Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Holiday Reading Review

Holiday reading isn't what it used to be! With kids discovering new and varied ways to kill or maim themselves every day and a certain suicidal fascination with the beach, there just isn't the free time to lie back with a book. In fact, reading itself changes - some pages you get to read 5 times; others you skip (mainly because of cunning repositioning of your book with the result of losing the page). Anyways, I managed to get through a few in the margins. Here they are:

Dreamsongs - George RR Martin

Yes this is the Song of Ice and Fire author and it does include a short novella "The Hedge Knight" set some years before the action of the series. An interesting feature of this collection of short stories, TV screenplays and novellas is the running commentary by the author which reveals a range of career highlights including involvement as a writer for the Twilight Zone and the TV series Beauty and the Beast! I suppose at least it wasn't that angel one with the Little House on the Prairie guy...

Good fun with a broad selection of fantasy, sci-fi and horror - the interesting thing about Martin is that really he scorns the boundaries between the various genre, preferring to explore the characters most of all as they battle with their humanity. I quite liked Unsound Variations, a sci-fi twister concerning chess and time travel, The Skin Game, which was equal parts horror and sci-fi and of course The Hedge Knight. 8/10

Atilla - William Napier

I'm a sucker for a well-drawn historical novel and this met my expectations in all but one respect. It tracks the early years of Atilla as the sun sets on the Roman empire. Atilla learns more about Rome than they would probably like as a hostage to keep the allied Hun cavalry in line. Its a good yarn with some excellent action as well as thoughtful characterisation. Too late I realised it was a series. Still, I think the series will survive being broken. 8/10

Snare - Katharine Kerr

A classic Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel this one. Fantasy paradigm set on a sci-fi post civilisation breakdown foundation. Lots of interesting questions about identity and genetics as the protaganists discover their world is not what it seems. Some quite original concepts and a good read. 7/10

Sagramanda - Alan Dean Foster

Gosh I must have read a dozen books by this author and he never lets you down. This is set in "near-future India" and you get a sense of the population issues and resource scarcity playing out. Its a kind of sci-fi, commerial espionage, eco thriller. The underdog trying to make a newly created resource available to the world. Was excellent fun with its wacky range of characters but a little disappointing when you discover what the big secret is! 7/10

Days of Infamy - Harry Turtledove

This guy specialises in alternate history, perfect for a sci-fi/history buff! The premise is: what if the Japanese invaded Hawaii after Pearl Harbour? Its a good story with some excellent characters and some nice twists - like the invention of the windsurfer! Lots of "in jokes" as history is subtly changed. Also asks some big questions about racism and what people will do under pressure. 7/10

All in all, I missed finding that truly excellent read in the 9 or 10 range, but with all the distractions, I'm not sure I would have appreciated it.

8 comments:

Rhett said...

You read Dreamsongs! I've seen it in Whitcoulls...I'm jealous.

At the moment I'm reading Memories of Ice by Steven Erickson... part of a 10 book series called The Malazan Book of the Fallen, (he's written 8, I think)...

BJ said...

Yup and I just picked up one of his Wild Cards collections from the library today...and ordered the remaining 2 books in the Atilla series...phew! I'll need to get cracking as i am thinking about giving up the reading of fiction for Lent...

Rhett said...

Cool :-). I think you will have to advise me on some good sci-fi. I'm feeling a sci-fi itch; after I finish with Memories of Ice (it's a whopper at 1100 pages... some kind of record for me), I'm going to read Dune (been meaning to for ages, so I bought it)... then I'm open to suggestions and lendings.

And what a good Lent idea. You always think of good ones. For me, giving up fiction would be hard, but the hardest would be to give up either gaming or music (recreational listening of course, not counting church worship).

I'm thinking that giving up the Xbox 360 for lent might be an idea.

BJ said...

Muahahahaha...

Feel the strength of the dark side young paduin...

Already, a list have I made...

BJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhett said...

Awesome. BTW, Lent decision... giving up the iPod for Lent. Will try to replace iPod time with God-time.

And as for your list, you should know that I a more of a space-opera, alien war, Babylon 5 kinda guy. Not so much a near-future, dare I even say, cyber-punk kinda guy.

But who knows, I might become one. You will have to wean me.

Anonymous said...

How ironic that you are complaining about only getting through five books this summer and I'm not even half way through one! Maybe I should spend more time on the toilet in the morning! :)

BJ said...

Its a metabolism thing...