Title: Infoquake
Author: David Louis Edelman
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 7 July 2008
Review Copy

What could high-tech business look like in the future? If Infoquake is anything to go by quite cutthroat. Dominated by bio/logics, a way of programming the body, the world that David Louis Edelman has created is packed full of technology and commentary on consumer society.

I must admit I was wary of Infoquake whilst reading the opening chapters. Who wants to read a book based on making a better way of seeing in the dark? But Edelman knocks it up a gear when we get to explore the past of Natch, a master of bio/logics and person loathed across the Data Sea.

And that is where I was hooked. Edelman creates a team of characters that you want to succeed. Not that Natch is the most likeable character but somehow I wanted him to climb up the business ladder because of Jara, Horvil and Merri.

The technology is fantastic as well as believable, at least in context.  You can project yourself anywhere whilst your physical body stays put.  Millions of people can gather in the same place at the same time.  And most impressive of all you can control your body by programming it.

Infoquake shows how a good sci-fi story can, and should, be. It shows the effect of technology on humanity and focuses on the humanity rather than the technology.

It’s not perfect. Natch isn’t an easy character to sympathise with on occasion but I think that makes him more interesting as you get to see his evolution. Some of the choices of scenes aren’t what I would have chosen. Especially the lack of tension at the end.There aren’t any aliens, any guns, explosions, space ships; just business and technology that’s going to affect millions.

And that makes it very refreshing. The drama is within the characters themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing how Eldelman expands his ideas in the next book of the Jump 225 Trilogy.

The Stone GodsTitle: The Stone Gods
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Published: 27 September 2007
Price: £16.99
Review Copy

The Stone Gods is described as an ‘intergalactic love story’ set as man is due to colonise a new blue planet just like ours before we started using more than we put back.

Winterson starts well enough with the tale of Billie who hasn’t been ‘Fixed’, who is getting parking parking tickets even though she has a permit and has been asked to interview the robo sapien, Spike.

And as it progresses this storyline isn’t so bad and is an interesting take on how we might progress. Everything artificial, nothing to do but look young and have sex and be consumers. The problem comes when Winterson leaves this tale and all the fables she weaves into it and moves into parallels.

The other stories lack the initial engagement of the character of Billie and her relationship with Spike even though they are mentioned.  And at this point I have a confession to make. I skipped and skim read looking for any threads to cling back on to.

This is the danger when you change the nature of the story. You loose your reader and what tentative links they’ve made. And Winterson lost me.

I’d recommend reading it for the opening novella but without the expectation of understanding or enjoying what follows.  If Winterson had played it straight it would have been tighter and stronger and left room to explore sexuality as well as human evolution but I guess each writer tells the tales they want to tell.

The Electric ChurchTitle: The Electric Church
Author: Jeff Somers
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 20 September 2007
Price: £9.99
Review Copy

Normally I put down books that I don’t enjoy, stick it on the little list on the sidebar and move on. But there has been a lot of hype for The Electric Church so I can’t really just let it drift off.

It all comes down to a question of style (examples of Somers writing can be found here and here) and a matter of taste (mine and not Somers). And Somers prose style is not to my taste. I found it a little cold and more tell and little show.

But it’s probably just me because as mentioned in a previous post it has already got some good reviews.

I’m afraid I didn’t get past the first 30 pages so I there is not a lot more I can say but it’s not for me :(

20070828 02, originally uploaded by abrinsky.

Gollancz has posed a question for readers with its latest promotion. It has re-released and re-jacketed eight bestselling novels and asked are they Future Classics?

They are:

Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon
Greg Egan, Schild’s Ladder
Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space
Christopher Priest, The Separation
Paul McAuley, Fairyland
Dan Simmons, Hyperion
Greg Bear, Blood Music
Stephen Baxter, Evolution

Strangely, though it might not be strange considering the amount of the books that are out there, I’ve only read Revelation Space (great book), another book by Greg Bear (Darwin’s Radio) but not Blood Music and I’ve got Altered Carbon. Most of the others I’ve heard of.

One month after launch it seems to have caused a little controversy over at Torgue Control due in part to the lack of women in the selection. It makes for interesting reading especially the comments from Simon (the editor) on some of the choices made.

He also takes part in an interview over at uksfbooknews.net:

“The key thing for us is that the vast majority of those readers will be new to each author, perhaps even to the genre itself – the promotion is all about getting these books displayed in ways or in places they may not have been before. Once that has happened we can, I think, rely on the covers being eye-catching; hopefully that will get the books brought and then the respective writers have a chance of their own writing winning them new readers.”

And they are eye-catching. Each cover relies on the wordless cover to attract the reader if they’re in their stand or on tables or front facing. But not only are the covers wordless they have unique features.For example Evolution is fury and Fairlyland has rainbow ink in the veins.

The other thing about the covers is that they are designed to attracted not only new readers to each author but also readers who are usually put off by their usual genre covers. I could quite happily be seen reading these, but then I don’t mind being seen reading the children’s covers of Harry Potter.

Each title is selected as a classical example of each of the authors. So next time I’m in the mood for some sci-fi this looks like a good place to start.

Though stocks are limited to the promotion so once they’re gone they’re gone!

 

The Dreaming VoidTitle: The Dreaming Void
Author: Peter F. Hamilton
Publisher: Macmillan
Published: 3 August 2007
Price: £17.99
Review Copy

I don’t know where to start. Really. Peter F. Hamilton has a packed a universe into a 600 pages and I’m surprised that the books aren’t spontaneously exploding on the shelves.

There is a Void in space that is more deadly than a black hole. There are humans who think that the Void is a Nirvana due to the dreams of Inigo who has shown billions the life inside the Void.

The Dreaming Void centres on those supporting a Pilgrimage to the Void and those who don’t. Hamilton grounds the story through a pair of characters, one each side of the Void, whilst agents of the factions search for the missing Inigo and the mysterious Second Dreamer.

What amazes me is how Hamilton keeps all the characters in play, just when you’re getting used to one and falling into their rhythm he swaps to someone else. This makes for a challenging read but as you progress you can see all the pieces being moved into place. And the story ends with the board set for whatever comes next and a revelation that asks more questions than it answers.

Throughout the story it also makes references to and brings back characters from an earlier two-part story which happened a thousand years ago and is retold in Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained. As I’ve not yet read them I didn’t feel there was any obvious gaps though I have the feeling that I’ll have a few revelations once I have.

The Dreaming Void is set in an amazing imaging of the future of the human race. It’s complex and challenging but has huge moments of satisfaction throughout. If you like your science fiction to explore what it is to be human with all our potential and our weaknesses and enjoys seeing new worlds and technology you’ll love Part One of The Void Trilogy. If you like your narratives to follow a more linear path this maybe a little too in-depth to be satisfactory.

I personally am now integrated into the worlds of the Commonwealth and can’t wait to see what happens next.

I’m not very good at waiting and patience is never something I’m good at. So I’m wondering how long do you wait before assuming that you’re never going to get a response to that email you’ve sent? I waited a week then sent a follow-up and still nothing. It’s just very disappointing to think that someone has just deleted you or ignored you completely. Then on the other hand you have lovely people that respond excellently, which kind of makes up for it. Anyway I think that’s going to burn away for quite a while.

Susan Hill is back on the blog and talking about the new Vintage Classics. I choose classics more on the quality of the type usually making sure it’s been redone in a clean print rather than the ones that look like they’ve bled into the page.

I’ve been making embarrassingly slow progress reading From a Buick 8 I will finish but it all seems written in first gear. I’m hoping that there is going to be big lightening show in the end…and don’t spoil it for me ;). I want to finish it so I can read my next non-review copy book. I’m trying to have one review copy and one non-review book on the go at the end same time.

I’m just about to start back on sci-fi with Dreaming the Void. It’s been getting some good reviews and it only 600 pages (gulp)

I had a “bugger it” moment in Borders last week and spent money I really don’t have and bought a copy of The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam (a debut from Long Barn Books), Odd Thomas, which I’ve constantly failed to get off ReaditSwapit.co.uk, and finally The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, which had an excellent review in Deathray and is another debut.

The lovely people at Ebury Press sent me a copy of the debut novel by Julian Clary, Muder Most Fab. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m afraid I didn’t get past the first 20 pages of Garden Spells a debut by Sarah Addison Allen. I might have been reading a little too far outside my comfort zone.

Otherwise I’ve been doing a typsetting and cover design job that I’ll probably announce properly when it’s done. I’ve got a blog about that sort of thing that you can find here. If you know anyone in need of that sort of thing be sure to send them my way.

More soon

The brilliant people at Blackfish Publishing have managed to release another fabulous

Death Ray #3 is in the shops!
The third issue of Death Ray is on the newsstands.

And of course we have the latest issue of the long running Interzone:

T3A Space » Archive » Interzone 211 Has Mailed Out
It’s the Michael Moorcock special issue – guest editorial, interview by Andrew Hedgecock, extracts from works in progress and a short story – and we hope you enjoy it.

I’m picking mine up next time I’m in Borders.