Wednesday, 10 March 2010

What I've been reading

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The Door Into Summer
by Robert A Heinlein

"When Dan Davis is crossed in love and stabbed in the back by his business associates, the immediate future doesn't look too bright for him and Pete, his independent-minded tom cat. Suddenly, the lure of suspended animation, the Long Sleep, becomes irresistible and Dan wakes up thirty years later in the twenty-first century. He discovers that the robot household appliances he invented, far from having been stolen from him, have, mysteriously, been patented in his name."
I read this some time ago, and decided to buy it for Lola II as a birthday present. Being the kind of person I am, I obviously had to re-read it before giving it to her, being careful not to leave any evidence (I think this blog post might now have given it away). The book is good, and you should read it if you like time travel mysteries. Not quite as good as 'The Time Traveler's Wife', but beats the pants off Larry Niven (see below).

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by Larry Niven

narrated by Patrick Cullen
"Pierson's puppeteers, strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens, have discovered an immense structure in a hitherto unexplored part of the universe - the Ringworld of the title. Frightened of meeting the builders of such a structure, the puppeteers set about assembling a team consisting of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, an alien not unlike an eight-foot-tall, red-furred cat, to explore it. But the expedition goes disastrously wrong when the ship crashlands and its motley crew faces a trek across thousands of miles of the Ringworld's surface."
I only downloaded this because it was free - a Christmas promotional gift for listeners to Leo Laporte's 'This Week In Tech' podcast. I'd been listening to his podcast for two or three years, but since downloading the book I've unsubscribed - it was getting far too long (regularly more than 90 minutes) and too flabby, and I just don't have the time. What about the book? Niven's writing is not brilliant but I do like the concept of the world he has invented. I wouldn't make my friends read it, but the narrator is excellent in this audio version.

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The Wasp Factory
by Iain Banks

narrated by Peter Kenney
"Two years after I killed Blyth, I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim. That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again. It was just a stage that I was going through."
I've read 'The Crow Road' by the same author and really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd try another. It's pretty bleak. The main character is slightly unhinged, but his past is revealed in such a matter-of-fact way that it seems the author is suggesting his personality isn't so far from normal. In fact, the whole thing is so far from normal that it loses credibility. I was a bit relieved when I finished it.

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The King's General
by Daphne du Maurier

narrated by Juliet Stevenson
"Set in the seventeenth century, The King's General tells the story of a country and a family riven by war. Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenville, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, Honor remains true to him, and finally discovers the secret of Menabilly."
I imagine that this reflects a fairly accurate picture of what went on in Cornwall and Devon during the Civil War, and it's very evocative of the good times and bad. Aside from the historical detail, we have an unusual love affair between two interesting characters, and I cried at the end. So that's good.


Lola II said...

I had assumed that you had read my birthday present and had, in fact, been admiring how there was absolutely no evidence on the book. I knew the truth though...

aims said...

Laughing at Lola II !

Anonymous said...

You like Sci Fi by the look of it. I would strongly recommend that you try Iain Banks scifi incarnation (Iain M Banks). It's good stuff- try The Player of Games.