Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gardens of the Sun

Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley

The Quiet War is over; the forces of Earth have defeated the Outers and conquered the colonies around Jupiter and Saturn. Some of the Outers escape to Uranus and Neptune while the Three Powers Alliance of Earth competes to plunder the economic and technological spoils of their newly won territories.

This hard SciFi space opera, and sequel to The Quiet War, traces the paths of various characters during the aftermath of the Quiet War. Many of these characters will be familiar to those who read the previous book, the gene wizard Avernus, the spy Ken Shinto, Sri Hong-Owen, Macy Minnot, and others.

Most of the characters are well developed and the plot lines held my interest. McAuley’s vision of the future is well worth checking out. However the one thing that keeps me from loving this book is all the scientific “explaining” that happens. I found myself skimming sections of genetic techno-babble. There are certainly readers who would enjoy this sort of realism in a SciFi novel. However I am not one of these people. I don’t want to know why or how the technology works; I want to see it in action on the page.

Overall the novel is compelling and worth a read if you don’t mind the techno-babble. Stop by the library and take a look. Thanks for reading.

Leave your comments & questions below.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Boneshaker, Clockwork Century #1, by Cherie Priest

In Seattle, during the 1860’s, Leviticus Blue invents the Boneshaker; a mining machine, financed by the Russian government, intended to make Yukon gold more accessible. Unfortunately the Boneshaker’s initial test destroys much of the downtown area. To make matters worse a toxic gas begins seeping from the ground turning all who breathe it into ravenous zombies. Fast-forward about a dozen years and the story begins.
Leviticus Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes, ventures into the walled-off zombie infested ruins of downtown Seattle in search of her son, Ezekiel, who has gone looking for answers about his father. Briar and Zeke meet a cast of remarkable characters as they encounter air pirates, mysterious Chinamen, criminals, a mad inventor (who  might be Levi Blue in disguise), and hordes of hungry zombies.
Boneshaker is an interesting steampunk fantasy adventure. It won the 2010 Locus award for Best Science Fiction Novel, the PNBA award, and was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards. I recommend it to anyone who is into steampunk, alternate history, or fantasy.
Stop by the library or place it on hold. Also check out the next novel in the Clockwork Century series Dreadnought.
Thanks for reading. Leave your comments or questions below.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Unincorporated Man

The Unincorporated Man explores a distant future in which people are incorporated at birth. Citizens of this future spend most of their lives trying to achieve majority ownership of themselves. Want to go to college? You’ll have to sell some shares of yourself. Want to change your job? You better ask your investors if they’ll let you.
The story traces the experience of Justin Cord, a billionaire businessman from the past. His revival from suspended animation causes social and political turmoil since Justin has not been incorporated. Justin has to adapt to this future world that is vastly different from the one he came from. While he is adjusting, factions maneuver to cash in on the “discovery” of Justin. Who owns him? Who will profit off him? Who will determine Justin’s fate?
This strange future world explores and critiques ideas of economic freedom, self determination, and profit motive. At times this is thought provoking, other times it’s longwinded. The future world is well detailed and believable. Overall the book was a good read and is highly recommended. It won the 2010 Prometheus Award for Best Novel.

Visit the library or place it on hold. Also check out this book's sequel The Unincorporated War. I haven't had a chance to read it yet so I'd love to get someone else's opinion.

Thanks for reading, leave your comments below.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thorn of Breland Trilogy by Keith Baker

I like books with strong female protagonists. I enjoy those books even more when the protagonist has warrior skills, espionage training, and a talking dagger for a companion.  This series takes the reader through a mix of practical, mystical, and political alliances as Nyrielle Tam, aka Thorn, navigates her assignments within the world of Eberron. 

With only a fleeting frame of reference for the world of Dungeons and Dragons, I was afraid I’d be lost as I read this series.  My assumption was that books set within this world are elusive and elite; carefully guarded by those versed in the genre of science fiction.

This proved completely false.

The books in this series are structured like any other: they lead you to a world where, once immersed, things start to make sense. Imagination takes hold, and it doesn’t matter if the characters are dragons or elves; what matters is the motivations behind the choices they make, and where those actions will lead them. The creativity in these worlds compliments the complexity of the ideas presented within them, keeping readers engaged on multiple levels simultaneously.

Full confession?  I’m hooked.

Supporting my addiction is Baker’s focused writing, which maintains a taut pace throughout the series. Descriptions appear only when they precede action; character analysis appears only as unlikely alliances are defined.  If it’s not necessary, it’s not in here, making these books a delight to read. Even the romance is perfectly punctuated with elusive efficiency.

As I finished the third novel, I was disappointed that the story was ending. How soon can Keith Baker supply me with another installment?

What do I do in the meantime?

Apparently, the answer to that question is to join a game of Dungeons and Dragons…

-Tina Panik

Stop by the library and check them out.

The Queen of Stone,        Son of Khyber,               The Fading Dream