Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Irreviews, 2011: Issue I

I've mentioned elsewhere that I'm trying to read a lot this year. Novels 'n shit. As of this writing, I've finished seven novels (I started an eighth... a Dan Brown... and chucked it after 19 pages), two short story anthologies, and a memoir (not including works I'm paid to read). Not great by avid reader standards, but certainly great by mine.

A quick run-through for those curious... think of these as "Irreviews" for books (because, well, that's what they are):

The Thing - Alan Dean Foster
Plot: A team of American researchers discovers a spaceship buried beneath the ice of Antarctica. After accidentally rescuing a malevolent shape-shifting alien from Norwegian scientists, the researchers are caught in a fight for survival. The stakes? All life on Earth.
Thoughts: An adaptation of the John Carpenter horror film (itself an adaptation of John Campbell's novella Who Goes There? and Howard Hawks' original film, The Thing From Another World). Not much else to say.
Verdict: Eh. Sci-fi/horror fans who love the movie, sure. Everyone else... nah.

2010: Odyssey Two - Arthur C. Clarke
Plot: Something strange is happening on Jupiter, and Discovery and the Jupiter Monolith hold the clues. The window of opportunity closing, the Soviet and American space agencies band together to solve the mystery.
Thoughts: The sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, it more closely follows Kubrick's film version than Clarke's novel (much to my chagrin, though I understand why Clarke chose to do it that way). Still, an awesome read.
Verdict: Read it.

The Other Side of the Sky - Arthur C. Clarke
Thoughts: An older anthology of Clarke's short stories. Many are extremely interesting and have aged well. Some are a little boring and have aged poorly. A must for Clarke and sci-fi fans.
Verdict: Read it. There are some "challenge-based" short stories included that any aspiring writer should check out.

The Drowned World - J.G. Ballard
Plot: Earth is heating up, the ice caps are melting, swamps and oceans are expanding. Stranger still, life itself seems to be devolving. The definition of being human will never be the same.
Thoughts: Yes, the little boy played by Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun is a real person and wound up writing a bunch of pulpish science fiction. An interesting read, though a little dry. But as a book warning of the ecological and psychological dangers resulting from Global Warming, it's a hoot. Why? Because it was written in 1962.
Verdict: Pulp fans, yes. Conspiracy theorists, maybe. Sci-fan fans, eh...

Sex and Death, I Suppose - Michael Colonnese
Plot: Corruption in government, corruption in industry. A down-on-his luck private investigator and part-time realty photographer gets caught in the middle of it all.
Thoughts: I'm a little biased about this one, since Michael Colonnese is a friend of mine, but I still have to say that his book was a fun read. Not perfect, but fun. I'll refrain from saying too much, since I plan on giving it a proper review in the future.
Verdict: Read it. Support an aspiring novelist. Dammit.


  1. Read Sex and Death of course. Quite liked it and wasn't as bothered by the typos as you were but not too keen on the story. Made me hungry.

  2. Sex and Death, I suppose is added to the stack of TBR. The others are from a former life. I read a lot of sci-fi years ago, but today it kind of leaves me cold. For whatever reason, I find i need to believe the plot, and most sci-fi is just too fantastic (in a true definition of the word).

  3. wrings her hands)...where are the happy books????

  4. Yeah, same question: Where are the happy books?

  5. not a big fan of Foster, he used to churn 'em out in the 70's and 80's. But i might pick up the Clarke anthology. Double thumbs up for 2010, and don't forget 2001 whcih is a MUST read--much better than the movie which is fun to watch but a tad bit confusing.
    gotcha beat, just started my 14th novel this year.