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review 2018-04-26 19:59
Planetfall
Planetfall - Emma Newman

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Science fiction that is more of the social kind than hard, as in, while it was easy to imagine how the colony ran, the story focuses on the main character and her relationships with other people, rather than on a lot of technology. In a way, I liked this aspect, but on the other hand, with Ren being pretty much a recluse, her interactions weren’t always so developed; in the end, I’m not exactly sure what to think of it.

The storuy revolves around Ren, and in a certain measure Mack and Sung-Soo. More than 20 years ago, Ren and Mack embarked on an expedition throughout the stars to find another planet, guided by Lee Suh-Mi, who determined that planet’s location after waking up from a coma. After landfall, they found a strange structure they quickly nicknamed God’s city, into which Suh-Mi walked in, never to come out. Since that time, every year sees a ritual, almost religious ceremony take place, which will last until the day Suh comes out again. Only it quickly becomes apparent that this is all based on lies crafted by Mack and upheld by Ren, for fear that without it, the community’s union and focus will collapse, and the colony will be destroyed.

I spent most of my reading torn when it came to Ren as a character and narrator. It’s obvious that while she’s competent in her job, she’s also broken in quite a few ways (her reclusiveness, the reason why she never lets anyone into her home, the mental disorder she’s been developing due to all the stress and lies piling up), and this made her touching; you can tell from the early chapters on that she’d endured trauma and has been coping and suffering all by herself, ashamed of her choices, then refusing to look at them, then not even realising anymore that she had a problem (one that is all the more important that all the things she hoards are materials that can’t get recycled to fuel the colony). Yet at the same time, it was difficult to relate to her and to really care about her, probably she keeps people at a distance. Also, due to the latter, the other characters never really came into focus: Nick remains ‘the guy who’s in because he had money’, Carmen is ‘that annoying religion-obsessed woman’, and so on.

The foundations of the colony, too, were of a kind that made me cringe. Let’s be honest, I’m not a religious person, and basing such a whole expedition on ‘finding God’ (with the potential consequence that, if the religious aspect is destroyed, everything else is, too) seemed, I don’t know, flimsy. Deeply, I believe that what a society needs is ethics, and not religion: the latter can too quickly devolve. Which makes Mack’s lies and fears sort of understandable, if not justified, considering all everything goes to the dogs when the lies are revealed (because they will be, that’s half the plot, after all). In the end, I found myself not caring whether the colony collapsed or not.

Still, I enjoyed the world-building: the author didn’t need to explain a lot for me to picture this world, with its self-sufficient, half-living houses, built at the foot of that bizarre organic city that will kill whoever gets too deep inside. And while I kind of guessed quickly what the big secret was (it got dragged for a little too long as well), trying to imagine what happened to the people in the other pods was also enjoyable. The writing style itself was pleasant, and I never struggled with it. Besides, it looks like there’s much diversity in that colony, but it’s never presented in a heavy-handed way (‘oh, look, people of colour!’). Ren as I perceive her is likely black or close to, the founder/pathfinder is Korean, several other are probably of Indian or Pakistani origin, it’s not ye olde average colony full of white men only, and it’s also not emphasised: these people all come from different backgrounds and areas of the world, and it’s normal, and it’s normal that it’s normal because why would you ever expect anything else? In other words, the book doesn’t feel the need to justify anything about it, which is great.

The ending is somewhat controversial. I think I liked it, in general; it feels like giving up, and it leaves quite a few things unexplained when it comes to God’s city, but it was strangely fitting (with Ren having to first strip herself of everything that was dragging her down, in order to understand what they had refused or been unable to see in the beginning). However, I also think that some parts of the plot were not sufficiently explained, or dealt with too quickly, especially the part about Sung-Soo; had this been better strung into the narrative, its impact would have been different.

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text 2018-04-26 03:46
Reading progress update: I've read 44%.
Planetfall - Emma Newman

I keep wanting to quote this book but I listen to it while doing other things so it's not really convenient. Plus I'm not sure how isolated quotes would come across. Newman manages to convey Ren's anxiety in such a way that I can relate to her despite not necessarily feeling the way she does about the world and I just want to give her a hug although of course I wouldn't because she would find that invasive. If anything I find her voice more intense via audio.

 

Seriously, this book brings out ALL THE FEELS, even on a reread.

 

On a side note so far the book doesn't mention a character that left behind a baby so maybe I didn't miss it like I thought. I still couldn't remember which character it was from the first book though and now I can't be sure about which character it was from the second... Shrug.

 

Since the book was hard for Emma Newman to write, I wonder if the audio was hard for her to read?

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text 2018-04-25 15:02
BOOK REVIEW - Damaged Beyond All Recognition

Damaged Beyond All Recognition (Infinity's Trinity Book 1)

 

Alan Felyk

Print Length: 361 pages

 

Publisher: Alan Felyk; 1 edition (January 1, 2018)

Publication Date: January 1, 2018

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B077VJGJCD

 

https://www.amazon.com/Damaged-Beyond-Recognition-Infinitys-Trinity-ebook/dp/B077VJGJCD

 

 

 

Reviewed by Dr Wesley Britton

 

I admit it. Alan Felyk has an imagination I simply envy. The tag line for his new Damaged Beyond All Recognition is “Extending the literary traditions of Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams ...”  Vonnegut, certainly. Adams, well, from time to time. It’s certainly true that this novel is going to appeal to readers who like high-minded humor laced into a complex, layered yarn.

 

Three unusual protagonists anchor the proceedings.  First, there’s Paul Tomenko who is a famous writer chronicling events in the counter-culture in Colorado in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Suddenly, he finds himself traveling to and from God's library somewhere outside the Universe. That’s the current God, the less than omnipotent being in a long chain of less than omnipotent beings.

 

For example, there’s no longer an afterlife for humanity to ascend to. Humans can no longer access memories from their past lives in previous versions of the Universe or acquire new memories. So who can replace God when he dies as he is coming very close to that point?

 

It’s Paul who has to find the solution to this dilemma with the help of his two lovers, the genius genetic Maggie Mae Monahan and the Sci-Fi novelist Allie Briarsworth who intuitively senses events from the past and future.

 

Paul’s brain creates some unusual supporting players like the gatekeeper to God’s archives who is a doppelganger for Cher and the very helpful librarian who is a doppelganger for actress Katharine Ross. Clearly, these women came from Paul’s unfulfilled carnal wishes. Toss in Gronk and Grita, two six-year-old neo-Neanderthals who are the most intelligent humans on Earth due to reconstructed DNA. Did I mention the story includes traveling across multiple planes of existence or a species of aliens who want to obliterate humanity so they can become the supreme creations of the cosmos?

 

Metaphysics have rarely been treated with such originality or irreverence. This is entertaining science fiction with a cerebral framework, lively tone, well-drawn characters (with overly restrained sex lives, sad to say), and the unexpected on nearly every page. You should probably make a point of not missing this one as you too might be a figment of Paul Tomenko’s imagination. Wait till you find out where you’ve been. Talk about a Big Bang . . .

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on April 24 at:

https://waa.ai/z5mq

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review 2018-04-24 15:37
Fantastic Follow-Up to Lock In!
Head On - John Scalzi

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

 

Not a lot to say here besides I freaking loved this book. I loved Lock In (the first book in the series) and the world that John Scalzi created. I adored the characters of Vann and Chris. Though the book is told via Chris's POV, I do wish one of the books would be told in Vann's POV. She is just my favorite.

 

It's been several months or at least a year since the events in the first book. We have Chris still working for the FBI and partnering with Vann. When Chris goes to meet his parents at a Hilketa game, he witnesses a player being taken off the field. Everyone quickly realizes the player is dead. The FBI is brought in due to the fact that the Hilketa game is played by Hadens and that means though the crime took place in Washington, D.C. the Haden player's body was somewhere else. What follows is a lot of twists and turns until you have Chris and Vann figure out how somehow could have killed someone while they were playing a game. 

 

Chris is still living with his roommates and though they were barely in the first half of the book, they do pop up in the second half more. His partnership with Vann is still the best. They crack me up and pop off each other a lot. Chris's parents are still reassuringly there for their son and are involved with the plot in this book too. 


We do get new characters in this one and we get to meet another integrator (someone who had the first symptoms of Haden's, but didn't get the full disease) whose life I wish we were told more about. I swear that Scalzi could totally publish some novellas featuring new characters and I would not be upset. 


I do love the world that Scalzi has built in this one. Hadens are unfortunately dealing with the fall-out from a bill that was passed in the last book. Many are struggling to make ends meet and now there are rumblings about having non-Hadens get their own threeps as well. I like that Chris sees the issues with this in this book, and I wonder if this is going to pop up in the next book as a plot point. 

 

The ending leaves things with some of the bad guys caught, but with Chris and Vann realizing a bigger conspiracy may be out there. I really did need the X-Files theme song blaring away in the background at this point. 

 

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text 2018-04-24 00:15
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Head On - John Scalzi

Please let there be a third book!

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