26 June 2008

Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire by Simon Baker

This book is companion to a BBC series, and takes portraits of seven people as a way to get at the Roman empire's history. Most are people who I already knew a fair bit about, but the way that Baker draws ideas from the individual lives to the bigger story of Rome is good. Plus, there are a few who I hadn't come across before, such as Alaric (he's in there as the Goth king who finally disestablished the western emperor).

21 June 2008

The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger

A light, but enjoyable read. Taking a 1020 calendar to give it some structure, the authors take us through the life in eleventh century Britain month by month. There's a lot of good stuff in there, although the fact that the authors are journalists rather than historians shows.

Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe

A first novel that shows a certain amount of potential but doesn't really come through on it. The main story is about a rock star who uses a technology to create certain moods in his audience. However, the story ends up with him saving the entire world from tyranny, in a series of not terribly plausible steps. The characters are all supremely great at everything that they try, which gets a little tedious, too.

12 June 2008

The Omega Expedition by Brian Stableford

The final of the emortality series, this one is focused on the unfreezing of Adam Zimmerman, a legendary character mentioned through all the other books. He made vast sums of money in the 21st century and created the Ahsauerus Foundation, the people who eventually created the true emortality technology. In this story, they are finally fulfilling their purpose, and reviving his frozen body to remake him as an emortal.

Of course, things don't go to plan.

The story of Zimmerman's return and what follows is told by Madoc Tamlin, one of the characters from Inherit The Earth. Mortimer Gray, from The Fountains of Youth, plays a big part too. The other stories are woven in too, but not so significantly.

Overall, it's a nice end for the series. The world's too complicated for everything to look simple and happy in the rest of Stableford's fourth millenium, but there's at least hope, and the way the Zimmerman deals with his resurrection makes a good epilog.

Dark Ararat by Brian Stableford

This is the colony story thrown into the emortality series. I enjoyed it more the second time through, although it's still a little odd compared to the others. It still suffers - like most colony stories - from a rather contrived ecology, but in the context of the development of the technologies of emortality I can see why he put this chapter in.

02 June 2008

The First World War by John Keegan

Very good history of the war. Keegan has a great writing style, so that the book is compelling to read (very rare in histories!). It is also, inevitably, sobering and depressing due to the subject. Keegan makes a point of exploring the lead up to the war, the decisions that triggered it, and (briefly) the consequences.