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08 April 2001 @ 08:00 pm
Once again I've not got round to doing proper reviews so here are some notes on the books I've read recently. Starting off with the 4 Webscriptions books I forgot to do last time.

"Gust Front" by John Ringo
John Ringo is a new Baen author, and this is the second book he has had published. It's the sequel to the first, and there's at least one more in the series. It's science fiction and Tom Clancy-ish in feel. Very techy, and lots of descriptions of weapons etc. The basic plot in this book is that there is an alien race invading earth, and the story focuses on the US response to this. They (the whole of earth) are helped by other alien races who have sold them weapons in exchange for help in their own battle against the invaders. But it's clear that these 'benevolent' aliens are not being entirely honest and truthful about the situation. I'm gonna buy these in dead-tree format at some point, and I wanna read book 3 now ;)

"His Father's Son" by Nigel Bennet and P. N. Elrod
Vampire story. Dipped occasionally into soft porn as vampire stories often do. Some of the story is written in the present day, some in the past - and the events are linked partly because the past affects the present, and partly due to 'reincarnation'. I think the 'theme' is families and how they should work. Badly phrased, but I can't think of how to say what I mean.

"Empress of Light" by James C. Glass
This is the second book in a series, I'm not sure if there are more to come. I wasn't that keen on the characters in it, though the plot was interesting. It was very oriental in feel - reminded me of some Chinese and Japanese mythology that I've read a long while ago. In the universe of the story some of the people could enter a place called the 'Gong-she' (I think that's how it was spelt) which is a place outside the universe (it is hinted that it is between universes). And some of these people can manipulate the matter of their universe whilst in the Gong-she. Which lets them do things like teleport (although not at the beginning of the story). There are 2 solar systems that we see, in onethere is an artifical world orbiting a gas giant that is dying and therefore there is considerable social unrest, which another world in the system steps in to prevent. In the other system they are gradually introducing the new technology they have gained through talking to the first system, and are improving the lives of the citizens. The special people who can manipulate matter and teleport things work in the second system to save the first. I didn't enjoy this story much - for instance one of the the problems is that one of the characters grows from a baby to being about 20 or so, and there's no noticeable development in her character after she's about 10.

"The Hub: Dangerous Territory" by James H. Schmitz and edited by Eric Flint
This is a collection of short stories, all of which were written in the 1950s and 1960s. They have been edited for this edition, partly to bring them a little more up-to-date. They are quite archaic in feel - lots of derring-do and adventures. But they're fun. They are set many millenia in the future in a coherent universe. There are a large number of planets settled by humans, and several intelligent alien species in the galaxy too. The human planets are gathered into a Federation, and the area where most of these planets are is called the Hub. The stories are independent of each other, although some characters re-appear.

"Distraction" by Bruce Sterling
This is the story I had originally intended to write a review of but it's been too long since I read it and I've given it back to the library now. It is set in a near-future US, which has fallen apart. Great bands of nomads consisting of the unemployed roam around the country, and jobs for ordinary people seem hard to come by. To be Anglo-Saxon is to be discriminated against, and our hero has a 'personal background problem' - he wasn't born, he was constructed in an illegal off-shore biotech facility. Our hero is the campaign manager for a senatorial candidate when the story opens, and his candidate has been successful. He has a personal 'krewe' as anybody who aspires to be anybody does. This includes his bodyguard, his PR woman, his costumer etc etc. His first job for his senator is to investigate a biotech facility in Louisiana which creates (amongst other things) genetically enhanced animals and is hermetically sealed by a dome. I felt the story went off the rails a bit towards the end, and the author just ran with his flight of fancy rather than work through the situation as it was set up. It was a good 'vision' of the near future although I think he was somewhat pessimistic.

"The First Man in Rome" by Collen McCullough
This is the book that Marnanel left behind last weekend, so I shall do my best not to give any spoilers. It is historical fiction, and the first of a series of at least 5 books (I saw book 5 in the library yesterday). Set in Rome, it follows the story of Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Other prominent characters include Gaius Julius Caesar and his family. This Caesar is the grandfather of the Caesar we've all heard off, and from what I read of the blurb on book 5 the series goes on to follow the story of the famous Caesar too. As far as I can tell she is historically accurate, but as I'm not a historian I'm going by her glossary at the end where she discusses things like why she picked a particular character as the first wife of Sulla despite lack of historical evidence (and it wasn't just to make it fit the story). I wasn't all that keen on her writing style, lots of repeated phrases - intentionally so, and to give emphasis, but I still found they jarred me out of my reading trance. I also didn't like the way that the 'human' sub-plots were abandoned so often - but I think that's due to her sticking to the known facts, and battles/campaigns etc are more recorded that the details of a relationship. So once she'd got a marriage set up, it quite often was ignored for a large chunk of the book except when needed. But I did enjoy it, and I feel like I learnt quite a bit about republican Rome which was also cool :)

"The Riddled Night" by Valery Leith
This is the sequel to "Company of Glass" which I read a while ago, and I couldn't quite remember enough to get into the story at first. The characters were interesting people so I soon got sucked into it. And then got very confused - there's a fair number of seperate stories going on, and the intersections between them aren't clear, and still weren't clear at the end of the book! I'm not really sure how to sum up the plot. This is a fantasy book, and the empire of Pharice, or rather one of its generals, has conquered the lands of a collection of clans. Each clan has an animal totem and some members of the clan can perform magic - exactly what depends on the animal they are associated with, snakes for instance are good with poisons. There are also the Sekk, which are spirits of some sort that enslave people and use them to kill other people and seem to gain vicarious enjoyment from their pain and emotional anguish. I'm not sure what I think about this book, as by the end I still wasn't really clear what had happened. It was clear from the ending that there is at least one more book - and maybe that will explain some of it.
Michellechess on April 16th, 2001 07:22 am (UTC)
Woo! "The First Man in Rome"!
That was just such a great series... I hope they get the next one in it out soon (then again they might have and I've just missed it, must search on the library computers again)...