Review: Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

Stunning!

There you go ūüėé

More? Compelling story line set within a fantastically detailed and well thought out universe that, for all its work, never dominates but rather supports and enfolds the superlatively constructed characters, whether they be organic or otherwise. Banks is the Master, with a palette of ability that is second to none. He could be writing an adventure section, a romance section, a comedy section, a battle section, a melancholy section, a descriptive section: it doesn’t matter what it is because his talent is so epic that every words, every sentence, every paragraph is a finely crafted unit of the bigger total.

I must put my hand up and admit prior knowledge. I read Banks’ Scifi a decade ago and fell in love – not too strong a word – with everything about his work. I was seriously depressed when he died, a selfish depression, that I would never get to walk in a new Banks’ creation; worse, that the Culture, his fabulous creation, would be frozen in time forever.

Now Amazon have bought the rights to turn this novel into a TV series. Part of me is terrified; part of me hopes that they capture the grandeur, the epic, that is his vision. We shall see.

To honour him, I will be reading through his entire catalogue once a decade, re-reviewing them to see if hindsight and the cloak of time and age change my opinions. This is the first novel and it is as fabulous as when I first read it, all those years ago.

Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 SciFi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.

 

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Kindle Giveaway

Enjoy for free the beginnings of an epic adventure with three Cumbrian girls desperate to escape the backwater Lake District town of Egremont. Told by a narrator ten years in the future, as humanity teeters on the brink of an undefined apocalypse, walk hand in hand with Molly, Beth, and Hannah as their lives tell the story of the one called “Our Lady”.

Download for free onto the Kindle or Kindle App and enter your world … about to be torn apart.

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Click here to download your free kindle ebook and start the journey!

Review: The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

WARNING: this is not the book you might think it to be.

Okay, so a little history. I heard about a new Chinese made Scifi film with story and effects to rival anything from the West. It was called The Wandering Earth and you can click here to see the trailer. Always the Internationalist I decided to buy the book and give it a spin.

First off, it is not a story, or at least novel, not in the way I have come to understand novels. It reads like a stream of ideas, a framework for a story without the¬† polishing, the character development, the tension. Don’t get me wrong: the science is strong, the plot and storylines are really well thought out. It is just that¬† … well, the book reads like a Wikipedia entry.

I am not sure whether this is a translation issue or if that is how Chinese literature is constructed. I have asked my¬† son’s Chinese wife to read it in its native tongue and let me know. Again, there is nothing wrong with it: it is just that it wasn’t what I was expecting and, with no depth in character, I didn’t really care about the characters or their development or indeed their part in the story.

Which brings me to my second point: this is not a single story but a collection of stories that are not linked with each other. Even the first tale of The Wandering Earth is not complete but only covers the first part of the pre-described five part tale. Of the other stories, and there are many, all are fascinating and could make full stories or films all on their own, rather like Philip K. Dick. Again though, they are though provoking curiosities rather than fully developed works, at least compared to my more usual authors – Iain M. Banks, Peter Hamilton, Neal Asher, Neal Stephenson, and Adrian Tchaivoksky.

I find it hard to catalogue or recommend this book. The stories are all intriguing in their own way; it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 SciFi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.

 

Review: The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance #3) by N.K.Jemisin

Book One started off slow and derivative but was saved by great character development and story telling; Book Two sailed forward into a much more original landscape. Book Three, the Kingdom of Gods, is a triumph of creativity, pushing far beyond the normal into a reality of mortals, immortals, and all that might occur between.

It is wrapped around the narrative of a godling suddenly losing his powers and, in his descent to mortality, becoming a better being, through all of the issues that such a transition entails. Throw in a crumbling empire, lost gods, new magics, a vengeful child, and the end of the universe, and you get a fabulous  symphony swelling towards a most fulfilling climax.

Highly recommended.

Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 SciFi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.

 

Review: The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance #2) by N.K.Jemisin

Carrying on into book two of the Inheritance Trilogy, after what I considered was an okay but slightly derivative first tome, I am pleased to announce that the story has opened out into something far more original.

Still full of rich and independent characters, they now occupy a tale worthy of their crafting. The journey of one of the main characters, Oree Shoth, is a pleasure to share as is the development of the love affair between a mortal and a godling. I do think the climax is slightly rushed but the end of the tale is a well constructed compromise of politics and emotion.

I enjoyed this second book far more than the first and am looking forwards to seeing if this trend continues with the finale.

Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 SciFi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.

 

Kindle Giveaway

Enjoy for free the beginnings of an epic adventure with three Cumbrian girls desperate to escape the backwater Lake District town of Egremont. Told by a narrator ten years in the future, as humanity teeters on the brink of an undefined apocalypse, walk hand in hand with Molly, Beth, and Hannah as their lives tell the story of the one called “Our Lady”.

Download for free onto the Kindle or Kindle App and enter your world … about to be torn apart.

twitter-end-of-a-girl-promo-1

Click here to download your free kindle ebook and start the journey!

Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1) by N.K.Jemisin

Having enjoyed the Broken Earth series some time ago I decided to return to N.K.Jemisin.  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was her breakthrough novel so I entered with some interest in seeing how the author had developed over time.

Rich, believable, and very different characters are her strength and from my first foray into the Inheritance trilogy, it appears that this was a trait she has had from the beginning. I adore the internal dialogue, the sensation of individual engagement with the universe and the relationships the  characters have with it and with each other. Her personalities are, for want of a better word, real, in a genre that often produces two dimensional placeholders designed specifically as plot fodder.

Her scene painting is refreshing, making it very easy to be drawn into her world and thus allowing the reader to generate a rich reading experience.

The weakness in the story is that it is derivative, or rather it is a new spin on a lot of old ideas; many times I was reminded of elements in other tales. Of itself this doesn’t distract from the journey but it is something of which I am becoming increasingly intolerant: if an author can spend all that time and energy creating such a story (and as an author myself, I know the effort it takes – my world encyclopedia is now a quarter the length of my first novel), then please build something unique.¬† If fantasy is our realm then we should take advantage of all that it offers in terms of creativity and worldcraft.

I had no qualms about continuing with the trilogy (indeed I am onto the final book as I type this – behind on my blogging as assessment season takes hold).

Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 SciFi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.