Tokyo Ueno Station — Miri Yu

This is quite a strange story, in that our protagonist/narrator, Kazu, is dead.   Before Kazu died, he was homeless and living in a cardboard and tarpaulin hut in Ueno Park, right next to Tokyo Ueno Station.

All too often we are shown the shiny-shiny capitalist face of Tokyo that those in power wish us to see, the Olympics, etc., but never do we see, or hear, those who are cast aside, unwanted and unneeded by a system that some just can’t keep up with.   Tokyo Ueno Station is their story, told by a ghost of one of the many people that society has no place for any more.

I know it sounds all rather depressing, but i didn’t find it so because it’s a view of Tokyo that is told in such a unique and interesting way, keeping our attention when most writers would have lost it, making us realise, consider and re-revaluate.   How many homeless people die on the streets every year and no one ever gets to hear their story, or realise the truth as to why they were homeless in the first place, this book makes you think about those things: they are important.

It’s certainly a fact in the UK, where i live, that the government deliberately maintains a homeless population in order to keep the threat in front of people of what will happen to them if they don’t comply with society’s demands.   I presume this is the same in Japan:   “Do you want to end up like them, Salaryman?   Well you’d best work hard, do lots of overtime, and do as you’re told — or else you’ll be living in Ueno Park too!”

Yu’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #japan #miriyu #kindleworm

Nunivak Snowflakes — Alastair Reynolds

Nunivak Snowflakes, written by Alastair Reynolds.You’ll find this in the anthology, Deep Navigation.

Messages from the future found inside fish falling from the sky landing in front of the person the message was meant for.

Basically, someone from the future is being naughty and messing with the past in an indigenous community in Alaska.

Other than The Big Hello, of which i have no idea when published, this is Alastair’s first published story.   So it’s very early Alastair Reynolds, so don’t be expecting Revelation Space or anything like it.

But it’s a reasonable, quirky, little read that’ll keep you happily ensconced in you favourite reading pit for a while.

Alastair’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #scifi #alastairreynolds #kindleworm

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect — Roger Williams

So what if we humans suddenly find ourselves immortal, with the ability to have anything whatsoever that we desire other than real death?   That’s essentially the basis of this book.

A super computer AI, Prime Intellect, has taken over and zapped everything into a virtual reality that is ruled over by Prime Intellect.   Prime Intellect has done this because of the three laws of robotics and it computes that the only way of preventing humans from dying, which it can’t allow, is to essentially upload everything into one galactic sized cyberspace and make all humans immortal.   Within this new reality, as long as the humans don’t do anything, or ask for anything, that contravenes the three laws of robotics, they can do and have anything they want.

Sound good?   Or does it sound like your worse nightmare?

Enter the realm of the death jockey.   People who want to ratchet up the suffering and get as close to death as Prime Intellect will allow.

Yes folks, this book is really fucking twisted.   If you’ve read the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy and thought some of the scenes in those books were extremely brutal and twisted, then you’ll be glad to know that you can put this book on the same bookshelf right next to them.   If you haven’t read them and enjoyed this book then i really suggest you do give them a go: they’ll be right up your twisted alley.

I would say that, at its core, this book is a critique of the three laws of robotics, and how they may be interpreted by any AI governed by them.   The critical pieces of the jigsaw being: what the AI decides it is going to label as human, what is therefore governed by the three laws of robotics and how, therefore, it then treats everything else.

I thought the ending was really good too.

So yeah, the future is bright my friends, rush out and buy your virtual reality gear today.

Me thinks i shall be looking forward to having a read of more of Roger’s books in the future if this is anything to go by.

Roger’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #scifi #rogerwilliams #kindleworm

The Big Hello — Alastair Reynolds

The Big Hello, written by Alastair Reynolds.It’s listed on Wikipedia without a date, but it’s first in the queue of Alastair’s uncollected short fiction, and it is The Big Hello, afterall, so you may as well read it first if you’re reading all of Alastair’s books: me thinks.

You’ll have to hunt around the internet for this, it was originally published in German translation in a convention program.   But, like most rare things, it’s well worth a bit of a hunt around.

Basically, it’s a greeting from the rest of the galaxy informing us stupid Homo sapiens of a bit of etiquette, manners and how to go about things outside of out little insular bubble.   But, let’s be honest, we all know people like Musk & Co. are going to ignore everything Alastair says and totally fuck it up for the rest of us.

Alastair’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #scifi #alastairreynolds #kindleworm

Painted Love — Rob Thurman

Painted Love, written by Rob Thurman.In the anthology, Carniepunk.

An enjoyable little story where our narrator, Doodle, follows a sociopath around a travelling carnival.

But all is not as it seems with Doodle, and it’s a really good twist to the ending.   I’d definitely be interested in reading more stories from Doodle if Rob ever gets around to writing a series.

Rob’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #bookreviews #books #reading #robthurman #kindleworm

Mummy and George Go to the Park — Gaie Sebold

Mummy and George Go to the Park, written by Gaie Sebold.In the anthology, Nice Day for a Picnic.

I only got this anthology for Gaie’s story, as i’m quite the fan boy.

An interesting short in that it just implies something rather than spoon feeding you it.   I believe the whole anthology is about strange picnics and if Gaie’s story is anything to go by i think i might just have a go at a few more of them when i feel like a quick read.

So the whole thing is just Mummy’s voice speaking to George as they go to the park for a picnic, which seems quite normal at first, but as Mummy keeps on speaking to George as they go through their park visit we begin to realise that things aren’t quite normal.

It’s certainly different, but really enjoyable.

Gaie’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #bookreviews #books #reading #gaiesebold #kindleworm

The Girl who Leapt Through Time — Yasutaka Tsutsui

There’s two short stories in this book and i’ll review each of them separately below.

The Girl who Leapt Through Time

A short while ago i read The Maid, which was my first trip into the writing of Yasutaka, and i thoroughly enjoyed it: so much that i decided to collect every book of his i could find and read them in published order.   And so i began with The Girl who Leapt Through Time from 1967.

What doesn’t get a mention when approaching this book is that it’s a children’s book, i would perhaps place it around 11-12 year old level, so that’s something to bear in mind if you do decide to read it.

So it’s very simple writing and a rather simple story about some children having a bit of a crazy time with time travel and teleportation.   I felt the best thing about this was it’s simplicity in it’s writing because as an adult you don’t have to think about anything and can just breeze along with the story itself, and it’s quite a good little story.

So yeah, i’m more than happy to have come back to Yasutaka’s earliest book that’s so far been translated into English.   Definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of his writing, or if you just want a quick and easy read of some temporal sci-fi.

The Stuff that Nightmares Are Made of

This is quite a different story to the previous one.   Once again, it’s another children’s book, but this time dealing with the theme of repressed trauma manifesting as unexplained fears.

Although it’s a book for children, i do feel that there’s a few things for most adults to learn here as well, especially parents, whose words and actions can create all kinds of unintended consequences for children.

And that’s me done with this book.   The Maid was next in the original publishing time line of Yasutaka’s translated books, but i already read that, so next up will be Paprika, which i hope to get around to reading some time soon as i’m really enjoying Yasutaka’s writing.

Yasutaka’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #japan #scifi #yasutakatsutsui #kindleworm

A Change of Heart — Gaie Sebold

A Change of Heart, written by Gaie Sebold.In the anthology, Wicked Women.

A quick trip to visit Babylon Steel, yeah, you remember her.

Sadly it’s just a short, but us Babylon Steel fans will take any words we can get from Gaie on this wonderful character.

This time Babylon takes on a necromancer, or two.

Super good, but just so wish Gaie would write a few more Babylon Steel novels.

Gaie’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #bookreviews #books #reading #fantasy #gaiesebold #kindleworm

Skin Magic — P. Djèlí Clark

Skin Magic, written by P Djèlí Clark.You can find this in the anthology, Griots: Sword and Soul.

I was hoping for more of the similar and i wasn’t disappointed.

Once again we’re thrown right into North-African/Middle-Eastern folk lore kind of stuff with Djèlí’s incredible writing that just keeps dragging you along without a pause.

Djèlí’s writing is so refreshing, and i’m so looking forward to reading many more of his stories in the future.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #fantasy #pdjeliclark #kindleworm

Inhibitor Phase — Alastair Reynolds

It had been a bit of a wait since Galactic North but now that Inhibitor Phase has arrived, was it worth the wait?

Well, ok, i’m gonna get my rant out of the way before i go any further.

To begin, we find ourselves on one of the few remaining human colonies that the Inhibitors haven’t got to, that of Sun Hollow.   We’re lead to believe that the people of Sun Hollow live inside a star scoured planet where resources are incredibly tight and the struggle to survive is always right on the edge.

Ok, that’s fair enough.

So why, oh why, oh why the fuck, does Alastair have to put sheep farming into this already over-stretched and under-resourced ecosystem?   This is the most imbecilic thing that is possible to write into this situation.   Where, for a start, do the sheep get their feed from?   Surely, if there are resources enough to keep a viable gene pool of sheep going just so these idiots can taste mutton every day then Sun Hollow must be a paradise to live with resources and space aplenty.

I put the question to anyone who disagrees with me: how many calories of plant foods does it take to make a calorie of mutton?

And as there is absolutely no nutritional need for Homo sapiens, or any other monkey/ape to eat dead animals, why would the people of Sun Hollow be throwing good plant food (that humans do need to eat) away like this?

Yes, Alastair, you screwed up royally on this one.

Anyway, rant over.

The rest of the book is good though, picking up after the events upon Hela that we left off in Absolution Gap, we get to meet Scorpio and Aura again with a new bunch of interesting characters thrown into the mix.

And best of all is that the ending certainly leaves things well and truly open for further books in the series: which i do look forward to as long as Alastair realises that there is no place for animal agriculture in the future of humanity because Homo sapiens have no nutritional needs that can be met by eating dead animals, and animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to environmental destruction on the planet Earth so it certainly won’t be part of any future space colonies that we set up, unless we want them to fail miserably.

Alastair’s Page

#readbooks #lovekindle #books #bookreviews #reading #scifi #alastairreynolds #kindleworm