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review 2016-08-10 16:00
Clade - James Bradley

Clade

James Bradbury

Published January 28th 2015 by Hamish Hamilton

Sample quote

 

“It is quiet out here today, the only sounds that disturb the silence those of the wind, the occasional squalling cry of the birds. Down by the water an elephant seal lies on the rocks, its vast bulk mottled and   sluglike; around it tracks of human activity scar the snow like rust, turning it grey and red and dirty.”  Loc 34- 35

 

Well, at long last, I am back to my award list reading/reviewing.  Clade was on the Locus Recommended Reading list.  But, unfortunately, it didn’t reach the final ballot.   I disagree with this omission.  I really liked this novel. In fact, I predict that it will be one of my books of 2016.  The work is a written evocation of a well-drawn, depressingly, beautiful world, peopled by great characters.    This work, which I am going to call a work of mosaic fiction, is formed of several, interrelated, independent, and interdependent pieces. Each section of the novel follows a different character/s (either; Ellie, Adam, Summer or Noah) tracing the various strata of their shared history.

This work deals with environmental decay, and destruction.  It is an attempt to understand, change and stop that destruction.  It starts with a young Adam surveying the ice fields and noticing the damage that humanity is doing to this setting.  In later sections of the novel, we follow; Adam, Summer, and Noah, racing to escape a storm, in an attempt to escape from the effects of global warming.   In addition, this work focuses on the collapse of bee colonies throughout the globe.  You could say that the destruction of the bee hives foretells the destruction of the human colony.  

So, this book looks head on at the damage that we are inflicting on the environment.  But, it is more than; a call to arms, a diatribe, a polemical piece of writing, or depressing mournful cry for humanity.  In fact, it is all of those things and more.  We see that human lives continue, despite the harshness of the times.    The characters aren’t simply signifiers in a political argument.  They are more than place holders, puppets in the authors argumentative polemic.  They are themselves, concerned with their own messy lives.  The characters do live in an Anthropocene world and have to cope with the effects of environmental damage. But, that doesn’t stop them from living.  These characters still; go through the problems of childhood and adolescence, get jobs, get married, have children, quarrel, get divorced and age.   In other words, these characters live full and messy lives.

 

Bradley shows the characters interacting with the world and its inhabitants.  Amir is one of the interesting individuals that we meet along the way.  Ellie meets him when she is exploring the possibility of creating an art instillation around his bees. We learn that Amir is an ‘illegal immigrant’.  Through him we see the horrors, and inhumanity, of the immigration system, both; in our world, and the world presented in the book.

 

As you may be aware, I am disabled.  Therefore, I am always interested when a book includes characters with disabilities.   Noah has Autism.   It is interesting to see how Noah, and his need for uniformity and stability, reacts to an ever changing world.  It is great that, while Bradbury doesn’t shrink from the pain that Autism inflicts on Noah and his family, he doesn’t portray Noah as a victim of this pain.  He gives Noah a narrative arc and a future, even in a world where the cards seems stacked against him.

 

This is a brilliant evocation of a world in decline.  But, it is, also, a world which is full of life, life which is struggling to survive.    It is a beautifully drawn picture of a decaying hopeless, and hopeful, world.  I highly recommend this work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: vikzwrites.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/review-james-bradley-clade
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review 2016-04-05 15:01
Third book from the list
Foxglove Summer: A Rivers of London Novel - Ben Aaronovitch

Two girls go missing from a rural English town.  Peter Grant is sent to that town on a  routine mission  to check up on individuals  with magic powers,  living in the area.   Initially,  his inquiries go no where, finding no connection between these individuals and the missing girls.  But he does  not return to London. Instead, he decides to stay on and help the local police. He gradually gets drawn further and further into the investigation,  finding that there’s more to the case than meets the eye. I won’t go any further than that.  Since, this is a  mystery story and,  therefore,  is easily spoilt.



I have mentioned, in the previous reviews, that reading along with awards encourages you to read outside of your comfort zone. Apologising for  repetition, I have to say that,  I  would have never had  read this book if it hadn’t been for the Locus Recommended long list. I don’t know why, but, I never felt any incentive to read this book. I now have to admit that i was missing out.. This book is a fun read.

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review 2016-04-03 20:44
deadly moon
Seveneves: A Novel - Neal Stephenson

The good thing about reading the short/long lists is that it forces you to read books that you wouldn’t normally go anywhere near. Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves is a good example of this.     Neal Stephenson is one of those authors who I would normally avoid.  Firstly, he is a popular author and that always puts me off a writer.  Secondly, because his books are so long. But, it’s on the Locus recommended reading list and so I had to read Seveneves.   I am glad that I did.

 

This is the plot. Earth is going on its own merry way when the moon splinters into several pieces.  Gradually, they notice that the pieces are smashing into pieces and getting very near to Earth orbit.  Scientists begin to fear that one day one piece will hit the earth and send earth into a destructive spiral.  The planet’s leaders join forces to send an arc into space, a group of people who will live on a space station and wait out the dark rain, returning to Earth when it is once again habitable.  The work traces; the preparation for take-off, the political spats that surround that take-off, their life on the station, the splits that emerge, and their final return to earth.

The station prepares.  Its inhabitants are chosen.  They are sent into space.  They quarrel.  Factions emerge.  They battle on social media.  Leaders are chosen and then toppled.  They fight cosmic debris.  The book’s well drawn, believable, characters must fight the Universe and each other to survive.

 

This book is a fun read.  The world is immersive and believable.  It is a world of social media.  It is a world of bloggers.  It is a world of tribes and factions.  It is a world of conspiracies.  It is a world in which people form tribes around strong leaders or strong ideas, creating vicious online battles pitting one tribe against the other in increasingly vicious social media wars. But, it is, also, a world of exposition.    Stephenson spends a lot of time, and pages, explaining the science behind every part of the space station, the universe and the fate of earth. Despite, or perhaps because, of this, Seveneves is an immersive, enjoyable, read.

 

 

Source: vikzwrites.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/deathly-moon-second-awards-review
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