Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Diaspora by Greg Egan

Greg Egan
1997, Orion, London

A hard-science fiction novel set post-flesh-humanity where sentient beings are part of a computer complex. When two colliding neutron stars threaten to destroy Earth, they begin a journey of discovery.

And then some!

This was an amazing book. It covered topics as varied as virtual reality, xenobiology, astrophysics, mathematics, evolutionary theory, chemistry, and a lot more which went well over my head. The setting of the story is so different to our world - usually it's hard for an author to separate a created universe from our own, but this attempt has been highly successful.

The ending was the most beautiful ending I have read in a long time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beyond Star Trek: The Physics of Star Trek, The X-Files, Star Wars, and Independence Day by Lawrence M. Krauss

Beyond Star Trek: The Physics of Star Trek, The X-Files, Star Wars, and Independence Day
Lawrence M. Krauss
1995, 1998, HarperPerennial, New York

Krauss discusses physics theories used in modern science fiction and explains where they work and where they don't.

As I was reading this, I couldn't believe that it was making sense. Krauss is obviously very talented at writing popular science to make it accessible to common man. I loved the theories of quantum mechanics - it's all so fascinating.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

A Child's Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper

A Child's Book of True Crime
Chloe Hooper
2002, Random House, Milsons Point

Kate is a teacher in a small school who is having an affair with the father of one of her students. The man's wife is the author of a true crime novel about a local murder of an adulteress and Kate begins to confuse this story with her own life.

I didn't enjoy this book. I think the main problem was that I couldn't identify with the narrator at all, her motivations were mysterious and inexplicable. She is too juevenile, too melodramatic, and she doesn't learn anything despite being given the opportunity. I'm not sure what the author was trying to achieve with her character.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan

Apathy and Other Small Victories
Paul Neilan
2006, St. Martins, New York

Shane's dental hygienist is found murdered and he's a suspect. Or something. A description of this book's plot is not going to give any real sort of indication as to what sort of book this is.

This was a hilarious read. The sort of book that makes you laugh out loud, then when someone asks what you're laughing at, you mumble incoherently because it's just so wrong. I loved the narrator's insights and cynical view of the modern world. You know you're reading a good book when every single character is stark raving loony and yet the whole things makes perfect sense.

Link to journal at bookcrossing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Valiant by Holly Black

Holly Black
2005, Simon & Schuster, New York

Val runs away to New York City where she encounters a group of homeless youths who are in contact with faeries. She gets dragged into a world of drugs and monsters as she fights to free herself from the binds that have tangled her.

This certainly is an angsty book, but it's a good yarn. I liked it better than Tithe. I loved the setting of New York City - it's great to have faeries in the middle of a modern city.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stiff by Shane Maloney

Shane Maloney
1994, 2004, Griffin Press, Melbourne

Murray Whelan is a political fixer working for the Minister of Industry when an accident at a meat-packing plant threatens to put a spanner in the works of an Industrial Relations Bill. Investigating the incident, Whelan finds himself in the middle of something far more sinister.

This book is very Victorian. I'm not sure how accurate it is, as I wasn't in Melbourne in the early 1980s, but the reader certainly gets a feel for the culture. Whelan is a great character, he's just trying to do a good job, to stay on top of everything, yet gets himself in deeper and deeper.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stardust by Robert B. Parker

Robert B. Parker
1990, 1991, Berkley, New York

Spenser is a private detective hired to find out who is threatening TV starlet Jill Joyce. The stakes are raised when Jill Joyce's body double is murdered.

I quite liked this when I got into it. I think I was thrown a little by the gaudy cover, this is a classic American detective novel and reminded me of Chandler's Marlowe. Spenser is a brilliantly sassy character, I will try and read more of these books.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Imbalance by VE Mitchell

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Imbalance
VE Mitchell
1992, Pocket Books, New York

The Enterprise is sent on a diplomatic mission to review the possible entry of the Jarada people into the Federation of Planets. While on an away mission, Riker, Crusher, Worf and Keiko become separated and trapped without contact with the ship.

This was a solid little entry into the Star Trek universe. It followed all the conventions and introduced some interesting xenobiology concepts. I really liked the way the author gave each of the aliens an individual personality, which a lot of Trek fiction fails to do even remotely.