Latest update: 1st January 2003
Harry Harrison -
Michael Marshall Smith -
Neil Gaiman -
Michael Marshall Smith -
Stephen King's Dark Tower series will continue and conclude with the near simultaneous release of the final three novels. That's the good news. The bad news is that it won't happen until 2003. There is also a section on the Stephen King site about upcoming releases and projects.
A most unusual series, with a distinct style. This series of eight novels is actually about a post-apocalypse world, and each is centred around a different character, but whose paths cross from book to book. Considerable humour, and quite different from any other fantasy series, with a decidedly British bent to things.
Stephen R Donaldson is the only writer whose works seem to improve with every reading, even though I thoroughly enjoyed them the first time around. The Gap series is simply huge in scope, with a very dark undercurrent running through it, with all of man's baser side exposed at different times. If a series of films were made, I dread to think how much of the thought processes of the characters would be lost, particularly with Min Donner and Hashi. If you haven't read this yet, and don't mind a fairly demanding story, this is well worth reading.
I haven't read "The Regulators" or "Desperation" since they originally came out. On first reading, I had a distinct preference for "The Regulators". On second reading, I've changed my mind. Both books are some of King's better work, but somehow "Desperation" now seems the more satisfying work. Tak. Surprisingly unpleasant for King, who is always fairly tame to my way of thinking.
I've recently re-read most of the series revolving around Midkemia, but found the fourth book of the Serpentwar saga to run out of steam quite noticeably. The original Riftwar series is still excellent, but later ones become steadily more turgid.
It has been some time since I have read this classic, and I thought it about time to give it another go. With memories of how the second trilogy becomes fairly dire towards the end, I wondered how I would get on this time. Well, I don't know if it is due to age, but this time I actually enjoyed all of the books, and could see the positive side of the final episode, "Chapter House Dune". This is not the only series to improve with repeated reading, but is one which my views on have changed most noticeably.
Previous update:23rd July 1999.
"The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman.
Now reprinted by Orion Books as part of their Millennium collection (more of which later) this is truly one of the all-time classics, which also points out the practical relativistic problems of interstellar war. I shan't explain; go and read it.
The Millennium Collection is a project to reprint many of the best science fiction novels, some old, some newer. It is thanks to this effort that I finally got to read Alfred Bester's seminal novels, "The Demolished Man" (1953) and "The Stars My Destination" (1957) (originally published as "Tiger! Tiger!"). Visionary is one adjective that comes to mind. Disturbed is another. The Psi-Cop played by Walter Koenig in Babylon 5, Alfred Bester, is named after the author. Imagine my surprise when I discover that "The Demolished Man" features telepaths (peepers as they are called in the story) as an integral part of the story premise. "The Stars My Destination" is often cited as the inspiration of the present-day cyber-punk movement. Both are well worth reading.
Since my last update, I have re-read quite a few books (mainly series) that I haven't looked at for a while. Here's a quick rundown:
Conan (Robert E. Howard et al): This was much better than I had expected it to be, considering the amount I have read since first going through the series about twenty years ago. Don't expect any involved characterisation, but for a simple good vs. evil sword'n'sorcery yarn, it is still fun.
The Pern Series (Anne McCaffrey): Fourth reading, and still enjoyable, as long as you keep to the main story arc. Gentle science-fiction/fantasy tales that are easy to get on with (apart from the first three-quarters of "The Renegades of Pern", which I found to be a bit of a dog, in comparison).
Riverworld (Philip José Farmer): I'd been intending to read this again, having last read it about twelve years ago, to see if it really was as good as I thought it was at the time. It reminds me of Dune. Starts off really well and then fades away. Well worth reading, though.