Saturday, December 29, 2007

Never Give Up Vol. 1 by Hiromu Mutou

Never Give Up Vol. 1
Hiromu Mutou
1999, Tokyopop Inc., Los Angeles

Teenage manga about a boyish girl (Kiri) in love with a girlish boy (Tohya). Tohya becomes a male model and, in order to be close to him, Kiri becomes Tatsuki, a male model, herself. And it gets more confusing from there.

I thought it was pretty good ... and have a new favourite line "No, that type of thing only happens in Manga"!

It took a while to get the characters straight, but I think that was intentional. And it is a teenage story, so it's very melodramatic and a bit unbelievable, but it's manga, so that's a given.

Now I want to see what happens next!!!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn

Brilliance of the Moon
Lian Hearn
2004, Riverhead Books, New York.

The third 'Tale of the Otori'. Takeo, a young warrior with special powers, and his wife Kaede fight to retain the land which rightfully belongs to Kaede in this the third novel of the series. The first two books are Across the Nightingale Floor and Grass for his Pillow.

I enjoyed the story. The beauty of the country really comes through in these books, and they evoke a real sense of medieval Japan. Again, like in the other books, the reader is not fully drawn into the story as the narrator writes with too much detachment, even though it is supposed to be emotional.

I like that the fantasy side is a minor part of the story, and that it is set in an identifiable period. I think it would make these books more accessible to a wider audience, like those (such as myself) normally put off a bit by the fantasy genre.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey

The Ship Who Searched
Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey
1992, Baen Books, New York

Tia, a child of exo-archaeologists is struck down by a mysterious ailment which leaves her paralysed. She chooses to become a 'shellperson', one of a group of humans without functioning bodies who put their minds into spaceships with full sensory input and output.

I enjoyed this read. I really like the premise of the shellpersons Universe, and the brain-and-brawn ships. The characterisations are all done really well, without going too much into sop territory. Perhaps a little episodic at times, but there was plenty of action and enough interesting science to keep it moving.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein

The Puppet Master
Robert A. Heinlein
1951, Ballantine Books, New York.
347 p.

Story of an alien invasion taking place in 2007 (book written in 1951) after a flying saucer lands in the central United States. The aliens lifeforms are parasitic 'slugs' which take over control of humans' bodies and minds. Sam Cavanaugh from an above-the-government agency narrates the story as he attempts to rid the population of these parasites.

This is a really great pulpy 50s sci-fi novel!

It's got plenty of action and is fast moving. The science is interesting and not too complicated - just a nice simple story of alien invasion and body snatching! And that mild 1950s sexism just makes the book complete.

This story would make an excellent movie ... it has nudity and everything!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Invasion!: The Soldiers of Fear by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Invasion!: The Soldiers of Fear
Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch
1996, Pocket Book, New York

The Furies are back in the Next Generation Universe. An outpost set up after Kirk's encounter with the Furies (Invasion!: First Strike) to monitor that region of space is destroyed when a new Fury ship emerges from the wormhole. Picard's Enterprise is sent to be first on the scene to negotiate with or destroy the Furies.

This was very well written with a tension maintained throughout the whole book. Not so much of a focus on the technological side, but more towards the 'human' emotional side. Which is the difference between The Original Series and The Next Generation! This book was not as 'stand alone' as First Strike was, you can definitely tell that it was set up for a sequel, whereas the first book didn't seem to be. Probably because the next book is from Deep Space 9, which is set at the same 'time' as Next Generation so they can continue on immediately after the events in this book and now I'm sounding like a very, very sad Trekkie!

I found it a little predictable, but that's just because I watch/read too much Star Trek and they have to follow the conventions of the genre.

The Furies are fantastic 'bad guys' - better than the Borg, though not as scary.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8 edited by Dean Wesley Smith

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8
edited by Dean Wesley Smith
Pocket Books, New York, 2005

Twenty-two short stories set in the Trek Universe written by fans. These are the published entries of the 'Strange New Worlds' writing competition. There are stories using characters from The Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise as well as Speculative Fiction which is not set in any specific universe.

I enjoyed most of these stories, all fan fiction I have read has an innate understanding of the characters and their motives, the technology, settings and historical events. My favourites were 'Morning Bells are Ringing' from Next Generation and 'Gumbo' from Deep Space 9. I found is odd (or maybe not!) that all the Voyager stories focussed on (or mentioned in passing) the relationship between Tom Paris and B'elana Torres! Must have been a very popular relationship!

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Volcano Boy by Libby Hathorn

Volcano Boy
Libby Hathorn
2001, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne.

This is the story of a troubled teenage boy who moves to Papua New Guinea with his Uncle. Amongst the volcanoes he finds his place.

It is written in a prose poetry style and takes only an hour to read. It is a young adults story, but I'm not sure many in that age bracket would 'get' the poetry style. Although there aren't many words, they take you on a rather exciting and emotional ride with vibrant characters and settings.

I expected this to be a 'neat tricks' novel, but it had a simple story and wasn't pretentious at all.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie
1934, Pocket Books, Markham.

This is the story of a murder aboard the snowbound Orient Express in the Calais Coach. A man is stabbed in the night, and it is apparent that the murderer is still onboard. Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who is travelling on the coach investigates the murder.

Not long before I picked this book up, I'd seen the movie. So I was aware of the outcome as I was reading. Still, it is so well written that it kept my interest.

It's a wonderfully conceived crime and the characters are all so fascinating.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov
Vintage International, New York, 1962

This book is written as a poem and commentary. The poem's author, John Shade, is neighbours with Charles Kinbote, a rather eccentric academic man from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It is Kinbote who writes the whacky commentary.

I love the wry humour of the author. The character Charlie Kinbote is highly entertaining and I never knew where he was going with it (his commentary on the poem) next.

The randomness of this book is engaging.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld
2005, Random House, New York

The story of a lower middle class girl from Midwest America named Lee who gets into an east -coast boarding school. She has trouble fitting in and is a little (but not overly) shy. The book is set over her four years there (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and focuses on Lee's experiences and how she changes as she grows up in this environment.

I'm not sure if I enjoyed reading this one or not. It was very real. A little too real - I felt quite uncomfortable reading it in places, it just hit too close to home, even though I didn't relate personally to settings, characters or events. I couldn't read it in large chunks because it made me feel too depressed and I had to stop. I guess that's a sign that it was very well written in that it transports the reader into the story really well.

I normally don't like 'dumb' characters, but I found myself warming to Lee. It was a great insight into American east-coast boarding school life.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Doctor Who: Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury edited by Paul Cornell

Doctor Who: Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury
Paul Cornell (Editor)
2004, Big Finish, Maidenhead

Most of these stories were really good - I liked the recipes and the story of Poor Tom. Very festive, and very Dr. Who.

There are 35 items in total, including recipes, poetry and micro-fiction. It would have been handy to have pictures of all (or the first eight, rather) Doctors handy, so I could picture who was Who in the stories (pun intended).

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds

Century Rain
Alastair Reynolds
Gollancz, London, 2004

This is a modern science fiction novel split between two stories - one set in 1950s Paris and the other in the far future above a destroyed Earth. The 'science' part of the story is very interesting astro-physics type stuff, and the 'noir' side has a not-so hard-boiled private dick who is such an interesting character.

I read this slowly because I enjoyed it so much!

The writing style is a bit haphazard and juvenile at times - there are a few issues with continuity and lingo. But it can be overlooked, it doesn't interfere with the story too much.

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