You ever finished a book and thought, wow, that was really good? Luckily I normally have my nose stuck in a book every night, so I manage to go through a reasonable amount and find the rare ones I enjoy. Seeing as how I completely missed doing a year in review for 2014, here’s what I’ve been reading for the past 16 months or so in no particular order.
Poor Man’s Fight & Rich Man’s War
It might be cheesy. It might even be on the cusp of young adult. But I love the world that Elliot Kay has made and I always look forward to the next one in the series. Space colonies, naval battles and a good dollop of political commentary.
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Oh god, why did I even bother, even if only to say I’ve read it. You know when you’re reading a really dry textbook, but the class ends in fifteen minutes so you know it’s going to end? That is Moby Dick. A good introduction, followed by three hundred pages detailing the minutiae of how a whaling ship works or what a whale’s jaw looks like or… I don’t care. By the time you reach the mythical white whale any pretence of vengeance or purpose has been completely eradicated.
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In contract, Jekyll and Hyde was completely different to my expectations. It seems every movie containing the Janus-faced character shows him as a poor scientist turning into a hulking beast that demolishes whole towns but in the book he becomes a meek and wicked thing. Short and definitely worth a read.
The Age of Scorpio
Having finished the Veteran duet by Smith, I was kind of expecting more of the same. Hyper-violent, gritty military fights set in an ultimate third-world Earth. But nope. Instead you’ve got robotic angels, whales with (extra) mouths and a chaotic storyline that finally comes together right towards the end. Maybe start with his other stuff before diving this deep.
The Ramal Extraction: Cutter’s War
I’ve always had a soft spot for Perry, ever since his Alien novels. So his new series looked interesting. It’s standard fodder, with some interesting tech and species, but nothing truly… new. Maybe it gets better in the next books, but I’m not in a hurry to find out.
Terms of Enlistment
More mil-sci-fi. I can remember fighting, and some big aliens, but that’s about it. The sequel has been withdrawn from the Hugo’s over the whole Sad Puppies saga as well.
Another Hugo nominee. I know, a lot of people love this for the “unique” genderless pronouns. But it’s annoying when TV shows do it, and it’s annoying in a book. Once you go beyond the inability to identify characters this is just a run of a mill “old AI wants some friends”.
Ok, technically this isn’t the first time I’ve read this book, but it’s still one of my favourites. Seriously. Top 10 material. You’ve got two stories and at first they’re disjointed and one seems horrendously dull, but then the book kicks into gear and it’s amazing. The only bad thing I can say is that the author passed away before finishing the sequel.
I never, never in a million years, thought I’d say this, but the film is better than the book. It’s a fun read and Palahniuk has a great writing style, but the film just did it all better and had a much smarter ending. Go Starbucks I suppose.
The end of the Kilo-Five trilogy. If that name doesn’t mean anything then there’s probably not much here for you. Karen Traviss completed her quest to destroy and demonify one of the best characters in Halo. It’s good writing, but maybe she should stick to canons she actually likes?
Another SF classic, but it didn’t grip me. Maybe it’s because the age gap is just too great nowadays, but this felt like a very hollow post-apocolypse story.
Oh god. What was I expecting from the guy behind FlashForward? An interesting premise, the classic “what’s in the box” followed by the most disappointing wrap-up I’ve ever seen. I would have taken a sequel over that cop-out.
Stephenson is not a shy author. If you don’t like big, thick tomes you’re not going to get on well with him. But what he does have is an eye for detail (to an insane degree) and the ability to take you on a journey around the world (both physical and digital) and drop you back at the start with a new found appreciation for things.
Ready Player One
I’ve only just started this one. And yes, I can admit it’s because Spielberg is attached to the movie rights. But it’s so good and I’m only a handful of chapters in. Virtual reality, quests, humour and a good dollop of exposition.
So that’s what I’ve been reading. Should probably mention some online stuff, but unless it’s on paper it doesn’t count in my mind.