Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book

I fell into Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book with passionate gratitude, after wading through a run of disappointing novels. This novel, as Jo Walton has apparently said, is the one in which Willis got everything right, and it is superb. It won three awards, including the 1992 Hugo and the 1993 Nebula, and is a time … Continue reading Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising

In the last of the Really Like This Book podcast script catch-ups about King Arthur, I’m reading a very old favourite, the series of fantasy novels by Susan Cooper called The Dark is Rising. There are five, and the earliest one - Over Sea Under Stone - is most definitely a children’s mystery quest. Simon, Jane … Continue reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising

Mark Twain’s A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Launching into a new miniseries of podcast scripts from Why I Really Like This Book, the next few weeks will see a long and enjoyable wallow in stories about King Arthur. This will include early British history, fantasies about Merlin, and the utterly compelling theory that when the Romans pulled out of Britain, somehow the Saxon … Continue reading Mark Twain’s A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Alex Bledsoe’s Long Black Curl

There’s something a little awkward about reading book three in an established series without having any idea of what one is getting into, like crashing a party by accident. Alex Bledsoe’s Long Black Curl is the third in a sequence of novels about the Tufa, savage fairy magic and traditional folk music in the Appalachians, … Continue reading Alex Bledsoe’s Long Black Curl

Jules Verne meets Conan Doyle with aliens: Philip José Farmer’s The Other Log of Phileas Fogg

The title is the second-best thing about The Other Log of Phileas Fogg. How can you resist the suggestion that Phileas Fogg kept an alternative log of his trip Around the World in Eighty Days? What else could have happened that the world didn’t know? The first best thing about the novel is the answer: … Continue reading Jules Verne meets Conan Doyle with aliens: Philip José Farmer’s The Other Log of Phileas Fogg

Sex, death and love (in that order) in James Tiptree Jr’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

The short stories of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever are grim and powerful reading, committing the reader to new worlds and leaving unsettling characters in the mind. They are about love, sex and death in the future, across species and time. In the original Introduction to the 1990 edition John Clute writes passionately about the … Continue reading Sex, death and love (in that order) in James Tiptree Jr’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

Get your time machine fixed here, in Charles Yu’s How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe (2010) is a seriously metatextual novel, packed with physics and logical puzzles, and cunningly decorated with references to inventions we have never imagined. It's very post-modern (which is not my usual choice) because it leaps about through the conventions of story-telling and novel-writing. I don't know, but I surmise that Charles Yu … Continue reading Get your time machine fixed here, in Charles Yu’s How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe