Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Roger McBride Allen: The Depths of Time

First novel of a space opera saga with themes of terraforming and time travel in which the hero gets trapped in the future by the edicts of the Chronologic Patrol who police any potential causality breaking time travel.

This book is OK but not great. If high Sci Fi is all about Big ideas and low Sci Fi is all about action packed space adventure then this book tries to do both but doesn't succeed brilliantly at either. Allen does have two "big ideas" in the book but neither is very well thought out and it is easy to pick holes in the way Allen handles them. The novel fares better as a low SF adventure in space but is still a bit slow moving. I'm not rushing out to but the sequel but if I stumble across it I'll probably pick it up to see how the plot develops.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Ronan Bennett: Havoc in it's Third Year

Bennett's tale is set in England of the 1630's a time when the country is falling into the grip of puritanism. The hero is a diligent coroner who has managed to achieve his position despite having unpopular religious leanings. Unfortunately it is obvious from the outset of the book that his inherent honesty and humanism will inevitably bring him into conflict with the spirit of the times.

The book starts with a murder mystery that the coroner has undertaken to get to the bottom of but what follows is dark and unsettling, at times realistic and at times surreal. I don't want to spoil the plot but the way in which the author deals the original murder mystery is either careless or deliberately provocative or a clever piece of misdirection. I can't make my mind up which but the book is otherwise a very well written, thought provoking read. Just don't expect to come away filled with love for your fellow man.

Holes by Louis Sachar.

Teenager Stanley Yelnats believes his hole family is under a curse so he is none too surprised to be is arrested for a crime he didn't commit and sent to a slave labour camp masquerading as a correctional institute.

I can thank my 10 year old daughter for introducing me to this book from her school summer reading list. It's a terrific fable, very entertaining and very clever. I read it in a day and enjoyed every minute.

Tadd Williams: Shadow Play

The Shadow March saga continues. There isn't really a sharp delineation between the first and this second book and I find it hard to remember where one ends and the next begins. The series touches on George RR Martin territory with its political intrigues but these are really overshadowed by the fantasy elements.

Tadd Williams: Shadow March

My Tadd Williams love affair continues with the first book of his latest saga. Set in a fairly traditional fantasy universe of magic and swordplay this has all the hallmarks of Williams rich storytelling and deep characterisation. An interesting feature of this saga is the very complex mythology that Williams has constructed which is slowly revealed through half remembered snippets of sometimes contradictory myth and legend that permeate each chapter. Being lazy I have given up trying to puzzle these out and just wait till the plot reveals what really happened but I am sure some folk would find it interesting.

Longwided as is usual for Williams of course, but worth it in my opinion.