bibliokay

"Peggy fingered at her glass, a smile printed to lips that would not smile unaided."
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

"Dance of the Dead" from I Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard Matheson

Big Implications, Small Cast

Cyteen - C.J. Cherryh

When Ariane Emory (the first), head of Reseune genetic facilities, is murdered by Jordon Warrick, the next generation at Reseune has their shackles weakened just enough that they might be able to make a difference. Ariane Emory (the second), a replicate of Ariane Emory (the first), grows up in a tightly controlled environment with the hope that she will be just like her predecessor, but things don't work exactly as they hoped, she's starting where Ariane 1 left off, with the skill, instincts, and knowledge, but with the determination to improve upon the legacy of Ariane 1. In particular Ariane 2 wants to make sure that Justin Warrick, Jordon's son and Ariane 1's victim, has the opportunity to achieve his potential and realize his dreams...under her benevolent leadership, of course. When politics don't stop and wait for Ariane 2 to grow up, she must walk a fine line between controlling and being controlled.

In some ways Cyteen is the story of the murder of Ariane Emory, as the cover promises, but it is also much more than that. It is more the story of the ripples in the lives of a handful of people as her death creates a large empty space in the world. It's a story about power: The power that elder's have over youngers; that leaders have over successors; that mentally flexible people have over mentally rigid people; the power that love both gives and takes away.

If all of that sounds like it is complicated and wide-ranging, you'd be correct. It isn't that this couldn't be boiled down to a Hollywood movie plot, it's more that Cherryh builds a level of intrigue and detail that would be ill-served when boiled down.

I highly recommend this book for those that enjoy the complications of space operas, but wish they had a smaller cast.

Not the best Ballard, so shouldn't be your first Ballard

The Drowned World - J.G. Ballard

This is my second Ballard novel and I think that he was caught on a theme and was compelled to write a novel around it. In Crash he obsessed over technology and perversion. In The Drowned World he obsesses over reversions to primordial states--the planet reverting to prehistoric jungle, mankind reverting to pre-civilized social norms, a person reverting from adulthood to the womb. Where I found the repetition of words in Crash to enhance the story, I didn't connect with it in The Drowned World.

None of this is to say that I didn't find the book enjoyable, just that Ballard was less skillful in his relentless pursuit of theme and it took away the impact that comes with feeling what a novel is about rather than it telling you what it is about.

To be fair, this was his first novel. I wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for their next summer read or great classic, but placed in context, it contains the seeds of things I liked in Crash and builds on the skill honed through writing short fiction.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/949387246?book_show_action=false

The Girl in the Road

The Girl in the Road - Monica Byrne The Girl in the Road was stunning and the less you know going into it, the better. It is heart-breaking and beautiful with enough near-future science-fiction flavor to allow me to really immerse.

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie Ancillary Justice gave me similar happy feelings that [b:2312|11830394|2312|Kim Stanley Robinson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1334784013s/11830394.jpg|16785236] gave me last year when I was reading through the Hugo Nominees. I won't be reading all of this year's nominees, but looking at the list, I'm fairly confident that this would be my #1 vote.

The Drowned World: A Novel (50th Anniversary)

The Drowned World: A Novel (50th Anniversary) - J.G. Ballard, Martin Amis This is my second Ballard novel and I think that he was caught on a theme and was compelled to write a novel around it. In [b:Crash|70241|Crash|J.G. Ballard|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1281416649s/70241.jpg|68058] he obsessed over technology and perversion. In The Drowned World he obsesses over reversions to primordial states--the planet reverting to prehistoric jungle, mankind reverting to pre-civilized social norms, a person reverting from adulthood to the womb. Where I found the repetition of words in Crash to enhance the story, I didn't connect with it in The Drowned World.

None of this is to say that I didn't find the book enjoyable, just that Ballard was less skillful in his relentless pursuit of theme and it took away the impact that comes with feeling what a novel is about rather than it telling you what it is about.

To be fair, this was his first novel. I wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for their next summer read or great classic, but placed in context, it contains the seeds of things I liked in Crash and builds on the skill honed through writing short fiction.

Into the Storm

Into the Storm - Taylor Anderson This book might be for you... It is an interesting mix of historical fiction, military scifi, and alt Earth fantasy. It is clearly building into something cool.

...but it isn't for me. I listened to this on audiobook and while the narrator was very good, I felt like I wasn't seeing things in color. Maybe it was that there wasn't a deep dive into any particular character. I honestly can't put my finger on what about the writing failed to hook me.

Despite all of that, it was enjoyable and I'm sure there are people for whom this book would be extraordinary.

Speak, memory: an autobiography revisited

Speak, memory: an autobiography revisited - Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov This book was just not for me. Vladimir Nabokov is a brilliant writer. His words are elegant, his life was interesting, and I still found myself dragging through this audiobook.

The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K. Chesterton
He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realisation; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinthe and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike. The more his mother preached a more than Puritan abstinence the more did his father expand into a more than pagan latitude; and by the time the former had come to enforcing vegetarianism, the latter had pretty well reached the point of defending cannibalism.
-loc536 of 2666

Syme, the protagonist, is a poet and secret spy to a counsel of anarchists. He has both agreed to be a spy and also not to tell the police about the anarchists. When trying to prevent a bombing, things start to unravel and twist, getting stranger and stranger until it all makes a sort of sense.

The book was another strange choice from the Guardian List of Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels. It isn't exactly fantasy but it isn't exactly not-fantasy. It was madcap, twisty, fun, and contained some profound thoughts about life, chaos, humanity, and Christianity. Regarding the latter, some familiarity with Christian creation mythology and other Christian doctrine makes the latter part of this book much more comprehensible, though I think the whole thing would still be enjoyable to someone without that familiarity.

What makes this book five stars, despite my normal inclination to avoid Christian allegories, was G K Chesterton's masterful writing. He has a way of making everything hilarious and absurd while also being beautiful and poetic.

A Calculated Life

A Calculated Life - Anne Charnock Jayna is a simulation of a person...or she's a person...or maybe there isn't any difference. She's designed to be smart, compliant, and happy, though those plans for her don't necessarily survive contact with the real world.

This book is very much post-cyberpunk, which I find to be a comfortable sub-genre. Technology is a big part of the world, though not necessarily of everyone's life; The world hasn't fallen apart, but has continued to be moderately shitty in new ways; and the illusions of modern life stay mostly intact.

Reflecting on it, I really liked the story. It didn't tread new path, but it was ok for that, taking well-formed thematic bits here and there and putting them together.

A note on the audiobook version: The narrator's voice drove me crazy. At first her voice just seemed like the normal, pleasant, British-accented narrator that one might expect, but after a while I realized that every single sentence had the same cadence and inflection. I don't know a better way to describe it other than that the musical tone of her voice slowly increased as the sentence went on and then dropped down at the end of the sentence. And I understand that that's how sentence inflection works, but something about the way that every sentence was inflected identically, to a point where it was robotic, drove me bananas.

WWW: Wake

WWW: Wake - Robert J. Sawyer Even after a nice, long palate-cleanser, the last Sawyer book left a bad taste in my mouth, so I was fully prepared to hate this one--it's problematic, filled with vision puns, and is clearly not a stand-alone work--and yet somehow I didn't. I want to read the next one and hope that it sheds some of the awkwardness of beginning.

Sex: Book One: The Summer of Hard

Sex: Book One: The Summer of Hard - Joe Casey, Piotr Kowalski I gave this trade 5 out of 8 issues to catch my attention, far more than I would if I was picking up floppies once a month.

First, there is not a single female character in this book. There are set pieces and objects, but not a single character.

Beyond that, there are barely any male characters. The main one, an ex-batman type, is so bland as to be invisible.

Nothing in this is new, it's not even a fresh rehash of anything. I felt the most on the panels that were landscape views of the city. How bad is it that this comic can't make me feel anything when there's a person on the page?

The Evolutionist

The Evolutionist - Rena Mason Stacy Troy is having nightmares of a world destroyed. When the exhaustion gets to be too much, she starts secretly seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Light. His treatments help, maybe. They're no question that they at least make things different. Stacy's nightmares set up the dominos, Dr. Light starts knocking them down, and we won't see what intricate pattern they make until the very end.

I'm not sure what to think of this book. I can say that I'm pretty sure I liked it and that I'm sure I didn't dislike it, but I'll have to get back to you in a month on whether it stuck with me as a book I would recommend.

In the case against it, the book is written in first person, present tense which I dislike in general, but wan't the worst here since the protagonist, Stacy Troy, is neither obnoxious, pop-culture obsessed, nor snarky

My expectations weren't so much thwarted as subverted. That's my fault (and marketing, but probably not the author). I expected, based on the blurb and cover, something downright gory. Instead there were some gory scenes, but they served the story in a thematic way that was interesting.

Among the things that I liked were the interludes of regular life for Stacy. Don't get me wrong, I can't stand novels that revolve around groups of chicks reading, shopping, and dealing with unfaithful spouses. But just because that isn't enough to spark my imagination normally doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it on occasion while mixed in with my fantasy/science fiction/horror (I'm never sure where to classify novels with elements of all of those).

Writing this review, I've decided that I like it. It won the Bram Stoker Award for best first novel for 2013 and I'll be on the lookout for what Rena Mason writes next.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke Mr Norrell might be the villain of this story. He hoards magic books, not letting anyone else read them, which is villainy enough for us biliophiles, but his control issues don't stop there.

Jonathan Strange might be the villain, obsessed with The Raven King and willing to follow his obsession wherever it leads.

The man with the thistle-down hair is definitely a villain.

Or maybe they're just playing their parts in a larger plan.

I was very pleased with this book. The slow, steady climb, sometimes spiking for brief moments that feel all the more intense for interrupting the rhythm, was magical. Weaved into this are fairytales, folklore, Victorian England, magic, and books. If you enjoy the slow-burn and are ok with the length, this book pays off.

Calculating God

Calculating God - Robert J. Sawyer There are zero fresh or original ideas in this book. It's as if Robert J Sawyer (who in his extraordinarily condescending intro to the audiobook says only young earth creationists and people who aren't true scientists won't enjoy what this book has to say) decided to "write the controversy" and then at the end realized that he needed to get a little trippy (hint: It's the same trippy as 2001: A Space Odyssey).

The 2nd half would have been interesting if it wasn't preceded by the first half of going through all the creationist arguments. The atheist scientist doesn't even make good attempts to refute them...because we all know, from the title and blurb, that he's going to give in and join the deist love circle, he does have cancer after all and we (Mr Sawyer at least) know that all dying people are religious.

I won't even get started on the C-plot villains who are southern US abortion-clinic-bombers here to show the aliens Jesus and destroy the devil's fossils. One of them is name Cooter.

If you want a scientific treatment of a highly implausible what-if, go pick up [b:Anathem|2845024|Anathem|Neal Stephenson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1396228396s/2845024.jpg|6163095], twice as long, a thousand times more interesting.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood When looking at dystopian novels, the scariest part is looking at our present and seeing the seeds of it in our current society. The seeds of The Handmaid's Tale are in every fundamental Christian home and community. It's in every child that is told to be obedient to God just because and every woman who is subservient to her husband because of scripture. It isn't far from there before woman are baby machines and kept ignorant for their own purity and good.

On top of being eerily believable, the book is beautifully written. It's a classic that easily makes my list of best science fiction books ever written.

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