June Reading Thread

So Great a Prince: England and the Accession of Henry VIII by Lauren Johnson
Since I am neither English, or Catholic, or a time traveller from the early 16th century, this was an interesting peak at life then, and how different it would be after Henry VIII was done being king, and how different life is now.
 
So Great a Prince: England and the Accession of Henry VIII by Lauren Johnson
Since I am neither English, or Catholic, or a time traveller from the early 16th century, this was an interesting peak at life then, and how different it would be after Henry VIII was done being king, and how different life is now.
Ah, yes - a foul-tempered, gluttonous, bloodthirsty tyrant who, as well as ordering the executions of two of the women who had the misfortune to marry him (on trumped-up charges and for his own selfish ends), had an estimated 57,000 people executed during his 36-year reign.
 
I’ve been visiting the French Revolution again—I can't seem to stay away, I do love an 18th century setting—with Elusive, by Genevieve Cogman, her sequel to Scarlet, which I read and described here about a year ago. (Scarlet as in the Scarlet Pimpernel + vampires.) See what I had to say in 2023: June Reading Thread

For me, this was not quite as entertaining as the previous book, partly, I think, because the Pimpernel himself was not so much in evidence, and because there is nothing here that equals being chased by vampires through the tunnels below Paris, which for me was one of the highlights of Scarlet.

Our heroine, Eleanor, a young maid-servant first recruited by the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel because of her remarkable resemblance to Marie Antoinette, continues to develop in courage and perception, losing more of her trust and naiveté day by day. We also learn more about the vampires, and a particular piece of information that suggests the possibility of some exciting developments in the next book.
 
Jenny Trapdoor by Neal Asher.

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Great cover, too.
 
I'm just starting book III of Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy, which I first read around 1990. Once again it is absoutely alien - and absolutely fascinating. We are forced to confront the moral paradox of a species that has saved humanity yet done us harm; that is incapable of violence but also incapable of setting us free. At the same time Butler forces us to confont the horrible violence that is innate in human nature, but (I feel) shows us too little of the love, kindness and altruism that are its counterbalance. These three novels contain complex characters driven as much by their own instinctive needs as by a wish for a better future. Yet (from my Goodreads review), IMO there is nothing out there that comes close to this series in its strange, compelling vision of a possible future for humanity. These books are about survival, acceptance and a kind of loving that is beyond present experience.
 
Just read Tiger Chair by Max Brooks, a short story that's more of a futuristic technical thriller than a SF story proper. It's a story about the failure of the Chinese war against America, delivered in the form of a letter from a despairing soldier back home, pleading with a friend of his in China's financial sectors to pressure the Party to end the waste before it's too late.

Also finished Dune: The Graphic Novel, vol I. About to start vol II. I haven't read Dune proper, so this will be a warm-up for experiencing the story in full. Good art.
 
I've just finished The Yellow Admiral by Patrick O'Brian, an enjoyable, unusually conversational novel in the Aubrey and Maturin series, and a reread of Under Western Eyes by Jospeh Conrad, which has a first part worthy of Hitchcock. In it, a Russian student is burst in upon by another young man, whom he doesn't know well, but who assumes that he, too, is a radical. He has just assassinated a government official. The student is an ordinary person who gets caught up between two forces, each of which assumes he is on its side. This is a terribly lonely place to be. Alas, I found many of the pages somewhat tedious. The denouement is good and this is a fine novel, but I doubt I will read it again.
 
I read (in published book form) the play-script of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem. Superb: brilliantly written and often laugh-out-loud funny. I really wish I'd caught it at the theatre when it was restaged in 2022.
 
Service model by Adrian Tchaikovsky - I've been a bit disappointed by his last couple of books, I'm hoping this one properly gets me involved.
 
Let us know how you get on, Danny. Tchaikovsky is one of my favourites now.

Jenny Trapdoor was great. Always good to read anything that links to Penny Royal.

Now on to Straight Silver by Dan Abnett.
 
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A couple of non - sci fi:

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoy Sherlock Holmes mysteries and return to them from time to time. This is one of the few stories which is not so much of a short story as close to book length. The setting is a real highlight here, and the length allows the characters to be fairly well developed.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Throughout my life, the Chronicles of Narnia have been a favorite series which I re-read every few years. Yet I had never read any other book by C.S. Lewis. I picture theology as generally dry, but exploring spiritual life through the characters of Wormword and Screwtape is interesting and insightful. Although clearly written in the time of WWII, human nature has not changed and motives and behaviors are still relevant today.
 

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