Books 8

A year and a month since the last list. I need to update this more often.

Here’s what I’ve been reading. Disclosure: links are affiliate, so if you buy through them I in theory get some money (although I haven’t seen a payment from Amazon in years … probably why I’m so grumpy with them).

  • A.I. Apocalypse and Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears, both books in the Singularity Series by William Hertling. An interesting and technically smart look at the near future. Contains some smart ideas like UPS drones, warring data centres and contaminated smartphones. I’ve just spotted The Last Firewall is available from the same author, looking forward to reading that.
  • A couple of books via the Humble eBook Bundle:
  • The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove. Fun book, particularly the idea that Egypt (with a pretty long history of diverse god-worship) could become Freegypt, the only place independent of the gods. I have the next in the series queued up to read.
  • The Forever War series, found via BestSFBooks 1976 Hugo Award winners. I loved all the Scalzi books starting from Old Man’s War, so it’s not surprising that I enjoyed Joe Haldeman‘s books. Forever Peace and Forever Free were quickly demolished afterward.
  • Starbound, also by Haldeman. Not bad.
  • Great North Road by Peter F Hamilton. Great story. A fun vision of a family of clones and a realistically miserable depiction of the North of the future. In some ways felt a little like Hyperion in tone.
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. OMGWTF a non sci-fi book on the list? This book is tough to get into but utterly compelling. It’s historical fiction about the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII.  Followed up by A Place of Greater Safety, a historical retelling of the French Revolution, which I found much harder to read (a cast of hundreds, if I didn’t know French history it would have been nigh-on impossible to keep track of who’s who).
  • Working through the classics of Raymond E FeistMagicianSilverthorn, and A Darkness at Sethanon. All good.
  • Watchers by Dean Koontz. I used to be an avid reader of Koontz and Stephen King; this was a fun reminder of the genre.
  • Reamde by Neal Stephenson. One of my favourite authors. This is not his best book, but it’s still very good. If you’re a fan of World of Warcraft you’ll be amused.
  • Northworld Trilogy by David Drake. This is great. Imagine medieval Iron Man, and you’ve got only an inkling of how weird and good this book is.
  • The Amber Rooms by Ian Hocking. I discovered Déjà Vu in 2011 and really enjoyed it (go grab it, it’s currently free on Amazon). Flashback was a good sequel. Unfortunately I was less keen on The Amber Rooms. It’s a good book, but has a different feel to it than the two preceding works, and the pacing felt a bit off. Fortunately, Red Star Falling (a novella in the same series) was a return to form, and I can’t wait for more books from Mr Hocking.
  • The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks. I’m unbelievably sad that we won’t have any more wonderful fiction or science fiction from Mr Banks.
  • Existence by David Brin. I enjoyed this for the same reason I enjoyed Rule 34. Both are a dark take on the wonders of future technology; one alien, one human.
  • Following in the footsteps of Haldeman and Scalzi, Jay Allan‘s military fiction (prodigious output, the guy writes quickly, which is great news for fans). Fast-paced, easy reading. The Crimson Worlds series:
  • I’m working through the works of Eric Brown, after previously enjoying The Kings of Eternity, Engineman and The Angels of Life and DeathMeridian Days and Penumbra were enjoyable; New York Nights was good but the whole rampant AI thing feels a bit familiar, and the Private Investigator noir trope didn’t quite hit the right notes.
  • Evan Currie’s Odyssey One series was fun. As one reviewer accurately puts it, the books feature “the most creatively unpleasant FTL systems I’ve ever come across”. I found myself wanting to read more when I got to the end of the third book, which is a good sign.
  • The Sandman Slim series (another one via Tim Bray).
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another, by Jodi Taylor. It’s billed as the first of the Chronicles of St Mary’s series, and I really hope there are more. I got this when it was free, but it’s easily worth a few quid (it’s currently a bargain at just 77 pence). Time-travelling academic researchers. “Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History.”  Brilliant.
  • 48 Hours, by J Jackson Bentley. It’s slightly clumsy, with excessive descriptions of locations and technical references that will date it very quickly, but underneath is a surprisingly good thriller / detective book. Oh, and it’s free at the moment. Bargain!
  • If you’re a fan of Stross’ Laundry series (and if you’re not, why not?), then Equoid is a satisfying novella. I actually read Equoid on tor.com where it’s free, but would have been happy to pay for it on the kindle if I’d spotted it there first. As it says on the site, “Equoid” contains scenes and situations some readers will find upsetting and/or repellent. What could possibly be repellent about unicorns, you may be be wondering. Just wait.
Preparing this list is a good thing. In going back through my Kindle orders and library to prepare it, I discovered nineteen books that I’d bought but not yet read, and several series with new books available. Of course, if the Amazon Kindle experience was better, I wouldn’t need to be a librarian in order to find out what books I’d missed.

Previously: booksbooks 2books 3books 4books 5, books 6, books 7.

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