The bookcase review, part seven

Tackling Haldeman, Vonnegut, McLeod and Moody.

For those of you unfamiliar with this series, I’m going through the various bookcases in my flat, micro-reviewing the contents. Partly as an excuse to revisit books that I’ve read a hundred times before, partly to justify why I’m keeping them as well. Hopefully, this will inspire some of you to do the same. Links to previous instalments are at the end of this article. This time, we move on to my second bookcase.

In part one, we covered We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan, and Armageddon’s Children, The Gypsy Morph, Running With The Demon, Knight Of The Word and Angel Fire East by Terry Brooks. Part two saw us tackle The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, Off On A Comet/Splinter by Jules Verne/Adam Roberts, Un Lun Dun by China Miéville , Star Wars: Allegiance by Timothy Zahn, and River Of Gods, Cyberabad Days and Brasyl by Ian McDonald. In part three, we covered The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, The Collected Stories Of Vernor Vinge by Vernor Vinge, Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, The Forest Of Hands And Teeth by Carrie Ryan, the Star Trek Corps Of Engineers: Creative Couplings anthology, Second World by Eddy Shah, and Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. Part four included Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge, Necropath, Xenopath and Cosmopath by Eric Brown, Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi. Part five featured Vurt by Jeff Noon, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, Matter by Iain M Banks, Market Forces, Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies by Richard Morgan. Part six went over Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Before The Gods by KS Turner, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, Kéthani and Helix by Eric Brown.

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0141189347Cat’s Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut

5

Vonnegut’s wonderful novel, which earned him a belated Master’s degree in Anthropology from the University Of Chicago, satirises the arms race and deals with issues pertinent to science, religion and society. Wry and oddly pessimistic, in places, it’s a departure from much of Vonnegut’s oeuvre, but still stands as one of his finest novels. A must-read for any fan of the writer’s work.

n272611The Sweet Scent Of Blood
Suzanne McLeod

4

I’m not normally a fan of urban fantasy, and even less so of paranormal romance, with which this book is flavoured, but I couldn’t put The Sweet Scent Of Blood down. It contains much of what you’d expect from modern novels within the genre – vampires, a sassy female protagonist, violence and other facts, but McLeod deftly weaves it together. It stumbles in its more generic moments, but shines with originality and creativity in others.

n272610The Cold Kiss Of Death
Suzanne McLeod

3

The second instalment of the Spellcrackers.com series has the same level of characterisation and narrative fluency as the first, with McLeod using her talented hand to lift the novel above the burgeoning stack of other books in the same genre. It’s not quite as lustrous as the first effort, but McLeod is an author worth watching. I think her next one’s out later this year, which gives you just enough time to read the first two.

hater viz 2:Layout 1Hater
David Moody

4

Launched with much fanfare amid an optioning of the rights by Guillermo ‘I never sleep’ del Toro, Hater has rightly made the top of many people’s reading lists since then, and I’m constantly hearing it namedropped in articles and conversations relating to science fiction. Moody’s style has been refined and adjusted since the original self-published release of Autumn, and it’s to his great credit that he’s crafted such an effective, pacey and enthralling read.

9781845767556The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made
David Hughes

3

We’ve all been excited about proposed film projects, followed the early coverage in magazines (in my case, often written about it and covered them myself), only to have them drop off the radar, never to be heard from again. Hughes covers a selection of these in his entertaining book, sifting through the mountains of assorted detail to give a good, linear read-through of the what-if. Usually entertaining, it does flag in some sections and its modular nature makes it perfect for stop-and-start reading, rather than my preferred sit-down-and-read-through style.

c16684Peace And War
Joe Haldeman

5

The Forever War, Forever Peace and Forever Free are collected into one volume with this release from Gollancz, and if you haven’t read it yet, you haven’t seen military SF at its best. Haldeman’s analogistic account of his experiences in Vietnam in the first novel is, simply, some of the finest SF written. The sequels tantalise the imagination and although they stretch a bit far into the weird at times, the characters are always likeable and easy to relate to, despite their futureshocked situations.

neverwhere-coverNeverwhere
Neil Gaiman

5

Neverwhere is often cited as the finest urban fantasy book available, and with good reason. It’s been endlessly aped since its release, but nothing’s come close to it as of yet. From its delightfully irreverent takes on London, to its subtle menace and overwhelming sense of desperate adventure, it’s a novel I’d recommend to anyone, even if you’re not a particularly ardent fan of fantasy. I’m not either, incidentally, but I do love this book.

Read the other entries in this series: