• Published a book you want to tell us about? Uploaded a YouTube video you want to share?

    Normally you'll need 100 posts to self-promote, but with an upgraded membership you can do so with your first post.

    Find out more here: Become a Supporting Member

December 2018 reading thread

williamjm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
687
I finished Richard Morgan's latest novel, Thin Air. It did feel a bit like Morgan on auto-pilot, the basic premise of a cyberpunk noir detective story whose protagonist is a super-soldier gone rogue with a propensity for ultraviolence, philosophising and sleeping with half of the women he meets is something Morgan has done several times before. It might be a shrewd choice of book to publish now to try to cash in on the Netflix Altered Carbon series, but I think it's a pity Morgan didn't manage to deliver something a bit more different to the Kovacs books. That said, Morgan does do a good job of writing this sort of story, the mystery plot is well-structured (even if it's hard sometimes to care too much about the outcome) and he hasn't lost his knack for action sequences. I liked the Martian colony setting, which is probably the thing that distinguishes it most from his previous books.

It's an entertaining read, but I think Morgan has done this sort of story better before.
 

Bick

A Member of the Forum
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
2,082
Location
Auckland, NZ
I enjoyed Fred Pohl's Starburst, finished a few days ago - a good book. The increase in intellect of the Constitution crew didn't quite ring true to me unless travelling a a high fraction of c does something weird to intellectual power (which isn't suggested). Nice ideas though and well plotted.

I've been reading another Christie in the last couple of days - The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Cracking stuff!
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
8,087
Location
Iowa
I gave up on The Letter by Kathryn Hughes. On the plus side it was historically correct for both the concurrent stories in 1939 and 1978 England and the plot was interesting. But what caused me to give up on it was that in both stories there were men who refused to act in any way honorable, one to his daughter and the other to his wife. --- I know that are many men like that, but I just couldn't force myself to read any more in either of those story lines I'm nearing the end of the 7th decade and I just don't want to take the time to read fiction that does not seem to have any redeeming characters.

Have begun The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken and to say that it is different is to understate the truth by at least half. The jury is still out on this book, but I'm more than willing to run with it for a while. Who knows?
 

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
898
The Jack Vance autobiography "This is Me, Jack Vance!". Dictated in his nineties, this is a very pleasant benign read of his life and travels. There is relatively little about his science fiction, though I do envy his ablility to combine his wandering in exotic settings with his writing. "The Dying Earth" was written from a deckchair looking out at the Pacific while working on cargo ships in the early 1940s. In contrast he was almost completely blind while writing later works such as "Lyonesse" (the unfortunate result of laser treatment for glaucoma).
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7,473
Location
Scottish Highlands
I finished Richard Morgan's latest novel, Thin Air. It did feel a bit like Morgan on auto-pilot, the basic premise of a cyberpunk noir detective story whose protagonist is a super-soldier gone rogue with a propensity for ultraviolence, philosophising and sleeping with half of the women he meets is something Morgan has done several times before. It might be a shrewd choice of book to publish now to try to cash in on the Netflix Altered Carbon series, but I think it's a pity Morgan didn't manage to deliver something a bit more different to the Kovacs books. That said, Morgan does do a good job of writing this sort of story, the mystery plot is well-structured (even if it's hard sometimes to care too much about the outcome) and he hasn't lost his knack for action sequences. I liked the Martian colony setting, which is probably the thing that distinguishes it most from his previous books.

It's an entertaining read, but I think Morgan has done this sort of story better before.
That's a bit worrying. I've just read and enjoyed Black Man (aka Thirteen) but, apart from the Martian setting, your description of Thin Air would pretty much describe Black Man!
 

Av Demeisen

Prime Detester of God The Infernal Wizard
Joined
Jul 1, 2015
Messages
129
Now reading The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,728
Location
Highlands
I'm reading Magician, by Raymond Feist, I have the two further to read of the trilogy after it.
I was surprised at interesting it could be when I read it for the first time a few years ago. Btw, welcome to the chrons forum @Ian Fortytwo . :)
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,074
Science fiction and fantasy etc. books read in 2018 -- I write so much here at Chrons about non-sff that I thought it might not be a bad idea to indicate that I do read a bit of genre stuff too.

Martyn Skinner’s The Return of Arthur, satirical mock-epic of near-future – recommended to those who can read poetry

Skinner’s Sir Elfadore and Mabyna, narrative poem of courtly romance among tiny folk

Skinner’s Old Rectory (the title is a character’s nickname), post-apocalyptic conversation-poem as I recall

F. Anstey’s The Statement of Stella Maberly (Gothic novella)

Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus, outstanding medieval fantasy

Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien

Phyllis Paul, Rox Hall Illuminated (Gothic novel)

Jared Lobdell’s The Four Corners of the Tapestry (Cthulhu Mythos novellas, not very good)

J. M. Barrie’s Farewell Miss Julie Logan (Gothic novel)

Lars Walker’s The Elder King (in manuscript)

R. H. Benson’s The Necromancers (supernatural thriller from around 1900)

Charles Williams’s War in Heaven (supernatural thriller)

M. P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud (sf from circa 1900, reading currently under way; becoming tedious)

JUVENILE

John Gordon’s The House on the Brink (attempt at writing supernatural thriller for young adults in an up-to-date manner)

Alan Garner’s Red Shift (parallel time-tracks novel; I suspect it isn’t as good as some people think it is; harder to read than a lot of “adult” fiction)

Harry Harrison’s Spaceship Medic

John Bellairs’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls (the movie trailer suggests the movie is much more of a CGI-wallow than the book is)

Bellairs and Strickland’s The Specter from the Magician’s Museum; The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder
 

williamjm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
687
That's a bit worrying. I've just read and enjoyed Black Man (aka Thirteen) but, apart from the Martian setting, your description of Thin Air would pretty much describe Black Man!
There are definitely some similarities between the two - they're even set in the same world, although there's no direct plot or character connection between the two stories (at least not as far I remember, it's been a few years since I read Black Man).
 

Fedos

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2008
Messages
125
I just finished up reading the last book in the original Mistborn trilogy, The Hero of Ages. While I don't necessarily relish the slow buildup that seems to be a staple of Sanderson's books--I prefer higher peaks in my fantasy--I must say that the series did end spectacularly, and Sanderson deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the way he handled it. Now I don't know what of his Cosmere works I'll read next, either the first book in the next Mistborn sequence or reading some of the other works, like Warbreaker or Elantris, but it'll certainly be between those three books.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
5,764
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Just started A Fond Farewell to Dying (1981) by Syd Logsdon. The setting appears to be a couple of centuries after a nuclear war and resultant worldwide flooding. Russia, China and Europe seem to be pretty much wiped out, the Americas mostly underwater, India (now a huge island) the dominant world power in conflict with some kind of pan-Islamic state. Against this background, the plot appears to have something to do with a kind of immortality through transferring a copy of one's consciousness into a cloned body.
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7,473
Location
Scottish Highlands
No time to either do a lot of reading or writing up my reads at the moment so just a quick summary of recent reading:
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano - for me not his best by quite a long stretch, a bit too filled with inside stuff; almost every character is modeled on a real character from the Latin American literary scene of the time, which is fine, I guess if you happen to be an expert in that field.
The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell - reliable as ever, another very good instalment in the Saxon Chronicles aka The Last Kingdom.
The Forge of God by Greg Bear - a very good piece of hard SF but, oh, what a depressingly fatalistic one even if a little hope is offered at the end. Interesting comparison with Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem books. TFoG was first published in the late '80s whilst TTBP was published in '07 but both present essentially the same answer to Fermi's Paradox; keep your head down or it will get bashed.
Black Man (aka Thirteen) by Richard Morgan - very good, dark look at a moderately near future world. It's essentially a thriller but along the way it touches on a lot of issues very relevant to today, including racism, genetic ethics, bigotry and religious fundamentalism. Interestingly the latter focuses more on Christian fundamentalism rather than Islamic or any other. The American bible belt receiving particularly harsh treatment. My only complaint is, pretty much as always, Morgan does like to introduce very explicit sex; unnecessarily so in my opinion. But it's easily skipped.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,074
Finished this today at Starbucks:
View attachment 49017
Great collection of stories surprisingly few of which had to do with murder. Mostly they were of the narrow escape variety, which I had no problem with. It was fun watching the world's greatest detective use his unmatched skills solve more mundane problems than ubiquitous murder. Maybe that's why these are all referred to as "Adventures." Whatever, my thumbs still smarts.

Starting this tonight:
View attachment 49018
It's been on my shelf staring at me for a long time now and with time no longer a plentiful as it once was I've decided I've postponed it long enough.
Did I miss comments on the Margulies anthology?
 

dask

dark and stormy knight
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
3,394
Location
Pacific Northwest
No, not yet. This is my bed side read, only a few pages before I turn out the lights. In lesser hands the first story could have been little more than a bit of pulp adventure of the era but Brackett and Bradbury cranked up the old creative console and turned out a way above average tale of what struck me as pure delightful science fantasy. Extremely imaginative. Nobody else might like it but I loved it. And when Bradbury restrains the fluff, boy can he pound out the tale. The Sturgeon is the fine crafted story you'd expect but I dunno, just can't get overly excited about. No problem finishing it but I can't wait to see what Heinlein has in store.
 
Top