December 5th, 2004


Books read last week

"Emprise" by Michael P. Kube-McDowell (Library. Another bit of post-apocalypse to start off with, with potential first contact thrown in for good measure. The premise is that a group of UN scientists found a way to stop nuclear weapons from working, and this caused more conventional wars to occur leading to breakdown in civilisation due to lack of fossil fuels etc. Now some lone nutty astronomer detects a message from outer space and manges to let others know before he gets burnt at the stake for the crime of being a scientist. The story focusses on how the world reacts to this message, and prepares to go meet the aliens. I rather enjoyed the story particularly the way that my inner cynic ("There are no aliens") and my disbelief-suspended self ("but it's a science fiction book") weren't entirely sure which of them was correct until quite far into the story. It did suffer a bit from the inevitable dating problems of setting a story in the near future (for example Princess Di was still alive, it was Charles that was dead), but that didn't detract too much. I'll not likely buy it, but I'll be looking out for the sequels in the library.)

"The Anvil of the World" by Kage Baker (Library, not yet finished. Put it down for the next book)

"The Domination" by S. M. Stirling (New, but re-read. I really enjoyed this book, every bit as good as I remembered it. Set in an alternate world where when the British lost the American War of Independence they settled their loyalists in Cape Town (having beaten the Dutch in the war) - these people (and the disgruntled losers from the American Civil War) then formed a slave-owning fascist country. The book opens in WWII with the Draka having settled/conquered all of Africa and beginning to set their sights on the world beyond - and a large amount of the story is shown from the point of view of the Draka. I liked the way that I was drawn to feel sympathetic to the characters but then would be reminded that they weren't nice at all, it was well done with just little touches that betrayed the very different world view. Also nicely done was the way that even though the last part is a face off between the US (and its allies) and the Draka it's still not entirely clear who are the 'good guys' - while the Draka aren't nice, the Americans have become a lot like what they're fighting, they may not own slaves, but their society is very totalitarian and restrictive and they share their opponents' view that the ends justify the means.)
"Drakon" by S. M. Stirling (Re-read. Sequel to The Domination, not quite as good but still good. What if one of the Final Society Draka some how broke through to our Earth? Links neatly to the interludes between the three parts of The Domination - so this book happens both 15 years before The Domination and 400 years after.)

"Cerulean Sins" by Laurell K. Hamilton (Library. Not finished till Sunday. Trash pure and simple. Not yet terrible - though having missed books 9 and 10 of the Anita Blake series (not in the library) I was much more aware of how she's ramping up the sex in each succeeding book - the plot was granted about equal time in this one, I think, not sure the books will be readable soon.)