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  1. Earlier
  2. Our hotel in Nuremberg.
  3. The English part of the recent reads. Many is my own obsessions completing series. Piranesi, Sussanna Clarke. This is a strange but excellent book. It requires some work to get into it, as the narrator is evidently unreliable, though things improve. Add a homage to Piranesi, besides the title, and several mysteries to reveal. Most of them are solved satisfactorily too. It is totally different from her previous novel, but still riveting and exciting. It is much shorter too. The employees: A workplace novel or the 22nd century, Olga Ravn. This is a book that requires some work, and that at least in my case I reread it inmediately to review the story with all I learnt while reading it. Something is/has happened on a spaceship, and the book are the interviews to members of the crew, during and after the event. The reader has to build his/her own version of the story from these fragments, including choosing who to believe, and how to interpret those part outside our own references, and how do you interpret the human / synthetic divide. It is short, so I did not care for having to go back and reread other fragments. Atmospheric and troubling, including some questions on being sapient (that for us now is synonimous with being Human, but may not be in the future). Fashionpolice pushed me into this, but I enjoyed it a lot. Red Country, Joe Abercrombie. Another Abercrombie book in the world of The first law. The story stands on its own quite well, but many of the supporting cast (and one is quite important) come from previous books, so although it is not necessary to have read all the previous books, it makes things clearer. This is a western transplanted into fantasy. Missing children, restless natives, violent men and women with troubled pasts, gold rush, wagons in a prairie... And it is well done, though maybe respecting the limits of the genre too much. That also means the plot is more linear and predictable than other Abercrombie books. There are a few likable characters, which help, considering how nasty most of the returning characters are. The long way to a small, angry planet, Becky Chambers. I feel as if I am the last person here to read this book. I really enjoyed this book, though it is more light entertainment. Although it is presented as part of a series, it stands perfectly well on its own, so feel free to check it. I was going to write adventures, but even though they live a great adventure, what we have here is common peaceful people caught up in big events by doing what they do best, and as usually happens to common people, they suffer for it. Common does not mean normal, and the cast is varied and quite interesting. Maybe it shows my age, but aliens are more of the humans in make up variety and taken to the extreme than really alien, but it fits well with the trope of small ship traveling the galaxy. For me it actually felt as Jack Vance's Gaean Reach or Cj Cherryh's trader stories, but adapted to the XXIst century. No secret agents of the AIs or trigger happy mercenaries in the stars, just a construction team working hard and with varied back stories. I will be reading more of her books. First person singular: stories, Haruki Murakami. This is a series of short stories that are narrated in the first person and that could all be supposed to be narrated by Mr. Murakami himself, though only the title story, First Person Singular, does explicitly say this. They narrate some weird, some magical and some mundane events that at the same time seem relatively minor but also affect significantly the life of the narrator. I believe Mr. Murakami expresses a particular style of maleness I can identify with, a bit clueless, sometimes cruel by indifference or ignorance, and well intentioned, though he is also proof that good intentions are not enough. He helps me to come to terms with myself. It is a short book, so I savoured it slowly. A couple of stories did not work for me, but it is so short that I will not say names, as they may be the ones that touch you more. It is very subjective, so I will not impose criteria that may depend on my own life experience. Manazuru, Hiromi Kawakami. A complex book, with an unreliable narrator that does not trust herself and who may have blocked memories from the past. As well, the tough moments of raising up a teenage girl without a father. I feel it complements very well, with the ghosts and the oniric experiences in the town of Manazuru, and a middle age mother based on the writer, a feminine point of view complementing Murakami’s masculine and childless one. Mainly because it is so different from my own situation it is both strange and interesting. The book requires quite a lot of work, in deciding what you think happened with Reí, and what is happening with Kei. But it rewards the effort with a good, emotional tale and real character development. Quite a lot from a little over 200 pages. Reflecting on it, I wonder if the reason why it reminds me of Murakami is that the translator is Michael Emmerich, and I have read all his Murakami translations? It has not happened with her other novels. The heroes, Joe Abercrombie. Though it belongs to the same set as The First Law trilogy and shares several characters with it, it can be read independently. It takes place some seven years after the First Law and a couple of years after Best Served Cold. It is a battle in a dark fantasy, from multiple viewpoints, so blood, gore and all kinds of violence are presented, though in my opinion better than in The First Law. As such, I think it presents quite well the randomness and stupidity of battle, the friction as Von Clausewitz would say. But it still requires a high tolerance for written violence. The hanging tree, Ben Aaranovitch. This far (the sixth book) in the Rivers of London series reviews do not matter as much. Either you are into it, or you will not even think about it. It is witty, well written and easy to read. I did not like it so much is because it gives us hope that some of the big story arcs will move forward, and at the end they move, but only a bit. Lies sleeping, Ben Aaranovitch. This is not the end of Peter Grant and the Rivers of London (7th), but it marks a change in the series, which I feel should have come in the previous book, to complete the story after Foxglove Summer. The author has tried to fit too many things, and many details or characters from previous books, with the end result that there are many loose ends and they are dealt with in short time and with little flair. Less characters and more screen time for them would have made a more satisfactory story. The impression is that this stage had to be closed, and that meant other things had to be rushed, including the ending, which I found unsatisfactory. But I am so happy to close this that I hope the series returns to single arc novels. What Abigail did that summer, Ben Aaranovitch. It was worth to read the whole Rivers of London series to enjoy this small book. It is positive, funny and smart, with a great heroine and an amusing cast of characters. Its only defect is that to enjoy it fully you need to read the whole series. It is more wholesome than the typical Peter Grant story, but that is a plus in this case. That strengthens the idea of magic. A must read for any fan of the series. The events are concurrent with book 5, Foxglove Summer, which is my previous favorite. Permafrost, Alastair Reynolds. It is a nice time travel short novel, with a great premise and a good handling of paradox. As it is quite short, almost any detail would be spoilerish. But the reasons to try are good, the set up is also good, and it does not use multiple universes, which is a cop out in time travel. This is the type of time travel tale I would have liked to see in The Agency. A little hatred, Joe Abercrombie. Mr. Abercrombie revisits with a new generation the Chain of the World. Some old favorites are still around, but we meet a new generation of narrators / protagonists. If I had written the review just after finishing I would have been gushing, but once I got over the pleasure of having a new series, the defects, mainly in plot and world building as the writing is very good, start to pile up. So much that I am still unsure if I will get the next one, as it can only go worse from the set up. Dark, moody, with some young people in love. Lots of people get hurt, but this is just the set up. The industrialization seems contrived, and I would have preferred less similarities with work movements in Earth. A closed and common orbit, Becky Chambers. Although it is the same series as the previous book, The long way to a small, angry planet, it does not continue the adventures of the Wayfarer crew. Instead it focus in two minor characters of the previous book, the mechanic Pepper and Sidra, the new name of the AI Lovelace replacement, now housed in a body. It deals with growing up in a harsh or world, or awakening in it, and how to cope with disphoria or inadequacy. It is less optimistic and upbeat than the first book, but I hope it does not require a spoiler to say things improve and it gets a proper ending. As any good science fiction book should, it actually writes about our present but using the tropes of science fiction to present some ethics troubles (child labour, gene modification, AI rights) openly. Although you will miss some of the background, it does not reallyrequire having read the previous book. It is still probably too positive, but it does not pull many punches, and it is a more complex and for me more enjoyable book than the first one.
  4. The fact that nobody writes does not mean nobody reads. I suppose you will never read this either, but I have to say it was nice to have someone posting in 2022. Even if it is just as part of learning to care a bit less about the form, and hopefully more about the content.
  5. I'm using a temporary email address from temp-mail.org because I don't want to come across what I've written here in 10 years. It's pretty useful, especially if you're playing Geoguessr or something and don't want to pay. Anyway, I'm here because I wanted to simply write anything that comes to my mind, similar to the stream of consciousness technique. Why? I'm a complete perfectionist and usually can't type out things without worrying too much about it. I have to rethink every single thing that would come out of my mind before writing and lose a lot of time doing that. This brought me to the turmoil I'm in right now. I have an enormous assignment to finish today and have made very little progress over the last week because of this issue called perfectionism. Even now I'm rereading this text and checking a dictionary and thesaurus to write what I should know. I'm trying not to. I guess Reddit would've been much better for something like this, but I wanted to be quick and just blurt this lump out. I'm here in hopes that this will give me some momentum with the writing process. I'll be pulling an all-nighter and even then I might not be able to make it. If you read all the way through, thank you, I guess, and wish me luck. Have a great day. Edit: I have just realized that nobody has posted anything in here during the last year and I have no idea what I'm doing here and how to delete a post. Anyways, I already talked about my goal so I guess this will just stay here and I'll never return.
  6. Egads! Well that makes me feel better about buying WRC10 and not playing it yet even though I installed it last Thursday. 😹 Just got Becky Chambers' A Psalm for the Wild-Built and started it last night. So far so good? Apparently all the robots gained sentience and absconded to the wild quite a while ago and that's all I know so far. So far recently, the books I can recommend are: Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick by David Wong Chaos on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine Gamechanger and Dealbreaker by L X Beckett The Koli trilogy by M R Carey Unnatural Magic and The Ruthless Ladies Guide to Wizardry by C M Waggoner Apologies if I went back too far, but those are the recent ones I seem to remember not writing up necessarily.
  7. I finished the latest le Carré I have, A Legacy of Spies, and Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys. On deck (among many others) I have The Topeka School (which I decided to get after half the staff at Powell's recommended it a few Christmases ago), Children of Men, and I want to re-read The Peripheral before I finally read Agency. (!!!!!!!!! I know!)
  8. just for the record, don't think i've posted notes since april, so here is everything from mid-april till now.... Wild Girls - Ursula le Guin - part of book bundle, mainly novellas really, with extras like interviews. This was OK, important city culture thrives on stealing country folks as slaves - two girls taken and the story of the jealouses between their captors. Gardens of the Sun - Paul McAuley - Gardens of the Sun - 2nd of the Quiet War quartet. Lots of green themes vs anti-science. Earth vs colonies. Occupied territory and brutality vs resistance, science and art. Dense, but building to an emotional climax Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar Been slow on the Kalix books for some reason, probably because they are such slabs compared to typical Martin Millar novels. But read Curse of the Wolf Girl and loved, always such a distinct voice. Shame about being dated thanks to Brexit, no more Polish Werewolf Hunters! Kalix is a 17 year old depressive, Scottish werewolf, living in London with two students. Drama from inter-family werewolf politics, the increasing risk of the hunters, and Kalix's overwhelming depression/rage. The Unlikeable Demon Hunter (Nava Katz 1) - Deborah Wilde - I got a 6 book omnibus on kindle, but only read book 1. Our titular Demon Hunter has been raised with the expectation that her brother would grow up to take on the role of demon hunter in a world wide secret organisation. But hey sexism, the assumption that only men can be demon hunters, so her brother is obviously the chosen one. Though the revelation that she is in fact that she is the chosen one, with no training, and a reputation for drinking and fucking, kind of makes things...interesting. Demons, handsome men, discrimination, sassy determination, and probably one of the steamiest books in the genre that I've read. Roadside Picnic - Strugatsky Bros - Picked up Roadside Picnic cheap on kindle recently, been meaning to do a reread, see how new translation compares. Feels more contemporary/conversational than I remember. Funny to reread against new TV series Debris and Chinese satellite coming down, look out for weird artefacts Chaos on CatNet - Naomi Kritzer - book 2 in the CatNet series, following on from the short story about the AI who tries to help people in exchange for cat content. I loved the short and Catfishing, and I love Chaos. Stef returns, starting yet another new school, where she meets Nell also on her 1st day. They both have troubled backgrounds, Stef's history of fleeing her violent father and Nell's involvement with an apocalyptic cult, and they both like girls which has different problems according to background. Stef's friends are all on CatNet, where she is friends with the AI CheshireCat. But with the new school she is persuaded to join a new app and Nell has access to an app through her cult introduces the question - what if there is another AI & its less well meaning? Warm, charming novels, written for teens, which shows at times, but lovely books, a joy. For all the warm and fuzzy, there is still threat: guns, kidnapping, riots, chaos. But friends & cat pictures. Firebreak - Nicole Kornher-Stace - I admit I bought this book with only a notional sense of the plot, based on pretty cover and having read and enjoyed Latchkey in the last few months. With that, Firebreak is a stand alone novel, while also being an unexpected prequel to Latchkey. Archivist Wasp/Latchkey are set in a haunted post-collapse world, while Firebreak flashes back to collapse in progress to encounter the ghosts as living people. Mal & Jessa are refugees from a corporate city war, living in a hotel with a load of other people per room, with water/power rationing. Doing all the odd jobs and trying to establish themselves as streamers on the corporate game. A game haunted by the ghosts of the corporate super soldiers created to fight the corporate war. When the pair stumble on these characters in game, then IRL, their lives are turned to shit. A story of personal trauma, environmental trauma, war trauma, corporate manipulation & how people buy in to the toxicity of celebrity, pop culture and the power of media manipulation. All Systems Red - Martha Wells Artificial Condition - Martha Wells Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells Exit Strategy - Martha Wells Been catching up on the Murderbot Diaries. Had to start again with All Systems Red, having skipped one and becoming confused. Really works as an arc, one of those tor series of novellas that probably could be a novel. I think the next book was a novel, then another novella. An aware security cyborg ends up trying to understand itself, work out who tried to kill it's clients, and unearth the truth, while watching all the shows and minimising emotions and stuff. We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker - a pilot is a device to help people concentrate, to be their best selves. Starts with the rich, then subsidised so those cool branded blue lights are on every skull. Or not quite. Pinsker's 2nd novel follows the 4 members of one family. Val the teacher, who doesn't get a pilot due to her unease and the fact her daughter can't have one. Sophie her adopted daughter, prone to epileptic seizures, left behind. Julie, Val's wife, gets a pilot to remain on top of her game in a politicians office. And David, their son, 1st in family to get one. We follow David's getting one in school, joining the army and what happens from there. Sophie's increasing activism in the anti-pilot movement and the sense of unease, perhaps cover up around the technology. Song For A New Day was more rock and roll, being about music and all. So We Are Satellites feels like a quieter novel, though having read Sooner Or Later it feels like Pinsker. Quiet is a good thing and a right thing for a novel like this, making it more intimate and personal than a more explosive work would be. Also given the themes of noise and quiet, that feels like an appropriate approach. For all that it isn't explosive, it still had me lying awake thinking. When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain - Nghi Vo - 2nd Singing Hills Cleric novella. Again story within a story, this time the cleric has to tell a story to tigers about famous tiger spirit or be eaten. When a tiger tells you the story is wrong you listen. The Brother's Jetstream: Leviathan - Zig Zag Claybourne - self described as goofy, a big saturated pulp adventure of Hollywood vampires, conspiracy cults, false prophets, and a war for the multiverse. A bit Jerry Cornelius, a bit DNA Cowboys, a bit... Comic book fun, full of colourful and engaging characters, perhaps like The Invisibles if they had been written & illustrated by Kyle Baker. The Angel of Crows - Katherine Addison - apparently there's a genre of fanfic where you take a character and add wings: wingfic. This is Sherlock Holmes fanfic, but add wings. Dr. Doyle is injured by a Fallen Angel in Afghanistan and sent back to London, struggling to make ends meet he ends up in Baker St, sharing a flat with an unconventional angel called Crow. Together they solve crime; many of the cases being particularly familiar. While in the background Jack The Ripper works away, seemingly uncatchable. An entertaining enough read, a novel twist on familiar material. Hummingbird & Salamander - Jeff VanderMeer - a mystery novel, a woman falling into obsession after she is handed a message that leads to a taxidermied extinct animal. Trying to make sense of the woman behind the message and the trade in rare animals our narrator self-destructs on the page. With the novel following that collapse. For me there is something missing here, the living characters are sidelined, the key characters are already dead. Even the trade in animals and the collapse of civilization are mainly asides. Resulting in a readable enough novel, that seems largely distanced from the stuff that would make a difference. The Album of Dr Moreau - Daryl Gregory - mixed genre novella, where the beast men are a boy band on brink of break up and Moreau the pop impresario who has been ripping them off all this time and has now been murdered. Science fiction, murder mystery, comedy. Great fun. Victories Greater Than Death - Charlie Jane Anders - pretty much read this cover to cover on my day off yesterday. A delight to read. Tina is the chosen one, or at least a clone of a hero, except the result is she is just a teenager with lots of data but no experience. Meanwhile she and her Earth friends are out in space, caught in the middle of an ongoing war, in a race against time to stop the other side from getting their hands on some kind of super weapon. YA target audience, but readable for all ages. The Compassion perhaps recalling Iain M. Banks, with something like The Affront. Big space opera, roller-coaster adventure and the friendship that sees you through, hopefully. Ink & Sigil - Kevin Herne -this was something of a random buy, not having read Hearne's work before, partly driven by the fact that it was set in Glasgow. Trying to capture a Scottish accent is tricky, given the variables, and with that the results here are mixed. Though I'm happy to go with it, not least because of the sense of place - it can be such a rare pleasure to read somewhere set where you live and pretty much comfortably recognise locations as places you've been. (conscious of recent novel that had scene set in Glasgow that made me go: naw mate, that's Edinburgh!) But then, when I saw who his Glasgow guides were, knowing I've been some of those places, with those people, made sense. This is 1st book in a new series, a spin off from his Iron Druid novels. Aloysius MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent for the fae, who has lost his latest apprentice to a suspicious scone related incident, which in turn uncovers a dodgy fae trafficking circle. Drama and humour ensue and the result is a thoroughly good read. Black Water Sister - Zen Cho - I think it was Spirits Abroad that I first read Zen's work, having bought the short story collection at 2014 London Worldcon just prior to attending a panel she was on, where I spoke to her briefly and got the book signed. The contemporary Chinese Malaysian informed stories were the ones I enjoyed the most, so there is an element where BWS is the novel I've been waiting for. Jess returns to Malaysia with her parents after growing up in the USA. Worried about not coming out to her parents while deciding how to achieve her planned future with her long distance girlfriend, she instead finds her life disrupted by her estranged dead grandmother who demands she helps to protect the temple of the Black Water Sister against gangsters. This felt less light in tone from my memory of the early stories, in fact the big encounter with the Black Water Sister is positively chilling. Very much a contemporary novel, informed by a culture, rather than an obvious fantasy novel, verging into horror at times with the elements of violence against women and the haunting results. Gilded Latten Bones - Glen Cook Wicked Bronze Ambition - Glen Cook Having not read any of the Garrett novels in about a decade, I have read what appears to be the last three this year. I typically don't binge read, but with only two left and sense of culmination I read these back to back. Ex-marine turned private detective, becoming more respectable (for certain values...) over 14 novels. These last books throw the ensemble cast together, with all the characters added over the series for big battles with magic and murder and mayhem. Probably dated in ways, but light page turners, genre mash ups. Chilling Effect - Valerie Valdes - I bought this a while ago, but bumped up my reading list after seeing it was nominated for Clarke Award and I'm glad I did. A big fun space romp, following Eva and her crew. Eva quit the dubious crew she was a member of after she did something too problematic to keep going and put together her own crew. Just coming off a failed attempt to deliver a score of psychic cats she is contacted by The Fridge, a notorious and anonymous interstellar criminal organisation, who have put Eva's sister on ice, where she'll stay unless Eva does some jobs. (Boy that is a run on sentence!) From there she pisses off a space emperor who wants to make her a fuck toy, and things just continue to deteriorate from there, until Eva has just had enough! Aliens, cats, artefacts, escalating peril. Good fun, bought sequel, hope it delivers more on the cats! Alice Isn't Dead - Joseph Fink - I guess it was Christmas 2018 that I got the hardback of Joseph Finks adaptation of his podcast Alice Isn't Dead? So why did take so long to read? Might as well ask why the chicken crossed the road! But the weird dreams I had the night I read the first 100 pages before bed are definitely a contributing factor. Though, giving some space between podcast and book helps as well. I enjoyed the podcast and for all the "reimagining" of the story, this is the same plot in broad stroke terms. Alice disappeared, assumed dead, until her wife Keisha spots her in a crowd in a news item, repeatedly. Keisha takes to the road, a truck driver, trying to find clues, but stumbling across the Thistle man. A misshapen horror, haunting Keisha's trail, providing little doubt it is only a matter of time before he corners her in some lonely spot and eats her alive. But it isn't just that, it expands and builds, conspiracy, opposing conspiracy, escalation, deception and Alice isn't dead. Thoroughly enjoyed as a companion/expansion, I've downloaded the first series of the podcast to my device to listen to again from the start The Left-Handed Booksellers of London - Garth Nix - A young woman travels to London, preparing to study art and hoping to find her father. Instead she stumbles on the world of the booksellers of London, an organisation who engage in the paranormal, enforcing accords with the fae and the like. But perhaps this stumbling is not a coincidence? As disturbances escalate and tensions rise. A breathless page turner, I tore through it and was done before I knew it. City of Brass - S.A. Charkaborty Master of Djinn - P Djeli Clark Pretty much read these two back to back, both alternate takes on djinn, both part set in Egypt, both with references to The City of Brass. I have the whole trilogy by Chakraborty, this is the 1st. A 500 odd page slab of epic fantasy, which probably could have been shorter. Djinn politics and finances are surprisingly dull - much of the material with Ali didn’t engage me as much as Nahri. Nahri the street kid with glimpses of abilities that end up being more, sending her on a race for her life from Cairo to the Brass city, which is where the joy of the story is. Master of Djinn is Clark's first novel, after handful of novellas and acclaimed shorts. A number of which set in an alternate history Egypt, where steampunk is replaced by djinnpunk (no idea if anyone actually using that term, but allow me a passing amusement...). Particularly this follows on from the short A Dead Djinn in Cairo. Fatma is an agent of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantment and Supernatural Entities, called to investigate the murder of a number of rich white men, who have been dabbling in the occult. Set against a background of Egypt as a world power, Europe on the brink of World War I, angels and djinn, murder and mystery. This feels much fresher and engaging than City of Brass, though that is absolutely a reflection of my tastes. The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi The Fractal Prince - Hannu Rajaniemi The Causal Angel - Hannu Rajaniemi Finnish authors trilogy written during his Edinburgh years, some of those influences showing throughout, partly as most obvious ballpark is with Stross and MacCleod. I read the 1st years ago and meant to get to the rest, but didn't get to it till now, deciding it made sense to reread the 1st to provide context and just as well. A thief broken out of prison, journey to Mars to retrieve a memory state, to Earth to put the next step in the heist, and an escape route to Saturn? Privacy standards, processor gods operating on dead souls and planetary fabric, and gaming systems. Worked well binged all together, keeping a steady flow. Doesn't feel like a lot of people writing this particular strain of science fiction, which is disappointing, even if some of the aspects feel dated (when was the last time you saw a reference to spimes?) The Quantum Magician - Derek Künsken - Our man, see, he's gone straight, set up an art gallery in puppet town. Legit. Except, this dame, uptight, military type, she needs a magician and that he knows some tricks. They've got a new weapon, they're going to overthrow the government who has been suppressing the Sub Saharan Union for years. Problem is getting through the puppet's wormhole, it would take a miracle! Our man, thinks it is all going to go tits up! But for that kind of dosh, he's putting a crew of specialists together... for one last job. Probably risky to follow Quantum Thief with Quantum Magician, given how acclaimed Thief is, but it made a certain sense. But they are different beasts in many ways, Magician much more a proper heist, putting a team together, establishing the connections, the risks that undermine the team, and the run itself. Lots of big post-human engineering, wormholes, banks and nations oppressing client states. Thoroughly enjoyed, thoroughly recommended. Redder Days - Sue Rainsford -Second novel by the Irish author. Follow Me To Ground was an impulse buy, lovely little hardback and a seductive opening few pages. Disappointingly Redder Days is one of those ugly oversized paperbacks, which I particularly dislike, which is particularly frustrating as clearly given cover design the publisher has tried to capture something of the same feel. Having enjoyed Follow a lot I had been watching for this to appear, but it as yet isn't something I've found on any of my rare bookshop trips this year - so I ended up ordering. Like Follow, Redder is very much earthed in place, about land and a dank feral magical nature. The red is described as not really being a plague, but seems possibly infectious? A story of a cult forming around a conviction that only with their charismatic leader, and protection rituals informed by lies and salted with self-harm can protect them against the red. All the shades of something that isn't a plague, that transforms a person, and can infect those around, colour coded degrees, chanted in song to ward off the red. The details of that and much of what happens here are unclear. With some works a lack of clarity can be frustrating, but in other, like Rainsford's work, the uncertain is part of the appeal. Writing that draws you in, seduces you, leaves you a little disoriented. Star Eater - Kerstin Hall - debut novel by the South African writer. I was keen to pick this up after her novella The Border Keeper, which was a lovely piece of new weird fantasy. Star Eater follows a sister in the governing body/church, where the women gain powers by eating the flesh of their mothers. One side effect is that men who get too close to a sister are transformed into hideous immortal monsters. Faced with a drought, likely rationing and inevitable unrest things are getting difficult. With factions back stabbing to force through their own solutions, inevitably our heroine becoming central to the plot. I had a few niggles about plot/world building, but I am also going through particular phase of inhaling books and perhaps not taking as much time as I should. Enjoyable overall and I'll be interested to see what Hall does next. Rabbits - Terry Miles - if you are familiar with Miles' podcasts then you'll have an idea what to expect from the novel adaptation from the Rabbits podcast. It isn't strictly an adaption of the first series, though id has been a while since I listened, but it is full of elements from there. Rabbits is the name given to a game, following clues and conspiracy theories, with an increasing sense of mania and possibly altering reality. I rushed through this over the weekend and was very much satisfied. It gets pretty far out there at times, but ticks a lot of my boxes, and curiosities. There is no Antimemetics Division - qntm - Had this recommended by word of mouth and I'm sharing with you word of mouth. A meme is an idea that spreads, an antimeme is an idea that hides itself, some times erasing memories, sometimes devouring all who learn of the idea. Reminiscent of Stross' Laundry Service novels, where demons and elder gods are mathematical functions. Here they are memes, but ones people can't remember, dealt with by a division people can't remember. An odd book, at times feels episodic, but that form makes sense given the fact characters keep needing to remember what is going on. qntm throws everything at the reader, the full range of anti memes leading to ultimate disaster. I enjoyed this, something different, a bit indie, a bit raw. After I posted this on instagram, someone said they were interested, but thought it sounded like an SCP. Which I had never heard of. SCP appears to be an online shared fictional world, and qntm is a participant in that, and this is an SCP. Sisters of The Vast Black - Lina Rather - A tor novella. Nuns on a living space ship just want to help people. But central earth church and state are looking to regain a foothold in the distant colonies. Meanwhile all the nuns have secrets and agendas, as does the space ship itself. For a novella the pacing feels off, too much going on. So it is at least half way through before we can get a grasp of all the parts and appreciate where it is going. Decent enough in the end, but not really as engaging as I want a novella to be. Upright Women Wanted - Sarah Gailey - a tor novella,which I've had my eye on for a while. Came across on last week's trip to Edinburgh, stocked by same specialist store as I previously bought hardback of Magic For Liars. An alt-Western, where America is consumed by war, all machines and fuel going to the war effort. Leaving a wild west world in its wake - small towns adhering to approved rules, enforced by sheriffs. A woman runs away after her girlfriend is hung for owning unapproved material, stowing away in a librarian wagon. But her perception of the librarians as upright women distributing approved material turns out to be more complicated in reality - rebels, posses, life on the road is dangerous, but she is enthusiastic and determined. A good solid short book, the romance element maybe comes in too quick given circumstances, but likely has to given a book this length. Good fun read. Contraband - George Foy - Science fiction is about the time it was written. Science fiction dates quickly. It is increasingly difficult to write science fiction. All things people say and that I was conscious of reading Contraband. My understanding is that this is a 2019 edition of a 1997 novel. But reading it felt really temporally weird - world war 2 references, lots of 1960s references, a stray Alanis Morrisette reference. Clearly there are a couple of decades between my reading and original publication, but it just felt older. And I can't tell if that was me or the book. As the title suggests this is a book about contraband. The lead character is referred to primarily as the pilot and he is a smuggler. But the new BON agency is cracking down on smuggling and their algorithms have become spookily effective. To a degree retro, a straight forward smuggling novel, it mixes in VR with VCR, and TV addicts with algorithms, which makes this cyberpunk novel. A lot of the themes are about borders and free trade. Which recall Hutchinson's Fractured Europe novels and I wonder how those will read in 20 years. On other hand flu like viruses at 38°C and references to Afghanistan are timeless in some ways...? I definitely enjoyed bits of it, took it as is. But there are parts that are dated on so many levels, which creates such a strange experience. Definitely the nature of the beast when it comes to reading unknown old novels, but an experience one is more used to from perhaps reading a Philip K. Dick novel rather than a 1997 novel. Within Without - Jeff Noon - The 4th of Noon's Nyquist novels. Each set in a different location/country, where the private investigator has to deal with the unique rules that the place lives by before he can solve his latest case. From each zone having a different time zone, a country of words and fiction, a small town folk horror, to Within Without which is about borders - inside and outside. If you are familiar with Noon then there are a lot of his familiar themes at play here, sifting of his twitter spores into a novel shape. In Delirium celebrities bond with "images", an alien life form, which enhances who they are building up their fame. But when a famous actor is separated from Oberon, his image, then Nyquist is hired to retrieve it. Fame and fog, magic and mystery, encounters with fictional characters that come with real threat. I probably need to go back and re-read the 1st two novels in this series, I enjoyed them, but Creeping Jenny and Within Without are just so good I suspect there was an element of my brain catching up.
  9. King Bullet is the twelfth and final Sandman Slim novel by Richard Kadrey. As always, huge, violent and gory fun; this time around, we get a pandemic (and much wearing of masks) that turns out to be not as straightforward as your common or garden coronavirus. The end was satisfying, but the fact that it's all over leaves me rather sad. I love these books and have done so since I read #1 after Bill recommended it.
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