29 March 2014

Book Update

I'm tracking reading again, here's this year so far:


  • Of Dice and Men by David Ewalt. Another history of D&D, this from a more personal side than Playing At The World. Perhaps a little much of his own history with the game, although I expect that's aimed more at readers who don't have as much a history with roleplaying games as I do.
  • All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. I was interested enough by the trailers for the upcoming Tom Cruise-starring big movie adaptation to look for the original. It's short, but a really good piece of science fiction. The conceit is that the main character gets caught in a time loop while fighting to defend the planet from aliens. As you'd expect, each time through he learns a bit more to survive longer, but the story goes a few unexpected places. A great read.
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Interesting space opera about a terrible empire that enforces peace an order by a variety of ruthless methods. Plays with some transhuman concepts - the narrator is a distributed intelligence - a warship mind with a large number of bodies at its disposal. 
  • Marbeck and the King-in-waiting by John Pilkington. Second in an Elizabethan spy/mystery series. Good, but not outstanding.
  • A Blind Goddess by James Benn. Latest in the Billy Boyle Second World War mystery series. Continues the same high standard.
  • He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe. The latest outing in the Eddie LaCrosse hard boiled fantasy series, which gets better and better as it goes. If hard-boiled fantasy mysteries sound the least bit interesting, you should read this whole series.
  • The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron. Second part in what is shaping up to be a big fantasy series. I didn't like this as much as the first - this opens up the world a lot, with more characters and more places, and I'm not a big fan of sprawling fantasy epics with lots of different point of view characters. That said, it's a good story so I'll be reading the next instalment.  


  • Libriomancer by Jim C Hines. Light, fun supernatural adventure story. Lots of nice ideas based on magic powered by ideas in fiction. 
  • Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson. Explores ice age life from the point of view of a young shaman's apprentice. A good story, focussed on the day to day life of a stone age group. 
  • All In Scarlet Uniform by Adrian Goldsworthy. Latest in the series about the Peninsular War. Not as compelling as the previous episodes, but solid.
  • The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones. Sword and sorcery in Haroun al-Rashid's Babylon. Absolutely fantastic, Jones really brings the world to life - both the historical and fantastical sides. The main characters are really great, too.
  • Nexus by Ramez Naam. Nearish future technothriller about a drug that creates telepathic links between users. A lot of outstanding ideas about how human enhancement technologies could go (and how they might be resisted). Warning: some of the bad things the bad guys do with these technologies are rather disturbing.
  • Measuring America by Andro Linklater. A history of the standardisation of measurements through the lens of the conquest (and measurement) of the United States. Interesting, but a bit unfocussed (I ended up reading it in pieces, in between other books).
  • The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones. Follow-up to The Desert of Souls, and just as good.


  • The King in Yellow by Robert W Chambers. Inspired by True Detective, I read this. Well, re-read in some cases (I had read a couple of the stories before). Interesting, especially the way Chambers's King in Yellow is not much like the version I'd come to know via the Call of Cthulhu game.
  • Master of War by David Gilman. Medieval military adventure, following an archer who goes through the Battle of Crecy and the campaign around it. Very good.
  • Crux by Ramez Naam. Follow-up to Nexus. A bit less fresh as it's mainly developing the ideas he's already introduced. That said, I think his world is heading towards a singularity (or something like it), so these developments are interesting to watch. I'm looking forward to part three.
  • The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi. Follow-up to The Quantum Thief. Filled with just as many crazy trans- and post- human ideas and lifestyles. I found the plot a bit easier to follow than the first one, although it's another insane high tech heist story at heart.
  • Codex Born by Jime C Hines. Follow up to Libriomancer.

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