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review 2021-03-20 11:49
Ein Sommer, den man nicht mehr vergisst
Hard Land - Benedict Wells

Sommer 1985 in der Kleinstadt Grady im US-Bundesstaat Missouri: Samuel Turner (15) ist ein schüchterner Außenseiter, der von seinen Mitschülern gemieden wird. Sein Kumpel Stevie ist gerade weggezogen, seine Schwester Jean ist schon länger aus dem Haus. Der Vater, Joseph, ist seit Längerem arbeitslos. Zudem hat Sam damit zu kämpfen, dass seine Mutter Annie unter einem Hirntumor leidet. Wie soll er bloß die langen Ferien rumbringen? Da kommt es ihm gerade recht, dass das örtliche Kino eine Aushilfe sucht. Sam findet dort nicht nur einen Job, sondern auch drei Freunde. Es beginnt ein unvergesslicher Sommer...

 

„Hard Land“ ist ein Coming-of-Age-Roman von Benedict Wells.

 

Meine Meinung:
Die Struktur ist wohl durchdacht. Der Roman besteht aus fünf Teilen - ebenso wie das gleichnamige, aber fiktive Werk, das in der Geschichte behandelt wird. In dem Gedichtband dreht es sich unter anderem um die angeblich 49 Geheimnisse von Grady. Genau so viele Kapitel hat folglich Wells Roman. Diese Verknüpfung finde ich sehr gelungen, zumal das fiktive „Hard Land“ auch dem Genre Coming of Age zuzuordnen sei, heißt es in dem Roman. Erzählt wird in der Ich-Perspektive aus der Sicht von Sam.

 

Stilistisch ist der Roman der Jugendsprache nachempfunden, ohne jedoch zu vulgär oder salopp zu sein. Starke Dialoge machen das Geschehen lebhaft. Sehr angetan bin ich von den kreativen Wortneuschöpfungen und den tollen Sprachbildern.

 

Als gelungen empfinde ich außerdem die Darstellung der Figuren, die nicht stereotyp angelegt sind. Mit Sam steht ein sympathischer Protagonist im Vordergrund. Er kommt authentisch rüber. Seine Entwicklung habe ich gerne verfolgt. Auch die übrigen Charaktere wirken lebensnah und besitzen psychologische Tiefe.

 

Der Stoff des Romans ist weder neu noch einzigartig. Dennoch habe ich mich beim Lesen der etwas mehr als 300 Seiten nicht gelangweilt, denn der Autor schafft es zu berühren, ohne ins Kitschige abzudriften. Es geht um die großen, universellen Themen wie Liebe, Freundschaft, Familie, Trauer und natürlich alle Aspekte des Erwachsenwerdens - eingebettet in eine Hommage an die 1980er-Jahre mit vielen Referenzen zu Musik, Film und Lifestyle dieser Zeit. Immer wieder sind lebenskluge Sätze eingestreut, die zum Nachdenken anregen.

 

Die Handlung bietet nur wenige Überraschungen, ist aber durchweg stimmig. Im letzten Teil wird die Story inhaltlich ein wenig schwächer. Das schmälert meinen positiven Gesamteindruck aber kaum, zumal der Autor am Ende sogar Selbstironie beweist.

Das Cover ist hübsch. Wie bei einigen anderen Büchern des Verlags erschließt sich mir das Motiv jedoch nicht. Der Titel wiederum ist äußerst passend.

 

Mein Fazit:
„Hard Land“ von Benedict Wells ist ein Roman, der mich sowohl emotional bewegt als auch trefflich unterhalten hat.

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review 2020-08-16 08:30
'City Of Bones' by Martha Wells
City of Bones - Martha Wells

I came to 'City Of Bones' via the 'Murderbot Diaries' I'd read each instalment as came out and enjoyed them all. The next one won't be released for another eight month's so I decided to try out Martha Wells' back catalogue.


I found 'City Of Bones', released in 2007, a decade before Murderbot, and what a find it turned out to be. How did I miss it back in 2007? Well, perhaps I read the publisher's summary which makes it sound like Indiana Jones meets Alladin, and passed. The actual story is much more original.


It tells of powerful people competing to find and control artefacts of an ancient technology that they think will give them powers that are almost magical. The story is set in a world that long ago was turned almost entirely into a deadly desert, leaving the remnants of humanity living in small stone cities built into coastal cliffs. The only people who can move freely through the desert are the Kris, a humanoid race bioengineered by the last of the ancient technologists to survive the worst the desert can do and with whom humanity has an uneasy relationship.


From the start, I found 'City Of Bones' to be breathtakingly good. The world the action took place in was original, credible, richly detailed and very strange. From the outside, these look like people who are struggling to survive, trapped between desert and sea in a city carved into the cliff. A city they'd no longer be able to build and in which society is literally stratified, with the poorest people living at the bottom and the elite having a great view from the top.


From the inside, it doesn't feel like that. This society is hundreds of years old. It has survived the really bad times. It's thriving. The city is expanding. It's elite have ambitions to control neighbouring cities and history is interesting only to academics unless it yields usable technology. I think this inside view is often missing from post-apocalyptic novels. People don't spend generations regretting what was lost. They focus on what they have, what they need and how they can close the gap.


One of the things I liked most about the story was that Martha Wells presents it from the point of view of outsiders. Khat, the main character, is a Krisman, His partner is an immigrant from a neighbouring city who, although he used to be an academic, is not allowed to be a member of the University. Both of them are excluded from official commerce, which is reserved for citizens. This excluded pair make their living on the shady edges of the trade in ancient artefacts and try not to come to the notice of the authorities. Martha Wells understands that the excluded need to see the society they live in very clearly in order to survive.


Khat is charismatic, intelligent, loyal, lethal and a little broken. An early trauma resulted in him exiling himself from his people to live among humans. It also left him with a deep fear of confinement and almost no ability to trust anyone. Khat's emotional detachment seems like a survival trait when we first meet him but, as we get to know him better, it becomes clear that it is a manifestation of a crippling emotional scar.


I liked that Martha Wells didn't trivialise this. She recognises that there are scars that don't heal and experiences that you don't recover from. Khat has built himself a life where he is surrounded by people who accept him for what he's become not out of charity but because they carry scars of their own. Perhaps Khat's biggest achievement is that he has made one friend that he will trust with his life.


All of which will be familiar to those of us who love reading Murderbot.


The plot reads like a thriller wrapped around a treasure hunt, except that Khat isn't thrilled. Hee doesn't want to be there but he can't find a way leave and the treasure being hunted may very well be a curse.


These days, a good Fantasy Thriller needs a heroine to save the day and Martha Wells gives us one. In a normal fantasy novel, our heroine would be presented as bright, brave, more talented than she knows and determined to make things better. Martha Wells gives our heroine all those attributes but also gives us Khat's view of her as naive and unconscious of her privilege.


The relationship between her (the princess-in-waiting / Jedi not yet come into her full powers) and Khat, (the excluded, scarred, survivor) is fascinating. Instead of the normal denied-attraction-blooming-into-romance trope, we have something more complex and truer to the nature of both people.


I had a lot of fun with this book and I'll be dipping into more of Martha Well's back catalogue soon.

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review 2020-06-09 15:17
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

by H.G. Wells

 

This is one of those classic science fiction stories that makes a great film. However, as with several well known HG Wells stories, the book doesn't hold up quite as well.

 

The premise of the story is fascinating. A mad doctor has set himself up on an island to conduct experiments in changing DNA in order to transform animals into humans, or proto-humans. Naturally there are problems with reverting to their animal nature.

 

The best film version I've seen of this story starred Michael York as the shipwrecked man who finds himself caught up in the dynamics of the island's inhabitants.

 

Although I've only rated this with three stars, I would not dissuade the intelligent reader from reading the original source material. It adds something to the imagery in the films, but be warned that it is considerably more violent than most of the film versions.

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review 2020-05-25 14:19
'Network Effect - Murderbot Diaries #5' by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells,Kevin R. Free

Finally, Murderbot gets the full-length novel that it and we deserve. Thank you, Martha Wells. I've loved the other episodes in the Murderbot Diaries but I was a little frustrated at having them drip-fed to me in what seemed to me to be a novel broken into novellas for no good reason.

 

I preordered the audiobook version of 'Network Effect' and dived into it as soon as it arrived in my audiobook queue. After four hours of immersion in Murderbot's world, this was my reaction:

This is a wonderful ride. MurderBot remains its compelling self but being freed from the novella format means that the plot structure is more complicated and the puzzle that needs to be solved has more twists in it.

 

Reading 'Network Effect' is like falling through a cascade of action sequences while working on a big picture to make sense of everything. There's never a dull moment and it took some self-control for me to do anything else today.'

I managed to pace myself and consumed the book over three days rather than one. The mystery continued to become more complex and the actions scenes continued to pile on and they were all fun and very well done but what I liked most about the book was the way in which Murderbot developed.

 

Murderbot isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become, human. Humans are messy and often reckless, shouldn't be trusted with weapons, are inappropriately optimistic for creatures that are both fragile and slow. Nevertheless, Murderbot is attached to its humans pretty much in the way you or I might be attached to our Labradors.

 

So, if Murderbot is going to continue to associate with humans and commit itself to protecting some of them, but isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become human, how does it develop to become more than a SecUnit that's hacked its governor unit so it can spend more time watching TV?

 

Martha Wells' answer to that is inspired.

 

 

Firstly she lets Murderbot itself slowly figure out that that is a question that deserves to be answered. Then she builds a plot that brings Murderbot back into contact with ART, the sarcastic, extremely bright, apparently working on covert missions transport ship that sheltered Murderbot earlier. Except this time Murderbot has to rescue both ART and ART's humans. Seeing the relationship between ART and its humans gives Murderbot a lot to think about. Creating a 2.0 copy of himself, for reasons I won't share here, and using his memories to persuade another SecUnit to hack its own governor unit, again help Murdrbot to reflect on its identity.

 

 

Then the Network Effect kicks in: we have multiple non-human intelligences connected to each other making Murderbot's situation less unique while making his value higher and pushing him to define who he is and what he wants to do next.

(spoiler show)

 

It's beautifully done. I had an exciting ride, a lot of action, good mystery and I got to watch Murderbot grow up.

 

I'll be back for more as soon as it's available.

 

I think the audiobook is quite well done, it even manages not to make Murderbot sound definitively male or female. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

https://soundcloud.com/audiolibrary-a/network-effect-by-martha-wells-audiobook-excerpt
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-05-11 09:20
Network Effects by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells

TITLE:  Network Effects

 

AUTHOR:  Martha Wells

 

SERIES:  Murderbot Diaries #5

____________________________

DESCRIPTION:

"Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.



I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.
"

_______________________________

REVIEW:

 

 

******************POSSIBLE SPOILERS***********************************

 

 

A brilliant, full-length, action packed addition to the Murderbot diaries.  ART (aka Asshole Research Transport) makes an appearance, Murderbot blackmails Dr Mensah (!!), there is a Murderbot 2.0 (this part was delightful), there is also a "Murderbot" 3 (sort of) and the hazards of fiddling around with alien technology.  Network Effects was something enjoyable and absorbing to read when the world is quite cheerfully going to hell.

 

 

NOTE:  It helps (and would probably be more enjoyable) if you have read the previous 4 novellas, but isn't entirely necessary. 

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