Thursday, March 21, 2013

Once Upon A Time VII

The Once Upon A Time Challenge is finally here!  For more information on this challenge that focuses on fantasy, folklore, fairy tales or mythology go here and for the review site go here. It runs from March 21 to June 19, 2013.

I am definitely going to read Demi-Monde: Spring by Rod Rees, which has been on my Kindle since it came out because last year I read and loved Demi-Monde: Winter, so I of course have to read the sequel.  And I think The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by the Vandermeers also fits this challenge.  I was really enjoying the short stories in this book so it would be good to dip back into it.   
In keeping with my goal to read more of the books I actually have, instead of acquiring more, for this challenge I am going to try and read some of the books that were on my list in prior years that I didn't get to but actually own.   

Samedi the Deafness by Jesse Ball
Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
The Last Book by Zoran Zivkovic
Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey
The Narrator by Michael Cisco
Sensation by Nick Mamatas
Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat
Pym by Mat Johnson
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

And because I just cannot resist adding, as that is half the fun:
Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Scar by China MiƩville

I am going to sign up for the Journey because I appreciate the flexibility and lack of stress which means that I will read at least one book but I might, and always do, read more. And we will definitely be watching Game of Thrones which starts March 31, 2013 on HBO.  And every year I say I am going to watch my DVD of Midsummer Nights Dream, but then promptly forget.  Thanks Carl for hosting another great challenge.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Sci-Fi Experience 2013

I cannot believe that the Sci-Fi Experience is finished already!  I read the following: Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan,  Cat's Cradle  by Kurt Vonnegut, Third Shift by Hugh Howey, Endymion  by Dan Simmons and am still finishing up The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard.

I must say that I have enjoyed them all.  Woken Furies was the third in the Takeshi Kovacs stories, which I really enjoyed.  Cat's Cradle and The Drowned World were both classics from the 60s.  Third Shift is the brand new one in the Wool series, which was of course fabulous.  I cannot believe there is supposedly only one more left and then Wool will be concluded.  

And I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed Endymion so much.  I had read and absolutely loved Hyperion but then hated the sequel Fall of Hyperion so had not intended to keep reading that story line.  But it was on my ipod and I had heard it was much better than the prior one, so thought I would give it a shot and  I was really pleasantly surprised.  I will definitely complete the cycle by reading Rise of Endymion some time in the future.

Although I haven't been good at posting, especially reviews, at least I have been reading!  Thanks Carl for another fun Sci-Fi Experience.      


by Dan Simmons

I read the first book in the Hyperion Cantos, Hyperion, in 2009 and simply gushed, I loved it!  So I read the next book, The Fall of Hyperion for the Sci-Fi Experience in 2010 and was sadly disappointed.  Well, my review made it sound like I was disappointed (it was nominated for a Hugo so it couldn't be all bad) but I actually hated it and in fact was angry with it that it didn't live up to Hyperion.  So three years later, I finally decided to try Endymion which has been on my ipod since I read Hyperion. 

The verdict?  I really enjoyed it.  It didn't wow me, like Hyperion, but it was good.  It takes place almost 300 years after The Fall of Hyperion so there are new main characters and yet there are constant references to the characters and events that took place in the prior two works.  This is definitely not a stand alone story. 

A lot has changed in those 300 years.  The technological advances provided by the TechnoCore, such as the far casters and WorldWeb which allowed such a diverse and wide ranging Hegemony, have been destroyed. Communications and travel between the vast reaches of space which previously took seconds, now take years, even hundreds of years.  And it is the Catholic Church, which has found a way to provide literal eternal life by using the cruciforms found on Hyperion, which is the controlling political and military power.

The story is of a young child, Aenea who emerges from the Time Tombs and her protector, Raul Endymion, as they try to escape from the Catholic Church in an antique space ship with an outlawed android to search for something on the now destroyed River Tethys.  

What I really enjoyed about this book was the characters, as the author makes you care about all of them.  Clearly we are supposed to be rooting for Aenea and her little troupe but I also really liked the Catholic priest charged with capturing her, Father de Soya.  It was odd, as the story alternated between Aenea and Father de Soya to one minute be glad that Aenea had escaped again and feel bad the next minute that Father de Soya had failed again.  

The other thing I really enjoyed about this book was, as in Hyperion, the vast array of incredible, richly imagined worlds that the travelers visit.  Dan Simmons is masterful at creating fully realized worlds and describing them in such vivid detail that you feel like you are there.  I loved Mare Infinitus, the water world with the gigantic and terrifying Lamp Mouth Leviathans. And I will not soon forget Sol Draconi Septem, the ice planet with the prime number obsessed indigenous Chitchatuk and the wraiths, their sole source of food and materials.  And there being no other animals on the frozen planet other than humans and wraiths, the wraith's sole source of food is the Chitchatuk, plus they have a penchant for collecting human skulls.          

Like Hyperion, this one clearly ended in the middle and we have to read The Rise of Endymion to see what happens next.  But this was still a satisfying story.  Not only did I enjoy getting to know the new characters and the action and adventure but we learn enough new things that drive the larger Hyperion Cantos story forward.  I will definitely be reading the last book in the Cantos, The Rise of Endymion.