Science Fiction archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: Science Fiction


7th July, 2008
Speed reviews: part I
— Love @ 08:43 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Book Blowout, C, Classics, D, English, GLBT interest, Historical, History, Lifestyle, Mystery, Religion, Romance, Science Fiction, Sex, sexuality & gender, Speed reviews, Swedish, To Be Read, Young Adult

Since I’m sick* and way behind on reviews, I’ve realised the only way to catch up is to make them speed reviews and post a whole batch at once.

The Age of Napoleon; Alistair Horne, eng, 235 British
Interesting, but a little choppily written, and also the author assumes you know certain things and never explains them, while others he explains over and over again.
C

Cold Comfort Farm; Stella Gibbons, eng, 253 British
Funny, though I accidentally didn’t read the preface, so I wasn’t 100 % how much of it was intentional (all of it, as it turns out, and as I suspected). Flora Poste is kind of annoying, but all right all the same.
For the TBR reading challenge and as part of the BBC Big Read.
B

Rebecca; Daphne du Maurier, eng, 410 British
A re-read, not as good as I remembered it, but still lovely. Maxim is both wonderful and creepy.
C

Med uppenbar känsla för stil; Stephan Mendel-Enk, swe, 128 Swedish
Interestingly written about men and what’s considered masculine. References Morrissey at some points, mostly in connection with a man who went berserk and killed people. Lovely… not!
C

Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East; Brian Whitaker, swe, 230 British
Interesting, scary and occasionally a little bit hopeful.
C

Ingen behöver veta; Christina Wahldén, swe, 139 Swedish
About male rape and how it does exist, but people find it hard to believe. Kind of a non-ending, but then I suppose that’s sadly the case in most instances of actual male rape also.
C

Ingen grekisk gud, precis; Katarian Kieri, swe, 217 Swedish
Kind of brilliant tale of a young girl who falls for a teacher. Kind of brilliant mostly because the main character is into Morrissey, but for other reasons also. I was a bit worried where it was going to end, but it’s kind of perfect, really.
B

Sandman: The Kindly Ones; Neil Gaiman et al., eng, 335 British
I wouldn’t say Sandman is Gaiman at his best, but I do like the stories and so also in this volume. Not my favourite, though.
For the TBR reading challenge.
C

Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island; Mike Tucker, eng, 255 British
Scary monsters and kiddies with nightmares. I liked it, but not as much as other DW books.
C

Doctor Who: The Art of Destruction; Stephen Cole, eng, 256 British
Farming in Africa, golden statues and creepy aliens. Good, but not great. Doctor’s always nice, though.
C

Doctor Who: The Price of Paradise; Colin Brake, eng, 255 British
References Franz Ferdinand and other pop culture a time or two. Not the best of the DW books I’ve read—I don’t much care for Colin Brake’s style of writing it, though I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.
C

Tro, hopp och burnout; Johan Unenge, swe, 228 Swedish
YA story about a guy who’s really into cars and death metal, who ends up going on a confirmation camp. It’s a decent story, and I was happy to see it didn’t end up quite where I expected it would, but the writing style is very, very choppy and not at all my cup of tea.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
C

Vadå feminist; Lisa Gålmark, swe, 188 Swedish
Basic guide to feminism. I wasn’t too keen on the writing and didn’t like the book all that much. Mostly it made me a little annoyed with the author, though it did contain sections worth thinking about. It bothers me that there is no question mark in the title.
For the A-Z reading challenge.
D

Homofamiljer; Sara Stenholm & Cecilia Strömberg, swe, 312 Swedish
About rainbow families and different ways to get one. Interesting, especially the personal stories, but not fab.
C

*Just a cold, but a bad one. I hate colds. And I’ve run out of Kleenex, which means my nose is very, very sore from regular paper towels. Woe.


5th July, 2008
Torchwood: Something in the Water; Trevor Baxendale
— Love @ 15:20 Comments (0)
Filed under: Book Blowout, C, English, GLBT interest, Science Fiction

Torchwood: Something in the Water; Trevor Baxendale Torchwood: Something in the Water
by Trevor Baxendale
British

English
255 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 978-1-846-07437-0

First line: The Late Bob Strong.

Back cover blurb:
Dr Bob Strong’s GP surgery has been treating a lot of coughs and colds recently, far more than is normal for the time of year. Bob thinks there’s something up but he can’t think what. He seems to have caught it himself, whatever it is—he’s starting to cough badly and there are flecks of blood in his hanky.

Saskia Harden has been found on a number of occasions submerged in ponds or canals but alive and seemingly none the worse for wear. Saskia is not on any files, except in the medical records at Dr Strong’s GP practice.
But Torchwood’s priorities lie elsewhere: investigating ghostly apparitions in South Wales, they have found a dead body. It’s old and in an advanced state of decay. And it is still able to talk.

And what it is saying is ‘Water hag’…

Thoughts: This isn’t the first of the Torchwood books, but it is the first one I’ve read. I liked it well enough, even if I was freaking out a bit due to the fact that I’ve caught a cold (stupid crowded plane cabins) and was consequently hacking up my lungs as I read it. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m reading a book wherein the majority of the characters are suffering from a strange affliction which starts with a tickle in the throat and leads to massive coughing fits, complete with blood and great quantities of green phlegm being expelled, I don’t particularly want to be suffering from a bad cough myself. Not that there are times I would want to be suffering from a bad cough, but y’know, there are degrees of “do not want.”

Apart from the cough coincidence, it was pretty all right. Darker in tone than the Doctor Who books (just like the series is darker and more ‘grown-up’ than DW), but I think I actually prefer the Who books. At least some of them, and possibly not to all of the Torchwood books (time will tell).

My one biggest complaint is that there was much too little of Ianto in this. Ianto Jones is effin’ brilliant, so he deserves more page time than he got here, but what little he did get was pretty snarky, which was nice. I love snarky!Ianto. I also love Jack/Ianto, which there wasn’t much of in this particular book. I am told that there’s more of it in some of the others in the series, though, so I’m not giving up on that yet.

I’m giving this a C rating. Had it had more Jack/Ianto, or just more Ianto, I would have given it a higher rating, most likely, but as it is, a C is just the right one.


22nd June, 2008
A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day
— Love @ 16:30 Comments (2)
Filed under: A, English, GLBT interest, Here Be Dragons, Romance, Science Fiction

A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day A Strong and Sudden Thaw
by RW Day
American

For the Here Be Dragons reading challenge.

English
333 pages
Iris Print
ISBN: 978-0-9787531-1-5

First line: There’s an old scenic view about halfway up the mountain, alongside where the old highway runs.

Back cover blurb:
Dragons in Virginia?

Nearly a hundred years after the Ice changed the face of our world, the people of Moline work to reclaim the frozen land, both from the cold and from the dragons that now live in the hills outside of town—dragons that the government won’t believe exist.

David Anderson knows very little of the world outside of his family’s farm, until Callan, an assistant healer from the south, arrives in Moline and begins to teach him of a world he never knew, full of books and ideas, and history long forgotten. When Callan is found in the arms of another man—a crime in this post-Ice world—David learns a frightening truth about himself, and the difference between what is legal… and what is right.

After trouble hits the nearby town of Crawford, David and Callan discover the seeds of a plot that affects not only their home, but towns just like Moline across the world. Now they must fight to save their home, not only from the dragons, but from a government that wants them dead!

Thoughts: I loved this novel to tiny little pieces. I was a bit sceptic, because a person, whose taste in books I usually do not agree with at all, liked this a lot, and so I thought that I probably wouldn’t. For this reason, I kept pushing back reading it until I couldn’t really push it back any longer, as the end of the Here Be Dragons challenge came nearer and nearer.

I picked it up one night, read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open a second longer, slept, woke up and read the rest of it. It was that good. I will say that it took me a little while to get used to the language used. David, the main character, might by some be considered a hillbilly/redneck, and he usually doesn’t bother too much about proper grammar when speaking. Don’t let that put you off, however, because once you get used to that, the story is so worth it.

David and Callan’s relationship is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time and I simply can’t find proper words to describe why this book is awesome. Just trust me on that.

It’s an A grade. I can’t give it anything else. This is the first book in quite a while where the characters stayed with me for at least a couple of days after I turned the last page, and I immediately wanted to go back and read it again.

The one biggest thing I wasn’t super thrilled about (yeah, there were a few things like that) was the ending. It doesn’t feel at all finished and lots of things are left unresolved. Still, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing, exactly, but more like an opening for a sequel (which I understand is being written/has been written and is waiting for publication).

Edit: It appears that Iris Print, the publisher of this book, has closed down without telling its authors, and that a couple of them has had trouble getting in touch with the publisher and RW Day had a royalty cheque bounce. While I do want a lot of people to read it, I don’t exactly feel comfortable recommending anyone buying it, with things being what they are at present. You can read more about it here, at the author’s website.


8th June, 2008
Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket; Justin Richards
— Love @ 13:20 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket; Justin Richards Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket
by Justin Richards
British

English
254 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-48642-2

First line: Death was hiding in Kaspar’s pocket.

Back cover blurb:
Starfall — a world on the edge, where crooks and smugglers hide in the gloomy shadows and modern technology refuses to work. And that includes the TARDIS.

The pioneers who used to be drawn by the hope of making a fortune from the mines can find easier pickings elsewhere. But they still come — for the romance of it, or in the hope of finding the lost treasure of Hamlek Glint — scourge of the spaceways, privateer, adventurer, bandit…

Will the TARDIS ever work again? Is Glint’s lost treasure waiting to be found? And does the fabled Resurrection Casket — the key to eternal life — really exist? With the help of new friends, and facing terrifying new enemies, the Doctor and Rose aim to find out…

Thoughts: Again with the Doctor Who — sorry (I have three more Ten+Rose books coming in the post any day now, but after that I should be able to shut up about them — at least in this book blog).

This was a fun adventure novel about space pirates, with quite a few reveals I didn’t see coming from a mile away (sometimes, surprises are nice) and the nicest vicious monster ever. A B rating again for the good Doctor and his companion.


6th June, 2008
Doctor Who: The Stone Rose; Jacqueline Rayner
— Love @ 13:11 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: The Stone Rose; Jacqueline Rayner Doctor Who: The Stone Rose
by Jacqueline Rayner
British

English
254 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 978-0-563-48643-5

First line: Rose carefully dropped three pound coins into the large collecting box at the entrance to the British Museum.

Back cover blurb:
Mickey is startled to find a statue of Rose in a museum — a statue that is 2,000 years old. The Doctor realises that this means the TARDIS will shortly take them to ancient Rome, but when it does, he and Rose soon have more on their minds than sculpture.

While the Doctor searches for a missing boy, Rose befriends a girl who claims to know the future — a girl whose predictions are surprisingly accurate. But then the Doctor stumbles on the hideous truth behind the statue of Rose — and Rose herself learns that you have to be very careful what you wish for…

Thoughts: I’m still on a Doctor Who kick, still pathetically in love with the tenth Doctor and still enjoying the companion books. I was a bit worried at first that I wouldn’t like them at all (which is why I just got one or two at first to test the waters a bit), but I do. Now, the writing isn’t the best thing I’ve read in my life, but it gets the job done portraying the Doctor and giving a sense of adventure, which is all I’m asking for.

They are different writers, of course, so the tone is slightly different from book to book, but I haven’t been let down yet. The Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Jackie are all written in a way that I can hear their (well, the actors’, technically) voices in my head.

The Stone Rose is a nice adventure and mystery and deserves a B grade (I’ll let it be known that that rating is tremendously influenced by my love for anything Doctor+Rose, however).


25th May, 2008
Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned; Stephen Cole
— Love @ 12:18 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned Doctor Who: The Feast of the Drowned
by Stephen Cole
British

English
254 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-48644-9

First line:How can something so big sink so fast?

Back cover blurb:
When a naval cruiser sinks in mysterious circumstances in the North Sea, all aboard are lost. Rose is saddened to hear that the brother of her friend, Keisha, was among the dead. And yet he appears to them as a ghostly apparition, begging to be saved from the coming feast, the feast of the drowned.

As the dead crew haunts loved ones all over London, the Doctor and Rose are drawn into a chilling mystery. What sank the ship, and why? When the cruiser’s wreckage was towed up the Thames, what sinister force came with it?

The river’s dark waters are hiding an ever darker secret, as preparations for the feast near their conclusion…

Thoughts: Since Eurovision was on last night, it pushed Doctor Who off the air and there was no episode this week. To get my weekly Doctor fix, I decided to read the second of the DW novels I bought the other week.

This one was loads better than I Am a Dalek, but if that’s just because this was a “proper” book, or because it’s written by someone else, I don’t know. Either way, Cole captures Ten perfectly, as well as Rose, Mickey and Jackie,

I’m giving this a B rating, because I think it deserves it, and now I’m itching to get the other Ten and Rose novels. And to think that, before I started watching new Who, I was so certain I’d never in a million years like Rose. Shows what I know!


20th May, 2008
Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek; Gareth Roberts
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Filed under: Adventure, C, English, Science Fiction

Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek; Gareth Robert Doctor Who: I Am a Dalek
by Gareth Roberts
British

English
106 pages
BBC Books
ISBN: 0-563-48648-1

First line: Rose checked the seal on her space helmet, then she looked across the TARDIS controls to the Doctor.

Back cover blurb:
Equipped with space suits, golf clubs and a flag, the Doctor and Rose are planning to live it up on the Moon, Apollo-mission style. But the TARDIS has other plans, landing them instead in a village on the south coast of England; a picture-postcard sort of place where nothing much happens… until now.

Archaeologists have dug up a Roman mosaic, dating from the year 70 AD. It shows scenes from ancient myths, bunches of grapes—and a Dalek. A few days later a young woman, rushing to get to work, is knocked over and killed by a bus. Then she comes back to life.

It’s not long before all hell breaks loose, and the Doctor and Rose must use all their courage and cunning against an alien enemy—and a not-quite-alien accomplice—who are intent on destroying humanity.

Thoughts: I had a dream a couple of weeks back that I went to a bookstore to pick up some of the Doctor Who novels and I had the tenth Doctor help me look. It was pretty brilliant, to be honest. When I woke up, I went to my favourite online bookstore and ordered two of the Ten/Rose novels that exist. I didn’t want to order too many at once, in case I decided the writing really, really sucked.

I Am a Dalek is one of the two I ordered. I missed that it was a Quick Reads book at first, but it was decent all the same. Being a Quick Reads book, it was a quick read that left me wanting more. I’m giving it a C rating, which would’ve been a B, had it been a regular book.


27th March, 2008
Making History; Stephen Fry
— Love @ 21:16 Comments (2)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, English, Science Fiction

Making History; Stephen Fry Making History
by Stephen Fry
British

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
556 pages
Arrow
ISBN: 0-09-946481-0

First line: It starts with a dream.

Back cover blurb:
Michael Young is convinced his history thesis will win him a doctorate, a pleasant academic post, a venerable academic publisher and his beloved girlfriend, Jane.

A historian should know better than to think he can predict the future.

Leo Zuckermann is an ageing physicist obsessed with the darkest period in human history, utterly driven by his fanatical hatred of one man. A lover’s childish revenge and the breaking of a rotten clasp cause the two men to meet in a blizzard of swirling pages. Pages of history. When they come together, nothing—past, present or future—will ever be the same again.

Thoughts: I’ve read this book at least twice before (I could go back and count the exact number of times, but I’m currently too tired), and it’s just as good this time as it was the other times. I’ve read other books by Fry and while some of them, technically, feel like better books (perhaps) than this one, this is still my favourite. Because I am a sucker for gay and because I do like a happy ending every now and then.

An A rating seems perfectly fair.