Paul Franks - Agamemnon.


Books

Latest update: 1st January 2003

Recently read:

Stephen King - From a Buick 8.

Harry Harrison -
The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus

Michael Marshall Smith -
Only Forward

Harry Harrison - The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus.Michael Marshall Smith - Only Forward.

Neil Gaiman -
American Gods

Michael Marshall Smith -
Only Forward

Neil Gaiman - American Gods.

News

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.

Below is very much older news:

NOW READING: "Chronicles of an Age of Darkness" by Hugh Cook.

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.

The Gap Series

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.

Stephen King/Richard Bachman

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.

Raymond E. Feist

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.

Raymond E. Feist

Dune

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.

Earlier news:

A new Stephen King story, "Riding the Bullet" is available free on-line. Go to Amazon for the download. You will need the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader (4.05) and the Glassbook reader.

NOW READING: "The Naked Sun" by Isaac Asimov.

Second in the Elijah Bayley series, this again is a combined detective/robot novel. Truly a timeless classic, I haven't read it for a few years, but it has lost none of its original appeal. This time, Bayley is asked to investigate the first murder in two hundred years on the Spacer planet of Solaris, again with the help of R. Daneel Olivaw. Detective stories are a genre that I haven't explored a great deal, but if anyone would care to suggest some, I'll give them a whirl.

RECENT READING: "The Elenium" and "The Tamuli" series by David Eddings.

Sparhawk is one of the best developed characters in modern fantasy. The humour in the series is at precisely the right level, and all of the novels are fairly well paced. Reading six fair-sized books in a row isn't always easy, but in this case presented no problem at all. Highly recomended for anyone with any interest in heroic fantasy.

RECENT READING: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.

Shocking, I know. Reading a novel that I had written off as being on the same level as a Dickens novel. It is actually the basis for many a modern tale, and is not nearly as stuffily written as I remember Dickens being. Certainly worth a read, which is all the more surprising considering it was written in the time of Napoleon.

RECENT READING: "Mode series" by Piers Anthony.

This is a series with the premise that many different continua exist within a few feet of one another, but can only be crossed by certain people. Worlds of magic and science all exist, and may be encountered in a journey across modes. As a series, this is okay, but not riveting. A reasonably harmless way to pass afew hours.

RECENT READING: Various by Graham Masterton, including Black Angel.

For true horror, I don't think you'll find better than Graham Masterton. I had forgotten just how good he is at writing proper horror, not the fairly soft stuff that Steven King writes (and that I enjoy as well). "Black Angel" has some scenes of truly stomach-churning horror. Other favourites are "The Sleepless" and "The Mirror".

Previous updates:

29th December 1999.

"Intervention" by Julian May.

Following on from "The Saga of the Exiles" series, this deals with events leading up to Earth's admittance into the Galactic Millieu. The first time I read the series, I remember thinking it was very hard work getting through it (while on holiday in Wales). On re-reading, however, I find myself intrigued by the cultural dynamics taking place. Intervention follows on from the series in terms of publication date (in terms of the story timeline, it is far too complicated to explain). When I have finished this I expect to go straight on to the "Galactic Millieu" trilogy which tells more of the Remeillard story.

Previous update:23rd July 1999.

NOW READING: "Swansong" by Robert R. McCammon.

I love this book. It's been a while since I last read it, but if you like "The Stand" by Stephen King, I think you'll like this more. Similar premise, but somehow more engaging. This is another post-holocaust novel (nuclear war, this time) that gives me hope rather than making me despair. Go on, read it, if you can find it.
Just finished:
"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.



For any of you interested, you may now browse through an index of my library, by author. Click on the appropriate letter to check them out. N.B. Joint authors are usually only listed by the first author to appear on the cover.



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