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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:17 am 
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Last week I finished reading Paul McAuley's The Quiet War and cannot recommend it highly enough. It and Alastair Reynolds' elegant House of Suns top my list for 09 so far. Mr McAuley's book is an excellently written account of how a war within our Solar System could actually begin and proceed. It's scientifically, politically, and personally interesting throughout.
Several readers have complained to me that the book's too slow-moving (read: boring), and that it contains some overdone infodumps, especially in the first fifty pages. This is not so. First, the slow pace gives the author the time and space to develop his characters, while explaining the scientific and political background in great detail. Second, events play out slowly over interplanetary distances: no study of a space war ought to read like a description of a
Blitzkrieg. Third, the book is thoroughly realistic: the first 47 pages set the scientific and political scene, and although the science is presented almost ecxtatically, the overall effect is one of exalted realism, thanks to the many carefully written descriptions. The rest of the book depicts the run-up to and operations of the war. Realism is achieved by combining an exquisitely detailed account of military matters with intense character studies that tell quite a lot about human nature (which the characters' dash of posthumanism doesn't change at all). Since all these varied contents are integrated beautifully, one cannot dissect it into infodumps and 'good parts.' To do so would be to miss the artistic points entirely. This is a book to be savoured and learned from, not to be complained about.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:03 pm 
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Comics stuff:

Irredeemable Vol 1 by Mark Waid. The most powerful superhero in the world turns evil and starts laying waste to his former comrades and anyone else who pisses him off. It's supposed to be an edgy dissection on the nature of superheroics but this first volume is a bit flat. None of the characters have much personality so it's dificult to care about them and the main character's reasons for turning evil seem a bit naff.

Fallen Angel by Peter David. A guardian angel who has been cast out of Heaven for disobeying orders now spends her time in the mystical city of Bete Noir drowning in booze and cynicism -- but the city's residents still keep coming to her for help. Wisecracking fantasy adventure combines with metaphysical musings. Not to mention swearing, nudity and graphic violence. Imagine Joss Whedon writing a sereis for HBO. But as a comic.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:20 pm 
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Location: London
Stu wrote:
Benedict, have you read the two novellas in Connolly's collection yet? I thought they were great.

And I've just started Grant Morrison: The Early Years by Timothy Callahan. Analysis of the themes and symbolism in Morrison's early comics work such as Zenith, Animal Man and Arkham Asylum. But strangely so far there's no mention of Zoids or the G.I Joe stuff he did.


i read and very much enjoyed '...cancer cowboy' but haven't read the parker one yet, i've been absorbed in reading just after sunset, unfortunately i read 'the unquiet' before i started 'nocturnes' so have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen in it.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:35 pm 
The Knight isn't turning out to be as good as I hoped... :?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:03 pm 
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Just finished "Death Trip" by Lee Weeks, who is billed as 'the female James Patterson', but is actually quite good. I was sent it as a review copy, but definitely not horror. Fast paced thriller, about students abducted by guerillas in Thailand. I may review it anyway though, so won't say much here.

Later today, plan to start on "Different Skins" by Gary McMahon.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:29 am 
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Norman Rockwell by Karal Ann Marling. Biography of the artist accompanied by tons of his illustrations.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:33 am 
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The script of Dr Who and The Talons of Weng-chiang.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:50 am 
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Ah, one of the classic Tom Bakers. Not much cribbed from Sax Rohmer, Conan Doyle & co! I watched this on DVD a year or so back, and was impressed by how well it held up.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:15 am 
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I read the novelization as a kid and am halfway through the script but I've never seen the TV eps. Really tempted to get the DVD.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:02 am 
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Much cheap on Amazon.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:23 am 
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Stu wrote:
Dr Who and The Talons of Weng-chiang


Mike A wrote:
Ah, one of the classic Tom Bakers. Not much cribbed from Sax Rohmer, Conan Doyle & co!


Was that just before the Doctor went home to Gallifrey for trial..?
I seem to remember Talons... was about when I started to lose interest in DW.

Back on topic -
I just started reading HYLOZOIC by Rudy Rucker (sequel to Postsingular), and the first 30+ pages have got me hooked.
Brilliant, wacky, utopian futurism... so far, anyway!

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:26 am 
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Weng Chiang was 1977 - last one produced by Philip Hinchcliffe. The Hinchcliffe/Holmes era is generally regarded as something of a golden age. After that the show became a bit more self-referential and jokey. I think the trial on Gallifrey was much later - around the mid-80s - though there may have been more than one.

The Rucker sounds interesting - is it related to the recent Interzone story, "After Everything Woke Up"?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:38 am 
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Mike A wrote:
The Rucker sounds interesting - is it related to the recent Interzone story, "After Everything Woke Up"?


Yes, that's the first chapter in the novel.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:13 pm 
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On the new Felix Castor novel from Mike Carey, so far still in the recap of the previous books events - No wonder each succesive book gets longer in these serieses

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:01 pm 
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Finished Stephen Hunt's The Court Of The Air at last, took me some time and usually that means that a book doesn't really 'grip' me and I think that was the case.
The story is enjoyable and some of the characters I really warmed to but I found some parts of the tale tiring and hard to plough through, but, that could just be me. I doubt I'll buy the rest of the trilogy but I'll certainly read them if I spot them in my library.

After Hunt's book I picked up John Scalzi's The Last Colony and just swept through it like a wildfire. This is the third in Scalzi's 'Old Man's War' trilogy and although perhaps not as frenetic as the previous two there are some good fight scenes in it and the storyline is both absorbing and has plenty of turns and twists in it.
For those who don't know much about Old Man's War it deals with humankind's foray into space, colonization and interstellar warfare and who better to fight out battles than geriatric pensioners?
Oh, but wait, let's give them brand new bodies first and superhuman abilities, now you're talking!
The Last Colony is the final in the trilogy but Scalzi does have Zoe's Tale which is a bit of a spin-off from the three books. Last Colony was a great read, enjoyed it immensely .

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