Archive for starship

ANATHEM By Neal Stephenson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2019 by stanleyriiks

What a long, boring book. It took me about four months to finish reading this SF/fantasy epic, in which very little happens for the most part.

The world in which it is set is vividly described, a strange world in which those who want to learn live in conclaves away from the rest of civilisation and once a year venture outside. When an alien starship is noticed edging close to the planet their world erupts, the avout are forced out in unheard of numbers, and must venture across the outside world to another Concent, meanwhile finding out that saving the world is now down to them.

This book is just too long. There is a lot going on, but not actually much in the way of action. There are philosophical debates and arguments, politics aplenty, and even some interesting discussions and dilemmas. But I can’t help thinking this book should have been heavily edited. At least half of the waffle could have been removed without massively affecting the quality of the story.

Perhaps I’m just annoyed I spent so so long reading this, only to be disappointed by the weak ending.

Whatever, I will be steering clear of Stephenson’s books from now on.

The Quantum Thief By Hannu Rajaniemi – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Jean le Flambeur is a legendary thief, who is broken out of prison by the alien Mieli and her sentient starship Perhonen. Jean is a post-human, his body was taken from him, his mind was imprisoned and mental torture took place during his incarceration. Now he has a new body, but his memories are not intact, and to do what Mieli asks of him he has to rediscover who he used to be.

What follows is an intricate spider-web of intrigues, layer upon layer of deception and politics.

Difficult is not a word I use often to describe a novel, but I found this one a challenge. There is a deep and complex world here, and Rajaniemi doesn’t make it as easy as it could be. This book written by Peter F. Hamilton would be another six hundred pages long, but would make a great deal more sense.

The climax the story builds towards seems to fade out before actually happening, but the complexity and intricacies of the plot had me floundering at times. On the surface this is a simple crime-thriller, but deeper it is a massively detailed political siege drama.

There are a lot of complex and excellent ideas, the gevulot privacy system, sharing memories, and post-humanity are clever. The fact that nothing is described, information is given only as part of the story, and sometimes details and explanations can be lost, or simply not explored enough, create a sense of confusion in the reader (in this reader anyway).

The failure of the climax (did I miss it?) is just as annoying as the lack of clarity.

For those willing and able to re-read a book this is likely to be one of those books that grows on you with a second or third reading, but I want to enjoy a book on the first read, and don’t want to have to give myself a headache concentrating and working out what every idea is before moving on with the plot. An appendix with explanations might be been a helpful addition.

This book shows massive potential, but feels like an unedited manuscript in need of more explanation. Great cover though, and I’ll likely pick up the second book in the trilogy when it comes out later this year, in the hope that some knowledge of the first book will help.