Some nice twists towards the end which made me warm up to it a bit more.
Also read The Other Emily (2021) by Dean Koontz.
A book I enjoyed more for its quite amazingly crazy plot and twists, than overall execution of. Pacing is weird, with the ending just rushing by in the last few pages and I didn't really connect enough with the characters. The plot (A man meets an exact copy of the love of his life, who's been missing for 10 years and is presumed dead. Who is this woman, and why does she look and act exactly like Emily?) takes wild turns and ends even more bizarrely, but there is a lot to love about it. Here I felt Koontz' insanely purple prose worked well to convey the weirdness of the story.
It's been a few years since I read a King - not because I don't love him, but because it would be the only thing I read otherwise. And does it feel good to be 'home'? Yes, indeed. This novel is back to what King is known for - you've got a former cop trying to sort his life out, a brilliant kid and his newfound friendgroup with supernatural abilities and they must team up to fight the evil Institute.
Plot is never really a thing to judge King on - he can easily take a B-movie plot and turn it into something spectacular with great writing and characters - and that's what he does here.
Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It doesn't necessarily shake up the canon with something entirely new - but that's alright. It's a very well written novel, and if anything I wished I could have stayed longer with these characters. It evokes in-universe established contact points with The Dark Tower, The Shining and 'Salems Lot (town is explicitly mentioned by a character) which further adds to the universe King has created.
A first contact science fiction novel, dubbed 'diaperpunk' by the author in the afterword. Zero action to be found here. Instead, humanity's first contact with extraterrestial intelligent life will focus a lot about motherhood and changing diapers. And gender, and relationships, and of course - climate change / environmental destruction. Weird and unique story which was slow, but not without merit. Not sure I liked the process of reading this - it was challenging - but if we judged books by challenge, we would be re-reading Dan Brown over and over. I really appreciated it. The aliens are super-cool and it was a very fresh take to have no action - just talking and talking, arguing philosophical points and while making it so, have both sides undoubtedly have merit to their arguments.
What it boils down to (despite, I assume, coining 'diaperpunk' as a potential subgenre) is politics and environmental destruction. Never mind the aliens, what should humanity do with our planet?
Would recommend if you want a highly philosophical and unique SF-novel which is unlike any you have read before. Now I need a break from challenging reads... Dean Koontz, perhaps?
So, in my pile of books, I have just finished the fourth book by Robert Galbraith (read - J. K. Rowling's attempt to revive the old British detective fiction tradition) Lethal White and I found it absolutely smashing. Longer than the previous books, a more complex mystery, more personal stuff from the two protagonists (which I thought I'd mind but I didn't)...
I almost stopped after the third book, which I found underwhelming after the awesome second installment, but I'm glad I continued, I know it's just genre fiction, but I really loved being mystified by a writer that's smarter than me, I loved all the characters and the overall half-social novel, half-detective fiction was rather pleasing. There was even a subdued almost-horror section, which I definitely appreciated, as I read it late at night alone in the kitchen.
Fun fact - I was combining it with the audiobook, which is read by Robert Glenister - the brother of Phil "DCI Gene Hunt" Glenister - and we're both with my wife surprised how the two brothers sound absolutely alike. I mean, I wouldn't tell the difference if you told me.
I used to have a similar accent when I spoke English (now I'm being told I'm probably closer to a Brummie one), which I thought was being Mancunian, because I knew Phil mainly from Life on Mars, where he plays a cop from Manchester, but it seems it's not a Mancunian accent, it's more or less a "Glenister accent", I guess.
In the Tolkien project, I'm reading The Fall of Gondolin
and I admit that after Silmarillion, I kinda got stuck on these three "compilations" that combine the unfinished parts of the "three great tales" (Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien and this one) - it doesn't add much more and even for someone who's interest is also academical, it is a bit of a chore to go through one after another. Most interesting as a story is probably the first released, Children of Húrin, but the volume on Beren and Lúthien doesn't really add much more and this one is mostly interesting for containing the oldest of Tolkien's writing, with some parts evoking his WW1 experience somewhat more obviously that we're used to, but I'm really looking forward to having this one finished already and moving on.
My best friend the priest has talked me into reading Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun over the summer, so I picked that up again (I have tried before, but I stopped after 50 pages or so, being really spent on Malazan-type literature back then at that moment), along with Brando Sando's Mistborn - I really liked his work in finishing the Wheel of Time, so I'm wondering what his allegedly very intriguing and professional "solo" work looks like.
This is the given SF-classic of the 2020's. Just a fantastic novel. Accessible, optimistic and with huge emotional impact. Perhaps more a classic science fiction story than The Martian, including all the stuff that was good in that story.
For the First Time, Again (2023) by Sylvain Neuvel.
Another trilogy concluded with a finale that isn't anything like expected - no big showdown, less action than previous installments - but all the better for it. Great ending and the best book of the series.
The trilogy is like a secret history of aliens being on Earth for thousands of years, influencing many historical events; the main part of the story focusing on space flight beginning in the mid 20th century and concluding in 2005. Neuvel has a non-orthodox writing style, but the stories are both easy reads & original. There's quite a bit of satire present here, but it's never the focus.
Currently reading Artemis (2017) by Andy Weir which I feel isn't anything like his two hits.
Strugatsky A., Strugatsky B., The Inhabited Island, in the original language, for the umpteenth time.
How on earth a book first published in 1969 can describe today's russia so well is beyond me, frankly.
If I had to pick out one, which I can't really, it would most probably be Snail on the Slope because of its surreal craziness; and I'm not even sure if I prefer the early version (minus Directorate / Peretz) or the full one, both have their merits (and so does their Disquiet predecessor). Ditto the Ugly Swans a.k.a. Time of Rains, which probably worked better before becoming part of Lame Fate, but again I'm not sure, at least LF has parts of Days of the Kraken, such a shame they gave up on that one.
Then, of course, Hard to be a God, Monday Begins on Saturday, Tale of the Troika in all its incarnations (traces of Kraken here and there), and the often maligned - and not too liked by its authors either - Kid from Hell, which, again, while written half a century ago, seems to describe the mentality of a specific type of russia's kids today so well, it's uncanny.
A paranthesis; an in between filler between two future SF classics. Not all through terrible, but there are other books to read...
Also read Mickey7 by Edward Ashton.
Reminiscent of Andy Weir in the narrative style, without as much focus on technical solutions and with great worldbuilding. Partly dark comedy, we get to follow a far future human attempt at establishing a colony on the planet Niflheim. Story is told through the colony's expendable, the clone they send in to do dangerous tasks and die, and then be revived as the next iteration. Mickey is on his 7th body when things start to go seriously wrong for him and suddenly he is afraid of dying for good.
I really enjoyed this (going to be a film with Robert Pattinson coming out next year) but have some complaints about flaws which became apparent towards the end. The hostile aliens threatening the colony were very underdeveloped and felt straight lifted out of another SF classic (the truly interesting aliens we only got to glimpse in bits and pieces through the backstory). Not sure I can even mention the work I'm thinking of, as it plays out exactly like in that other novel.
That said, the sequel Antimatter Blues is out, and Ashton might be able to fix the flaws and turn this story into more of his own. There is room for that I guess and I will definitely be reading on.
A thriller, but maybe also horror. Felt like a few crazy Black Mirror episodes in one... and while Dean certainly pulls it off without any dips in momentum or suspense, I called the twists a few chapters in and wasn't surprised in the slightest. (Except for the ending, what was that?) Well crafted, but while the pages flew by it was not by any means revolutionary. But a good summer read? Yes.