Their Finest Hour

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This book is a disappointment. I was excited about another Bolo book, but this one is all republished stories I’d previously read:

Overall I’m pretty sad that it wasn’t made more clear that this book was entirely reprints.

[isbn: 9781439133750]

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Solomon’s Gold

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This is book six of the Baroque Cycle, following on from Quicksilver, King of the Vagabonds, Odalisque, Bonanza, and The Juncto (the last two of which are referred to as The Confusion when read together as a single volume).

I’m glad that I accidentally read Longitude before this book, as in this work Daniel is a proponent of the lunar distance method, which was one of the main contenders to win the Longitude Prize. Lord Ravenscar proposed the prize in the book, which is a nice plot element. He of course wants to win the prize as well.

This book is much faster moving than most of the previous (except perhaps for King of the Vagabonds and Bonanza). Its a good read, and I can see how all of the previous setup is starting to pay off.

[isbn: 0060750863;0060895284]

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Asimov’s Aurora

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This is the third and final book in the iBook Asimov Robots spinoff series. The first two were Asimov’s Mirage and Asimov’s Chimera. Like the second one, this is better than the first and has a nice flow to the plot line. The story also is easier to believe than those used in previous spinoffs such as the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. Weirdly, this is the first of the books in those spinoff series to really use sex as a plot element. The other books haven’t been celibate, but they also haven’t been as in your face as this one. That was probably the weakest part of the book, because those parts felt clumsy and extraneous.

[isbn: 0743444604]

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Mona Lisa Overdrive

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This is the book which wraps up the Sprawl series (Burning Chrome, Neuromancer and Count Zero). Its a great book, with several separate story lines which are beautifully molded together by the end of the book. It also wraps up the confusing elements of the various other stories nicely. I really enjoyed it.

[award: nominee nebula_novel 1988; nominee hugo 1989; nominee prometheus 1989]
[isbn: 0553281747]

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Space Soldiers

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This is a collection of short stories about soldiers in space. Its not the strongest such collection I have read — Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow, Body Armor 2002 and Dogs of War are all better.

  • The Gardens of Saturn (Paul J McAuley): veterans with jacked up nervous systems encounter genetically engineered people in deep space.
  • Soldiers Home (William Barton): veterans and other castoffs from conflict struggle to find meaning in continued existence.
  • Legacies (Tom Purdom): a not particularly interesting story about the psychological impact of losing a parent to war. Oh, except we don’t really talk about the impact. We talk about the bureaucracy around getting permission to treat. Dull.
  • Moon Duel (Fritz Leiber): an interesting concept (interstellar criminals abandoned on the moon). A bit dated, but ok apart from that.
  • Saviour (Robert Reed): another good concept, but I don’t think this story is particularly well written.
  • Galactic North (Alastair Reynolds): a relativistic chase across deep space with a confusing terraforming gone wrong subplot.
  • Masque of the Red Shift (Fred Saberhagen): this is the second Berserker story I’ve read (the other is “What Do You Want Me To Do To Prove Im Human Stop” from Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow. It was ok, although I suspect I was meant to know more about the universe than I actually do.
  • Time Piece (Joe Haldeman): read before in Dogs of War, and I didn’t like it back then.
  • On The Orion Line (Stephen Baxter): I think this is the best story of the bunch. Its about expansionist humanity and their battle with aliens who can tweak the laws of physics.

[isbn: 0441008240]

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The Coming

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This book wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be — some of Joe’s other work has been excellent (The Forever War, Forever Peace and Marsbound being examples). However, some of his other books are very weak, such as Forever Free and There Is No Darkness. This book is an interesting experiment in story telling style, where many different very short chapters are told by different characters. Each chapter follows on directly from the previous one. However, this style makes the story confusing to read until you can remember the names of all the characters. Worse than that though, the idea behind the story isn’t terribly strong, and the resolution is weak as well.

Overall and ok read, but not Joe’s best work and not a book I would recommend.

[isbn: 0441008763]

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Some Girls: My Life in a Harem

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This is the memoir of a Jewish girl from New York who ends up working in the Harem of a Prince of Brunei. Its not so much a story about Harem life, although that’s mentioned in places. Its more about Jillian’s psychological journey, her troubled childhood, and working out who she is in the world. Worryingly, that final issue isn’t really resolved in the book, which is frustrating. The book is surprisingly readable, and you genuinely start to care about Jillian along the way, even if a few of her decisions seem pretty suboptimal to me. A good read.

[isbn: 0452296315]

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The Confusion

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The Confusion is a merging of Bonanza and The Juncto, which I think is more than the mere sum of the two parts. The weaving of the stories together makes for a very readable volume, with slow patches in each individual story line being covered nicely with a switch to the other. Additionally there are a few several year gaps in the stories which would be much more jarring if there wasn’t something from the other story line in between. Overall, I think I prefer to read these two books in this con-fused manner, instead of separately.

[isbn: 0060733357]

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