Category Archives: Science Fiction

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Samuel R. Delany is of course one of the giants of science-fiction and I am once again embarrassed to admit that before this I have never read any of his works. I thought it was high time I rectified this hole in my knowledge base with this pick from Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great. The experience however left me torn. On the other hand, I have absolutely no doubt that Delany’s in an incredible writer and this is an amazing novel. On the other hand, what he does here is so far above my reading level that I can only grasp the merest fraction of what he’s going for and so I found it impossible to truly enjoy this book.

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Merchanter’s Luck

This is a novel originally published in 1982 so it’s another pick from Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great. C.J. Cherryh is a well known name in science-fiction but I don’t believe I’ve ever read any book of hers before this. This novel is part of her Alliance-Union universe but I think it was a mistake to venture into it with this title. There’s very little exposition of the world in here and I believe I would have been better off starting with her best known novel Downbelow Station.

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The Fifth Season

Once again, I had no idea that this was another first book of a trilogy instead of a standalone. In retrospect I guess the titles were an obvious clue. The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for 2016 and the second book The Obelisk Gate won the same award for 2017. Then again, author N.K. Jemisin is hardly a stranger to the awards circuit. This however is the first book I’ve read by her as I’ve been out of the loop for a while.

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China Mountain Zhang

Since this is an older novel, it was obviously another pick out of Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great. This was Maureen F. McHugh’s debut novel and it was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula though it didn’t win either. As its title suggests, China and Chinese culture takes center stage in this novel. It’s far from being the first Western science-fiction work to do so, notably David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo series was started in 1989. Still this book is more highly regarded and is very enjoyable while I found the Chung Kuo series to be an impressively wordy mess back when I tried it ages ago.

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Ninefox Gambit

Broken Forum has a thread in which the posters regularly list the works that are nominated every year for the Hugo and Nebula awards. Despite being nominally a science-fiction fan, it has been years since I’ve kept myself up to date with these picks so I thought I’d mix up my reading of older novels with newer releases. This one has the added benefit of not being too difficult to read as it’s described as being military science-fiction. In fact, one poster even likened it to the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

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Random Acts of Senseless Violence

This title is up on my reading list from What Makes This Book So Great though it’s arguable whether it even counts as science-fiction. I mentioned in the earlier post about how Jo Walton thought it odd that this book failed to achieve much success when it was first released yet immediately upon reading it, one quickly realizes that it is a work that deserves to be taken seriously.

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The Arrows of Time

Nearly two years after first starting the series, we now come to the final book of the trilogy by Greg Egan. This brings to an end the journey of the Peerless and its inhabitants across many generations as they look forward to reuniting with the homeworld. I believe that this volume has the least mathematics and physics of the three but makes up for it with a conception of free will that is philosophically very mind-bending.

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