Reviews #1

Interface - Stephen Bury
Actually, this book is by Neal Stevenson and "some other guy". But nobody can tell me who the collaborater is. Whoever it is, the combination works well. Stevenson writes pacey and vivid prose, but his characterisation is only fair and his plotting is muddled at best. But in Interface, the plot is tight and the characters well drawn - yet the book still has pace and style to burn. The story is a conspiracy theory classic - a shadowy group of the very rich want to manipulate american politics. So they promote in secet a new technique for controlling thought and use it on a presidential candidate. Of course there are the good guys who include the candidates daughter and other worthy types. Enjoy.

Metropolitan - Walter Jon Williams
Its no secret that I like Walter Jon William's work. In fact I like it so much I keep telling people how good it is and lending them the books. So whoever has my copy of Days of Atonement - please return it. You can't accuse Williams of being stuck in a rut. Each new book has a completely new setting with different character types. This time the world is a totally urbanised and enclosed world where magic is a natural resource which can be mined like oil and distributed like electricity. An ambition clerk discovers a hidden resevoir of this magic plasm and uses it to further her aims of becoming a wizard. I suppose that a novel with magic has to be a fantasy, but it does not read that way - more a hard SF novel with some very weird technology. Williams just keeps on getting better - you gotta read this one.

Hyperspace - Michio Kaku
I've been reading a lot of non-SF lately and this is the best of those works. Its straight science dealing with theories of the nature of the universe and how such theories use more than just the foru dimensions that we are familiar with. It is a serious discussion of the current thinking in mainstream cosmology and particle theory. What makes this stand out is how readable it is. It is written at such a level that anyone who could handle the concepts in high school physics could easily take it in - there are no formulas. The writing style flows well and the book is structured in a clear and logical manner. Personal anecdotes and references to SF books, films etc also help to keep the book from being too heavy - in fact very easy to read. On a personal note, I also have to admire somebody who knows that one of the top figures in black hole theory was a New Zealander. Roy Kerr is every bit as important as Stephen Hawking in this field and other writers (eg Isaac Asimov) call him British!

Odds and Gods - Tom Holt
When it comes to reviewing Tom Holt's work, its hard to say anything distinctive about the book in question. There is a great sameness about his work - they are all humorous works about a disorganised set of legendary types (Gods, Devils, Round Table Knights etc). The thing is, they are very entertaining. In my (not very humble) opinion, Holt is the only writer who can compete with Terry Pratchett in the SF/Fantasy humour business. This time we have a bunch of retired gods in a type of celestial old folks home. These gods are a bit feable and more than a bit senile and now they have to cope with the threat of the worst thing that humanity can throw at them - lawyers. Funny book - not his best though.

Fires of Eden - Dan Simmons
This is a straight horror novel. Sometimes Simmons likes to mix his horror with a bit or a lot of SF - not this time. A group of people are together on an isolated resort in Hawaii when people start to go missing. A volcano is erupting and the locals start talking about about old legends which just happen to bear some relation to what is happening. Sound familiar - its pretty much formula stuff. Of course Simmons can really write even if the theme is a bit trite. I did enjoy it because it was so well crafted - the only problem I really had was the persistent feeling that it was a film script waiting to be written.