Open and Shut — Alastair Reynolds

A quick little short, bridging the gap between Aurora Rising and Elysium Fire.

Dreyfus is called in by Jane concerning some recent behaviour.   Although this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the main story, it’s good in that it gives us a bit more depth to both Dreyfus and Jane, and also their relationship.

Best of all it’s free (we like free stuff) and it’s also a nice little relaxing break before you go deep diving into the next huge novel in the series, Elysium Fire.

Alastair’s Page

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Aurora Rising — Alastair Reynolds

Ok, if i’m feeling like being a bit picky — and i am feeling like that — then Alastair should have written a few more short stories and novellas to give a bit/lot more info about everything Glitter Band: and not the Gary type.   One begins this story with not much background to go on and we seem to muddle through quite a bit until things get to be a lot clearer.   I just think that background/info-dump things could have been laid out previously and given the reader a much more enjoyable time of it.

However, it’s still an amazing story with a huge depth and width to it and when i say huge, i mean huge.   And this is just the first Prefect Dreyfus book.   Yes folks, after days and days of reading, just when you thought it would all come to an end, do you realise that you’ve only just gotten to know Dreyfus and things have only just begun.   And the best part about it is that i’m really looking forward to reading more.

So yeah, bring it on.   A quick in betweenie short, Open and Shut, is next on the list before piling into the next biggy.   One feels like a positively spoilt book worm.

Alastair’s Page

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Weather — Alastair Reynolds

Weather, written by Alastair Reynolds.The fifth book in the series, and it’s a rather good one too.

So far, book by book, we’re being slowly introduced to the various factions of the Universe and how things work.   This time it’s time to be introduced to the space ship engines: the C-drives that are made and supplied by the Conjoiners and are completely sealed and non user serviceable.

Fans of Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya stories will soon guess what the Conjoiners have done and enjoy this story just as much as they did Aliette’s stories.

This story also introduces us to the Ultras.   The Ultras are the ones who crew these ships that get as close to light-speed as possible, living a very different life to normal people with many synthetically augmented body parts.

This book is available in the collections, Galactic North and Beyond the Aquila Rift.

Next up, it’s Aurora Rising.

Alastair’s Page

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A Spy in Europa — Alastair Reynolds

A Spy in Europa, written by Alastair Reynolds.The tension against the Demarchists is building and a spy is sent to Europa to retrieve a thing from a sleeper agent.   But, as with Night Passage, things aren’t quite as they seem.

I don’t think this story is up to the same standards as the previous ones in that it just doesn’t seem to work in my head.   Like, how did Cholok know where Vargovic’s extraction point would be?   Cholok had no need to know what Vargovic’s plans were after the operation especially considering the fact that no one was sure if Cholok was even trustworthy.

The Denizen made clear that Cholok was no longer working for Vargovic’s handlers and they seem to make it clear that they weren’t in on the plot to help the Denizen — or were they?

It just all ends in a muddle that could have been tidied up a lot better, me thinks.   Or maybe i’m missing something?

Anyway, if you’re reading the whole Revelation Space Universe saga then you got to read this one too, so you might as well get on with it and stop moaning.

Available in the collection, Galactic North.

And now straight into Weather.

Alastair’s Page

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Night Passage — Alastair Reynolds

Night Passage, written by Alastair Reynolds.The third book in the Revelation Space Universe.

This time a Demarchist sleeper ship, with thousands of passengers on board, has apparently been taken over by the Conjoiners among the passengers and is now drifting in space near an large unknown object.   Time is running out as, without any engines, the ship is slowly drifting towards the object and won’t survive the encounter.

I really enjoyed this short story which has quite a depth to it, essentially beginning with the quote:

Shame is a mask that becomes the face.

The implication of which being that if you wear the mask long enough, it grafts itself to your skin, becomes and indelible part of you–even a kind of comfort.

And actually ending with the quote:

A late gift is worse than no gift at all.

Would you mind leaving me now?

Available in the anthology, Infinite Stars.

And for my sins of thoroughly enjoying this i now head straight into A Spy in Europa.

Alastair’s Page

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Glacial — Alastair Reynolds

Glacial, written by Alastair Reynolds.Some years after the events of Great Wall of Mars, the Conjoiners have escaped the solar system and are busy trying to find a new home.

Enter planet Diadem, which the Conjoiners discover has already had human visitors and a settlement.   But something went wrong and they’re all dead — or maybe not quite all of them.

And then there’s the worms.

Another great story from Alastair as he feeds us more info on the abilities of Conjoiner minds and we get to know our protagonist, Clavain, a little bit more too.

Available in the collection, Galactic North.

And now, without hesitation, it’s straight into Night Passage, the third book in the Revelation Space Universe.

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Great Wall of Mars — Alastair Reynolds

Great Wall of Mars, written by Alastair Reynolds.And so begins the super long binge read of the Revelation Space Universe.   Yippee, all being well we’re going through the whole lot in chronological order.

Well it started off well, even excusing it for being one of those worn-out sci-fi tropes of Earthers v Mars.   But this has an interesting twist in it, in that the Martians have become conjoined by the nano things that they’ve infested themselves with and now think with a hive mind.   Of course, the conservatives from Earth won’t accept this new spin on Humanity.

Superbly well written and non-stop fast paced action all the way through.

Really looking forward to getting straight into Glacial.

This book is available in the collections, Galactic North and Beyond the Aquila Rift.

Alastair’s Page

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Perfect — Stephany Brandt

I do enjoy stories about AI’s and such, and having previously enjoyed Stephany’s earlier book, New Caviar, i was looking forward to a good read with Perfect.

Did i find a good read?   Well, if you’re looking for something deep and philosophical concerning humanity’s future with AI’s and AI’s being given legal rights as people, then i think you need to look elsewhere, this isn’t deep.   Essentially, it’s just a love story with the evil corporation thing thrown in to liven things up.

Not that a love story with the evil corporation thing thrown in is a bad thing, it’s actually quite a good story in that regard, but it just has a shallowness to it that i wasn’t looking for, for example:

“I feel sad for him.”   Michael watched JOHN go through the kitchen door and disappear behind the wall.   “He’ll never even know what it’s like to feel something real.”

“Yeah.”   Breanne continued to sound sad.   “He can fuck me like a stallion, but there’s no hugging in his programming.”

Then there’s aliens that appear near the end, but i have no idea what the purpose of introducing aliens into the story was when they don’t even get a mention for most of it.

And the ending is all rather rushed and piecemeal.

Overall, it’s well written and it is an ok read, and it does speak to what i can imagine will be a great many people’s interest in owning and using AI’s in the future: doing the housework and other shit jobs non of us want to do and then transforming into a fully animated sex toy whenever we feel the need to be fucked by a stallion.   I just despair at this shallow side of humanity.

Stephany’s Page

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Zen: Beginner’s Guide — Ian Tuhovsky

I do like books about Zen and i’ve read a great many throughout my life: so where does this one stack up?

I really enjoyed it.   Ian has a very approachable style of writing and digs into all aspects of Zen, mostly for the beginning practitioner; but i would also suggest that this is a great book for the Zen curious who have no interest, whatsoever, in pursuing a practice; or for those who maybe just want to dabble a little and see if it’s for them.   And it’s also a good book for those of us who practice alone, either due to where we live or other circumstances, but need a little support and/or guidance occasionally.

It’s verily worth the 99p i paid in a Kindle sale.

My only criticism is that there’s a fair few typos that a bit of mindfulness in the proof reading would have prevented which, to be honest, i found rather amusing considering the topic of this book.

Ian’s Page

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The Sun Also Rises — Ernest Hemingway

My first taste of Hemingway and, honestly, i really have no idea what all the hype is about.

The Sun Also Rises is nothing but rich-alcoholics-get-bored-with-Paris-so-go-off-to-a-fiesta-in-Spain-for-a-week-to-get-drunk-there-instead.   They mostly do nothing but drink alcohol of various types and expenses of which Hemingway will inform you like any decent, decadent, wealthy alcoholic would.   They eat when they get hungry, sleep when they feel they need to and watch a few bull fights; about which, Hemingway is rather keen to portray to the world that the local Spanish know him to be an “officianado”, and that everyone must accept that it’s the height of art and wonder to brutalise animals for the entertainment of drunks.

Oh, and there’s lots of pathetic drunken arguments with pathetic drunken people arguing about other drunken people, or about people who won’t get drunk with them — with a good dose of antisemitism thrown in, which was only necessary if Hemingway was eager to portray his antisemitic credentials to the world as it brought absolutely nothing whatsoever to the actual story.

Blah, blah, blah…

…mostly, it’s all just typical drunken alcoholic boring twaddle written down through the haze of a hangover the next morning.

And now i can’t be bothered to write another word about Hemingway ever again, and i certainly won’t be reading any of his other books.   I gave him a chance and he failed miserably — but failing miserably is what alcoholics do best.

Ernest’s Page

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