Posts Tagged ‘Sci-Fi’

Matter by Iain M. Banks

MatterMatter by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out of the dozen or so books by Iain (M.) Banks that I have read, Matter is my least favorite, and it still received 4 out of 5 stars.

It took about 70 pages or so to get into the story, but once I did the book was hard to put down. All of the “Culture” books that I have read have an epic story with layers and layers of content and undercurrents of many subjects, some subtle and some not so subtle. Yet, they are still character driven stories with enough advanced and wondrous technology that will satisfy even the most ardent science fiction fan.

The beginning of the book goes into great detail about “shell worlds” an ancient technological device (some questions remain about the purpose for which they were created). Kind of a “species” made hollow planet with different layers (floors), each floor has been settled by a different life form. Some life forms are more advanced than others.

The description of the shell world was so detailed that for a moment I was convinced I could build one or at the least draw up a blueprint to have one built. So much detail made the story drag a bit, but it also gave me a great understanding to the world the characters lived in.

The flow of the writing style in Matter changes throughout the book. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of technologies, species, characters … etc., parts felt like a well written suspense/thriller, and there are a few speeches that felt reminiscent of Shakespeare. I feel that this changing flow will annoy some readers.

I still found this to be a great read, but if you have never read a “Culture” book, I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point. The only drawback to “Matter” for me was that the ending didn’t meet my expectations for the usual Banks standard (but it was still excellent). So far, it is the only book by Banks that I figured out the ending before I got there.

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The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living DeadThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is exactly what the title says it is, it’s a Survival Guide. Reading this book is NOT like reading a novel, it doesn’t tell a story, it tells you how to survive a zombie outbreak. The Zombie Survival Guide explains how to chose weapons, what tools you’ll need, and what actions you need to take.

Max Brooks does such a good job, that after reading the survival guide, I find myself being more prepared for the coming zombie outbreak than I am for any other possible “natural” disaster. Max explains everything (that’s known) about the virus that turns people into zombies.

The last part of the survival guide gives accounts and “proof” of previous outbreaks that have occurred thorough out human history. The “proof” is laid out chronologically and offers artifacts, stories, and eyewitness accounts (several with the disclaimer that government officials deny that any zombies were involved).

The brilliance behind Max Brooks book The Zombie Survival Guide is that he did it the way all survival guides are done and he did it convincingly. The knowledge it contains is what will keep you alive and without it your chances of survival plummets.

BE PREPARED!

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Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis

Hard SpellHard Spell by Justin Gustainis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun and entertaining read from beginning to end. Imagine a world where civil rights are extended to all, no matter your sex, race, religion, or if you are living or one of the undead. Justin Gustainis has created a world where humans and the supernatural coexist. The main character is Stan Markowski, a cop on the supe (supernatural) squad. He handles cases that involve crimes committed by or committed against supernatural beings (Vampires, werewolves, witches, goblins etc).

For me this book had an old school crime novel feel to it, which I loved. Add the fact that it’s full of supernatural beings (some law abiding some not so much), and you end up with a familiar yet new take on crime novels and life in general. Written with humor and suspense, I found the plot action packed and fast paced but a little predictable. Even though some of the destinations were predictable, the journey getting there certainly wasn’t. As I was reading Hard Spell I found myself thinking this would make an interesting movie or, better yet, a weekly series*.

This book does contain strong language and violence, with that warning I would recommend it to anyone.

*Hint for the SyFy channel.

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300 Nights by Kriss Perras Running Water

300 Nights300 Nights by Kriss Perras Running Waters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This gets a solid 3 stars. This was another Goodreads First Reads give away book. For me a book is like a meal they can be a feast, square meal, fast food, a snack or that unrecognizable stuff in the fridge that needs thrown away. 300 Nights was somewhere between a snack and fast food (both can be very enjoyable). The writing was good and very descriptive. At 241 pages with 4 parts and 78 “Chapters” (lots of white) this makes for a quick read (that is after I actually sat down and started to read it). The action was fast paced and pretty much nonstop. The plot was intriguing and the characters interesting with the above grounders, the people that lived underground (mostly scientist and computer experts) and life on the grid and let’s not forget the apocalypse.

The only thing that could have made this book better would have been more. More about how society developed the way it did and more details about the characters past. The author Kriss Perras Running Water gave enough information to let the reader get the gist of everything but I just felt that there was enough to the plot and the characters that this could have made an excellent 600+ page feast.

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Excession by Iain M. Banks

ExcessionExcession by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Damn! Banks can weave a tale! This is one complex story. Events set around the discovery of an Excession (Something excessive) that could be a danger to all. The Excession is capable of things no culture/species in the universe is capable of doing, maybe even destroying the universe. If that wasn’t enough to deal with there are conspiracies, spies, war, relationships and love.

Banks does a wonderful job of weaving the story lines together. Each character is developed so well you feel what each of them are going through (even the “traitors”) and understand why they do what they do.

Even though the story deals with dark material like death, war, love and hate etc., there is still humor throughout the story.

This is one of those books that you don’t want to end, but when it’s over you are totally satisfied and can’t quit smiling.

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The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers

This being the 3rd installment of the Avery Cates series I was a bit worried about not having read any of the other Avery Cates books. “The Eternal Prison” stands on it’s own but there are references to characters and events of the past. So reading them in order may be a good idea but not necessary.

Jeff Somers creates a future world where humans are still corrupt and violent and fighting for power, and technology has advanced with scary realism. Where people get their brains digitized and uploaded into avatars and humans get augments to became part machine.

Avery Cates is a gunner (gun for hire), he’s great character that you can’t help but like and pull for, he’s a survivor. In a fight you would want him on your side (and he is usually in a fight).

Jeff Somers is an intelligent and entertaining writer that will keep you flipping pages. I will be reading the rest of the Cates series and I recommend that you do too.

The only note of caution would be language, there is a lot of foul language but the characters would be less real without it.

Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks

This book wasn’t the easiest book to get into or to read. Each chapter is divided into 4 parts (except the last chapter it has six parts,) each part is the story of a different character. One of the characters, Bascule, was my favorite but his story was also the hardest for me to read, it’s written phonetically (which my brain has trouble translating).

The story takes place on Earth (way in the future) where people live their lives, die, then are transferred into a digital world where they live (like “the matrix” but everyone can be Neo) until they are reconstructed and get to live again (8 lives) Krypt time is faster than base reality so a second of reality equal hours in the krypt. The world is ending and the authorities are fighting to stay in power and save themselves.

The story is full of adventure, conspiracies and a world that only Iain M. Banks could have come up with.

I really liked this book but I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. It’s not a book you can pick up read a few pages and know what’s going on. You discover more and learn what’s going on right up until the last sentence.