A Big Book of Ballard

I posted a review of J.G. Ballard’s short story “Chronopolis” yesterday, so I thought I would show some photos of the HUGE book I read it in. The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard (2010) was a present from my brother a few years back. I’ve only dipped into it occasionally, so I want to make an effort to read more of the stories this year. It’s also a good chance to read more Ballard–a writer whose work is reckoned to be essential reading for any fan of the science fiction genre.

This book contains 98 short stories written between 1956 and 1996. That’s one thousand one hundred and ninety-six pages! I think this will take me a few years to complete, as I’ve been advised not to read too much Ballard in quick succession. I can understand why. His writing is well-known for being “thought-provoking and unsettling,” his stories “eerie and melancholy.”

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Europe at Dawn (2018) by Dave Hutchinson

‘Pete looked around him at the river, the wooded banks. He realised he didn’t know this stretch of water at all. […] “GPS has gone down,” he said.
Hannelore just grinned and shook her head. “Nah, it’s okay, Captain,” she said. “I know the way. I’ll show you.”‘

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Synopsis

In Tallinn, Alice – a junior Scottish diplomat – is drawn into an incomprehensible plot spanning decades. In the Aegean, young refugee Benno makes a desperate break for freedom and finds himself in a strange new life.

On the canals of England, a fleet of narrow boats is gathering. Rudi, now a seasoned Coureur, finds himself drawn away from the kitchen one last time as he sets out with his ally Rupert in pursuit of a dead man.


My Thoughts

This book is the fourth and–probably–final entry in Dave Hutchinson’s “Fractured Europe” series. It’s difficult to write a summary of the novel because there is so much going on in here. As this book is the fourth in a series, it features characters and plot threads from each of the previous books as well as some new characters. Therefore, if you are new to this series, do not start here. Continue reading

Innumerable Glimmering Lights (2016) by Rich Larson

“I am not afraid for my life” […] The project was more important than survival. More important than anything.

After checking his page on the isfdb, I was surprised to see just how many stories Rich Larson has had published. There are over 90 short stories listed from 2011, two books of fiction, as well as two collections. That is very impressive. I am familiar with the author’s name and have read a few of his short stories before. I remember enjoying both “You Make Pattaya” and “An Evening with Severyn Grimes”, which were collected in two of Jonathan Strahan’s yearly “Best Science Fiction & Fantasy” anthologies. I read this story in Clockwork Phoenix 5.

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January is “Vintage Science Fiction Month”

This is a yearly reading event held by the Little Red Reviewer, which she started in 2012. She also stresses this is “Not-a-Challenge!” Basically, it’s a chance to read some of the many older science fiction works that are out there. Then write or comment about them on the web. It’s also a great chance to interact with fellow bloggers and science fiction and fantasy readers.

Here’s the Little Red Reviewer:

“My definition of Vintage is anything before 1979, and my definition of Scifi is pretty loose: scifi, sci-fantasy, sword and sorcery, robots, magical swords, near future, far future, pulp scifi adventure, satire, War of the Worlds, Jules Verne, Mary Shelley. . .”

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Europe in Winter (2016) by Dave Hutchinson

Imagine a train line which grew out of a pocket universe and spread across a fractured Europe. Now imagine this “Line” being its own state with borders and so on. Are you still with me?

‘The Line had been decades in the building. It had originally aspired to being a straight line drawn across Europe and Asia, […] Geography and simple pragmatism meant that this was never achievable,’

 

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Background

The third book in Dave Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe series, Europe in Winter continues the adventures of Rudi, ‘the former chef-turned-spy.’ It begins with a deadly terrorist attack on a train and ends with a staggering “sleight of hand” at a major international airport. In between, the author takes us on a snaking journey around Eastern Europe as we meet a motley cast of characters who could be working for any side. Confused yet? You will be! Continue reading

Breathmoss and Other Exhalations (2004) by Ian R. MacLeod

In his introduction to Breathmoss and Other Exhalations, Ian R. MacLeod offers his definition of the stories he desires to tell:

“stories that make us think, stories which surprise us not because they’re showing us something new, but because they’re revealing through a lie’s tilted mirror something we suddenly realize with that lovely rush of recognition we’ve known all along.”

 

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Cover Artwork by Bob Eggleton

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Retrospective for Year 3: Nov. 2017 ~ Oct. 2018

Well, another year has passed, and my little blog is still chugging away, just about! What are you reading at the moment?

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I’m slowly savoring the wonderful Good Omens as part of Tor’s reread. It’s very difficult to stop reading when I reach the weekly “pause-point”. But I am really enjoying taking my time over it.

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Holt House (1972) by L.G. Vey

‘When you watch someone, you know them. You know them better than themselves.’

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My Thoughts

Is memory the ultimate unreliable narrator? In L.G. Vey’s creepy novella Holt House, memory plays an integral part in the story. It is a childhood memory that has led Raymond to camp out in the Holtwood as he searches for the truth. Just what exactly did old Mr. Latch show Raymond all those years ago? It was something horrible in the wardrobe of the spare room, something that terrified Raymond as a young boy. Continue reading

Tor.com’s ‘Good Omens’ Reread

“People couldn’t become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.”

What’s that? You haven’t read Good Omens?!?.. Ah, you’re joking, right?..

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The 1991 Corgi edition with cover art by Graham Ward.

 

Tor.com is starting a Good Omens reread. Here’s the link to the post by Meghan Ball.

‘The reread will be split up into ten parts, with the final part being a wrap-up of the entire novel. In each installment, we’ll go over a summary of the story thus far, my commentary on what’s going on, and a special trip to what I like to call “Pun Corner.” It’s going to be an awesome time and I can not wait to discuss this bonkers book with all of you!’ – Meghan Ball

 

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The 2007 Harper edition with cover art by Haydn Cornner.

 

The first I heard of this now famous book was in the letter column of the original Sandman comic book by Neil Gaiman. This is going back a long time. I can’t remember which issue it was. I could go and look but that would feel too much like hard work as my collection is currently housed in a box in a cupboard in an upstairs room in a house in Japan:) Well, at least it was the last time I checked. Continue reading

The Fog Horn (1951) by Ray Bradbury

‘I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns.’

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Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn was first published in 1951 in The Saturday Evening Post. I came across it in his 1953 short story collection The Golden Apples of the Sun, which is a HUGE recommendation if you haven’t yet read it. This is the first of my Hallowe’en Reads 2018.

The Fog Horn is a tale of two men who work at a secluded lighthouse and what they witness there on a cold November night. It contains themes of loneliness, isolation, companionship, the power of nature, as well as how little we know about the vast depths of the ocean. Continue reading