logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: science-fiction-series
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
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
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-05-23 11:26
'Planetfall' by Emma Newman - Highly Recommended
Planetfall (Planetfall #1) - Emma Newman

A future SF classic with ambitious storytelling, insightful characterisation and a unique premise.

 

I'd been told that 'Planetfall' by Emma Newman was a future SF classic so I wasn't surprised that it was good. I was surprised about what it was good at.

 

I'd expected that a book called 'Planetfall' would be rooted in tales of shiny spacecraft or huge asteroid-sized colony vessels and long discussions on hyperdrives, gravitational rings, weapons systems and strategic and tactical AI units, but it's not really like that.

 

There is a big asteroid-size colony ship, there's lots of plausible advanced tech and there is even an interstellar, interspecies mystery in the tradition of Arthur C Clarke or Isaac Asimov. But, at its heart, this is the story of Ren, a cripplingly anxious woman, struggling with guilt for a past decision not yet fully revealed but which we know involves colluding in a lie at the foundation of the colony, a lie which, twenty years later, is in danger of being exposed.

 

The story, which is told from Ren's point of view, occurring mostly in the present but including some of her dreams and memories, tells of a trip to stars, led by The Pathfinder, to an unexplored planet on which they find a large organic structure that they refer to as 'God's City'.

 

The power of the book comes mostly from the intimate portrayal of Ren's journey, or perhaps her pilgrimage, motivated by love and faith, hindered by self-doubt, broken by a single event and the lies that followed it, crippled by guilt and struggling painfully towards hope.

 

'Planetfall' gives a deeply credible and personal insight into the effect of anxiety and guilt on mental health. It's really not comfortable being behind Ren's eyes. Almost all of her memories are painful: the mother she could never please, the father she left behind, the best friend that she followed to the stars and then lost, her own role in perpetuating a lie for twenty years. If you've ever been in the grip of anxiety or known someone who is, you'll recognise what is happening to Ren. It's heartbreaking to watch her anxiety and her compulsive behaviour, brought on by the lie she's created, lead her to self-imposed isolation and leave her despairing and on the edge of hating herself.

 

Capturing this in any novel is an achievement. Wrapping it in a novel of planetary colonisation that is more a pilgrimage to meet God, is extraordinary. Inserting a seed of betrayal and deception at the heart of everything and revealing it slowly, like a dead body you can smell but can't yet see, is inspired.

 

The ending of the book was very satisfying. It was surprising, filled with action and delivered an outcome that both dealt with the consequences of the lie at the heart of the colony's foundation and revealed the mystery that had called the colonists to the planet. It also continued Ren's journey in a way that provided some hope but which didn't protect her from her own history.

 

I listened to the audiobook version of 'Planetfall' which is narrated by the author. I’m never sure what to expect of authors narrating their own work. Some of them get it very wrong, for example, I can’t listen to Stephen King or John Irving read their stuff. On the other hand, Barbara Kingsolver and  John le Carré capture every nuance. I’m glad to say that I can add to Emma Newman to the list of authors who are good narrators. I’d be happy to listen to her read other people’s work too. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of her work.

https://soundcloud.com/orionbooks/planetfall-written-and-read-by-emma-newman
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-05-16 00:27
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Planetfall (Planetfall #1) - Emma Newman

Wow. What a brave book. Not at all in the mainstream of SF and all the more credible for that. I loved the ending. Now I have to mull it all over and try and write a decent review.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-05-13 10:37
Reading progress update: I've read 65%. - ambitious storytelling
Planetfall (Planetfall #1) - Emma Newman

As an insight into the effect of guilt on mental health, this works very well. It's really not comfortable being behind Ren's eyes. Her anxiety and her compulsive behaviour, brought on by the lie she's created, have left her isolated, despairing and on the edge of hating herself.

 

Capturing this in any novel is an achievement. Wrapping it in a novel of planetary colonisation that is more a pilgrimage to meet God, is extraordinary. Placing a seed of betrayal and deception at the heart of everything and revealing it slowly, like a dead body you can smell but can't yet see, is inspired.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-05-11 23:38
Reading progress update: I've read 40%.
Planetfall (Planetfall #1) - Emma Newman

Despite some fascinating technology extrapolations and the whole longing on a different planet thing, this book feels more like a thriller than Science Fiction. It revolves around a secret, one that’s a source of shame, a lie that demands more lies and a woman crippled by anxiety and perhaps guilt.

 

 

I’m very curious about the secret source of shame but mostly,I want to know if the main character will unshackle herself from the past either by atonement or confession or through sheer willpower.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?