RIP XIII: A Dystopian SF Horror Fantasy

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer I just adored Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (see here). His ability to create a genre-defying, strange but real feeling version of our world is unparalleled, and he does it again with Borne.  The setting is in the future after some kind of devastating event, involving the Company – a mysterious organisation Read More

Book Group Report: Purple

The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel Continuing our Book Group selections inspired by colours.  At our June meeting it was time to nominate ‘purple’ books to read in August and discuss at the beginning of September.  Our initial shortlist was: The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Wioletta being Polish for Read More

A spec fiction novel that was almost too much!

  Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson Imagine, if you can, a world where the worst thing that can happen to ordinary folk is your pizza not arriving within thirty minutes of placing the order. That is such a bad thing, that the head of the Mafia, Uncle Enzo, who runs the Cosa Nostra Pizza business Read More

It’s the 1968 Club – #2

Chocky by John Wyndham It’s been too long since I read or re-read any John Wyndham novels. I’m sure I have read Chocky before, but to be honest it must have been decades ago and I couldn’t remember anything that wasn’t in the blurb, so I started afresh with this short novel in its latest Read More

Aug/Sept Book Group Report: SF & Naval books

Our book group didn’t meet in August as nearly everyone was on hols, so last night we had two books to discuss. The way we pick our books is to  chose a theme two months ahead, then research and next month  present our suggestions, of which one gets picked eventually. SF: Flowers for Algernon by Read More

20 Books of Summer #4 The Nightfly writes…

Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen Steely Dan is one of my favourite bands. It was all the fault of Mick at our Youth Club, whom I adored from afar. This was the mid-1970s and he had a copy of the Dan’s new fourth album Katy Lied (1975). Fagen has a rather distinctive voice which is hard Read More

Two shorter non-fic reviews

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately – including some absolute crackers that deserve a whole post to themselves – and I don’t mind saving them to write about for the new year. Meanwhile, today I have two shorter non-fic reviews for you… Set Phasers to Stun by Marcus Berkmann If you’ve read this Read More

Catch-up – two shorter reviews

My pile of books read but not reviewed yet is taller than I like, so here are two shorter reviews to catch up a little. Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson Only Hutchinson’s second novel, but you can tell the author has been writing other stuff for ages. Europe in Autumn, published in 2014, is the Read More

The Bookish Time Travel Tag!

I was tagged in this meme which is on it’s travels around the bookblogs by Kaggsy, but it was started by The Library Lizard. I couldn’t not give it a go… 1. What is your favourite historical setting for a book? If you did the stats on books I’ve read, it would probably come up Read More

Great Characters, Great Adventure, Great Space!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers This SF novel has been one of the great discoveries of recent years – a self-published kickstarter debut that was picked up by a big publisher and then longlisted for the Baileys Prize earlier this year. The book is now shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Read More

Too cryogenically cool to love outright

Zero K by Don DeLillo I’m not entirely new to reading Don DeLillo. I like the idea of reading DeLillo and I have read the first quarter of his 1971 debut, Americana, for my Annabel’s Shelves project. I was really enjoying it; it started well – we were introduced to top TV executive David Bell – who, if he’d been Read More

Science vs Magic in a Dystopian World

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders The minute I read the tag-line on the press release for this book, I knew I had to read it: ‘A witch, a scientist and the end of the world’. This novel tries to do something that is not often seen in genre fiction – melding fantasy and Read More

Something ‘that scares me’…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith One of the few remaining squares on my summer(!) book bingo card has been crossed off with this novel. I find few ghost stories truly scary and own few horror novels of the type that would Read More

It’s a love / hate thang …

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my missing posts archive. The Martian by Andy Weir One square in my Book Bingo card is ‘Hated by someone you know’. That one was so easy to fill, for a few weeks ago my pal Simon Savidge tried to read The Martian and he ended up not Read More

The Southern Reach Trilogy – #3

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer What began in Annihilation, follows on in Authority, concludes in Acceptance. Although I’ll give scant details of what happens below, discussing the third part of a trilogy will necessarily reveal small facts you may prefer not to know if you intend to Read More

A near-future techno thriller…

Deja Vu by Ian Hocking This novel is one of the first publications from a new indie publisher called Unsung Stories, specialising in ‘genre fiction that defies categorisation’. Déjà Vu is essentially near-future science fiction with a techno-thriller slant to it. It is 2023. Saskia Brandt is a Berlin-based detective in the European FIB. Returning from Read More

The Southern Reach Trilogy #2

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive   Authority by Jeff Vandermeer I had been planning to eke out my reading of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy over three months but, after the comments on my post about the first volume (see here and third volume here), I couldn’t wait Read More

The Southern Reach Trilogy

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer Having just read Annihilation, the first volume of Vandermeer’s series known as The Southern Reach Trilogy, I think I’m really going to enjoy the other two parts, Authority and Acceptance. This trilogy was published last year – with three months between volumes. They’re lovely Read More

Riding the slipstream …

The Adjacent by Christopher Priest Today I shall direct you to another review I wrote for Shiny New Books:- The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, now out in paperback. Priest is one of those authors who defies genre, yet routinely gets categorised as a science fiction author. True his books often have some SF elements in, and The Read More

The clue is in the title …

The Echo by James Smythe When I read The Explorer last year, Smythe’s novel of a failed deep space mission, I had no idea he planned a sequel, let alone making it part of a quartet. I disengaged my reality check and went along for the claustrophobic ride with the mis-matched crew who were mysteriously picked Read More

Mix Douglas Adams with Jewish Mysticism, Marco Polo, a dash of the X-Men and time travel for weird fun!

A Highly Unlikely Scenario : Or, a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor If I said that a wacky speculative fiction novel about a 21st century world governed by the philosophies adopted by fast food chains was actually great fun to read, you might begin to doubt my sanity.  I Read More

A Trio of Short Reviews

I thought I’d sneak a couple of short book reviews into that week between Christmas and New Year.  Too bloated with turkey, booze and chocolate to concentrate on reading, I often find I’m scouring the web at this time for stuff to read and do! The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin-Gee This is Read More

Brian Aldiss, still going strong at 88

On Thursday evening, I was privileged to attend the book launch of veteran author Brian Aldiss’ latest novel Comfort Zone at Blackwells in Oxford. Given that it, and his entire backlist is being published by imprint The Friday Project, I also got to meet TFP’s head honcho Scott Pack for the first time too. Scott’s blog Me Read More

Being John Malkovich meets The Matrix

Stray by Monica Hesse Lona Sixteen Always doesn’t have her own life. She spends twenty-three hours a day living the life of someone else. That someone is Julian, a psychologically suitable boy that grew up fifty years ago having all his memories and experiences recorded for Lona and the others on the ‘Path’ to relive Read More

The book that inspired 1984 and Brave New Worl

This post was republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin Translated by Clarence Brown So, I finally read the book that inspired Orwell’s1984 (my brief write-up here).  Many other dystopian novels have similarities, including Huxley’s Brave New World (my review here) although Huxley said he was actually inspired by HG Wells, Read More

To infinity …

The Explorerby James Smythe This brilliant novel’s beginning happens near the end of the story… Cormac Easton is the only remaining living astronaut on the spaceship Ishiguro. Cormac is not even a proper astronaut – he’s a journalist; his part in the team is to observe and document the voyage, to blog and film and send the Read More