Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Graham's last ten reads

Rated from * to *****

*** Armageddon's Children, Terry Brooks, 2006. A young adult fantasy/science fiction novel that is just about all prologue for the coming books in the series. The characters are clich├ęd, eg a mystical American Indian, but I enjoyed his post-apocalyptic world where magic and genetic engineering are set to battle it out. By the end it had me wanting to read the next book in the series so it had achieved its purpose.

** Asimov Magazine, July 1999. I enjoyed and remember the opening story, Soherzo with Tyrannosaur by Michael Swanwick. An article about the future of science-fiction writing by Norman Spinard was interesting.

* The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson, 1995. Having read Snow Crash by the same author I was expecting a great original read, but what I got was more of the same and a couple of main characters that I didn't care about by the end of the book. The setup broke down halfway through this long book, and lead to a ridiculous climax where hundreds of supergirls battled kungfu-ing Asians.

* Andromeda Inflight Spaceways Magazine, Issue 4, 2002. I know this magazine was set up to create a market for Australian writers of pulp speculative fiction. So the stories aren't meant to answer questions like the meaning of life. The stories are meant to be humourous, but to me, most of the stories were unfunny and instantly forgotten, except one, which had, what I can only assume to be, the unintended message from its American author that sinners can buy their way into heaven. I didn't rush out and join an evangelical church.

*** Asimov, January 2001. Some great stories in this one. Stories with hanging endings that left room for speculating what happened next, like Allen Steele's Stealing Alabama.

*** That Eye, The Sky, Tim Winton, 1986. This is the second novel of Winton's I have read and like Riders it had, to me, an unresolved feeling, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a very sad young adult novel about a family slowly imploding after a car accident turns the father into a near vegetable. The characters are mostly believable, with one wild eccentric sometimes straining credibility.

*** Great Short Stories of the English Speaking World, Vol 1, 1977. A great assortment of stories written over centuries. My favourite was The Lady or the Tiger by Frank Stockton and I was glad that I read The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell before going to see one of last year's most interesting films, Zodiac.

**** The Quarterly Essay, His Master's Voice – The Corruption of Public Debate Under John Howard, David Marr, 2007. Gave a lot of examples of how John Howard successfully silenced debate by denigrating anyone who gave an opinion contrary to his.

*** My Life As A Fake, Peter Carey, 2004. Another exploration of self-deception by Carey. I love his non-judgemental style of writing and his always totally flawed characters.

**** The Future Happens Twice, Matt Browne, 2007. One of the best science-fiction novels I have read. Part thriller, but mostly an adventure story, it explores the ethical challenges of future intergenerational space exploration. I look forward to the sequel.

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