March 17, 2006

Reading Material

Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 3:50 pm

As you might imagine, having recently called somebody a pussy for only wanting to crash a comet into Mars and not an entire Saturnian moon, I’ve been back at the science fiction and fantasy lately. I thought I should bring you up to speed, and if you’re seated comfortably I’ll do just that.

  • “Feersum Endjinn” is the first Iain Banks book that I’ve read that was merely good. It’s an OK read, made somewhat difficult by the main character Bascule, hu toks lyk dis d ntir tym. It might even be enough to put somebody off Banks completely if it was their first exposure to his work. It’s not The Algebrist or Use Of Weapons, to be sure.
  • “The Runes of the Earth”, by Stephen R. Donaldson. If you haven’t read the Thomas Covenant series, this book won’t have anything for you. If you have, it might have… just a little too much. The story is strangely timely, but the density of fact and motion in it this novel threatens to swamp the narrative, something I don’t remember from the earlier novels in the series. Still, I’ve got to say, I liked it. But if you haven’t read (and, you know, enjoyed) the first six novels in the series, don’t bother; you’ll be missing too much.
  • “Spin”, by Robert Charles Wilson, is a shockingly good book. It is right up there with Altered Carbon, A Fire Upon The Deep and Eon on my list of mind-blowingly-awesome science fiction. I’m not going to tell you anything else about it, not even the central conceit, because I couldn’t do it justice in a few sentences; it is a beautiful, monstrous premise, followed through brilliantly. If you buy one book on my advice this month, it should be this one.

I’ve got “The Years Of Rice And Salt”, the first Prince Of Nothing book and Iain Banks’ “Inversions” on my side table right now. Nevertheless, if anything’s jumped out at you lately I’d like to know about it.


  1. Seconding the recommendation for Spin, which I … somehow heard about it when it came out. I’d not reaad any of Wilson’s books, so I bought Chronoliths and Spin. The former blew me away, but Spin really is on a whole other, higher level of awesome.

    I have trouble thinking of another book from last year that I came away from as astounded.

    Comment by Alex Goddard — March 17, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

  2. I think I’m the only person in the universe who thought Spin was just okay. It certainly reminded me a lot of Chronoliths, another book I thought was okay.

    Contrarianism urges me to be even more negative about them than I am, but I resist. They were a pleasant way to pass an evening, but nothing extraordinary. (Of course, I also think Vinge is kinda dull.)

    On the other hand, Feersum Endjinn is one of my favorite Banks books. Thought it’s been quite a while since I’ve read it.

    Comment by Mike Bruce — March 17, 2006 @ 5:50 pm

  3. Further!

    The Prince of Nothing books are pretty good. The worldbuilding is notable. A warning: the story isn’t done at the end of the third book. Well, it comes to a clear finish, but the larger concerns aren’t cleared up. I hope that isn’t a spoiler, but the books are presented as a trilogy (I think) and there’s an extent to which that’s misleading.

    The Erikson books continue to be the best large-scale fantasy going, for my money. I think you can actually buy these off the shelf in Canadia, without having to import them from some foreign country.

    I’m trying to think of something science fiction-y that I’ve read and been impressed with recently, but I’m coming up blank. I guess a book called Light by M. John Harrison was pretty okay, I guess.

    Comment by Mike Bruce — March 17, 2006 @ 6:00 pm

  4. As your pusher, I recommend:
    Also, when I return what you’ve lent me, I will loan you this series:
    It’s no Arkham, but it’s good.

    Comment by Sean Ross — March 17, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  5. When did you read Eon? Because I just read it lately, and… it’s okay, but nothing more than that.

    Also, I haven’t bought that Altered Carbon book yet, because it looks REALLY BAD, but your recommendation keeps me from telling Amazon that I’m not interested when it keeps putting it on my recommended list.

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — March 17, 2006 @ 6:35 pm

  6. I read Eon a long time ago, admittedly, but my memories of it are strong. It’s been a while since I read them, but I liked Greg Bear’s sfuff quite a bit.

    If you don’t like Altered Carbon, you might as well never take my advice about any books ever again. It is a great, great book.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 18, 2006 @ 8:31 am

  7. See, I liked Altered Carbon, quite a lot, actually…but I dont’ think I’d describe it as mind-blowing.

    And my vague memory of Eon meshes with Koz’s.

    I’d love to read Banks, except I’ve never seen one of the books of his that get recommended to me as places to start on the shelf. Not once. Ever.

    Tor is putting Erikson out here, though. I liked Gardens well enough…will probably pick up the second one sometime this year.

    Comment by Skwid — March 20, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

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