Too cold, too distant. The writing was OK, but at no point did I care about any of the characters. The story is about charlatans and gurus, mediums of all sorts who perform cheap theatrical tricks, make gullible people believe, and extract good money from their victims for the privilege to be conned. The protagonist makes his living debunking such conmen, and most of the story is a preaching by the author about the harm the unethical quacks inflict on everyone and the need to take them down. There is also tons of info about Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), the influential American journalist and satirist who routinely made fun of the fraudsters of his time. I didn’t know the name of Mencken before I read this book. I never wanted to know. I still don’t, but the author shoved his quotes and opinions down my throat.
I didn’t like this novella at all.
In contrast to Bradbury, I have Chiang. Now these are science fiction, and they are particularly rare in that the are fine examples of both science and storytelling. I picked it up because the new movie Arrival is based on one of these stories. It's a first-contact story starring a linguist. Who doesn't love a linguist?
Any one of these stories is mind-blowing, but together, sheesh, I'm reduced to mental rubble. I don't have words enough to express how cool they are.
Highly recommended to anyone who loves science, and to readers who enjoy thought-provoking stories.
Do read the notes on the stories at the end. The aren't necessary, but they are interesting.
An OK urban fantasy novel, this latest installment of the author’s SPI Files series (where SPI stands for Supernatural Protection & Investigation agency) relates a new story about the series’ protagonist, Makenna Fraser, and her friends. A bunch of dimension-hopping ghouls have committed a few daring bank robberies lately. Humans have been killed. Makenna and friends have no choice but to investigate.
Fast moving but utterly forgettable.
Like its predecessor, Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods is marked by an interesting style, where debriefings, news reports, and journal entries are pieced together to tell the story. The second book of the Themis Files has a markedly different tone than the first: while Sleeping Giants was somewhat contemplative and slow-moving, things really get going in Waking Gods. Despite the difference in tone, I don't think you can really enjoy Waking Gods to the full without reading its predecessor, as the story isn't dragged down by too much exposition of what happened before. The story picks up a few years after the first book, and all of the characters from the first story are back in force, along with a few new perspectives. I was a little disappointed in one of them, as their introduction makes another character's demise painfully obvious rather than a surprising twist or "anyone can die" vibe. However, I did like the new characters and I was happy to see the return of some of my favourites, such as the fiery Kara.
The plot and tone reminded me quite a bit of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. As with Welles’ famous story, the reader spends most of the story frustrated, helpless, and adrift, unable to determine what will happen next or why. Despite the crazy events, I think Neuven is quite successful in creating what I'd call, for want of a better term, a tone of realism. Part of achieving this is having atrocities and events can happen without any explanation or any leading plot arc. For me, this made it quite difficult to actually push my way through the book. I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. As the story moves towards the climax, everything clicks into place with a reasonably satisfying and quite creative solution. As with the previous book, there’s a bit of a hook or cliffhanger for the next story arc, and I’ll be very interested to see where the story goes next.
~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Del Ray, in exchange for my honest review.~~
Cross-posted on Goodreads.