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My recently read genre titles

Posted by phduffy on 2009-07-13 16:20:39
Mistborn Trilogy - Brandon Sanderson
Reall well done fantasy trilogy. Sanderson tries to experiment a bit with standard fantasy tropes, similarly to Joe Abercrombie. That said, while Abercrombie's world was probably the more standard fantasy one, I liked his experiments with the genre more than Sanderson. This is still a very well done series with some nice twists and a fun magic system. By the time I was on the 3rd book I was reading it all the time, even while walking down the street to pick up dinner.

The Ten Thousand - Paul Kearney
Very well done stand alone fantasy novel, very loosely based on Anabasis of Xenophon. Well described heroes and villains, and the plot is wrapped up in 400 pages.

Pushing Ice - Alastair Reynolds
Fantastic novel set aboard a mining ship. The ship notices an unusual activity going on near Janus, and are sent by Earth to investigate. They are lead to a large, Alien structure. The novel is about their attempting to understand what's going on with the structure, as well as the politics that play out amongst the 'colonists'. I suppose that makes it somewhat similar to Rendezvous with Rama, but this really focuses more on the relationships between the colonists and some mystery, as opposed to the exploration in Rama

Dust - Elizabeth Bear
Novel set in a far, far, far distant future. There are warring groups of humans who have each set themselves up as Gods... blah blah blah. I've heard good things about Bear, and I'm sure she's talented, but this idea is so played out that I want nothing to do with it. I'm probably not being fair, they haven't exactly set themselves up as Gods.. but they kind of have. And stories like this, that deal with ethereal reality, are really hard for me to get into. I can relate to having to escape a hotel, castle, space ship, whatever. But when you're being chased through the planes of reality... how do I get any sense of tension from that?

Vellum - Hal Duncan
This book is madness. It's fantastic and brilliant, but it's fantastic and brilliant madness. The first chapter describes the mythical "Book of All Hours" and the potential consequences of finding it. It ends with the protoganist of chapter 1 finding and opening The Book of All Hours. The first chapter is coherent and well written. Then the madness starts. The Book of All Hours has essentially opened a rift in space and time. The book follows 3 main characters through alternate realities and time. It describes their relationship with they were Sumarian Kings, their existence in the 'real world' and more. There are also characters who know that a rift has been opened, and who are trying to fix (exploit?) it, Fallen Angels, Lucifer, etc are competing with each other, while at the same time we see Pan who is Jesus who is Matthew Shepherd get crucified. I can't do this justice, other than to say it's madness. I think Duncan has tons of potential, but this was too much for me. Duncan tells the story of his 3 main characters throughout space and time, but they have different names each time. Additionally, two of them have names that start with the same letter - this makes figuing out who you're looking at difficult. Sadly, it proved too difficult for me, and I gave up before finishing. I'll be watching what Duncan does next though.

Stone - Adam Roberts
Far future, post-scarcity world. Between all the nano-tech and available resources, criminals don't really exist anymore. This novel is about one of the few who does exist, a man who lives in a prison in the middle of a star. He's contacted, and told that someone (or something) will help him escape, and then make him fantastically wealthy, and that he only has to do one thing - murder the popularion of an entire planet, while leaving the planet intact. You can probably guess what he chooses. This was my first Roberts, but it won't be my last, as I really liked how this first-person story played out. Aside from the main character you don't get much characterisation, but it's an interesting exploration of the the criminal mind, with some basic quantum physics thrown in for fun.

Power of Three - Diana Wynne Jones
Wynne Jones writes children's fantasy. This was my first Wynne Jones, and I thought it was a very enjoyable, if slight, novel. The setting is interesting, very quick read (since it's written for 12 year olds) and I'd recommend it to any parents looking for something for young children after Harry Potter.

Mirrored Heavens - David J Williams
I won this book in a contest at Pat's Fantasy hotlist. The story is about a terrorist attack on a space elevator, and the 3 government agents trying to figure out what happened. There's also a 4th characters, whose motives are kept unclear. Sort of a cross between Richard Morgan and Jeff Somers. I really like Morgan and kind of like Somers, but I'd say this is more on the Somers side of things - lots of action, little time to develop characters, and the plotting occurs so fast that you don't ever really get involved. There's some interesting back story, but you rarely get exposed to it. It also didn't help that of the 4 plot points/characters, the 2 receiving the most attention were the ones I was least interested in. Despite all this, I enjoyed it, and will be reading the sequel.

The City and The City - China Mieville
Mystery novel set in a fictional European city. Er... two fictional European cities. The two cities occupy the same physical space, but the citizens of one city 'unsee' the citizens of the other city, and vice versa. The penalty for not 'unseeing' the other city is to be taken away by the "Breach", an organization who exists to ensure that the cities remain separate. Most of the citizens of the cities consider the Breach to be a supernatural force. So that's the setting. The actual plot involves a murder investigation, and the hoops that he has to go through to solve a murder that involves both cities - he has to cross the 'border' into the other city, 'unsee' his home city, etc. His investigation leads him towards what may or may not be a rebel group trying to find a lost, third city. This probably makes much more sense if you read the novel, as it's really not that confusing. Great read - Mievielle continues to be fantastic.