206

One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night

Christopher Brookmyre

It’s school reunion time, with all the attendant neuroses that involves. They’re gathered on an oil rig that’s half converted into a luxury holiday complex (the brainchild of the reunion organizer). When a group of mercenaries attack.
Um. I really wanted to like this book. I’ve loved all the other Brookmyre books I’ve read, but this one is only enjoyable in fits and starts. There are far too many dumb, unappealing, unsympathetic characters. I liked some of the characters Matt, Ally, Simone but he kept spending time with people I just wanted to see blown up.
Maybe you’ll like it better than I did. If you’ve enjoyed Brookmyre before give it a try.

205

Microserfs

Douglas Coupland

This is one of my favourite books to re-read from time to time. It’s the story of a group of friends who quit working for Microsoft to start their own software company. It’s funny, moving and has insight into what makes geeks tick.
It’s tech gets more and more outdated every time I read it, but the truths about relationships and the need to have a life outside of work still ring true.
Coupland is a very interesting writer and he has an easy going style that makes his work fun to read. I’d recommend you try one or two of his books. Apart from this one, try Generation X and Miss Wyoming. I think they’re pretty good.

204

Fargo Rock City

Chuck Klosterman

This is a light-hearted attempt to explain why hair metal was so damned popular in the 1980’s.
Part memoir, part critical essay, the author doesn’t really succeed in giving a non-believer (say, like me) an idea of why we should all love Motley Crue, Skid Row and Poison. He managed to make me laugh, though.
I’m not completely certain that he’s come to terms with the fact that he grew up loving the most critically reviled music of the period. He comes up with some highly specious reasons why bands like Black Flag, Fugazi and The Replacements don’t matter as much as Gun’s ‘n’ Roses and Motley Crue. A little bit of inverted snobbery going on there I think.
Anyway, an enjoyable read for anyone who knows enough about 1980’s music to understand what the hell he’s going on about. Not the greatest book of musical criticism ever written, but worth your time.

203

The Sacred Art of Stealing

Christopher Brookmyre

This is a highly entertaining crime novel written in Brookmyre’s usual acerbic style.
The lead character in this novel in Angelique da Xavia, an officer in Strathclyde Police, who featured prominently in Brookmyre’s Last Novel “A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away”.
The best bit was the audacious Bank robbery near the start of the novel. Not as good as “A Big Boy…” as it ran out of steam towards the end with some over telegraphed twists, but well worth reading.

202

Altered Carbon

Richard Morgan

A slick crime thriller in ‘cyberpunk’ clothes.
Takeshi Kovacs is an ex-Envoy who has had his mind transmitted halfway across the galaxy by an extremely rich man in his 300s who wants Kovacs to prove he didn’t commit suicide.
Central to this story is the idea that in the future everyone’s mind will be backed up to data storage either carried in the spine or remotely. That interstellar travel is best done by having minds transmitted by FTL communications and placing the mind in a new body or sleeve. That the wealthy can live a very long time by transferring their minds to a younger clone every so often.

I personally thought it was a lot of fun, but you need to have a tolerance for sex and violence.

201

The Eyre Affair

Jasper Fforde

I borrowed this book from someone at my work.
It’s an entertaining enough SF comedy.
The plot is insubstantial, the characters pretty wooden.
In it’s favour, though, is that it’s got a good pace and it has some very funny jokes in it.
I’ll probably read the sequel at some point.
I would say in the world of humourous genre novels this guy has got what it takes to be a new Tom Holt. It’ll take a miracle for him to get as good as Terry Pratchett.

200

The Magicians of Caprona

Diana Wynne Jones

I finished re-reading this classic kid’s book for the umpteenth time last night.
Now having admitted that and losing what little veneer of cool I might have had I’m going to do one of my mini-reviews.
This is the story of Tonino Montana, a young boy living on an alternate Earth where magic is real and the Italy he lives in is still divided into city states. In Caprona, there are two families that surpass all others in the creation of spells, the Montanas and the Petrocchis. They hate each other due to some ancient half remembered grudge. Unfortunately they’re fighting each other when Caprona is at it’s weakest, under attack, with an evil enchanter undermining from within and other city states ready to attack from outside. Chrestomanci (yes, it’s a Chrestomanci book, though he barely appears in this one) urges both families to find the real words to the Angel of Caprona, a powerful spell donated to the city by heaven, in order to save the city. Tonino is slow to learn spells, and has always got his head stuck in a book, yet he’s the one who proves vital to the salvation of Caprona.
I love this book – it’s a great children’s fantasy. It blows Harry Potter out of the water. I urge to investigate anything written by Diana Wynne Jones, she’s a very inventive and consistently good author, whether for children or for adults.

199

Lullaby

Chuck Palahniuk

I finished reading this book this morning and I’ve decided to put a little review of it up here

Carl Streator is a journalist working on a series of features on cot death. Helen Hoover Boyle is a realtor selling haunted houses again and again. A discovery Carl makes while shadowing paramedics at infant mortality cases joins the pair together in a quest to remove page 27 from every copy of a book called ‘Poems and Rhymes From Around the World’.

I usually enjoy Palahniuk’s work and this was no exception, but as with his last novel Choke, this is a slight read compared with the intensity of Fight Club and Survivor.
The plot devices were interesting, I really liked the idea of the culling song, but ultimately none of the characters were memorable or sympathetic. They were all too numb to horror or too full of self importance for any of their actions to matter to them, never mind the reader.
This could have been a powerful and disturbing read, but instead ended up being merely diverting.
I would say it’s worth reading, but it’s no masterpiece.

198

A New Year

A new obsession

I’ve been slowly buying and reading the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman over the last few months, growing more impressed with every new book. I’m now at the stage where I’m going to have to buy the whole lot. What a bummer.

Also reading Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk.

197

To Read Again

Persistent re-reader

I’ve read a few books in the past few weeks, but they’ve been re-reads.
Frank Herbert – Dune classic Science Fiction
Terry Pratchett – The Truth & Thief of Time his most recent Discworlds
William Gibson – Mona Lisa Overdrive the final book in the Neuromancer ‘trilogy’

I downloaded the ebook of the prologue to the new Robert Jordan book but, since I’ve not
finished the last one, I’ve not read it.