Good Reading : August 2006
word of mouth science fiction/fantasy Eclipse KA Bedford Eclipse is KA Bedford’s second novel and was awarded the 2005 Aurealis Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel. The action takes place in the same universe as Orbital Burn, Bedford’s first novel, although many years into the future. Eclipse is the name of the starship to which our hero, James Dunne, finds himself assigned. He is part of a mission to explore space for more planets for the human race to inhabit; along the way, an abandoned alien ship is discovered. Dunne is an example of Bedford’s brilliant characterisation, beginning the novel with a somewhat romanticised view of his role in the Interstellar Space Service. As disaster strikes Dunne begins to lose some his naivete, adding a touch of realism to the novel. No one could admire a character who comes through each trial still happily wearing rose-coloured glasses. This is ultimately a pacy thriller, but Bedford also manages to bring to the fore some interesting themes, such as the equality of the sexes and the corruption that often comes with power. Bedford could quite easily lure readers of mass- market psychological thrillers and give them a page-turner with a difference. This is a credit to the field of Australian science-fiction writing and a more than satisfying read. ★★★★ Edge Publishing $US14.95 Reviewed by Samantha Cosier The Swarm Frank Schätzing The eco-apocalypse is with us! Strange events start occur ring in the sea across the Earth. Disconnected and random though the events seem to be, scientists eventually piece together the alar ming fact that humanity is being assaulted from the oceans: by whales, orcas, jellyfish, mussels, crabs, even wor ms! America leaps to the inter national forefront to discover the root cause of this assault, as well as to coordinate relief efforts around the world – particularly Europe, where tsunamis and new killer viruses are cutting swathes through the populace. The Swar m weighs in at some 900 pages, making it a challenge for bedtime reading unless you have wrists of steel, but the struggle is worth it. Schätzing has obviously done some incredible research into the environment, physics, biology et al, which, twinned with his obviously unstoppable imagination, brings this story to life. He leaves no target untouched – the destruction humanity is wreaking on the environment, corporate rape of the planet, the arrogance of humanity’s self-elected superiority over other for ms of life. The bodies pile up, and you have to ask yourself whose fault it really is. This won’t appeal to every reader, but if you care at all for this little ball of dirt that we live on, then it’s a must read … and a rollicking good sci-fi thriller as well. ★★★★ Hodder & Stoughton $32.95 Reviewed by Leslie Lightfoot Druids’ Sword: The Troy Game Book 4 Sara Douglass In the ancient Aegean world, over 3,000 years ago, the Game was played to protect cities from evil. It was based upon the ancient secrets of the Minotaur and the Cretan Labyrinth and controlled by a Kingman and the Mistress of the Labyrinth. But the Aegean civilisation has been struck by disasters, evil stalks the land and the Game is failing, leaving only a single remaining Kingman, Brutus of Troy. With his captive child-bride Cor nelia, Brutus is lured to the land of Albion (England) to resur rect the Game with the only remaining Mistress of the Labyrinth – the heartless and treacherous Genvissa. Throughout the ages these and many other characters live, die and are continually rebor n to struggle with and against each other, seeking supremacy in The Troy Game. You do need to read all the books in the series to gain a good appreciation of the characters and plot over the course of 3,000 years. It’s an interesting jour ney filled with magic and conflict and riveting characters, many seeking a for m of redemption for past failings. An engrossing series, culminating brilliantly in this final instalment. ★★★ Voyager $49.95 Reviewed by Leslie Lightfoot Shriek: An Afterword Jeff Vandermeer Shriek returns readers of City of Saints and Madmen to the fictional city of Ambergris. It takes an intensely personal look at the city through the somewhat chaotic lives of two siblings, Janet and Duncan Shriek. This is not an easy read. It’s quite slow in parts, and the competing voices of Janet and Duncan throughout make the nar rative quite messy.Vander meer’s style is an acquired taste, and only half- way through this novel did I start to find myself appreciating aspects of the story. Janet was once a popular society figure and Duncan a respected historian, but both fall from grace and become mysteriously connected to the gray caps, an exiled race of people who live under- ground developing advanced machines that are fungal in nature. Throughout the story Janet’s petty jealousies and concer ns were a source of annoyance for this reader, as was her obsession with starting her story over again at the beginning of each chapter, and she is difficult to respect even though she’s the main voice of the book. The complex plot requires great concentration; this is a novel for Vander meer fans rather than fans of science fiction in general. All in all, a frustrating read. ★ Tor $32.95 Reviewed by Samantha Cosier Find out what’s on and where! Are you looking to find out what book-related events are happening around the country? Visit www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au If you have an event you would like our readers to know about contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 9810 2477.