Archive for November, 2015

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted in Books, Reviews with tags , , on November 27, 2015 by davidnm2009

Let’s face it, Africa is a topic that a lot of SF writers really don’t handle too well – particularly those of a Slushy Puppy inclination. So this is one of the reasons why Lagoon is such a welcome breath of fresh air.

Lagoon is a novel of alien contact, taking place against the backdrop provided by the city of Lagos, Nigeria. But it’s much more than that. It’s also a novel about contemporary Africa, and the challenges and choices faced by the people who live there.

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The Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy, by Kameron Hurley

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2015 by davidnm2009

I’ve recently read Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dames series, starting with 2011’s “God’s War”, then “Infidel” and more recently, “Rapture”.

The main character, Nix, lives in what can best be described as a complete hellhole. The novels are set on a colony planet called Umayma, at some indeterminate point in the future (it’s been at least a few thousand years). It’s fair to say that Umayma is a world that’s lost its way – the terraform appears to have been bungled, the climate is awful and the introduced life has mutated in weird and dangerous ways. And then there’s the human population, who have added a whole extra layer of social fail on top of that…

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Omega, by Jack McDevitt

Posted in Books, Reviews, SF with tags on November 18, 2015 by davidnm2009

Time for another review. Omega is the fourth book in the sequence started by Engines of God; I’m sad to say that it’s also the last that’s at all rewarding to read. It’s a work that contains some interesting ideas, and also some very frustrating ones.

My review is under the cut; because of the basic premise of Omega, it contains spoilers for Engines. There’s arguably one in the title(!), so proceed with this in mind…

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Gleam, by Tom Fletcher

Posted in Books, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 17, 2015 by davidnm2009

I have a soft spot for post-industrial urban wastelands. It’s why I enjoy roaming the Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3, or why some of my favourite bits of the Mass Effect series are the ones on Tuchanka. It’s also why I found Lud to be the most vivid and immediate of the places visited in the Dark Tower saga. I also like ontological mysteries – you know, those sorts of stories where you either wake up somewhere strange or where you have a bizarre world whose origin and nature are a puzzle.

So it’s no wonder that this book caught my eye.

The titular Gleam is a vast, half-ruined urban wasteland, emerging from a swamp. It’s located somewhere else – the night sky isn’t ours, containing two moons and a globular cluster-like formation referred to as ‘the Battle’. Whether that somewhere else is another planet or another universe entirely is unclear. However the inhabitants of Gleam are (mostly) human. The elite of Gleam live within a structure called the Pyramid, which is located right at the centre of the wasteland. The surrounding area is known as the Discard. Life in the Pyramid is secure, but regimented to the extreme. Life in the Discard is freer, but dangerous.

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Extinction Game, by Gary Gibson

Posted in Books, Reviews, SF with tags , on November 17, 2015 by davidnm2009

This book surprised me. I’d read Gibson’s Shoal trilogy, and vaguely enjoyed them, but hadn’t been hugely struck on them.

Extinction Game, however, was a book that instantly got under my skin.

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Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford

Posted in Books, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags on November 17, 2015 by davidnm2009

I’ve been reading a book that doesn’t sound like it would be interesting, but is actually absolutely fascinating. It’s Francis Spufford’s ‘Red Plenty’. It’s sort of half-novel, half-documentary (factual non-fiction?), about economics and central planning in the Soviet Union.

As I said, it doesn’t sound like it would be interesting, but actually, it really is. I can highly recommend it. Except there was one thing that blindsided me…

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The Prince of Nothing trilogy, by R Scott Bakker

Posted in Reviews with tags , on November 10, 2015 by davidnm2009

I have a confession to make: I’m allergic to Christmas. Whilst I get that it’s a major holiday in our culture, I just don’t enjoy it. In fact, my dislike is strong enough that I spend most of the Christmas week fantasising about being at work – this is literally the only time in my year when that happens!

Anyway, I seem to have developed a very odd coping mechanism for dealing with Christmas overload: I seek out the most messed-up, bleak, dystopian books I can find, and read them obsessively. It sounds – and is – bizarre, but the strategy does actually work.

R Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing trilogy got me through Christmas 2014.

This trilogy is a challenging reading experience. The best comparison I can think of is to some of darker-themed Sabaton albums – powerfully-performed, musically-impeccable but also rather dissonant! (I’m going to put a trigger warning on this review, as this series does have some very, very dark moments. If something could be triggery, it’s probably in here.)

If you took one part Warhammer 40K, one part Thomas Covenant, a sprinkling of Tolkien, maybe a dash or two of Mage: The Ascension and Werewolf: The Apocalypse and a very healthy seasoning of ‘OMG WTF that’s horrible!’, you might just end up with something like this series.

Let me start my review with a quick summary of the situation at the start of the first book (also, the spoiler lamp is ON)…

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