Category Archives: Books

The Last Wish

After finishing The Witcher 3 and getting a better idea of the story of Geralt and Yennefer, I thought I’d give the book series the games were based on a go. I remember looking into the series back when the first game was released but I recall that the English versions weren’t ready yet. The whole thing consists of two collections of short stories and a series of five novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The Last Wish is chronologically the earliest of the various works and indeed the English edition was only published in 2007, more or less at the same time as the first game.

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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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Janissaries

So I promised after reading What Makes This Book So Great that I would slowly work my way through some of the picks in it that I found most interesting. I’ve read some of Jerry Pournelle’s work before, notably his collaborations with the better known Larry Niven, but this was quite recent and I somehow I missed out on reading any of his stuff back when I was first discovering the genre. I picked this one because it has a premise that turns up often in crack fiction or fan-fiction and shows what can be done in the hands of a professional writer.

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