Some recent reads: Harmony Black and Red Knight Falling - a spinoff of Craig Schaefer’s Daniel Faust urban fantasy series, following the FBI witch who’s a semi-regular foil for Faust. Schaefer’s got a great touch with creepy detail and self-consistent world-building and these books in particular feel a bit Delta Green-y. Not quite as bleak (so far no major character deaths) and his own homebrew mythology instead of Lovecraft, but the illegal government conspiracy fighting monsters while posing as legit government agents thing is very much present here, and the second book’s occult satellite falling to earth with multiple factions fighting over it premise was pitch perfect. Apparently he’s also done a traditional fantasy trilogy that I may have to check out in future.
The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, book 6 of his Peter Grant series. As always a lovely bit of urban fantasy flavored by a pretty extensive knowledge of actual police procedure delivered with a hefty dose of cynicism. This one’s a bit more conventional policing (with some of the persons of interest being magically-relevant) than the wilder and more creepy escapades of previous titles, but there’s some solid reveals and further widening of the world’s parameters.
Now working on The Red Knight, first book of a fantasy series by Miles Cameron. I’d picked it up on some Amazon sale years back but the cover was not especially prepossessing so it wasn’t until it was recommended in some other thread hereabouts that I decided to reload it onto my Kindle and give it a go. I quite like it so far. It’s an interesting mix of more or less medieval Europe with a conflict against the supposedly satanic “Wild” - a variety of magical creatures that don’t seem quite as inimical as they’re believed to be - and yet who are absolutely still savage and terrifying in attacking the humans of this alt-Britain. Lots of nice little touches about military organization and actual combat styles, etc. If I have a complaint it’s that it cuts seemingly randomly between scenes, often introducing entirely new characters without it being immediately clear what relevance they have to the overall story (which still gives more time to the titular Red Knight and sometimes his men or immediate surroundings than most of the rest of them). They generally do weave into an overall tapestry after a while but it can be kind of dizzying.
I read Echopraxia by Peter Watts, the sequel to Blindsight. Like the first in the series, this book this book features a pile of completely crazy stuff that happens to be backed up by a lot of research. Watts is very good at making something like a vampires and “zombies” feel plausible and scary. Actually he’s good at making a lot of stuff seem scary, in the “humans in situations where they are way out of their depth” sort of thing. Still, in the best SF tradition, it’s more a story about the ideas than any elaborate plotting.
I also read Space Carrier Avalon and it’s sequels by Glynn Stewart. Despite being set much further in the future than Echopraxia, it’s a much more familiar setting, with humanity basically the same but with fancier toys. I tend to chew through military SF like this as a sort of comfort food. Our hero gets placed in various tricky tactical situations in space, and uses creativity, bluffing and sheer guts to carry through. Add a dash of crooked politics trying to take him down and the recipe is complete. It’s formulaic, but I still really like this stuff, and this is pretty well done.
I kind of wish the future would be like Space Carrier Avalon, but I suspect it will have a lot of weird, dangerous and fucking scary stuff like Blindsight and Echopraxia.
Finished up the sixth book (audiobook version) of the Breakers series by Edward W. Robertson:
I run hot and cold on this series. In general I like the writing, and the protagonists are generally flawed enough to keep them from getting too stale. Robertson cycles through a stable of a half-dozen characters, picking two for each book and telling a binary story where the two main characters may or may not meet each other anywhere in the tale.
This book features “Walt”, his go-to semi-sociopathic man of derring-do, as well as a new character who sort of turns out to have been a minor character in a previous book.
Anyway, it’s a pretty good yarn that drags badly in the first third but which picks up nicely later on. If you’ve liked his previous books in this setting, you’ll find that this is in the top half of them.
Interesting! I haven’t read a lot about the early US Navy but I did read a book that was peripherally related. It was called Demon of the Water, about a mutiny on a ship that then left for an island and whose crew tried to take over the locals and make themselves kings. The author also tells of the navy effort to send a ship out to capture the mutineers. What I remember about that was the name of the lieutenant commanding the navy frigate, Augustus Strong. What a great name.
[quote=“MikeJ, post:3, topic:127436, full:true”]
I read Echopraxia by Peter Watts, the sequel to Blindsight. Like the first in the series, this book this book features a pile of completely crazy stuff that happens to be backed up by a lot of research. Watts is very good at making something like a vampires and “zombies” feel plausible and scary. Actually he’s good at making a lot of stuff seem scary, in the “humans in situations where they are way out of their depth” sort of thing. Still, in the best SF tradition, it’s more a story about the ideas than any elaborate plotting.[/quote]
Well, I do think there’s actually pretty good plotting in this series, although it’s subdued and tends to get lost in the details until it emerges and hits you in the face. Echopraxia was a little too much for me. An enjoyable, crazy romp, but it went a little bit too far with the craziness of world it was depicting and the pace of it (it makes sense for the sort of in-collapse world he is describing, but didn’t make for great reading for me). I would have required a book twice as long for the amount of concepts it introduces and tries to play with, I think. I much preferred Blindsight. That was great.
I recently borrowed Station Eleven from the local library, and posted my thoughts here. Short version - it’s a character-driven post-apocalyptic story, well-written with some interesting exploration of the relationships of those characters. But I didn’t much like the way it kept jumping back and forth in time before and after the Big Bad Stuff happened.
I just finished reading Forging Divinity by Andrew Rowe. It’s a self-published book which I tend to steer clear of, but he’s a guy who works at Obsidian and the sample chapter was good enough that I took a chance on the full book. It was a pretty quick read, but the action was pretty well done, the characters are all pretty likeable and interesting and I liked the system of magic being employed in the setting. Here’s the link:
Reading the Legend of the Galactic Heroes trilogy by Yoshiki Tanaka. Written back in the 80s, but with a 50s sensibility. Highly retrogressive attitudes, too: women are mostly stay-at-home types and homosexuality is considered evil and disgusting (strange for a Japanese work, isn’t it?) But on the other hand there are enormous space battles with thousands of ships and the main characters aren’t bad.
It’s definitely weird. And the style is dry as hell (written as a not very compelling history book, and I do suspect the translation as being cheap, but that’s just a hunch and probably unjustified). But it has some interesting stuff if you can get past the cultural dissonance.
Of course, I think the anime was much, much better. It did personalize the story and give much more nuanced character development. Still, visually it has aged, you don’t get rid of all the weird social mores it carries from the novels (although they are watered down) and some episodes are filler, but it is among my top 5 serial sci-fi TV ever. Definitely worth a watch. It is also really well plotted, considering it’s age and scope. a lot of GoT-like surprises and developments.
BTW; it’s not a trilogy. the original is ten books, and going by the anime the really cool stuff plot wise probably happens at volume 7 or so. Which sucks, because I think there’s no confirmation yet that novels past the third will get a translation.
Yeah, I just didn’t want you to be disappointing if you ended up liking it.
Seriously, if you find anything to enjoy in the books at all, I suggest just dropping them and watching the anime. Will take you a while to catch up to book 3 (around 30 episodes -out of over 100- till end of book 3, I think), but once you get there, you will get all the new (and better, I think) stuff.