: B

brief update (2)

Night Watch

Terry Pratchett

This is among the very best Discworld novels, along with the likes of
Small Gods.
A bit darker than normal, and with much less emphasis on the humour, this is an Ankh-Morpork Watch story.
Sam Vimes (who has grown to become perhaps my favourite Discworld character) is thrown into the past to hunt down a psychotic killer and finds he has to relive one of the formative experiences of his youth and take on the mantle of his mentor in order to heal time and get back to his present and his newborn child.
The plot is a device allowing Pratchett to really get under the skin of a character.
It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

Rating: A+