I have opinions again!
Regular readers (ha!) will have noticed that this web-site first went stale, then went away entirely... Well, I've now moved back from London to Belfast for an exciting new job, and although I've less free time now, I feel energised enough to try resuming The Review Experiment. Watch this space for more badly written but enthusiastic reviews.
Fri - August 6, 2004
City of Pearl - Karen Travis
Now and again you have to break out of your normal reading and try something new at random - usually this results in reading crap so that you can justify sticking to recommendations from tried and test sources, but now and again you get a treat like this. A solid character driven standalone SF adventure. Aliens, marines with big guns, aliens with bigger guns, religious fundamentalism, more aliens, stupid scientists, evuuul corporations. And a cop. Trust me, better than it sounds.
Thu - August 5, 2004
Blood Follows - Steven Erikson
A limited edition novella from a small press, by one of Commercial Fantasy's most bankable authors. Cost per printed page to me? Far too high!
Sun - August 1, 2004
The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross
Fantastic, another one for my Top 5 Novels of 2004. In the author's words, this is "a British spy thriller in the tradition of Len Deighton [...] that Neal Stephenson might have written to an outline by H. P. Lovecraft." If you liked Tim Power's Declare and understand why departmental software licensing audits are usually ridiculous, then this will be right up your street.
Fri - July 30, 2004
The Japanese Sword - Gregory Irvine
Guess what this is about? Lavishly illustrated, this book from the Victoria & Albert Museum reminds me that I've not been there for years, but that maybe I'll get a lot more out of certain exhibits on my next visit.
Tue - July 20, 2004
Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes - Peter Watts
I am an idiot. About a year ago I got sun-burnt really badly because I made the mistake of opening Watts' Starfish "for a few pages" while sitting outside on a sunny day. I couldn't put it down. Then I read Maelstrom, another superb novel. So why did I wait so long before ordering a copy of this stunning short story collection?
Sun - July 18, 2004
Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee - Robert Van Gulik
I felt like I'd been reading too many genre mysteries lately, and fancied a change. Obviously I thought to myself, "What I need is a reprint of a 1949 translation of a C18th Chinese novel based on the cases of a real-life C7th district magistrate. Oh, here's one."
Sat - July 17, 2004
The Ghosts of Glevum - Rosemary Rowe
The sixth in a detective series set in Roman Britain. Nothing I like more than a murder where the detective is in a toga. The Ghosts of Glevum is Rowe's first hardback release, and it's deserved, with the plot showing a marked improvement over her earlier enjoyable-but-very-formulaic novels. I'll look forward to the next one in its own right, and not just as a stand-in for, say, a Lindsey Davis novel.
Thu - July 15, 2004
The Greek Myths: 1 - Robert Graves
What an interesting book. This is a meticulously researched compendium of Greek myths, in fairly dry summarised form, which accompanies each myth with an analysis attempting to present an explanation of the story in terms of it being an encoding of the social, political and religious history of the region. I admire the scholarship, but feel that the constant insistence on most stories being explicable in terms of, say, a sacred king, his tanist and their Moon-queen started to feel like the work of an author with a pet theory.
Mon - June 14, 2004
To my surprise, I've had a couple of emails asking why the book reviews have dried up. Am I dead? Nope, just been very busy at work and too lazy when at home. I've posted a few hastily written updates tonight, which leaves only (!) thirteen (Update: twenty) recently read titles to get through before I'm back up to date. Watch this space, or better yet, go read one of the good review sites out there! I like Infinity Plus, The SF Site, The Agony Column, or Emerald City. Or better yet, go read rec.arts.sf.written.
Thu - June 10, 2004
The Samurai - Stephen Turnbull
I've read several of Turnbull's excellent histories now, so I thought I'd tackle his 1977 classic, which was once regarded as a authoritative reference. It reads very much like a condensed summary of his later work, providing a terse but colourful overview of Japan's fascinating history from 500BC through to the Meiji Restoration.