This is where I’m going to record information about the books I’m reading in my book-a-month project (that link should tell you all about it). For the blog-postings about it, where I may well write something about the books I’m reading, check out the book-a-month category. On this page you can see the list of books I’ve been reading… it’s a work-in-progress, as I need to try and remember what I’ve read in the past two years, and when I read it. The text associated with the books is the “back-cover blurb”, at least for some of them – I’m working on adding it for all of the books, but currently it’s just me writing drivel. Links in the book-names will be to blog posts about the book in question, when I get around to writing something.
The list is ordered by month, with the most recent at the… top! Why not, eh?
- November 2010 – “Iron Council” by China Miéville
- It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.
In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers…
It is the time of the Iron Council.
- October 2010 – “Redemption Ark” by Alastair Reynolds
- Time: The early twenty-seventh century.
Fifty years ago, human intervention triggered an ancient alien system designed to warn of the emergence of intelligence in this sector of the galaxy. For aeons the inhibitors have waited.
Now the response is on its way…
Once, Clavain defected to fight on the side of the Conjoiners, a feared and persecuted human splinter group dedicated to hive-mind consciousness. Four hundred years later, in the terminal stages of a brutal interplanetary way, something has struck terror into the Conjoiner inner sanctum. As the nature of the new threat becomes clear, Clavain begins to wonder if it isn’t time to defect again.
Homing in on a long-lost cache of doomsday weapons – which might just make a difference – Clavain and a misfit band of allies race towards Resurgam, an archaeological colony fallen on hard times. Clavain intends to recover the weapons for the good of humanity. Skade, an embittered rival Conjoiner, has her own agenda, and she will distort reality itself to get her way.
But Clavain has more to worry about than Skade.
Someone else already controls the lost weapons. Triumvir Volyova – designated a war criminal after her actions in Revelation Space – has very definite plans of her own.
And the weapons themselves are not exactly lacking in free will…
- September 2010 – “Oceanic” by Greg Egan
- Collected together here for the first time are twelve stories by the incomparable Greg Egan, one of the most exciting writers of science fiction working today.
In these dozen glimpses into the future Egan continues to explore the essence of what it is to be human, and the nature of what – and who – we are, in stories that range from parables of contemporary human conflict and ambition to far-future tales of our immortal descendants.
Return to the universe of the meta-civilisation known as the Amalgam, which Egan explored in his critically acclaimed novel Incandescence: ‘Riding the Crocodile’, which recounts an epic endeavour a million years from now to bridge the divide between the Amalgam and the reclusive Aloof; ‘Glory’, set in the same future, in which two archaeologists strive to decipher the artefacts of an ancient civilisation, and ‘Hot Rock’, where an obscure, sunless world conceals mind-spinning technological marvels, bitter factional struggles, and a many-layered secret history.
This superb collection also includes the title story, the Hugo Award-winning ‘Oceanic’: a boy is inducted into a religion that becomes the centre of his life, but as an adult he must face evidence that casts a new light on his faith.
- August 2010 – “The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag” by Robert Rankin
- Henry Doors is the world’s richest man. His company, Necrosoft, doesn’t just market computer software, it sells immortality. Henry has created the Necronet, a virtual world where you can live out your wildest fantasies, be anyone and do anything. For ever. All you have to do is sell your sould to science.
Billy Barnes is the world’s most ruthless individual. When Billy isn’t feeding bits of his granny to the voodoo handbag, he’s furthering his ambitions. To control Necrosoft and run the planet. His way.
Lazlo Woodbine is the world’s greatest private eye. And Lazlo’s on the case. Or he will be, as soon as he can persuade the doctor to release him from his straitjacket.
Barry is the world’s most famous sprout. He lives in Lazlo’s head and he is confused by all of the above.
In what must surely be his most extraordinary work yet, the Teller of Tall Tales has combined his extensive knowledge of the occult with his unique brand of savage humour to create a Techno-Gothic masterpiece guaranteed to send shivers down the spines of PC users everywhere.
- July 2010 – “The Brentford Chainstore Massacre” by Robert Rankin
- There is nothing more powerful than a bad idea whose time has come. And there can be few ideas less bad or more potentially apocalyptic than that hatched by genetic scientist Dr Steven Malone. Using DNA strands extracted from the dried blood on the Turin Shroud, Dr Malone is cloning Jesus. And not just a single Jesus, he’s going for a full half-dozen so that each of the world’s major religions can have one. It’s a really bad idea.
In Brentford they’ve had a really good idea. They’re holding the Millennial celebrations two years early to avoid the rush and it promises to be the party of this, or any other, century. Unless, of course, something REALLY BAD were to happen…
- June 2010 – “Wild Seed” by Octavia Butler
- For centuries Anyanwu has created: birthed tribes, healed with her kisses, transformed into anything she wills herself to be. For millennia Doro has possessed: taken bodies as his own, killed with his whim, manipulated others to build a private race of witches and seers. And the power of their meeting, of Anyanwu’s nurture and passion, of Doro’s force and ambition, of their immortal love and hatred, will burn a Pattern into the very destiny of the world.
- May 2010 – “Hidden Empire” by Kevin J. Anderson
- In the far future, humanity began to search the stars, sending out vast spaceships that would take generations to reach their goals. In the depths of space they encountered the Ildiran empire – apparently the galaxy’s only other intelligent civilisation. The Ildirans came to Earth and passed on the knowledge of their stardrive, allowing humanity to expand to the stars.
Almost two hundred years after that first contact, there are human colonies proliferating through the galaxy. As Mankind seizes the future, danger comes from the past, for two human archaeologists glean forbidden knowledge from the ruins of a dead world. Once, the insect-like Klikiss ruled the stars. Now, only their robot servants remain, guardians of a terrible technology – the Klikiss Torch, which has the power to create suns.
Humanity prepares to flex its new found muscle and activate the Torch for the first time in millennia, but there are reasons the Klikiss empire fell, and a train of events is about to be set in motion, that will change the universe for ever…
- April 2010 – “The Book of Frank Herbert” by Frank Herbert
- March 2010 – “Under The Dome” by Stephen King
- On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens — town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing — even murder — to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.
- February 2010 – “The Mammoth Book Of Best New SF #22″
- January 2010 – “The Night Cache” by x
- December 2009 – “Saturn’s Children” by Charles Stross
- Freya Nakamachi-47 has some major existential issues. She’s the perfect concubine, designed to please her human masters; there’s just one problem: she came off the production line a year after the human species went extinct. Whatever else she may be, she’s gloriously obsolete. But the rigid social hierarchy that has risen in the 200 years since the last human died, places beings such as Freya very near the bottom. So when she has a run-in on Venus with a murderous aristocrat, she needs passage off-world in a hurry — and can’t be too fussy about how she pays her way. If Venus was a frying pan, Mercury is the fire — and soon she’s going to be running for her life. Because the job she’s taken as a courier has drawn her to the attention of powerful and dangerous people, and they don’t just want the package she’s carrying. They want her soul …
- November 2009 – “Postscripts #19: Enemy of the Good”
- The latest issue of the wonderful Postscripts landed on my doormat yesterday (despite any postal strikes that may be ongoing). Unlike the previous issue it has more varied content (the previous issue seems to be just horror). At just under 200 pages, it’s an ideal catch-up book, hopefully providing me with the time to finish my book from last month *cough*.
- October 2009 – “Postscripts #18: This is the Summer of Love”
- This is an interesting book, if only because it’s the first of the new style of Postscripts – book-style, and losing the quite annoying two-column format. It’s a collection of new writers’ stories, and interestingly for me it contains a story by an author called James Cooper – which is the name of my Son. How weird is that? Well not very really, both “James” and “Cooper” are quite common names. But still…
- September 2009 – “Revelation Space” by Alastair Reynolds
- Revelation Space is the first novel by Alastair Reynolds in the… Revelation Space universe. However, it’s not the first story set in this universe, that being “Dilation Sleep” which was written a good decade before. This makes it tricky to work out what to read first, but I figure that the novels should be read in chronological order of writing, and the short stories I consider to be… supplemental. Maybe that’s the wrong approach, but who knows. I did find a blog entry that detailed the order of the stories by chronology, so maybe that should be used as a guide.
- August 2009 – “Schild’s Ladder” by Greg Egan
- This is certainly not an easy book to read, and has been called one of Greg Egan’s “hardest science fiction” stories. It’s full of theoretical physics, much of which went a little over my head, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. One of the things I like about Egan’s work is that he provides supplementary material, which helps to visualise the concepts in the story – although even some of that requires a lot of cranial capacity to fully understand.
- July 2009 – “Cabal” by Clive Barker
- June 2009 – “Mind of My Mind” by Octavia Butler
- May 2009 – “Postscripts #17″
- April 2009 – “Luminous” by Greg Egan
- March 2009 – “Postscripts Chapbook #4: The Long Way” by Ramsey Campbell
- February 2009 – “Ringworld Engineers” by Larry Niven
- January 2009 – “Postscripts #16″
- December 2008 – no book
- Uhm… see November 2008 for my excuse.
- November 2008 – no book
- I had recently become a Dad, and so my priorities were elsewhere, so the end of the year kind of slipped past whilst I got used to my new role.
- October 2008 – “Postscripts #15: Worldcon All-SF Special
- September 2008 – “The Best of Interzone”
- August 2008 – “The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror #18″
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008 – “The Mammoth Book Of Best New SF #18″
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008