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.
Probably one of my favourite novels in Bradbury’s oeuvre, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a classic by any definition. His words practically zing off the pages, the ideas enclose you, and the dark world that you inhabit for the book’s relatively short length refuses to let you go. Highly recommended.
Before The Gods is a cracking novel, filled to the brim with an eloquent, seamless fusion of fantasy and science fiction. The characters are likeable, the imagination solid, and despite a slight tendency toward the melodramatic at times, this is a fine debut from an author I’m certainly going to be watching.
A decent, short book that’s often misunderstood, and indeed, was disowned by its author as his Lady Chatterly’s Lover. I wasn’t as keen on the story as everyone else I know seems to be, but it’s certainly deserving of a place on my bookshelf. Preferred, in many ways, to Kubrick’s film, but not one of my all time favourites.
The midpoint of a trilogy is usually a sag in the bridge, so to speak, but The Subtle Knife contains enough information to be a total game changer. The pieces start to align in a coming war on God, catching the protagonists in the middle. Pullman’s polemic is strident throughout the novel, rendering it somewhat uncomfortable for readers of certain beliefs, but it’s a solid novel. Again, not one of my favourites, but not poor by any stretch.
The trilogy comes to a head in this multi-award-winning novel, as the war on The Authority kicks into gear. Again, Pullman’s world is a pleasure to read, and the ending is unusually strong for a book marketed at a young adult audience (although this wasn’t Pullman’s sole intention) being poignant and longing in equal measure.
This is easily one of my favourite novels of recent years. Essentially, it’s a series of short stories and vignettes with common characters that comes together to form a longer narrative, detailing the effects of First Contact on a small English village. Its understated approach serves the story concept beautifully, and the restraint with which Brown conducts himself shows the maturing stages of an author who could, if he continues this way, become one of science fiction’s greats.
Helix has a special nostalgic place for me as the first book I reviewed when I joined SciFiNow. The novel’s concept itself is sound – a ship crashes on a spiral-shaped construct containing different worlds in its rings, and the writing, as always with Brown, is fun and absorbing to read. It never really penetrates the upper atmosphere of science fiction, however, leaning too heavily on Brown’s pulp tendencies to fully capitalise on its premise.
Read the other entries in this series: