storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Rogue: The Clone Rebellion 2

In Book Reviews on October 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

Hello there! So, I’ve had to take a few weeks off from blogging. If you have a blog, you’ve probably suffered at some point from a severe lack of motivation. That’s what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks. It’s certainly not from a lack of books to write about. I’m still reading like crazy and now I’ve got a stack of books to write posts about. I’m not really sure what has prompted this reluctance to write posts, but the way I figure it, if it isn’t fun what’s the point? I went from being like “Oooh, I’ve finished a book so now I can do a blog post!” to “Ugh, I’ve finished a book and now I have to do a blog post.”.

I’m going to do this post and see how I feel about getting back into the swing of things.

I’d like to start off by saying that I love the covers for these books. I know that it’s a pretty superficial thing, but there you go. I love looking at them in the bookshop when they’re all displayed together. Here’s what the first 4 look like together, so that you can get a feel for my book cover love:

I love bright colours!!

I love bright colours!!

Nutshell blurb: We follow Lt Wayson Harris as he travels the universe and decides which side to fight on while he simultaneously struggles to overcome his conditioning.

This is the 2nd book in this series. If you would like to read my post on the first book, you can find it here.

As I suspected in that post, the first book was all about setting the scene for what was to come in subsequent books. That’s kind of a risky tactic as I found that the first book lacked focus.

This book was much better. I actually knew what was going on and never felt confused. I love the universe that Mr. Kent has created with the exception of one thing…

Where my girls at?????

Again, this story suffers from an extreme lack of estrogen. I guess that with so many clones, there isn’t as much of a need for procreation which has perhaps lowered the birthrate in the galaxy? I don’t know. I’m speculating. There is a real, living, breathing, talking female in the last 1/3 of the book but I found her to be unsatisfactory as a character.

And this might be spoilerific, just so ya know.

My problem with her is that she’s a love interest who belongs to a society of religious people who don’t take advice when someone trustworthy says “Oh hey, I think that the military are coming to exterminate you.” and they’re like “It’s ok because God will protect us.”. So, unless Mr. Kent decides to surprise me (and I kind of have the feeling that he won’t with this part) I think that she’ll end up being killed with her kin which will spur the main character on to great feats of heroics as he’ll have lost everything that he loved etc etc…

I think that my biggest problem with not having any interesting females in this story is how it makes me feel when I read it. I love the story and the main character but as I read I know that I am not the demographic for which this series was written.

It makes me really sad and I feel left out. Sort of like being the last person picked for dodgeball in gym class back in school. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME, STEVEN L KENT????

I’m really hooked on the stories though, so I’ll probably carry on reading them. I want to read what happens with this woman and find out if I’m right or if I’ll be surprised.

Oh, and if you’ve read the next book, please refrain from spoiling it for me. Thanks! 🙂

 

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Zoo City

In Book Reviews on October 5, 2014 at 10:28 am
Angry Robot 2010

Angry Robot 2010

“You play golf now as well as Blood Skies?” Des says mockingly.
“No, I hate golf. It’s the genteel version of seal-clubbing, only not as much fun.”

Nutshell blurb: Zinzi December is a criminal. In this particular society, criminal are lumped with animal familiars and have certain powers. Zinzi’s power is that she can find lost things. She ends up on a mission to find a missing person and from that point everything goes wrong.

I fell in love with the writing style of this book. Lauren Beukes has a wry sense of humour as well as a knack for description, both of which greatly appeal to me. I put the golf quote up there, incidentally, because that’s exactly how I feel about that particular sport. There were so many lines in this book that I could relate to which made my reading experience that much more fun.

The main character isn’t a very likable person. She actively participates in email scams. You know the ones. Some tribal princess is in dire need of help. She can’t access her vast fortune and needs your help (and money) to do it. Of course, you’ll get a cut of her considerable wealth once she has access to it. That sort of thing. However, Ms. Beukes somehow makes her likable. It was very easy to overlook her criminal activity and sympathise with her. That takes skill.

The animal aspect was very cool as well. (A lot of people have likened the concept to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I’m not going to do that here because I’ve never gotten around to reading those books. I just wanted to let you know that in case you decided to say ‘Oh hey, this sounds like Philip Pullman’s books.’) It was interesting that only criminals get ‘animalled’. I would love to have an animal that went everywhere with me. Zinzi has a sloth, which is pretty darn cool. Bad things happen to you if your animal gets killed, though. It kind of reminds me of this (skip to 1.30):

Not very nice.

Overall, this was a really good book and as I said, I love her writing. However, the ending was a bit much for even me. I can sum it up in two words: BLOOD BATH. Now, I read lots of zombie, dystopia and horror books so I have a pretty high tolerance for blood, guts and gore but this exceeded what even I find acceptable. I found myself cringing quite a lot, but not in a good way. The violence was excessive, wanton even, and I didn’t think that it served the story in any way. It left me with feelings of disappointment and sadness when I finished.

It is a good read and I definitely don’t regret spending my time and money on it, however, if you are at all squeamish, approach this book at your peril. It won’t deter me from buying any of her other books, though. She is very talented and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

Bedlam

In Book Reviews on September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

When Ross heard the voice speak softly from only a few feet behind him, he deduced rather depressingly that he must no longer have a digestive system, as this could be the only explanation for why he didn’t shit himself.

Nutshell blurb: Ross Baker is a scientist who works for a huge corporation called Neurosphere. He volunteers to help test out a new technology only to find that he’s been transported into a videogame.

This was my first ‘trapped in a videogame’ book. I think. Now I’m wracking my brain to remember if I’ve read any others…I actually have a story idea for a novel that takes place in a videogame, which is what drew me to this book. My idea is too nebulous to discuss but I can say that it is nothing at all like this book.

I had so much fun reading this. I’m adding Mr. Brookmyre to my list of authors whose styles I totally dig. As a side note, I would be curious to know how this book would be received by someone who didn’t play videogames.

This book spanned so many games and if you are one who plays or has played videogames in the past, you will recognise many of the ones mentioned. I particularly enjoyed reading about what the character went through when faced with various game mechanics that those of us who play games would recognise.

Respawning, having crappy weapons during the early levels of a game, being dealt damage that is inconsistent with what is dealing the damage…

It was a strange anomaly of certain first-person shooters that you could take a grenade blast and multiple bullet-wounds to the face and yet still limp home for a couple of Paracetamol and a warm bath, but if you stayed under the suds for more than thirty seconds while washing your hair, you would drown.

I was a bit disappointed that no mention was made of how one can kill a mosquito which could then potentially drop a broadsword. But then, the character seemed to spend most of his time in first-person shooters and strategy games. The double jump was mentioned, however:

Back in the day, there had been an odd glitch in the game that meant you could do this double-jump trick on the edge of a rock that would propel you a height disproportionate to your efforts. It was a handy shortcut to higher ledges that the level designers hadn’t intended you to reach without first negotiating other parts of the landscape. Ross tried it when he reached a suitable spot, the impulse coming almost instinctively as soon as he realised he was in a place he recognised. He succeeded only in repeatedly rattling his thankfully metal-clad shins off the edge of a low outcrop and falling on his face a few times. If anybody had been looking, they’d have assumed his internal motivational and guidance circuitry was on the fritz. Or that he was a twat.

As I mentioned, I really like Mr. Brookmyre’s style of writing. It’s quirky (always a plus for me) with a great sense of humour and it’s obvious that he really loves videogames.

My one complaint about this book is the ending. I felt that it was a bit rushed and that it was perhaps a bit too clever for itself. I had a moment of ‘Wha….?’ until I reread it and understanding dawned. Feeling rushed and too clever isn’t the greatest combination but I was able to forgive that because it was a really fun book.

 

Ancestor

In Book Reviews on August 31, 2014 at 6:00 am
Hodder & Stoughton 2010

Hodder & Stoughton 2010

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book. This seems to be happening to me quite a lot recently. I must be on auto-pilot when I’m in the library these days. I’m a lot more careful when I’m buying books. Well, obviously. I suppose it’s different when you’re actually spending money. Anyway, the claw marks on the front cover made me think that it was a werewolf book. I’m not sure what it is with me and werewolves lately. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a book that featured them so maybe this is my brain’s way of telling me that I need to. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this book isn’t about werewolves. It’s about something much worse.

Cows.

Nutshell blurb: So there’s this island in the Great Lakes and there are these scientists who are using DNA from extinct species to create a new species to be used as organ donors. Of course, it’s all going to go horribly wrong.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to pick up a book without knowing anything about it only to have it blow you away. This was one of those books that made me want to stay on the tube to the end of the line just so that I wouldn’t have to stop reading. (I would like to state for the record, that I have never been late to work as a result of reading a book even though I’ve been sorely tempted on many occasions. *sigh* It’s hard being conscientious.)

Ok, so I know you’re wondering about the cows. These scientists have created a new species from old DNA of something that was wiped out millions of years ago. Obviously, they needed an animal in which to incubate the tiny widdle eggs and so they chose cows. As it turns out, a mistake was made in the creation of these things and they turned out to be waaaaaaay bigger at birth than they were supposed to be. Like 200 pounds at birth. If you can imagine, this would make it exceptionally difficult when it came to giving birth, even for some big ‘ol cows. I’m not going to go into detail. It’s possible that you could be eating a hamburger while you’re reading this and I don’t want to put you off your meal.

I’ll just say that it’s pretty grim.

So, you’ve got these huge animals that are hungry as well as a couple of homicidal maniacs loose on the island (there are a few branches to this story) and it makes for really tense reading. It was quite exciting and I really want to read some more of Mr. Sigler’s work.

The Wall

In Book Reviews on August 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
Quartet Books Limited 2013

Quartet Books Limited 2013 (Originally published in Germany in 1968)

I know too that I, like every living thing, will have to die some day, but my hands, my feet and my guts still don’t know it, which is why death seems so unreal.

Nutshell blurb: A woman is vacationing in the countryside when an invisible wall appears and traps her within it.

I’ve read Under the Dome by Stephen King and I can’t help but wonder if he ever read this book before writing his. There are some minor similarities as both are tales of survival however, Mr. King’s book features a town of people who are cut off from the rest of society and Ms. Haushofer’s story is about a woman who tries to survive and has only animals to keep her company. They are quite different even though they have the same theme.

This book is relatively short but it took me a long time to read it. I really had trouble with the pacing at first. It crawls. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered why I need stuff to happen so quickly. I had to make myself slow down and appreciate the drama of this book. It’s in journal format (which I really like) however, there are no headings, chapters or breaks between paragraphs to give one room to breathe. I had a really difficult time with this format at first and I wondered if I was going to be able to make it through the entire book.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that this was my problem and not the book’s. I read so quickly and I like things to happen, but I think that sometimes I need to slooooooow down and enjoy the ride. Once I did that, I was able to fully appreciate this book.

Basically, the entire book is about what’s going on in this woman’s head as she tries to make sense of her situation and survive in it. Her lack of interaction with any other human leads her to think about heavy subjects like death and the meaning of life. She also looks back on her previous life before the wall and wondered why she was so preoccupied with things that didn’t matter.

Sometimes I’m struck by how important it once was  not to be five minutes late. An awful lot of people I knew seemed to see their watches as little idols, and that always struck me as sensible. If you’re already living in slavery, it’s a good idea to keep to the rules and not put your master in a bad humour.

Interesting stuff.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book. I’m not sure about it’s re-readability factor, but I’m glad I read it. I’m ready to watch the film now.

Fuzzy Nation

In Book Reviews on July 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2011

Tor 2011

Nutshell blurb: Jack Holloway works as an independent contractor for a company called ZaraCorp. He accidentally found some really valuable jewels which he may only claim if the planet isn’t inhabited by sentient species. But then he meets some little fuzzy creatures and there’s a huge debate about whether or not they are people.

Before I talk about this book, I’d just like to say that this is my 100th post. I can’t believe that I’ve written so many! I feel like I should be celebrating or something. Like, with cake. I really want some cake now…

Anyway.

I’m sure I’ve told you many times how much I love John Scalzi. If you don’t remember, then I’ll say it again. I love John Scalzi!

This book had me hooked in the first few pages where the main character taught his dog, Carl, to detonate some charges that he used in his work as an independent contractor. I love the amount of whimsy that exists within his books and I like that his characters feel like real people. There are times when the banter between the characters seems a bit forced, but it only happens occasionally and I can overlook it because the story is so good. Jack Holloway isn’t the best person in the world. I certainly couldn’t imagine myself being friends with him. I think that I would describe him as a lovable douche-nozzle. He does and says stupid things and he doesn’t really consider other people’s feelings when he makes his life decisions. He’s not loathsome, however, and I think that it takes quite a lot of skill to create a character like that.

There were only a couple of problems I had with this book. I felt like the main character was made out to be cleverer than he actually was. He had a lot of things up his sleeves and there were a couple of times when I had to force myself to suspend my disbelief. One of those times was at an integral turning point in the story.

(Don’t worry; there aren’t any spoilers!)

This turning point was hinted at in an earlier chapter so it didn’t come completely out of right field, but I had a moment when I was jolted out of the story (during a pivotal scene) and I was like ‘wait a minute…wuuut?’.  That’s never a good thing.

However, I was able to shrug it off and go with it. Because I love him so much.

I love the worlds he creates and Zarathustra is no exception. I feel that I have to say here that I’ve never read Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper which is the book that this one was based on. This book is a reboot of Piper’s 1968 novel and I don’t know how much of his world was used in this retelling. It’s quite a scary world as it is inhabited by scary creatures (like dinosaurs) called zararaptors which means that our protagonist lives in a treehouse. And valuable gems were the result of millions of jellyfish-like creatures being crushed under rock for centuries. I like it.

If you’ve never read any of John Scalzi’s work, I would suggest reading a different one first such as Old Man’s War. I really enjoyed this book, but I don’t know if I would be as much of a fan girl if I had read this one before any of his others.

 

Parasite

In Book Reviews on July 6, 2014 at 6:00 am
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

Nutshell blurb: In the future, humans live disease-free due to a parasite engineered by a company called SymboGen. Things are hunky-dory until the parasites decide that they want their own lives.

Yes, the premise of this book is excruciatingly gross. The thought of having a parasite living inside of me ON PURPOSE is horrifying. Much less the thought that it could become sentient and want to take over my body.

Hence the reason I HAD to read this book.

Mira Grant does a really great job of painting a hopeful future where things like diabetes or the common cold are things of the past. It’s very rare to find people who haven’t jumped on the parasite bandwagon.

The main character is Sally, a woman who had a nearly fatal car accident and whose family nearly pulled the plug on her life support. She made a miraculous recovery and was the subject of study for the SymboGen corporation as a result.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot so as to avoid spoilers.

What I will tell you is that I really like Ms. Grant’s style of writing. She’s quirky and she has a knack for adventure and action. I’ve only read two of her books so far (here’s the link to my post on Feed if you’re interested in reading it) and I’ve really enjoyed them.

My problem with this book and the reason that I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I felt that it was very similar to Feed. They both featured a future that saw us with some sort of disease-preventing technology that’s gone wrong. And the characters were quite similar.

In Parasite, there’s the main character, Sally who seemed remarkably similar to Feed’s Georgia. There’s Sally’s boyfriend, Nathan, who reminded me of Georgia’s brother, Shaun. There’s the plucky side-kick, Tansy who could have easily been related to Feed‘s Buffy.

Even though the Parasite characters were, in many ways, different from their Feed counterparts they still felt connected to me. As I read the parts with them in it, I found myself picturing the characters from Feed. I’ve never experienced that before. It was eerie, although probably unintentionally so. As characterisation is a huge part of what draws me into a novel, I must admit that it was a bit off-putting.

However, the story was gripping enough that it wasn’t a huge issue for me. It was an enjoyable read and I would be up for reading the next one.

Old Man’s War

In Book Reviews on June 8, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2005

Tor 2005

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.

I love John Scalzi. I really do. This is only the second book of his that I’ve read, but I’m now officially a fan girl. (Here’s a link to my post on Redshirts.)

Nutshell blurb: Mankind has expanded and colonised other planets in outer space. Once people on Earth turn 75, they have the option to join the military to fight aliens and to protect colonists.

It’s quite interesting that a military would want 75 year olds to join its ranks and I certainly won’t spoil anything for you by telling you why. What I will tell you is why I love Mr. Scalzi’s writing so much. He has the power to make me snicker (Out loud. On my morning commute.) and cringe at the same time. He has a brilliant sense of whimsy and he doesn’t mince around his story. He embraces the ridiculous and runs with it. And it works.

There are so many times when I read a sci-fi book and get lost in scientific detail. This certainly has a lot of detail in it, but it’s accessible to those of us who aren’t able to grasp some heavy scientific explanation.

I don’t really feel like I can say much more about it without spoiling it. I will say that I loved it, it was super fun and that I’ll be reading more of his work.

If you don’t already know, he has a blog which is great if you’re a fan of his writing.

The Clone Republic

In Book Reviews on April 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Titan Books 2013

Titan Books 2013

Nutshell blurb: The story takes place in 2508 when humans have colonised the six arms of the Milky Way. Humans have begun creating clones and raising them in ‘orphanages’ to be ultimate soldiers. Our hero is raised amongst them and this is the story of his military career.

This book is pretty fun and I enjoyed it. For the most part. Last week, I mentioned that I’m having an issue with books that begin a series and the slowness of their take off. The same goes for this book. A lot happened. There were a lot of missions and a lot of introspection about why the world is the way it is but I found that the story lacked focus. I couldn’t quite work out what it was leading up to and then it ended very abruptly. It was quite obvious that it was setting the scene for the next book.

Another thing that this book lacked was the inclusion of any interesting females. It’s entirely possible for me to read and enjoy books that don’t feature women in them, but I felt the exclusion very keenly. Apparently, women have no place in the future as far as this story is concerned. I don’t mean for that to sound like a harsh criticism of the story, but I feel that it would have been more interesting to see females portrayed as more than just a bit of fun for marines who are off-duty and vacationing in Hawaii.

One of the things that I really liked about it were the clones. They were bred to not know that they’re clones. They all look the same, but the way their brains are engineered makes them see each other differently. They even see themselves differently when they look in the mirror. This was done on purpose in order to keep the clones from one day rebelling against humans. They are also programmed to go into cardiac arrest if they ever realise that they are clones. Again to prevent an uprising.

Overall, I found the story to be pretty fast-paced (even if it was a bit unfocused) and the main character was interesting. I definitely want to read the second book to see if I’m correct in my assumption that this book was setting the scene for subsequent books.

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back

In Book Reviews on April 13, 2014 at 6:00 am
Lucasfilm Ltd 2014

Lucasfilm Ltd 2014

I know not whence thy great delusions come,

Thou laser brain.

Yes, yes, yes and a thousand times YES!! This book!

This was part of my birthday loot that I picked up when I went shopping last Friday. I’ve read William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, which was so much fun so I when I saw this on the shelf at Forbidden Planet I just had to get it.

Now, this is the kind of thing that you think might be novel to read at first but then it might grow old or tedious, but I have to say that that’s absolutely not the case with this book. It only took me a day or two to read, but it was so much fun. It kept me giggling the entire time.

Most of you know the story of The Empire Strikes Back. But what you may not know is that some of the monsters in the story not only have feelings, but they have soliloquies as well. The wampa (that furry monster on Hoth at the beginning that swipes Luke off of his Tauntaun) has lines. They go like this:

Alas, how I am by this man abus’d-

Could I, for seeking food, not be excus’d?

It seemeth that this wampa shall have strife.

Thus, gentles all: have pity on my life.

See? He was just hungry.

Also, the exogor (the giant worm inside the asteroid that the Millenium Falcon lands in) has a soliloquy. I won’t give you the whole thing, but he’s both lonely AND hungry.

To be a space slug is a lonely lot,

With no one on this rock to share my life,

No true companion here to mark my days.

and now my meals do from my body fly-

Layers, people. There are so many layers to this story that go beyond the film. Who knew?

Some of my favourite parts were when Leia and Han torture themselves over how they feel about each other.

O, wherefore did I speak so testily?

Why is it that when he is near

My wit is turn’d to unto a laser beam

With Han plac’d firmly in its sights? I tear

His heart in twain with words too cruel and harsh,

Then wonder why he is so full of pride.

I’m totally with Leia on this. I remember being a little girl when the film came out. A little girl with a huge crush on Han Solo. I was so upset at the end when he got frozen in carbonite and they hadn’t made the next film yet. It was very distressing. I felt so much joy when Return of the Jedi came out.

I anticipate that I will be just as happy when I get my grubby hands on a copy of William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return. I’ll let you know.

 

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