Recent Reading - 2016
Zamiatin, YevgenyYevgeny Zamiatin
It is a perfect society, everything in number order, even the people. Our hero is D-503. His day's cycle is predetermined. He wakes at the same time as everyone else, eats with a cadenced rhythm of chewing, matched to those in his cafeteria. Every structure is transparent, made of glass harder than steel. Everyone can and does watch everyone else. The Benefactor and the One State observes everyone, all the time.
Creepy, definitely dystopian, and it was written before the more famous 1984.
The End of All Things
Scalzi, JohnJohn Scalzi
A brain in a box and about 200 species of aliens consorting together present problems for the Colonial Union. Planet Earth has withdrawn support for the Colonial Union and there are rebellious CU colonies.
This set of four novellas in one volume combine to tell how diplomacy trumps subterfuge, no matter what the species.
Naam, RamezRamez Naam
"A billion flowers bloom" in China, Kade in India where something isn't quite right, Sam is Nexus-free by her own choice and the US election is a mess.
The spread of Nexus is also carrying components of hate and rage, inserted by hackers to escalate protests into mobs on command. A captive posthuman digital mind is on the loose, but isn't sane! I was engrossed in this concluding volume of Ramez Naam's trilogy and read it voraciously.
Naam, RamezRamez Naam
I wonder if a dose of Nexus 5 would have helped me to accelerate up to the furious pace of this book. It blazes along, taking us and its characters through flight from pursuit, captivity and escape...and violence, even death. Can Ramez Naam keep this up for a third volume? I'm going to find out.
Naam, RamezRamez Naam
If you take the drug Nexus, you are breaking the law. If you study it, you must be careful because your work is being watched, judged and limited. Neuroscience is not just science, it has become very political. Kade, a brilliant PhD candidate and his friends go too far, the watchers crash in and all hell breaks loose.
Ramez Naam's first novel exceeded every expectation I had. It is richly imagined, carefully crafted, startlingly violent and deeply complex. Nexus deserves at least one award, maybe many.
Child, LeeLee Child
Getting off a train in the middle of endless wheat fields just to find out why a town is called "Mother's Rest" is typical for Jack Reacher. He wants to reach Chicago, but is in no rush. Reacher also gets to revise some theories after meeting private investigator, Michelle Chang. She has been waiting in Mother's Rest, waiting for the train. Chang cannot find a business partner who called for her help, but he has gone missing for a couple of days. For no obvious reason, Reacher decides to see if he will show up.
Chu, WesleyWesley Chu
James jumps back into dead-end zones of the past. Jumping back to a ship just before it sinks is okay because all aboard will die in the hurricane, but it is not okay to jump into a timeline which can carry forward to his future. The ripples of such a jump amplify and can wreak havoc to the present. He cannot kill someone who was known to survive, nor can he rescue someone from certain death. His only job is to gather salvage items to offset the decline of the present. Earth of his time is a mess. His salvaged items are not doing enough. Mega corporations dominate the solar system, demanding more and more salvage, but mainly using the spoils for narrow corporate goals instead of the general welfare of humanity.
The Last Unicorn
Beagle, Peter S.Peter S. Beagle
Beautifully written fantasy about the last unicorn on earth. Startled from ignorance of her status by overhearing some hunters in her enchanted forest, she goes on a quest to find and rescue her kin. Beagle uses English with elegant simplicity. I wanted to memorize all manner of quotable phrases.
"I always say, perseverance is nine-tenths of any art--not that it's much help to be nine tenths of an artist, of course." --Mabruk the Wizard pg. 165 will have to do here.
I wonder if William Goldman was inspired by The Last Unicorn as he sat down to write The Princess Bride a few years later.
A rich, beautiful fantasy.
The Boy Who Fell from the Sky
Owen, JuleJule Owen
Mathew lives in London, but the book begins with him falling from the sky into a jungle in Siberia. Virtual reality is taking a new turn while aging nation states prepare for war and the waters of the Thames river break over their levees to flood parts of the city.
The Kingdom of Gods
Jemisin, N.K.N. K. Jemisin
Lord Sieh, first of the godlings finds nothing really good can come from offering friendship to two children of the Arameri clan. He cannot help himself. It is his nature. The hundred thousand kingdoms face a threat not imagined since the Maelstrom birthed the first god Nahatoth. The cohesion of the universe is challenged.
A very good conclusion to The Inheritance Trilogy.