Good Reading : November 2005
science fiction/fantasy word of mouth Olympos Dan Simmons The Trojan War – with a quantum dif- ference: post- humans-as- gods, ‘old style’ humans, and evolved AIs combine in a nar rative peppered with clas- sical literature references (Proust, Shakespeare, The Iliad) galore, to make an ambitious, complicated, literary hard science fiction novel that only Dan Simmons could pull off successfully. Picking up immedi- ately where Ilium left off, Olympos begins as the Trojans and the Greeks have combined to war with the gods. Thomas Hockenberry, recreated by the gods from DNA to observe the recreated Trojan War, has sided with the humans, and on earth the Voynix have tur ned on their human ‘masters’. Convoluted, yes, entertain- ing, definitely – although I couldn’t help feeling that I’d have enjoyed the novel more if I had more (or any) familiarity with the classics. ★★★★ Victor Gollancz $32.95 Reviewed by Johanne Knowles The Big Over Easy Jasper Fforde The first in a new series from the creator of the literature- referenced Thursday Next’ series, though filled with new charac- ters – this time around from nursery rhymes – is so close to the previous series that if another author’s name had appeared on the cover all the reviews would be claiming this a ‘copy cat’ book. Detective Inspector Jack Spratt is not well liked by his superiors. He is doggedly deter mined to prosecute unpopular cases, and he bitterly resents a for mer partner who has sto- len all the glory from previous cases. Given a new assistant, Mary Mary, and a new case, Humpty Dumpty’s fall, Jack is under pressure to wrap it up quickly and cleanly. But then Jack finds evidence that leads to a previ- ous crime, one that had supposedly been solved by his famous ex-partner. Despite the hard-boiled title, the crimes lean more towards an English detective novel. A surprisingly com- plicated plot gives all the characters the chance to tell anecdotes, bring- ing in legends, myths, fables and, of course, nursery rhymes. Deadpan puns fill every page, but I found the joke wearing thin after a while. If you read the ‘Thursday Next’ novels then were disappointed to find that this new novel wasn’t the next in the series, don’t be; this book is still for you. Otherwise, probably not. ★★★ Hodder & Stoughton $32.95 Reviewed by Phillip Knowles The Traveller John Twelve Hawks In the shadows of our world (perhaps today, perhaps a few years from now), the centu- ies-old battle between he Harlequins and the Tabula is fought. Harlequins are warriors, willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a group of humans called Travellers who can astral travel.The main danger that Travellers pose is that they cause ordinary humans to question their condition. The Tabula are a global group dedi- cated to the status quo – keeping the populace calm and content while they go about their business of amassing power over all of humanity. Maya is a Harlequin who has been sent to America to find and guard the last remaining known Travellers – two brothers who have been living off the grid, staying under the surveillance radar of the Vast Machine. The Tabula have a need to capture the brothers, not only to stop them from fomenting unrest but to participate in an experiment that, if suc- cessful, will enable the Tabula to monitor the actions of every human on the globe. Twelve Hawks’s first novel provides a cautionary tale, dressed up as part sci-fi/ part taut thriller, about the end of privacy and freedom as we know it. He paints a world where we are watched, registered and stored in globally-accessible databases which can be accessed with or without the owner’s permission, our every move- ment tracked by satellites, our emails and web accesses inspected by covert inter net surveillance programs. Wait a minute … this is fiction, isn’t it? I thought the ending a touch abrupt, but as this is the first book in a trilogy I’m inter- ested to see where Twelve Hawks goes with it. An interesting read that may make you think a bit about your personal freedoms. ★★★★ Random House $32.95 Reviewed by Brooke Walker The extraordinary case of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Now out in paperback, Susanna Clarke’s debut novel has won the 2005 Hugo Award for best novel. It has also won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, Adult Literature and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. It was nominated for the World Fantasy Award, shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award, and was declared Time magazine’s number 1 book of 2004. It’s a busy book! 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.
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