Weekly Stock-Take

Slowly Reading

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton

The Final Empire – Mistborn Book One by Brandon Sanderson

Actively Reading

By Light Alone by Adam Roberts

Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Finished

Empire of Light by Gary Gibson

Abandoned

None is week.

Listening To

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Comment: To be honest I’ve not got very far with this one this week :(

Bought by me this week (not counting pre-orders or not yet delivered items)

Mile 81 by Stephen King

Stictly English by Simon Heffer

The Book of Cthlhu edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Notable Arrivals From Publishers

Daylight on Iron Mountain by David Wingrove

The Sound of Gravity by Joe Simpson

Comment: A bit of a quiet week this week but Daylight on Iron Mountain I think wins the award for best cover othe year.

Goals for the Week Ahead

Keep reading.

Voyage of the sable  298B5D  1

Following on from the events in The Skinner (see my review) we are back again on Splatterjay. Now the last book left a few loose ends and even though Splatterjay has moved on in the last ten years those ends are immediately obvious. But we are here to follow the construction and the inaugural voyage of the Sable Keech, which, unsurprisingly, brings together the cast of The Skinner as well as a few interesting additions.

Now Asher is kind and clever writer as you don’t need to have read The Skinner in order to understand or enjoy this, but I think you should, so I’m not going to spoil it for you by revealing too much of the background to The Voyage of the Sable Keech. Suffice to say Splatterjay is a very dangerous place to be in that book and it focuses on unfinished business.

This time we focus on Taylor Bloc, a reification, who sets sail on a voyage of resurrection for himself and his fellow Kladite followers. As this is happening Janer is working for a hornet hive mind to stop another hive mind agent from obtaining deadly sprine. And to top it off Erlin upsets a whelkus titanicus causing it to rise from the deep. And that’s not all as the prador, Vrell, turns up in the Prologue and sticks around becoming a target for a much bigger threat.

The wonder in Asher’s writing is how he lays down several threads, like the ones above (though there are more revealing ones), and starts twisting them all together. Even the seemingly superfluous but educationally insightful chapter openings on Splatterjay’s flora and fauna are important pieces in the puzzle.

And Splatterjay and the changes in biology caused by its virus to its evolution is very much an overriding personality in this connected series. On first sight it is a backwards place that doesn’t allow the technology of the Polity to have become widespread, which is why the Sable Keech has to rely on sails, both fabric and living, rather than turbines and grav-motors. But by having world that doesn’t have all the Polity’s technology it makes for a much more exciting and primal tale.

This is every much a tale of survival in a brutal and unforgiving environment. Most of the inhabitants are infected with the Splatterjay virus which bestows long-life and resilience on its host but it will also make dramatic mutations on them if they are injured or near death like morphing a tongue into that of a leaches or replacing a lost head with a leaches mouth.

The theme of life, death and survival are explored from several angles in individual stories that come together on the Sable Keech’s voyage. The hive mind agent that Janar is chasing mission is seemingly to obtain sprine, the only thing that can kill Hoopers, the name of Splatterjay’s humanoid inhabitants, outright. Sprine is also an important part of the world’s burgeoning economy. Erlin continues her struggle with having a long, and maybe immortal life. And the prador, Vrell’s, immediate survival is under-threat from a much bigger enemy.

You can tell that biology, its implications and evolutions, are a passion of Asher’s (and if they aren’t he does a great job of faking it) and what makes this stand out from a run-of-the-mill SF novel to one of mastery is that his characters are dense and weighty, his environment feels like a scientific possibilities and  his storytelling skills keeps everything tight, flowing and gripping.

I’m curious about where he’s going to take the next one, Orbus as I’ve got no idea what he has planned (and no I don’t want to read the blurb to find out ;))

Now, so far, I’ve not mentioned the audio side, which isn’t in anyway any comment on William Gaminara’s reading. In fact it should be seen as a ringing endorsement as he really brought everything to life. He gives all the characters their own voice and inflection. With my favourite the personalities of Sniper when played off against the Warden. Gaminara has in some ways spoiled this series as I’m fixated on listening to him read Orbus to me rather than read it myself. He has definitely added another dimension to Asher’s work and one I greatly enjoy.

The Voyage of Sable Keech is not all plain sailing by any means. You don’t need sickbags, unless you’ve got a weak stomach, just hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

Neal Asher’s new [non Polity]  novelThe Departure (Owner Novel 1) is out on 5 September 2011

Neal Asher has just had the remaining books in his backlist recovered and as I love Neal Asher it’s a good excuse to both share them and for you check out my reviews:

386959229

 

Extract from my review:

At the heart of Prador Moon is the threat of the Prador as they set about to destroy The Polity. The Polity with its A.I. and advanced technology seem stronger. But the Prador have more than one trick that the Polity doesn’t. It’s quite disturbing really especially when they try to convert their human prisons to the same purpose.  Asher has a vivid, logical and scientific imagination but this doesn’t detract from the emotional drama.

He invests the Prador with completely alien traits but also a level of humanity. He does the same with A.I Golem George. You get to get to see humanity from all sides. Which is the point really of most stories.

 

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Extract from my review:

This is my first exposure to both Neal Asher and the Polity Universe and it won’t be the last. He’s a talented storyteller that doesn’t let the science take away from the fiction he’s writing. He makes it a part of the plot and explains it such a way that it’s understandable and vital to the action and not dumbed down at all.

Take for example Choudapt where Simoz in on a mission to neutralise an act of terrorism. He has a symbiont that allows from some interesting semi-internal dialogue. It takes place in an organic environment where the buildings are alive. He combines the story and the environment so one can only happen with the other.

Now the original covers weren’t bad but I am sorely tempted to upgrade the ones already on the shelf… but it’s the content the counts… right? Right???

Neal Asher’s new [non Polity]  novelThe Departure (Owner Novel 1) is out on 5 September 2011

 

Night Circus UK cover

The circus gates have been opened at www.nightcircus.co.uk.

Working with Failbetter Games ,Harvill Secker has created a text-based online experience that is part game, part interactive fiction, allowing users to enter the mysterious world of the circus and explore the intriguing performances that take place in its many unusual tents.

Based on characters and situations from the novel, the ‘game’ leads the user down narrative paths that gradually pick up momentum as the user finds fragments of text. As well as acquiring ‘mementoes’ which can be employed at later stages to unlock secrets, users are encouraged to share their experiences on social networks. By bringing friends to the circus they increase their own ranking in the community and are drawn further into the dreamlike circus.

More about the book itself:

In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire.

Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs – the dreamers. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter’s daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer’s apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love…

Now going to the trouble of making a interactive game of a book shows that a publisher is both making a big deal of the book and willing to see how it works in different medium. As it’s only just live I’ve literally stood in the tents doorway and seen I can tweet my progress.

Any thoughts on this kind of cross media exchange? Fun or should a book be a book and leave the games to Angry Birds?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is released on 15 September 2011

Aside: The Kindle version is a spooky £6.66 right now.

HouseofSilk

There is no blurb yet on this official Sherlock Holmes release but what I do know is that Derek Jacobi is reading the audiobook. For me this makes the audiobook rather than a novel a must.

I have enjoyed Jacobi reading A Study in Scarlet, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. I really enjoy his style and I loved some of the fanfic (even though they are by pros) stories in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams,  in which Simon Vance does a good job of giving all the tales a consistent sound.

The House of Silk is released 1 November 2011.

I cracked open my review copy of Spellbound and found a black & white copy of the image below. I know there are a few map fans out there so I thought I’d share:Avel small

You can see a larger version on Blake’s website.

Extract from my review of Spellwright:

Charlton has created a solid debut and a good foundation for the rest of the trilogy. He’s presenting a good dynamic between the cast that keeps the reader on their toes. He has a good main character and supporting cast and his magical system is one of the best I’ve seen for a while.

Greatly looking forward to getting stuck into this one! And if your’e curious Civilian Reader has already posted his review.

Speillbound is published 29 Sep 2011

 

Generation Hope 10

As I mentioned in my review of X-Men Schism #3 I finally clicked who the youngsters were who appeared in several scenes due to the link with this issue. My curiosity got the better of me as I was wondering what I was missing so I bought this issue. Now that I know, well, meh.

It’s great comic if you’ve kept a keen eye on the X-Men I’m sure especially you get to see more from the exhibitions in the Mutant History Museum and we get to see what made Idie enter the fight in Schism #3.It also explores the dynamic of Generation Hope and how the work as a team.

The art by Tim Seeley is great as is his ability to capture facial expressions and mannerisms. The panel layout is coherent as is the dialogue.

But as enjoyable as the whole thing could be I really don’t fancy committing whole heartedly to X-Universe and all it’s interweaving connections right now.

 

Weekly Stock-Take

Comment: Before I begin it’s going to be a quiet week as I’ve been ill and when I haven’t been ill I’ve been required to do non-book stuff. And Bank Hols in the UK has also thrown me out.

Slowly Reading

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett 37% (Kindle) [Last Week: same]

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton 25% (Kindle) [Last Week: same]

Comment: This is a very poor show. Must try harder.

Actively Reading

Empire of Light by Gary Gibson

Finished

The Voyage of Sable Keech by Neal Asher

666 Charing Cross Road by Paul Magrs

Comment: It’s not out until 10 November so I’ll post a review nearer the time.

Abandoned

None is week.

Listening To

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Bought by me this week (not counting pre-orders or not yet delivered items)

Guardian Style: Third edition

The Great British Bake Off How to Bake

Comment: have already made Madeira cake and it’s lovely with a cup of tea.

Notable Arrivals From Publishers

Spellbound by Blake Charlton (though this was sent by Civilian Reader who is a star!)

Fated by S.G. Browne

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Ten Reissues of Will Self’s books (thanks to a competition on twitter by Bloomsbury)

Goals for the Week Ahead

Need to post (and write) my reviews of Generation Hope #10 and The Voyage of the Sable Keech.

I’m hoping to get two or three books read this week. Not sure where to turn my comic book eye next though. Will have a look around.

What’s everyone else reading at the moment?


THIS KING

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11/22/63, the date that Kennedy was shot – unless . . .

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 – from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life – a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

It’s not out until November but apart from the new cover, which has a nice little SF vide going on, I noticed the page count, 928 of them! It’s going to a tome and half!