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

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+

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-

americium?

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Hank Green

The first novel from the younger Vlogbrother is a fast-paced & whip smart Science Fiction thriller and also a deeply considered meditation on the nature of fame – especially fame gained through a carefully constructed persona on the Internet.
Recently graduated from college struggling graphic designer April May stumbles across what she initially assumes is a temporary art project in the streets of Manhattan. On a whim April and her friend Andy put up a Youtube video about the giant robot statue and she accidentally finds herself famous & at the centre of a huge worldwide story.
The central characters are well drawn and the feel of April’s world feels completely natural even when weird things happen.
It’s great fun to read and also seriously thought provoking. I’m just blown away by how good it is for a debut novel.
This is another book that I part read and part listened to. The narrator of the audiobook does great work and if you’re an audiobook person it’s definitely work checking out.

Rating: A

bandolier?

The Day of the Doctor

Steven Moffat

A Target novelization of an old Doctor Who episode shouldn’t be as much fun as this.
Moffat adds and modifies the original script to give the story more depth, more humour and more clever clever twistiness.
I really really enjoyed this.
I split reading this between the ebook and the audiobook (that Amazon synergy at work) and I normally leave my audiobook reviews to the end of the year but I just enjoyed this one too much!
Nicholas Briggs is excellent as the narrator and voices the various Doctors with much relish. Even the little bits of audio atmospherics actually add to the story for a change. Briggs does have one weakness – he seriously cannot do Clara’s accent.
Anyway very highly recommended if you like Moffat era Doctor Who.

Rating: A-

tank?

Head On

John Scalzi

This is the sequel to Lock In which set up a near future world where an illness called Haden’s Syndrome has left a significant percentage of the population locked into their physical bodies and only able to experience the world remotely via robot proxies.
The lead character is once again Haden FBI agent Chris Shane.
This one is set in the world of the fast-growing and ulraviolent Haden sport of Hilketa.
When a player dies in a pre-season match Shane and their partner uncover a web of lies that goes all the way to the heart of the sport.
As always Scalzi’s prose is easy to read and designed to draw you in. It’s a fast-paced ride of a read rather than something designed for depth.

Rating: B+