Absolute classic. If you haven't read it, you should. One of the finest meldings of science and fiction, and absolutely prescient in its insights on the solar system. Also one of the strangest visions of first contact.
I just finished re-reading this, and I have to say, this is one of the finest science fiction books of all time. It has a huge scope with a lot of sub-plots, so it's a little slow in the beginning as you start to meet all the characters, but once it gets rolling it is both breathtaking and really, really funny.
Set in a galactic civilization where humanity is a minor addition to the subpopulation of fast-lived species, we follow Fassin, who has inadvertently come into contact with what may or may not be a deep secret of one of the truly powerful species. Doubtful, Fassin tries to track down this secret, with the aid of some of the most profoundly unhelpful guides the universe has ever known, while keeping his own masters off the trigger.
The science is well-grounded, the aliens are spectacular, and the plot is intricate and intense. Highly recommended.
Sombering story of a woman caught on an alien planet among creatures she loves and respects but can't quite connect with. She's emotionally fragile from a previous catastrope and the political cross-currents within both human and alien societies add to her distress. Moreover, she is being pushed to help the aliens by entities whose motives she does not trust. Both action-filled and haunting. Second in a series, but I read this one first and liked it better without the previous one (which was a more simplistic space-opera, IMHO).
I found this book rather lacking in insight. It's an interesting story, of course - what do you do when your own father shows up at the homeless shelter that you work at? But the author reacts like a teenager, so caught up in his own embarassment and anger at his father for putting him in this situation that he can't spare a second's empathy for the guy. He's too immature to either help the situation and or to stand back and ask someone with a healthier attitude to step in, so he just goes on self-destructive drinking binges. I know we all act irrationally around family, but this guy just seems to be wallowing in spiteful anger and blaming his own self-absorbtion on his absentee dad.
I don't know what possessed anyone to publish this book. Maybe once upon a time, Shrigley was "edgy" and "hilarious", but in this book, he appears to have the artistic talent of a mediocre second grader paired with the deep insight of a self-involved Alzheimer's-raddled drunk.
A typical page of the book contains the thought "Humpty Dumpty/ sat on a wall/ Humpty Dumpty/ had a great fall/Humpty Dumpty/ had a seizure/ and swallowed his tongue" accompanied by a crude sketch of an dead egg. Another page has a poorly executed drawing of an outstretched pair of arms holding up an (explicitly!) male cat.
Social satire disguised as light-hearted fantasy, or the other way around. An excellently fun read with hysterically kooky characters (nearly all of which call themselves Smith to disguise unsavory backgrounds).
Satirical look at the man of "pure" science and the forces that push him to compromise. Arrowsmith is a likeable puppyish man, trustingly going where older men tell him he'll be happy - then shocked that he's been used for their purposes. There are many scathing portraits of pompous jerks of all societal levels, but those portraits are very human, not caricatures. Not what you'd call an "exciting" read - you see each disaster coming well before Arrowsmith does - but a very interesting one for all that.
Pretty good old-style scifi. Humans have discovered ancient, but working, machinery on one of Saturn's moons and have been unable to discern their purpose. One man devotes his life to tracking down the source of these machines, but is sidetracked into a mission to another star. After finding traces of ancient human civilization on this other star, he becomes convinced that the machinery is malign, and returns to Saturn to solve the riddle.
The characterization is mediocre, and the author has definitely hand-picked the scientific principles he wishes to believe, but the story is a fun adventure read.
Let it be said: I love Lethem's writing. While everything I've read by him is excellent, they have all been very different books.
This one is a surreal heart-breaker, the story of a relationship going slowly down the tubes in the oddest way possible. One the one hand, you feel for the protagonists as they suffer, on the other hand, you're dying to see what bizarre event comes next. Even though virtually nothing happens in the entire book, the pace is fast and the emotions strong.
This bills itself as erudite, innovative science fiction, but I thought it was mostly annoying stories using irritating "non-linear" narrative tropes that I thought people had gotten out of their system in the 70's.
Fast-reading adventure story. Narrator has a laconic, soldierly way of telling the story. Sometimes I really liked this understated manner, but it often made it difficult for me to connect with the characters, which were fairly one-dimensional. The Black Company runs through a lot of adventures, but it is clearly the build-up to the story told in subsequent books. I enjoyed it while it was reading it, but ended up feeling dissatisfied and uninterested in seeing what happens to the characters.
Cute little journal book. Each page has an ornate pattern on the top, with lines for writing underneath, and a quote from the Lemony Snicket books at the bottom. Also comes with a page of stickers with images from the illustrations of the books.
I have to admit that the first time I read this book, I liked the characters and the ambiance, but I ended up so confused by all of the players that I couldn't follow the plot very well at all. Halfway through, I looked up all of the characters of the King Arther mythologies on Wikipedia and made myself a cheat-sheet, because the author clearly expects you to already know who everyone is related to and why they hate each other. The second time I read it, after I had figured this all out, I absolutely adored it.
The characters are vibrant, sexy, and interesting, and the book fairly glows with color. The imagery is intense and the plot equally so.
One pet peeve: ***contains spoilers!!!*** Only someone who has never lived in New York would think of Times Square as the crossroads of the world. For the natives, it's just an ugly tourist trap in the middle of the monotonous business district.
This book is a silly little romp that doesn't take itself seriously - something to pick up when you're not in the mood for heavy reading. It's a ridiculous romantic comedy including vampires, nazis, pixies, dragons, and various were-creatures. You probably already know the plot from other similar books, but it's a reasonably entertaining read.
This is an intense and harrowing book, and I loved it. Reading this book really hurt. It's a wrenching portrayal of strong and intelligent people whose own strength is tearing themselves apart, and whose unflinching acceptance of reality can't overcome the damage done to them. I fell in love with Kerewin, brilliant and loquacious, and slowly eating herself alive.
Disturbing book of a militaristic society gone bad and performing medical experiments on its own citizens. Political prisoners are induced to become hyper-intelligent, but this slowly drives them mad, while the powers that be watch idly. Paranoid, clautrophobia-inducing, and deeply weird. If you like Philip Dick or Stanislaw Lem, you're likely to enjoy this greatly.