what i was reading
the ascendant stars, micheal cobley (18 may 2013) – space opera, final in a trilogy. actually wrapped up the series well. took me awhile how much i’d absorbed this alternate universe over the three books. on balance, not a bad read.
the time keeper, mitch albom (28 april 2013) – boring and trivial. how the hell this something this derivative gets published…
orphaned worlds, micheal cobley (14 april 2013) – space opera, #2 in a trilogy. not much to write home about.
the agincourt war, alfred h. burne (22 march 2013) – interesting but dated overview of the 2nd “half” of the 100YW, just like it says on the box.
the red rose and the white – john sadler (28 february 2012) – moderately interesting overview of the wars of the roses. could an interesting period to study, but… that’s a path i’d rather not take.
gettysburg, a novel of the civil war – newt gingrich and albert s hanser (10 february 2013) – well written, and at times riveting alternative history of the famous battle.
mayflower, a voyage to war – nathaniel philbrick – really really interesting history of the pilgrims.
gettysburg – hugh bicheno (january 2013) – highly detailed history of the famous battle. i would have benefitted more from a broader knowledge prior to reading this.
dropped the ball a bit here. lots of reading
two more boring novels – till 9 september 2012
after dark – haruki murakami – 11 september 2012) – dull
salt – adam roberts (1 september 2012) – good scifi. very similar to a very famous scifi, the dispossesed
Louis XIV – good overview, but got a little dull towards the end.
hanna rajaniemi – quantum thief (17 august 2012) – great read but it was on a kindle. they’re actually hard to read from…
fred anderson – the crucible of war (29 july 2012) – a huge book covering the french and indian war. interesting, but exhaustive.
digby smith – borodino (18 june 2012) – relatively shallow interpretation of the battle and events preceding it. it makes alexander’s discussion of the invasion of russia more interesting.
rupert fernaux – the seven years war (16 june 2012) – interesting overview of the 7YW. pretty heavy focus on the british angle and pitt’s contribution to the war.
dexter filkins – the forever war (7 june 2012) – a balanced, interesting memoir by a journalist working in iraq during the worst of the occupation. pretty much essential for anyone wanting to better understand that time.
joe haldeman – the forever war (26 may 2012) – an interesting take on warfare in relativistic time, and actually interesting. i can see the general parallel to vietnam, but struggled with some of the sappy content. i can also see how he would ahve thought some of the projected-future earth might have worked, but… am not convinced it stood up well to the test of time.
daryl gregory – pandemonium (20 may 2012) – this was actually a great novel.the main character was ‘possessed’ as a child, but has really never recovered, so he seeks an exorcism. naturally he uncovers more than he expects. i’d actually make this recommended reading.
joe haldeman – camoflague – (14 may 2012) – rather average novel. a shape-changing aliens mixes it up with humans. a rival alien is hunting it. i’d expected something climatic when they met, but was ultimately disappointed. also, and last-minute addition of love interest to help explain the ending was an obvious afterthought and tedious.
adam roberts – new model army (5 may 2012) – an interesting twist on warfare, with the new model armies linked via the web to form large, mobile guerilla armies. this one in particular defeats the british army at their own game and wins independence for scotland. a good book ruined by a perplexing and crazy ending.
karin lowachee – warchild (29 april 2012) – at first this appears to be a reversioning of Ender’s Game, but this skews in that it’s heavily homoerotic. the most odd facet is that is combined with what can only be characterised as paed0ph!lia. it makes for a strange novel.
smeadley butler – war is a racket (16 april 2012) – ultimately disappointing. i expected an biography of sorts, but it turned out to be a manifesto.
chris wooding – retribution falls (15 april 2012) – actually pretty enjoyable. i’ll be looking for more titles by this guy.
tobias buckell – crystal rain (5 april 2012) – meh.
david veart – first catch your weka (23 march 2012) – pretty interesting discussion of the history of new zealand cooking and diet using recipes from cookbooks published from colonisation till now.
tobias buckell – sly mongoose (17 march 2012) – rollicking space opera. ninja-cum-rastarfarian saves a world from zombies. seriously…
harry turtledove – hitler’s war (10 march 2012) – was a little annoying at first, turtledove’s obsession with stukas was boring, but by the end i was wondering what would happen next.
max frei – the stranger (24 february 2012) – found it a little too pretentious, and gave up. also a tad tedious.
charles stross – the jennifer morgue (15 february 2012) – fun.
richard paul russo – unto leviathan (4 february 2012) – the only space opera i’ve ever read that i could not stop reading the last 20-odd pages of.
thomas cahill – how the irish saved civilisation (28 january 2012) – coherently argued text stating that the irish, in point of fact, saved western civilisation. it’s an interesting argument, and one i find myself compelled by.
l. jagi lamplighter - prospero lost (19 january 2012) - didn’t quite finish it before it had to be back at the library. but, a little boring, almost entirely because the author uses the same old tropes. there’s something about authors wanting to include every single historical figure when writing about immortals that is unbelievably tedious. plus, the mythology was a boring rehash of know characters.
michael bollen – earth inc. (11 january 2012) – very humorous tale in the style of the late, great, douglas adams. got a few good chuckles out of this.
bernard cornwell – sword song (18 december 2011) – uthred kills even more danes. if that is at all possible.
stephen jones – zombie apocalypse (16 december 2011) – more zombies, this time risen from the dead after being infected by zombie-creating fleas. meh.
bernard cornwell - the lords of the north (11 december 2011) – ragnar gets to avenge his father when uthred heads north to sort stuff out at the behest of alfred.
margaret atwood – after the flood (6 december 2012) – ultimately disappointing. oryx and crake had the sense of mystery of the last man on earth coping with his isolation and the madness of his past, but this? this was mostly just lame backstory.
bernard cornwell - the pale horseman (29 november 2011) – the follow-up to the last kingdom. alfred all but saves England, perhaps!
bernard cornwell – the last kingdom (23 november 2011) – a rip-snorter and page turner set in the Norsemen’s invasion of Anglo-Saxon Britain.
margaret atwood - oryx and crake (16 november 2011) – another dystopian future earth, in which humanity has all but disappeared. in the ruins sit the snowman, reminiscing about long-lost days.
jack london – The Iron Heel (8 November 2011) a clasic novel set in dystopian future earth. except, it was written in 1907.
joan slonczewski – brain plague (25 october 2011) interesting but ultimately pointless story of a future where people can sometimes have “micros” added to their bloodstream. these little critters talk via flashing lights in your eyes, blah blah. another example of highly creative scifi authors failing to generate “story”
jay lake – pinion (18 october 2011) – third in the alternative earth series. starting to get a little dated. the biggest disappointment being that it was a sequel, not another stand-alone book like escapement.
marcel theroux – far north (5 october 2011) more dystopian ficion. one persons tale of survival after the collapse,
paul auster - in the country of last things (28 september 2011) – dystopian fiction, a letter written from a near future post-apocalypse city.
adam zamoyski - the rites f peace (21 september 2011) – a very long overview of the congress of vienna. couldn’t *quite* finish it.
neil gaiman – american gods (28 july 2011) – great fun, although the same old kind of derivative.
some dude – a crap book about climate change (1 july 2011)
china mieville - the city and the city (19 june 2011) – this might need an actual blog post)
china mieville – kraken (1 june 2011) – mieville does great cityscape fiction. this time, unLondon gets a go around, with the disappearance of a kraken from a museum it’s curator is introduced to another world.
karl schroeder - the sunless countries (12 may 2011) – more fun. the world of virga sure is getting big.
tony ballantyne – capacity (3 may 2011) – pretty good. had the feel of an *actual* scifi as opposed to space opera.
ruri pilgrim - fish of the inland seto sea (27 apr 2011) – extremely tedious holiday reading off a shelf.
david marusek – mind over ship (11 apr 2011) – a slightly dull, middle of trilogy book. actually quite disappointing
jay lake - madness of flowers (27 mar 2011) - fun, but not as gripping as trial of flowers.
david van edelman – geosynchron (11 mar 2011) – mostly read because it was the third in a trilogy. summary: i’m sick of reading american books with jesus motifs. it is very, very tedious.
james brown – the los angelese diaries (27 feb 2011) bleak personal history of brown’s. poor bastard.
michael cobley – seeds of earth (21 feb 2011) – highly enjoyable space opera, with actual depth! looking to read more in this series.
marianne de pierres – dark space (1 feb 2011) – space opera with some dramatic elements. took a little while to get to understand the universe, then i was away. not much to write home about.
kit reed – enclave (23 jan 2011) an extremely ordinary bit of sci fi.
grahame green - our man in havana (8 jan 2011)
nancy kress – steal across the sky (28 december 2010) – nice premise, but ultimately disappointing tale. aliens seeking to atone for an ancient crime that turns out to be completely ridiculous. further – a completely pretentious title.
neal asher - voyage of the sable keech (19 december 2010) – zombies, pirates AND cyborgs. this pedestrian space opera really tries to hit all the bases. and fails. dull as dishwater.
neal asher – prador moon (11 december 2010) – title is the biggest giveaway, EVER.
jonathan lethem – chronic city (5 December 2010) – both good and weird. i spent half the book wondering if the characters actually lived in second life?
alan ward – a show of justice
gregory benford – cosm
harry pearson - actung schweinehund! (8 september 2010)
adam zamoyski – 1812: napoleon’s fatal march on moscow(22 august 2010) – awesome read.
rudy rucker – hyloxoic (21 july 2010) – meh.
jaine fenn – consorts of heaven (9 july 2010) – pedestrian sci-fi…
john steinbeck – the grapes of wrath (juneish 2010)
steig larson - the girl with the dragon tattoo (23 may 2010) – pretty average murder mystery, but with added S&M. ho-hum
alan ward – a show of justice (27 April 2010)
michael flynn – in the country of the blind (7 Feb 2010)
martin sketchley – the affinity trap (15 jan 10)
michael flynn – eifelheim (14 Jan 10)
michael flynn – the january dancer (4 January 10)
david louis edelman – multireal (30 dec 09) sequel to a prologue and not so snazzy. was expecting more, and while the tech ideas are interesting, the story itself kind of limps along. won’t be reading the third installment unless i really have to.
Neal Asher – Shadow of the Scorpion (24 Dec 09) – meh. not so great. not so bad. a decent holiday read. basically a thriller cum space opera.
bernard cornwell – sharpe’s rifles (19 Dec 09) – ripping yarn outlining richard sharpe’s time in spain during some of the pennisula campaign
jay lake – green (16 Dec 09)
stephen hunt – the kingdom beyond the waves (10 Dec 09)
john meaney – to hold infinity (4 Dec 09)
david louis edelman – infoquake (26 Nov 09)
Alexander Mikaberidze - the battle of borodino: napoleon against kutuzov (20 Nov 09)
jaine fenn – principles of angels (11 Nov 09) - a ripping thriller cum space opera set in a floating city. thoroughly enjoyable.
michael adams – napoleon and russia (5 Nov 09)
anthony birley - marcus aurelius: a bibliography – (12 Oct 09) an interesting biography where the author sticks to demonstrable facts largely informed by primary sources. this means there is a lot of discussion of correspondence between marcus and his main teacher fronto. on average, dull.
william gibson – all tomorrow’s parties – (27 Sept 09) a well-told story and pretty much wat you’d expect from gibson. the future is a weird place apparently.
john ralston saul – voltaire’s bastards. – (20 Sept 09) i really tried. but you just have to think so damn hard. maybe when Chef Du Plunge is a little older.
ian macdonald – brasyl
whitley strieber – 2012 – (12 September 09) awful on so many levels. here, aliens descend from a parallel universe to plunder earth. but… it’s actually a parallel eart have to try save the other parallel earth from the parallel earth full of reptilian aliens. that, and everything is all wrapped up in CHEESY quasi-religious mythology. avoid.
$karl schroeder – pirate sun (8 September 2009 – Another go on the roller-coaster. This time Mr. Fanning gets to adventure in Virga.
walter mosley – the wave (4 September 09) a guy is woken to someone calling him late at night. turns out his father is… RESURRECTED! interesting if not only because the author is black, and constantly refers to characters by their skin colour?
karl schroeder – queen of candesce (30 August 09) another rollicking tale of virga, this time centring on the least likable of the sun of suns characters, venera fanning.
iain m. banks - matter - a redemption story for a spoiled brat of a prince who sees his father murdered.
karl schroeder – sun of suns
roger zelazny – lord of light
china mieville – the iron council
j.g. ballard – vermillion sands – bit 70s, and a bit dull, though imaginative (23 July 2009)
david marusek - counting heads
j.g. ballard – concrete island
john r. alden – history of the american revolution
china mieville – the scar
harry harrison – a transatlantic tunnel, hurrah!
william gibson and bruce sterling – the difference engine
jay lake – mainspring
jay lake - rocket science
orson scott card – ender’s game
jay lake – dogs in the moonlight
nicky hager – the hollow men
catherine asaro – catch the lightning
M.S. Anderson – war and society in europe of the old regime 1618-1789
sherri tepper – grass
neil gaiman – neverwhere
charles stross – glasshouse
david brin – earth
dan simmons – hyperion
bruce sterling – the caryatids
carol b. stevens – russia’s wars of emergence - fascinating, but has been shelved for a little bit.
ben okri – the famished road – have read this before, and i’m never going to finish it, because it was a stop-gap… that said, GREAT book.
arthur c. clarke – the fountains of paradise
charles stross - saturn’s children
china mieville – perdido street station
kim stanley robinson – red mars.
daniel miller – the comfort of things – 29 January 2009 - highly interesting bit of social anthropology, but there were sooo many vignettes it got a little much.
henryk sienkiewicz - with fire and sword
jay lake – trial of flowers
h. g. wells - the sleeper awakes
jay lake – escapement
robert a. heinlein - the moon is a harsh mistress
greg egan – permutation city
alexander solzhenitsyn – a day in the life of ivan denisovich – 26.11.08 – a classic and oft-referred to novel, but stuffed if i could figure out why it deserved the novel prize…
dbc pierre – vernon god little - 22.11.08
hugh kennedy – the great arab conquests – 16.11.08 – this is a very, very good ‘military’ history of the arab conquest. it uses primary sources, is well-balanced, and a genuinely interesting read.
rodney collomb – the rise and fall of the arab empire – 1.11.08 – an extremely mediocre, high-level history of the middle east and the various empires that swept through after the arab conquest.collomb’s main contribution to appears to be listing how successive leaders died, something he relishes.
jeff vandermeer – veniss underground
vernor vinge – across realtime – this is a compendium of two novels. the first, the peace war is a good read, and a bit of a sci-fi legend. the second, marooned in realtime, is not.
james belich – paradise reforged – i think i need to face facts. i’m never reading this book…
s.m. stirling – the sky people – this novel has a great premise. set on an inhabitable venus, the cold war has come to outer space. at first the writing was quite simply alarming, but i hung in there see if it improved. short answer no. all the actual dramatic fun was scheduled in the last 50 pages… which was too little too late.
john meane – paradox – a fairly conventional scifi. think dune, but with overtones of the universal hero story. the guy has a good imagination, but the science seemed contrived, and the story kind of wandered at points where it should have gotten gritty. all in all? meh.
jonathan lethem – fortress of solitude – a great read. i’ve enjoyed a lethem where he wirtes abotu what he knows, which seems to be 1970s and 80s brooklyn. this book is gritty, a little challenging, and just plain interesting. that said, it loses it’s way towards the end, which is a pity. otherwise, a curiousity.
james lee burke – julie blon’s bounce - highly enjoyable read. a murder mystery in contemporary southern louisiana.
clay shirky - here comes everybody – sigh. (bad sigh. this shit was annoying)
rudy rucker - the hollow earth – a great story from the ‘hollow earth’ genre, which i only just discovered is an actual genre! rucker has a great imagination, and takes us on a simple, pulpy trip into the centre. recommened, alough light. i hated the man character after a few pages, but he grew on me. which i think was the intention?
ken follet - world without end - in a word, turgid. this tome drags on for over a thousand pages, and just wouldn’t bloody end. i hung in there to see if what was supposed to be a key plot device actually lived up to its promise. short answer, no.
charles stross - halting state
some guy - wikinomics- entirely conventional pseudo-lessons on how wikis and mass collaboration work. probably best considered as a entry-level guide to the sport. otherwise, boring.
philip k dick - a scanner darkly
kurt vonnegut – slaughterhouse five
james surowiecki – the wisdom of crowds – an enjoyable bit of pop-science that starts with lots of great information, then appears to slide into a discussion of “the market”. recommended.
normal mailer - the fight
hugh fearnley-whittingstall – the river cottage meat book – a great tome of lessons on how to cook meat. thoroughly enjoyable.
jack mcdevitt – odyssey – dull space opera with little direction and no real story.
neil gaiman – smoke and mirrors – interesting a quirky, a collection of short stories and poems by gaiman across the entire length of his career. but… not interesting enough for me to finish it. maybe if i owned a copy i’d read it slowly, but too many stories seemed to make too little sense. maybe this is his “b-list” of work (3.5.08 )
lloyd jones – mr pip – a beautiful book that pays too little homage to the horrors of the war in bouganville. written simply and effectively, but with hidden depths that will have me returning to figure out more of what jones hid between the lines.
charles stross – singularity sky – a great story, and a great space opera with something resembling a hard-core of science underlying it. once again stross’ imagination is far and above other recent sci-fi readers.
buddhism for dummies
a. mackay – spain in the middle ages: from frontier to empire
john scalzi – old man’s war - great premise, but the story simply doesn’t follow through. it’s a pity, because the characters are authentic and enjoyable people. unfortunately scalzi turns what could have been a great story into a very, very weak version of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.
philip k. dick – galatic pot-healer – i’m glad i’ve forgotten a lot of the stuff from the biography of dick. made this an enjoyable, if not slightly quirky read. it’s about a pot-healer who is summoned to another planet to help raise a mystical cathedral.
jeff vandermeer – city of saints and madmen - a great read. provided the background to shriek, and had some genuinely funny foreshadowing that book.
christopher tolkien – the children of hurin
jeff vandermeer – shriek: an afterword
chris trotter – no left turn
j.d. salinger - a catcher in the rye
f.w. walbank - the hellenistic world
malcolm vale – war and chivalry
jon courtney grimwood – effendi
jonathan lethem – girl in landscape
jon courtney grimwood – end of the world blues
liam callanan – the cloud atlas
ursula le guin – the birthday of the world
isaac asimov – the gods themselves
jonathan lethem – amnesia moon
john m. harrison – light
m.k. joseph – a soldier’s tale
tony williams – cassino
jonathan lethem – motherless brooklyn
john burdett – bangkok tattoo
stanislaw lem – the star diaries
john burdett – bangkok 8
tom robbins – fierce invalids home from hot climates
ursula le guin – the left hand of winter
maurice shadbolt – the new zealanders
ursula le guin – the lathe of heaven
jose saramago – blindness
albert camus – the plague
isaac asimov – foundation
david cohen – a perfect world
neal stephenson – snow crash
neil gaiman – stardust
thomas pynchon – the crying of lot 49
c.s. lewis – perelandra
stanislaw lem – solaris
charles leadbeater – living on thin air
arthur c. clarke – the lion of comarre, and against the fall of night
jamie oliver – cooking with jamie
c.s. lewis – out of the silent planet
do androids dream of electric sheep? – philip k. dick
a fire upon the deep – vincent vinge
valis – philip k. dick
cat’s cradle – kurt vonnegut jr.
accelerando – charles stross
divine invasions: a life of philip k. dick, lawrence sutin
les halles cookbook, anthony bourdain
iron sunrise, charles stross
veniss underground, jeff vandermeer
the atrocity archives, charles stross
jitterbug perfume, tom robbins
the algebraist, iain m. banks
ubik, phillip k. dick
the dispossessed, ursula le guin
midnight’s children moor’s last sigh, salman rushdie
the sirens of mars – kurt vonnegut jr.