Ten more books (21-30)
Next ten books and these were chosen for a number of reasons. Some I selected because of the unique way they dealt with magic, or because they dealt with magic in a military setting. Others just sounded cool 🙂
The Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley
This one was a gem, some great concepts in regards to biological/magical innovations, living weapons and structures and a gender fluidity which does wonders to let you know that ‘our fantasy creatures are different‘. Having said that, and having thoroughly enjoyed the book despite moments of confusion, but I’m in no hurry to pick up the next novel in this series. Guess I loved the complexity of the world, but the characters never really grew on me… lots if stuff happened, but I’m not sure why, and I didn’t empathize with any of them enough to truly care.
The Godless – Ben Peek
For a story about the godless, the gods may well be the best part. Good story, good characters, and some nice tight storytelling still the best part is the unspoken question “how long does it take for an immortal to die?”
American Craftsmen – Tom Doyle
Again some great concepts, the story starts off pretty strong, maybe wrapping itself in the flag a little tightly, but by the second act… sweet confederate Jebus, how much ‘Yay, America’ ‘Freedomssssss’ can you take? I thought the book was a good read at the time, but looking back all I can picture now is the self-congratulatory backslapping of how awesome this pseudo-America is. There’s national pride, and then there’s self-abuse, and this strays a little too far towards the latter for my tastes. The dominance of Good vs Evil is decided by the ghosts of a civil war battlefield and other assorted patriotic masturbatory fantasies masquerading as plot. For all that, I did really like some of the characters.
The Rhesus Chart – Charles Stross
This is the first book in this set that has left me wanting more. I don’t know how I missed Stross all this time, but I’m hunting down the rest ASAP. Think Dresden Files with a focus on practical metaphysics. The ideas in here are pretty original, and so much more realistic than half the attempts to explain away the mechanics of magic, minimal hand waving here and some pretty meaty plot.
The Heretic Land – Tim Lebbon
Some books are good, some just have good ideas. This book is both. The ideas here are big, and they are explored in a big way that is only possible in a stand-alone novel. You couldn’t top the climax of this novel easily, and hell, it’s just refreshing to read something where I don’t have to wait for book three (or book seven) to come out months after I’ve forgotten the plot of the preceding volumes. Some great stuff here and a satisfying
Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits
I love chucks blog, but this is the first book of his I’ve picked up. I’d heard this described as an ‘American Gods’ written by an actual American, and I was really hoping to be inspired by the signature third-person-present writing style. To be fair, this book hits the mark stylistically and reads like you’re watching a movie (not sure I can explain it any better than that). The story, however, struck me as American Gods Lite. It seemed to be missing many of the deeper nuances of Gaiman’s work. As a hero’s journey, this book kicks arse, as a modern myth, it’s a little thin. Nay, not thin, anorexic. Maybe that’s because I’ve read so many variations on this theme, still the distinctive storytelling style is well worth checking out.
Total Recall: What is real? – Philip K Dick
Everyone loves the D. This is aa compilation of Dick’s shorter works, and they still pack a punch as many as 60 years after they were penned. It seems that every sci-fi movie that comes out of Hollywood (yes there are aa few) are asking the questions Dick asked, or equally common are direct translations of his work. The times may have changed and the technology in his works may look somewhat dated, but the underlying questions are as relevant as ever. My favorite would have to be The Electric Ant, though possibly not for the reasons you might think.
Control Point: Shadow Ops #1 – Myke Cole
This may be fantasy, but it might as well be military SyFy. Great if you like that sort of thing, and some well-developed world building and characters, but too much army for me. Yes, there was some great stuff in here, but for my money Veteran and War in heaven (see next) are a much cleaner army feel. Still, a good read, and miles above American Craftsmen as far as the story itself goes.
Veteran // War in Heaven – Gavin Smith
These two both proved to be a great all-in, blow shit up, military tall-tales. Maybe the characters take an unbelievable amount of damage, and maybe they should have died more times than I can count, but hey, what’s a bit of suspension of belief amongst friends? These are tales to enjoy, writing to savor and characters to snort at. I believe the correct description would be “a ripping good yarn”. The characters don’t always ask the right questions, and even when they do they don’t always get the right answers. There’s a level of nuance in this work that is lacking in the earlier two military stories, and it asks some big questions without beating you about the head with them. Also… Them are awesome. Best aliens I’ve encountered in a while.
PS It’s actually a while since I’ve read some of these, so your mileage may vary.