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Katherine

I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

St. Johns, FL, United States | Member Since 2009

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  • Light

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By M. John Harrison
    • Narrated By Julian Elfer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (122)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (109)

    In contemporary London, Michael Kearney is a serial killer on the run from the entity that drives him to kill. He is seeking escape in a future that doesn' t yet exist - a quantum world that he and his physicist partner hope to access through a breach of time and space itself.

    Max says: "Utterly Brilliant"
    "Neil Gaiman Presents"
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    Michael Kearney is a physicist. He???s also a serial killer. Obsessed with numbers and patterns since he was three, he sees something behind them. Something is there, something dark and ominous that starts to emerge sometimes. He calls it the Shrander and the only way to hold it back is to kill someone. Trying to appease the Shrander, Michael uses Tarot cards and a special pair of bone dice to try to figure out what he???s supposed to do next. He???s also teamed up with a colleague named Brian Tate to study the relationship between mathematics and prophecy.

    Three hundred years later, explorers are using the ???Tate-Kearney transformations??? to navigate the space phenomenon they call the Kefahuchi (K) Tract where ancient alien races have left artifacts from their advanced civilizations. One of these explorers is Seria Mau, who was molested by her father and escaped by transferring her consciousness to a K-ship. Now, as a sentient starship, she presides over a crew of brooding self-aware algorithms as she explores the Kefahuchi Tract. Her brother, Ed Chianese, used to be an explorer, but now he???s a Twink ??? he lives most of his life floating in a tank and plugged into a virtual reality that he likes better than real life.

    These three characters are all connected by the Shrander. What is it, and why is it interested in these humans??? lives? What is the energetic light-spewing singularity that???s located in the center of the Kefahuchi Tract? Explorers who go there never come back.

    When I read over my summary of Light, I think this sounds like an awesome book. I picked it up because I???ve wanted to read M. John Harrison for years. Then Neil Gaiman got into the audiobook business and started a new line called Neil Gaiman Presents in which he works with authors, narrators, and Audible.com to produce some of his favorite works in audio format. Light is one of his very first offerings so, naturally, I jumped. While I did admire Harrison???s characterization and writing style, and Julian Elfer???s narration was spot-on (I hope Gaiman uses him again), I did not like Light as much as I thought I would for two reasons.

    First, it???s written in that self-conscious Teflon style that???s slick, vague and nebulous, maybe full of symbolism, and you???re never sure you???ve really got a grasp on what???s going on until the end. Or maybe not even then. And you wonder, ???Is this book too smart for me? Or maybe I just have to try harder???? This can imbue the story with a heady atmosphere of wonder and mystery, or it can frustrate the reader who???s just looking for a good story. In the case of Light, things only start to clear up in the last few pages, which doesn???t feel like enough pay off. I didn???t read any reviews before I read Light because I didn???t want to spoil anything, but I would have enjoyed the plot more if I???d first read a summary such as the one I wrote above.

    I could have overlooked the hazy plot if I had liked M. John Harrison???s characters. Unfortunately, and this is my biggest problem with Light, the characters are all, with the exception of one who dies not long after we meet him, completely unlikable. Neil Gaiman warns us in his introduction that we won???t like Michael Kearney, but he doesn???t mention that we won???t like any of the characters. Perhaps it???s shallow to insist on having some character to admire or root for, or maybe it???s simply a reflection of my own optimistic personality, but I know many readers feel the way I do, so I???ll warn them.

    All of the characters have sad, desperate, pathetic lives. Many are suicidal and most have some sort of sexual hang-up. They can???t keep their hands off their own genitals, or they keep presenting their genitals for others to handle. Almost every single sex act (and there are a lot of them) is ugly, animalistic, and devoid of all positive emotion. Sex is about pity, power, self-loathing and grief. There is no beauty, passion, love, or hope here. I think that M. John Harrison???s symbolism with light and the singularity shaped like a birth canal is meant to convey some feeling of hope at the end of the novel, but I just felt drained.

    I???m giving Light 3 stars because I admire Harrison???s vivid writing style, there are some cool cyberpunk elements (though some were too similar to William Gibson???s work) and this was a terrific audio production. My issues with Light are due to my own personal reading preferences. I recommend Light to readers who aren???t so small-minded that they insist on liking some of the characters. Meanwhile, I???ll be trying a different novel by M. John Harrison, including another produced by Neil Gaiman Presents.
    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Monster Hunter Nemesis

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Larry Correia
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    Overall
    (2263)
    Performance
    (2117)
    Story
    (2123)

    Agent Franks of the U.S. Monster Control Bureau is a man of many parts - parts from other people, that is. Franks is nearly seven feet tall and all muscle. He's nearly indestructible. Plus he’s animated by a powerful alchemical substance and inhabited by a super-intelligent spirit more ancient than humanity itself. Good thing he’s on our side. More or less.

    Bruce Selzler says: "Another Winner"
    "AGENT FRANKS!!!!!!"
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.

    There is no way that any review I write about Monster Hunter Nemesis is going to have any sort of effect on anybody’s decision to read it. If you’re a fan of the extremely popular MONSTER HUNTER series, then you’re going to read Monster Hunter Nemesis, the fifth book. If you’re not, you won’t. And if you’re not in one of those two camps, you have no reason to be reading this review. But still I have to write it, because that’s my job.

    So, for those of you who ARE fans, what you can expect here is exactly what Correia has given us so far: great characters, a fascinating story, witty dialogue, and brutal violence. This particular installment features my favorite character: AGENT FRANKS! He’s a huge indestructible man(?) who works for the U.S. Monster Control Bureau, a government agency that fights monsters and sometimes works with or against Monster Hunter International. In Monster Hunter Nemesis we get his backstory. How old is he? Where did he come from? Why does he work for MCB? Why is he so loyal to the United States? How is he indestructible? You’ll find out in Monster Hunter Nemesis as Agent Franks takes on a bureaucrat who’s also a mad scientist. I have to say that I was completely surprised by the revelations and what they may mean for the ongoing MONSTER HUNTER story.
    Fans will be happy to see a little bit of our old friends at MHI, the gangsta gnomes, and Heather the werewolf. Several new intriguing characters are introduced, too, and I look forward to seeing them in future installments. One main character is tragically killed and there is a delightfully promising plot twist at the end.

    For those of you who haven’t yet started the MONSTER HUNTER series, I can highly recommend it if you love monsters, guns, engaging heroes, tons of action, clever plotting, and just the right amount of humor. I must warn you that it’s gory and violent (a little too much for me, honestly) and that Larry Correia’s libertarian views are occasionally on display, especially when he disrespects the government and the president of the United States (who is obviously President Obama).

    If you’re going to try MONSTER HUNTER, start with the first book (Monster Hunter International) and continue in publication order. I also highly recommend Audible Studios’ versions which are brilliantly narrated by Oliver Wyman who totally “gets” this series and gives us a perfect performance for each character, and especially for Agent Franks. If you’re not an audio reader, this one could definitely change your mind.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Warlord: Hythryn Chronicles, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Jennifer Fallon
    • Narrated By Maggie Mash
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Marla Wolfblade is reeling from the loss of her closest confidant, Elizaar the Fool, who taught her the Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power, and helped shape her into a force in Hythria. But Marla's plans for revenge are disrupted when she discovers she has a dangerous adversary... On the border, Fardohnya has massed its troops for an invasion, and Marla's eldest son, Damin Wolfblade, heir to the throne of Hythria, finds his ability to fight back is thwarted by tradition, politics, and the foolishness of the High Prince...

    Katherine says: "Satisfying resolution (but not the end of the stor"
    "Satisfying resolution (but not the end of the stor"
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.

    Warlord is the last book in Jennifer Fallon’s WOLFBLADE trilogy which is a prequel to her DEMON CHILD trilogy and part of her HYTHRUN CHRONICLES. Like its predecessors, Wolfblade and Warrior, it’s a huge sprawling epic (26 hours on audio). The story starts immediately after the tragic events of Warrior (which you really must read first). Marla is still the wealthiest and most powerful woman in the country, but she has taken a major hit and, in some ways, feels alone, despite her large family.

    Hablet, the Fardohnian king, is planning to take advantage of Hythria’s weakness while the country is recovering from a plague and while their high prince, Lernen, a useless wastrel, is still ruling. Hablet is massing his army for an invasion and hoping that his independently-minded daughter Adrina won’t ruin things for him. (Hint: She is an important character in the DEMON CHILD trilogy.) Both Marla and her nemesis, Alija Eaglespike, want their own sons to lead Hythria’s army against Hablet. Because of what happened in the previous book, the publically cordial relationship between Marla and Alija has broken down and both women are openly plotting against each other.

    Meanwhile, back in Krakandar, Mahkas has become paranoid because Damin is nearing his age of majority. Mahkas is frantically trying to hold on to his rule of the province, and he’s desperate to keep certain secrets that he’s been hiding since book one. He has turned into a mad despot while Damin is away with the Hythrun army. It will take all of our protagonists — Marla, Damin, Marla’s other children’s families, and several friends and allies — to set things to right in Hythria. Most importantly, Damin, who has been trying to fly under the radar by pretending to be just as much of a wastrel as his uncle is, can now show the world that he’s ready to be a warlord.

    Several other subplots are going on, too, of course. A couple of these involve women’s issues — one woman is being beaten by her husband and wants a divorce. Another wants to be able to rule her own province instead of being forced to marry a man who can rule it for her. Even Marla, the most powerful woman in the country, has no authority of her own. Her power only comes from her ability to influence the men in her life. How will the various power struggles going on in Hythria and Fardonyha affect how women will be treated now and in the future?

    Fans of the WOLFBLADE trilogy are sure to be satisfied with this final installment. It’s got everything we expect from Jennifer Fallon: murder, treachery, love, hate, jealousy, adultery, schemes, revenge, tragedies, triumphs, twists. Fallon keeps us guessing about how things will turn out. While we expect the Wolfblade family to eventually triumph, what we don’t know is how much they’ll have to lose to do so.

    My complaints are minor and the same as before — mainly an inability to get completely absorbed because some of the culture and plot seems contrived for dramatic effect. Also, I just didn’t think Marla and Damin were as clever as the other characters thought they were. Some of their brilliant tactics seemed either obvious or unnecessarily elaborate or risky to me. A few of the characters (especially Lernen and Mahkas) go over the top in this installment and some of the dialogue is inappropriately modern. But readers who’ve overlooked these minor details before shouldn’t have any trouble doing so this time either, and most will be eager to move on to the DEMON CHILD trilogy, if they haven’t already read it (or maybe even if they have). It features Damin and Adrina in later years.

    Maggie Mash narrates Audible’s version of Warlord. As I mentioned in my review of Warrior, she has a lovely voice but her pace is slow (but it’s easy to increase the speed with Audible’s app) and her reading of the dialogue tends to be choppy at times. Still, I’d recommend WOLFBLADE on audio for readers who enjoy character-driven political dramas and revenge fantasies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Evolution's Shore: Chaga Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Ian McDonald
    • Narrated By Melanie McHugh
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    On the trail of the mystery of Saturn’s disappearing moons, network journalist Gaby McAslan finds herself in Africa researching the Kilimanjaro Event: a meteor-strike in Kenya which caused the stunning African landscape to give way to something equally beautiful – and indescribably alien. Dubbed the ‘Chaga’, the alien flora destroys all man-made materials, and moulds human flesh, bone and spirit to its own designs.

    Katherine says: "Fascinating SF with African setting"
    "Fascinating SF with African setting"
    Overall
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.

    In several equatorial regions of the earth, an alien plant has been growing. The “Chaga,” as it is called, came from outer space and destroys anything manmade that comes near it. Scientists are worried about what it might do to humans. They have not been able to kill it and it is advancing slowly but steadily each day, changing the landscape and covering villages and cities as it progresses. Not only are people’s lives being disrupted as they have to flee their homes and become refugees, but they’re also worried about what the Chaga is doing here in the first place. Is it benign? Is there an intelligence behind it? Is it a precursor to an alien invasion? Nobody knows.

    The mystery of the Chaga and its effect on humanity have inspired Gaby McAslin, a feisty red-headed green-eyed Irish woman, to become a journalist so she can go to Nairobi and try to figure out what the Chaga is doing as it descends from Mount Kilimanjaro. She goes to college, gets a degree in journalism (though it seems like a biology degree would have served her better), gets a job, and manages to get a series of promotions that allow her to go to Nairobi to report on the Chaga. While she’s there she’s immersed in Kenyan culture (including all its beauty and its corruption), manages to sneak into the Chaga area (which is guarded by soldiers), meets people who have been physically affected by the Chaga, exposes the activities of crooked U.N. troops, and gets sexually involved with a few men.

    The best part of Evolution’s Shore, which is the first book in a trilogy, is the Chaga itself, and what it represents. At the beginning of the book, it’s a complete mystery as the story focuses more on developing Gaby’s character. The Chaga area has a dark sinister feel like Area X in Jeff Vandermeer’s SOUTHERN REACH series. (It also reminded me of Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg and, believe it or not, George R.R. Martin’s WILD CARDS anthologies). As we learn additional information about the Chaga, it becomes even more intriguing. I’d love to talk about McDonald’s science fiction ideas here, because I think they’re really cool, but I don’t want to ruin the story for you, so I won’t. The slow reveal was my favorite part of the book. By the end, we don’t have all the answers, so I look forward to reading more in book 2, Kirinya.

    The most important theme is, as the title suggests, human evolution. Have we come to an evolutionary dead-end because we are able to use technology to control our environment? And, if so, can we use our advances in technology and science, especially in the areas of genetics, neuroscience, organic chemistry, space exploration and communication, to change ourselves? Is it possible that our society could evolve into one that has no poverty or market pressures? Could we evolve to live in space? What will a post-humanity look like? McDonald adds poignancy to these questions by setting his story in Africa, humanity’s birthplace.

    Besides the cool science fiction, Evolution’s Shore focuses on important earthly problems such as poverty, HIV, organized crime, government corruption, discrimination, and Eurocentrism. The book also has something to say about the importance of home (many of the characters, including Gaby herself, are displaced temporarily or permanently).
    Unfortunately, I wasn’t too fond of McDonald’s protagonist, Gaby McAslin. She’s self-absorbed and immature, her personality is abrasive, she takes some stupid risks, and she’s a bit slutty. (I do like her sense of social justice, though.) Much of the plot focuses on Gaby’s career and her relationships. I loved the sections where she was making discoveries about the Chaga, and I also enjoyed the Kenya setting (this was well done). I would have appreciated Evolution’s Shore even more if I had liked Gaby.

    I listened to Audible Studio’s version of Evolution’s Shore which is 17.5 hours long. Narrator Melanie McHugh (who, I’m assuming, is Irish) was perfect for this role. Her pacing was nice and her voices were believable except that she has the guy from the American Midwest pronounce the letter H as “haitch” instead of “aitch.” But that’s hardly worth mentioning. I liked the audio version so much that I’ll be reading Kirinya on audio, too. Today, in fact.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lady of Han-Gilen

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Judith Tarr
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Elian of Han-Gilen is the pride and scandal of her father's princedom. She has out-ridden, out-hunted, and out-shot every suitor. Now comes one whom she could bring herself to love: No lesser man than the throne prince of the Golden Empire. But Elian swore an oath as a child to a foster brother who is now a warrior king. Consort to an imperial heir or squire at arms to a conqueror: Elian must choose, and in choosing, decide the fate of two empires.

    Katherine says: "Great audio performance, boring story"
    "Great audio performance, boring story"
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.

    The Lady of Han-Gilen is the second novel in Judith Tarr’s AVARYAN saga. In the first book, The Hall of the Mountain King, we met Mirain, supposedly the son of the sun god Avaryan and a human princess. Mirain appeared in Ianon, where his grandfather rules, became his heir, and fought for control of the kingdom. The story wasn’t particularly original, but I enjoyed Tarr’s style and Jonathan Davis’s audio performance.

    This second installment, which can stand alone fairly well, takes place several years later and focuses on a new character: Princess Elian of Han-Gilen, foster sister of Mirain. Red-haired and independently-minded, Elian has left a trail of spurned suitors in her wake, but now she’s getting older and feeling the pressure to marry. When she finally meets a man who is good enough to match her in wits and martial skills, it’s time to finally make the choice she knew she’d someday have to make. Instead of marrying the perfect suitor, and probably being a happy wife, she decides to go find Mirain, the boy she promised herself to when she was a little girl. But he’s traveling around the continent, trying to peacefully unite neighboring kingdoms under the sun god’s rule. So, Elian disguises herself as a boy and sets out to find him. If she succeeds, will he be the same person he was when she knew him? Will he want to marry her?

    In The Lady of Han-Gilen we learn some of Mirain’s backstory, we find out what happened to his mother (the king of Ianon’s daughter), and we learn about the sun god’s enemy and why Mirain wants to unite the kingdoms. (This, of course, is viewed by the other kings as Mirain’s lust for power.) We also become reacquainted with Mirain’s squire and we learn that Elian has some powers of her own which might be useful to Mirain’s kingdom.

    The story started off well. Elian is easy to like, at first, when she’s knocking off the suitors who aren’t smart or strong enough for her. But once she finds Mirain and he doesn’t act like the rest of her suitors (apparently he has no idea how to woo a woman, which is surprising, because he knows how to charm everyone else), her confidence dwindles and this fiercely independent red-head devolves into a spineless ninny who can’t decide who she loves and what she should do. “I love Mirain! No, I hate Mirain! I love the other guy! Damn Mirain for not helping me make up my mind! Does he love me? Does the other guy love me? I love Mirain! I hate him!” This got boring fairly quickly, yet it went on for hours. Unfortunately, not even the immensely talented Jonathan Davis could make it interesting, though he tried valiantly, contributing lots of emotion and angst to Elian’s indecision. But, really, how much pleasure can you get out of one fickle girl’s waffling? There’s plenty of fist clenching, smoldering, and glaring that goes along with all this, but not enough to make me care. There’s more to the story than the romance, of course, but by the time important events started happening, I was annoyed and ready to be done. It was too little too late.

    I mentioned in my review of the The Hall of the Mountain King that Judith Tarr’s style elevated that novel above most standard epic fantasies. That style is present here, too, and it’s often lovely, filled with old-fashioned sentence structures, interesting imagery and vivid metaphors. But with all of the repetitive emotional outbursts, it mostly feels heavy and overblown.
    I’m so thankful to Audible Studios for bringing out so much middle-aged SFF in the last few years (this one’s from 1987) and recruiting excellent narrators like Jonathan Davis (one of my top five favorite narrators) to bring these stories to life. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much he could do with The Lady of Han-Gilen, despite his best effort. It’s just boring.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Fall of Princes

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Judith Tarr
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    Kidnapped, tortured, betrayed by his brothers whom he loved, the heir of the Golden Empire has lost everything but his life. His only hope is a chance encounter, a wandering priest from the Empire of the Sun. But the priest is more than he seems, and the prince is stronger than he knew; and war is coming. Two empires hang in the balance. Two emperors will fall, unless the prince and his unwelcome ally find a way to make peace. But peace comes at a price; and that price may be too high for either to pay.

    Katherine says: "So much drama!"
    "So much drama!"
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.

    In this third novel of Judith Tarr’s AVARYAN RISING trilogy (which probably could stand alone), it’s been 15 years since the events of the previous book, The Lady of Han-Gilen. Mirain and Elian now have a teenage son named Saraven who is heir to the throne of his country. One day Saraven saves the life of Hirel, the son of the king of a neighboring kingdom. At first they have nothing in common and even despise each other, but after enduring a series of accidental adventures which include being captured and escaping a few times, the boys eventually overcome their prejudices and become friends. When they make several unsuccessful attempts to stop their fathers from destroying each others’ kingdoms, they end up resorting to a bizarre solution that shocks everybody (including me). As young leaders, they make a sacrifice to save their people, but the path they choose turns out to be even more dangerous than they expected.

    A Fall of Princes has a couple of likeable protagonists, a unique plot, and a totally unexpected plot twist. Like The Hall of the Mountain King (the first book in the trilogy) and unlike The Lady of Han-Gilen (the second book), it also has several touching moments and produces some thought-provoking scenarios. I don’t want to give too many specifics, for fear of spoiling the plot twist, but one thing A Fall of Princes does well is to explore the nature of prejudice. According to psychologists, the fastest and most effective way to reduce prejudice is to spend time (preferably working together) with the people you have prejudiced attitudes about. In A Fall of Princes, Tarr forces her protagonists to work together and shows us how they come to understand and appreciate their differences.

    Unfortunately (and like the previous novel), the plot moves at a glacial pace. Characters are given intense focus as they think, talk, or otherwise interact with each other. There are many moments where, for example, one character touches another, that take minutes to describe. We see a lot of riding, bathing, eating, and braiding of hair. Also lots of slapping, glaring, scowling, shivering, and fist clenching. The characters spend hours waffling over their feelings for each other. Do they hate each other? Do they love each other? Are they enemies, brothers, or lovers? There’s so much talking and SO MUCH DRAMA! Repetitive drama. The same kind of repetitive drama as in the last book. Oh, I already said that.

    Again, Jonathan Davis gives a wonderful performance in Audible Studio’s version of A Fall of Princes, but he can’t save it from being another mostly boring angst-fest. A Fall of Princes is over 18 hours long on audio, but only about 5 of those hours are actually entertaining.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kirinya: Chaga, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Ian McDonald
    • Narrated By Melanie McHugh
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (1)

    The end of the universe happened at around 10 o’clock at night on 22 December, 2032. It’s just that humanity hasn’t realized it yet. And the Chaga, the strange flora deposited from the stars, is still busy terraforming the tropics into someone else’s terra. Gaby McAslan was once a hungry news reporter who compromised her relationship with UNECTA researcher Dr. Shepard for the sake of her story...but Gaby is no longer a journalist and she doesn’t want to be a full-time mother, even though her child, Serena, is her last link with Shepard.

    Katherine says: "I didn't get what I wanted out of it."
    "I didn't get what I wanted out of it."
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.

    After recently enjoying Ian McDonald’s Evolution’s Shore, the first book in his CHAGA series, I was eager to proceed with book two, Kirinya. I wanted to know where McDonald was going with the fascinating ideas he presented in that first novel. What is the goal of the Chaga, the alien evolution machine that has landed on Earth in the form of a ground-covering jungle that changes the landscape and its human inhabitants as it slowly progresses across equatorial regions? What is in the BDO (Big Dumb Object) that came from Saturn and hovers in Earth’s orbit? How will our world’s societies and cultures be affected by these otherworldly intrusions?

    As Kirinya begins we learn that Gaby, the famous feisty Irish journalist, has had Shepherd’s baby. Because their daughter Serena was affected by the Chaga, Gaby and Serena are sent to live in the Chaga and not allowed out. People who live in the Northern Hemisphere don’t want to be infected by those who’ve been changed by the Chaga because of the weird genetic mutations it causes. Deprived of her career and her connection to Shepherd (who’s in the BDO), Gaby sinks into obscurity and lives, for many years, as a whore and a drug addict who neglects her daughter.

    Eventually Oksana, the Siberian pilot, shows up and Serena leaves home and joins a terrorist group. After a tragedy strikes, Gaby is finally shaken up enough to decide to make some life changes. With some help from Faraway, a former lover, she gets back on her feet and becomes a spokesperson for a group that wants to put together a world peace summit to address the way the Northern countries are treating the Chaga-infested South. Meanwhile Serena is involved in a terrorist plot to wrest control of the BDO from the American military. Some of Serena’s action scenes are quite exciting and would make great movie scenes.

    We learn very little about the things I wanted to learn about in Kirinya. We get only a few chapters from Shepherd’s point of view in the BDO. These consist of his diary entries and they only hint at the big picture. Fortunately, Shepherd talks a lot more like a poet than a scientist. (I know dozens of scientists and not one of them talks like Shepherd does.) Shepherd tells us about some of the intriguing findings in the BDO, but these updates stop just when they get interesting and we never learn more.

    We also don’t see nearly as much of the Chaga-induced changes as I was hoping to see and most of what we do see is quite a bit different than I was expecting after reading Evolution’s Shore. It seemed like the Chaga was a benign influence that would provide people with their daily necessities and allow humans to live in peace and prosperity rather than conflict and competition. Or it might have been a vehicle for Africans to empower themselves, overthrow their oppressors, and transform their role in the global economy. But that is not what Gaby’s new world is like which, I suppose, may be Ian McDonald’s commentary on human nature and the way developed nations suppress undeveloped nations rather than an abandonment of his original ideas. The AIDS theme, which I found fascinating, seems to be completely dropped, though.

    There are a few glimpses of how the Chaga has changed life in the South, such as the bus driver who has no legs and whose nerves connect directly from his spine to his bus’s electrical system. Or the immensely huge woman who remembers everything she experiences by storing the memories as fat. Or the way everyone who lives in the Chaga can tune their brain to receive radio signals. There was an interesting speculation about the development of human consciousness and a cool idea about whale song and computer language, but most of the story focused on Gaby’s depravity and Serena’s rebellion rather than the effects of a world being overrun by an unknown alien presence that’s trying to remake the human race.

    I mentioned in my review for Evolution’s Shore that I didn’t like Gaby because she’s abrasive, immature, selfish and slutty. Well, she’s even worse in Kirinya. She’s more abrasive, immature, selfish and slutty than ever, and to top it all off with a cherry on top, she’s a really bad mom. There are far too many scenes which narrate the particular details of what Gaby calls her “filthy” sex life. We learn much more about what she does in bed (or wherever) than how she does her job (which is more important to the plot). Most of the characters seem obsessed with their (and everyone else’s) sex organs and bodily orifices and a lot of the dialogue is unnecessarily vulgar. I’m not a prude, but I was disappointed that this was more prominent in the plot than Gaby’s job or new information about the Chaga.

    I didn’t get what I wanted out of Kirinya, but I still admire Ian McDonald’s style and I look forward to reading more of his work. The audio version of Kirinya was produced by Audible Studios and is 17.5 hours long. Narrator Melanie McHugh is superb. Her voices for each of the characters are distinct and fitting.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Lock In (Narrated by Wil Wheaton)

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1354)
    Performance
    (1262)
    Story
    (1268)

    Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

    Alexis says: "Fun! Things you might want to know:"
    "An enthralling novel of big ideas"
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    Reviewed by Marion, Terry, and me at Fantasy Literature.

    Marion: In Lock In, Haden’s syndrome has created millions of people who are conscious and alert, but have no voluntary control of their bodies; they are, effectively, “locked in” to themselves. Government funded technology has developed ways to assist these, who are called “Hadens,” to function; both in a non-physical information-world called the Agora, and by using sophisticated Personal Transports or android bodies called “threeps.” (You might be able to figure out where that name comes from if you remember a certain gold-colored android from a popular trilogy of movies a few decades ago.) Chris Shane is a Haden, one of the two most famous Hadens in America, and a freshly-minted FBI agent. On the second day on the job, Chris and acerbic partner Leslie Vann take jurisdiction of a baffling case that involves a dead mystery man and an Integrator, a human who can let Hadens “ride” in his brain. This controversial murder comes on the eve of a week-long Haden protest against newly passed legislation that ends funding for services to Hadens. The Integrator, who is covered with the dead man’s blood, is the brother of a powerful and vocal Haden separatist, the coordinator of the protest demonstrations.

    Terry read Lock In at the same time I did, so we decided to discuss it together. Kat just finished the audio version, so she’ll make some comments about that.

    Terry: The police procedural style murder mystery plays out against a backdrop of dramatic political, social and technological changes. As in other books by John Scalzi, these rapid changes have brought humanity to a crossroads. The changes are sufficiently complex, however, that Scalzi is frequently pushed into dumping information by the bucketload on his readers. Most of the time, this works. The initial dump, which purports to be an article on a high school cheating website, reads well, just as do the conversations between experts we would expect FBI agents to utilize, or with witnesses. Sometimes the information is shoehorned in, as in an initial discussion between Chris and a Navajo police officer. I mostly appreciated the information, even when it was a bit awkward. As a mystery reader, though, I was alert to some of the stranger turns in the conversation, thinking that the odder information would serve as clues.

    Kat: Infodumps usually bother me, and there were plenty of them in Lock In, but I actually welcomed them here. That’s probably because neuroscience and psychology are my areas of interest, so the parts of the book that I was most fascinated by were the parts explained in the infodumps. What happened in the brain to make these people lock in? How did scientists and engineers solve the problem? And, most importantly to me, is that even possible? (No, and probably never will be.) How did society react to locked in people walking around in robotic, or other people’s, bodies? The mystery was of less interest to me, except that it served to highlight the problems that would occur in a society where some of its participants are not physically in the bodies they’re using.

    Marion: The info-dumps that bothered me came more, I think, from the roommate character, just because I thought the whole arrival of the roommates was a bit too convenient. That was my main plot-quibble with the whole book. On the other hand, watching Chris go house hunting gave me an idea of what many Hadens would be facing under the new laws. I’m a mystery reader too, and to me, this was a “how-dun-it” rather than a “who-dun-it.” I liked how Scalzi played fair with the clues, something even veteran mystery writers don’t always do. And the “how was it done?” question in this book was fascinating.

    Terry: I liked that too, and it’s difficult to do with a science fiction mystery. There’s always the temptation to pull out a new gizmo and claim it fixes everything. Scalzi consistently avoids that temptation. The twists and turns of this particular law enforcement investigation are well-detailed, with no instances of Chris missing an issue because Leslie failed to point it out.

    Marion: I liked the characters, too. Terry, you’re a more thorough reader than I am, and you noticed something important about one crucial character that leaves room for a lot of speculation. My favorite character was Leslie Vann, Agent Shane’s partner. I must just like humorously bitter cop characters! Chris Shane’s first-person narrative voice reads as youthful and sincere, funny without being overly snarky. Chris is a fully-realized character.

    Kat: I thought that a few of the characters, including Chris and Leslie, sounded a little too much like the Scalzi persona, as many of his characters tend to do. They have that bantering, fast-paced, smart-and-snarky style that I associate with Scalzi online. If I didn’t know who wrote this book, I’d have guessed Scalzi right off. I listened to Wil Wheaton’s narration which was spot-on perfect but which, I’m sure, contributed to this feeling and to the fact that I didn’t notice what Terry did, either. By the way, there is another version of Lock In which is read by Amber Benson.

    Terry: I thought Chris’s father, a wealthy former basketball player who is considering a run for the Senate from his home state of Virginia, is also nicely drawn. Other characters are little more than ciphers — we learn next to nothing about Chris’s mother, for instance, and not too much about the villains except that they’re people with no ethics or morals and a lot of greed.

    Marion: And Dad’s a real estate mogul, don’t forget that.

    Kat: Chris’s father was one of my favorite characters, too. I like that Scalzi didn’t portray him as I expected him to. (Though I think Scalzi’s playing with our expectations is getting a little gimmicky.)

    Marion: I thought there was a bit of a gimmick with Chris’s father, too, but then I also think that we have a first-person narrator who’s a Haden, and this could be another example of how differently the Hadens view the world (certain things just don’t matter to them). And if you want an even more extreme example of that, there’s Cassandra.

    Terry: Cassandra Bell! Even though we see very little of her, she intrigued me the most. She contracted Haden’s Syndrome in the womb, and has never known life as most humans do; in fact she spends most of her time in the non-physical world called the Agora. One gets the impression that Bell believes Hadens should not be cured, but should be treated as their own subculture, similar to the controversy in the Deaf community in our own world.

    Kat: It made me think of the Deaf community, too, Terry. And, in fact, Scalzi makes that analogy in the prequel, Unlocked. I loved the Agora. I wish I could visit it.
    Marion: Overall, Scalzi did an awesome job of “scaling” his Hadens, so we see a range on a continuum; some who got the syndrome as adults and are more closely identified to their physical bodies, and those like Cassandra. I want to say that it feels like Scalzi is creating a “post-appearance” culture among the Haden, where status and role will depend upon your Agora avatar and the quality of your “threep.”

    Terry: Of rather more interest than plot or character to all of us, though, was Scalzi’s implicit — and sometimes explicit — commentary on various social and political issues, the sorts of “what if?” questions that really drive science fiction. Is a faction of humanity going to choose a life where all of the familiar markers, clothing, age, skin and hair color, height or weight don’t matter? How big will the divide be between the Hadens and the old-style humans?
    People who make snap assumptions in this book will face some surprises, making this book a nice comment on political correctness.

    But tolerance for the “other” has its most biting effect when considering the rights of the disabled, which seems to be Scalzi’s principal point. I found it rather unbelievable that threeps are so readily accepted in society as fully human, despite Scalzi’s backstory in the novella Unlocked. Chris never seems to run into anyone who wants to treat a threep as a machine instead of accepting that it’s a person. Have we really come that far, in a world that contains large numbers who still don’t even think of women or blacks as people worthy of being treated with respect? It would be nice to think so. Perhaps Scalzi had a few doubts on this score himself, given his inclusion of an episode with a wheelchair.

    Marion: I don’t agree that there is complete acceptance. Chris seems to run into people who are willing to work with threeps, but he is mostly in large bureaucracies and mostly law enforcement. One of the Metro cops makes an ignorant remark about “clanks” versus “threeps,” and a Haden is mugged by a trio of Haden-haters. I agree with you that most of the time it seems remarkably idealistic. Part of the problem, I think, is that Scalzi thoroughly and carefully insulated Chris from any direct negativity growing up, by liberal applications of money and fame. Maybe that’s a weakness in the book.

    Kat: Yes, there are some Haden-haters in the story, so society hasn’t completely accepted them, but remember that it’s been 25 years since the disorder started and almost everyone has a friend or family member affected. Most people would be very pleased about technology that lets their loved ones participate in the world, even if it does cause some Uncanny Valley discomfort.

    Marion: I loved the wheelchair scene! When Chris shifts consciousness into a threep in Los Angeles, it is broken, because it belonged to a criminal and got damaged in a shoot-out. The threep can’t walk, so the L.A. field agent offers Chris a wheelchair for the damaged threep. I thought it said a lot about the gaps in acceptance of Hadens, without being preachy. It was in the Los Angeles FBI Field Office, so that seemed totally realistic to me. Plus, it was funny!

    I’m impressed with how many big societal changes he worked into this story; technology, social policy and just social changes, in a framework of a police procedural. It’s a solid 4.5 book for me. I think I read the book too quickly on the first go-round to catch all the subtleties, but I’m hoping (and betting) that there will be more books and stories in this world.

    Terry: I agree, except that the house-hunting plot quibble didn’t bother me. Someone just starting a new job is likely to be house hunting! I found the book enthralling throughout. I’d rate it a 5.

    Marion: I have no trouble with a 5.

    Kat: Lock In was probably the most thought-provoking AND entertaining book I’ve read this year. (I’ve read many thought-provoking books and many entertaining books, but most didn’t manage to be both.) As I mentioned, I listened to the audio version which was produced by Audible Studios. I chose Wil Wheaton’s narration, but readers may also choose to listen to Amber Benson’s narration. Both are excellent (I listened to a sample of Benson) because both Wheaton and Benson “get” Scalzi’s characters. As a bonus, the audio version includes the prequel novella Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome which is narrated by a full cast of well-known and excellent narrators.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tendeleo’s Story: Chaga, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Ian McDonald
    • Narrated By Melanie McHugh
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    From the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, an alien force begins to spread, turning the land into an unrecognizable alien landscape. Tendeléo is nine years old when this first package comes down, and before she reaches adulthood the Chaga will change her life forever.

    Katherine says: "A companion to the CHAGA novels"
    "A companion to the CHAGA novels"
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    Originally published at Fantasy Literature.

    Tendeleo’s Story is a short companion novel to Ian McDonald’s CHAGA series which is about an alien tropical plant-like life form that drops from space and lands in several equatorial regions of Earth. The first CHAGA novel, Evolution’s Shore, follows Irish reporter Gaby McAslin as she documents the biological, societal, and political changes that occur in Kenya as the Chaga descends from Mount Kilimanjaro and overruns Nairobi. In Kirinya, the second book, Gaby joins the people who have decided to (or been forced to) live in the Chaga rather than fleeing northward to safety. Meanwhile, a subplot follows Dr. Shepherd, one of Gaby’s lovers, who is studying and trying to figure out the purpose, mechanisms, and creator of the Chaga.

    Tendeleo’s Story does not further the plot or give us more insight into the Chaga. It is simply the story of one girl’s experience growing up in Nairobi when the Chaga came. Tendeleo is a pastor’s daughter. When the Chaga appears near her village, she knows that they’ll eventually have to evacuate. Her father plans to stay till the end, to minister to his village, but as more and more of his congregation leaves, the family struggles to make ends meet. Tendeleo does what she can to help her family, even when it means getting involved with gangs, corrupt officials, and the American Embassy. Eventually Tendeleo moves to England and falls in love, but she discovers that she’s been touched by the Chaga.

    In contrast to Gaby, the “heroine” of Evolution’s Shore and Kirinya, Tendeleo is a likeable protagonist with a story that’s compelling all the way through. (It helps that it’s short.) For this reason, I actually liked Tendeleo’s Story better than Kirinya. While I was disappointed that I didn’t get to learn more about the Chaga, I realize that it was never Ian McDonald’s intention to explain it to us. He leaves us with a wonderful sense of cosmic conjecture which, to my speculative fiction-loving self, is perfectly fine but is, to my scientist self, slightly disappointing. If McDonald does have answers to Dr Shepherd’s questions, I hope he’ll reveal them in another CHAGA novel someday. But if he doesn’t, I’m okay with that.

    You could read Tendeleo’s Story directly after Evolution’s Shore, if you like. Chronologically speaking, that’s where it belongs. Once again, I listened to the amazingly wonderful Melanie McHugh narrate Audible Studio’s version of Tendeleo’s Story. It’s 3.5 hours long.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Out on Blue Six

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Ian McDonald
    • Narrated By Jeff Harding
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    In a totalitarian future controlled by the Compassionate Society, the Ministry of Pain, and the Love Police, cartoonist Courtney Hall finds herself a fugitive. Her only escape is to an underground society - a society of violence and decadence Courtney must traverse to realize her dreams.

    Katherine says: "Really bizarre!"
    "Really bizarre!"
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

    Courtney Hall is a cartoonist because that’s the job she’s been assigned by the tyrannical government agencies that dictate all of the details of everyone’s life — where they live, who their friends are, who they marry, what job they do. The goal of the government, which consists of such agencies as the Ministry of Pain, the Compassionate Society, and the Love Police, is to analyze every citizen’s genes and personality so that they can be assigned to the lifestyle that will minimize their pain and maximize their happiness, thus creating a populace that is obedient and compliant. The government assures that its dictates are adhered to by monitoring all activity and censoring criticism.

    Most people seem content in the Compassionate Society because they like being pain-free, doing a job that they love (even if they’re not good at it) and being married to people who they’re compatible with (even if they don’t love them). But some people, including Courtney Hall, think there must be something more to life than avoiding pain and conflict. If she voices her opinions, or opposes the government’s decisions for her, she’ll be called in for reprogramming and have her mind wiped. When Courtney creates a satirical comic and finds herself on the run, she discovers a group of dissidents living under the city and joins their fight for freedom.

    So far Out on Blue Six sounds like a typical dystopian novel. You’re probably expecting something like Nineteen Eighty-Four or Fahrenheit 451 but, to stick with the number-in-the-title theme, Out on Blue Six has more in common with Slaughterhouse-Five than either of those dystopias. It’s bizarre. Really bizarre. In fact, it feels much more like something Philip K. Dick would have written, except that Ian McDonald is a far better stylist.

    The story is strange all the way through, but the weirdest part is when Courtney spends time with the underground rebels. Their “expedition to the end of the world” is surreal and filled with all sorts of oddities such as a six-breasted goddess, a man with no memories, the King of Nebraska, a group of performance artists who call themselves the Raging Apostles, a race of cyborg raccoons, and a computer program that might be God. Through her travels and interactions, Courtney begins to realize what is wrong with her “compassionate” society and how the experience of pain underlies morality and creativity.

    Out on Blue Six is wildly creative, beautifully written, often funny, has a clear message, and ends on a hopeful note. Yet it feels disjointed, frenetic, and over-stimulating, like an acid trip (or, at least, what I think an acid trip must feel like). Thus, while I admired the novel and found it fascinating, I didn’t always enjoy it. There were no characters that I cared about and I never felt grounded in McDonald’s world because there was something new and bizarre around every corner. I love weird, but this was weird overload. Still, I’m glad I read Out on Blue Six and some of its language and images will stick with me forever.

    I listened to the audio version produced by Audible Studios and read by Jeff Harding. I suspect that narrating this book was extremely difficult. The narrative voice is intrusive, frenzied, chaotic, repetitive, and full of neologisms and sound effects. There are plays, sportscasts, committee meetings, official letters from the government, and talking raccoons. Jeff Harding managed it all brilliantly. It is an impressive performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Empire Dreams

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Ian McDonald
    • Narrated By William Gaminara
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Published simultaneously as Desolation Road, the Empire Dreams collection was intended to exploit the author's nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1985. It collects the following stories: "Vivaldi Visits to Remarkable Cities"; "Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh"; "Scenes from a Shadow play Radio Marrakech"; "King of Morning, Queen of Day"; "The Island of the Dead"; "Empire Dreams (Ground Control to Major Tom)"; "Christian The Catharine Wheel (Our Lady of Tharsis)".

    Katherine says: "An excellent sampler of McDonald's work"
    "An excellent sampler of McDonald's work"
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    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

    Over the past few months I’ve read seven novels by Ian McDonald and have appreciated his thoughtful and beautifully written stories. I admired all of them, even those that I didn’t particularly like. McDonald’s stories are unique, many have exotic settings you can get immersed in, and most have fascinating science fiction ideas while also portraying poignant human struggles.

    Empire Dreams (1988) is a sampler of ten of McDonald’s short stories and novelettes that offer fans and new readers a few glimpses of the author’s brilliance and versatility. The first five were originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine and the rest are original to this volume:

    “Empire Dreams (Ground Control to Major Tom)” — (Originally printed in Asimov’s, December 1985) This novelette is about a new medical technology that uses a virtual reality game to let oncology patients fight their cancer. A boy who just lost his father is the first patient to try the new treatment. The world watches his mother sit by his hospital bed while, internally, the boy and his dead father try to defeat the cancer in Star Wars fashion. This is a touching story about losing parents.

    “Scenes from a Shadowplay” — (Asimov’s, July 1985) In this clever revenge story, a famous Venetian composer orchestrates the murder of a rival using automatons built by his disinherited clone-brothers. I loved the science fiction elements in this story and wish McDonald would write more in this world.

    “Christian” — (Asimov’s, October 1984) This strange novelette is about a boy who befriends a man named Christian who flies kites on the beach and tells stories. The kites, and Christian himself, are not what they seem. In one of the stories Christian tells, we see the pain-free society that McDonald will write about later in his novel Out on Blue Six.

    “King of Morning, Queen of Day” — (Asimov’s, May 1988) I loved this novelette about an upper-class Irish family in the early 20th century. The father, Dr. Desmond, is scorned by his scientific colleagues when he discovers a comet that he insists is actually an alien spaceship. As he measures its progress toward Earth and designs an apparatus for communicating with the aliens, he worries about his daughter Emily who imagines that the woods around their house are inhabited by faeries and she has become their queen. This story is drenched in irony as the characters use their own beliefs and biases to try to explain the other characters’ odd behavior. It also shows McDonald’s breadth of style, as it’s written in a completely different manner than most of his other work. This novelette is related to McDonald’s novel King of Morning, Queen of Day.

    “The Catharine Wheel (Our Lady of Tharsis)” — (Asimov’s, January 1984) This novelette is related to the novel Ares express in which a terraformed Mars is traversed by nuclear-powered trains. The story has two viewpoints. The first is a young boy who is accompanying his engineer grandfather on the last voyage of a train that was named after Saint Catherine, an “angel” of Mars who once saved the train from a disaster. The second viewpoint is the young disillusioned Saint Catherine while she was still on Earth and trying to figure out how to abandon the flesh to achieve true spirituality. As with so many of his stories, this one is clearly inspired by the religious wars and terrorism of McDonald’s native Belfast.

    “Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh” — When the King of Pain asks Vincent Van Gogh to paint his portrait, Van Gogh thinks he must be going mad. As he sits for the portrait, the King of Pain tells Van Gogh stories about a pain-free society and even gifts him with some of his magic. McDonald cleverly uses this premise to explain some of Van Gogh’s personality, history, and art. This charming novelette, which is closely related to the aforementioned novel Out on Blue Six, deals with the problems and purpose of pain. It was included in two “Year’s Best” anthologies edited by Datlow and Windling.

    “The Island of the Dead” — In this bittersweet short story, a man goes to visit the Island of the Dead on Halloween, the one night each year that the dead may rise and return to their mortal bodies. He is looking for his dead wife, but finds something else. This lovely science fiction story is about moving on after death.

    “Radio Marrakech” — This is another story about death — specifically about burning out versus fading away. In Marrakech, a draft-dodging beach bum meets an improv artist who seems like she’s full of life, but it turns out that there’s a catch to her vitality. McDonald does a great job with the neuroscience here and it’s an interesting consideration about quantity vs. quality of life.

    “Visits to Remarkable Cities” — Three travelers share tales about remarkable cities they’ve been to. Each tale has something to say about human nature and taken together they say something even more profound.

    “Vivaldi” — This novelette is about an astrophysicist involved in a space voyage to investigate a black hole. As he considers the vastness of space and what a collapsed star tells us about the death of the universe, he relates his findings to events going on in his life. This touching story, which juxtaposes the immensity of the universe with our tiny personal experiences, nearly brought me to tears.

    Every single one of these stories is weighty and moving. There are several repeating themes here — mortality, loss of loved ones, vibrancy of spirit, the purpose of pain — which make me wonder what McDonald was going through when he wrote these stories in the mid 1980s. Certainly “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland were an inspiration.

    But despite their similarity of theme, each of the tales has a different setting, tone, and voice and together they are a good representation of the depth and breadth of Ian McDonald’s work. This is a great place to start for readers who’d like to sample what McDonald has to offer and I’d consider it a must-read for established fans.

    I listened to Audible Studio’s version of Empire of Dreams. It’s 8.5 hours long and narrated by English actor William Gaminara. I was impressed by Gaminara’s performance. He has a beautiful voice and he brilliantly handled the diversity of tone and cast in this collection. I’m certain that his reading added to my enjoyment of these stories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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