Good Reading : July 2007
JULY 2007 ı goodreading 39 ound Mind ricia Sullivan This book has so much promise, but is on the whole quite disappointing. The story opens with young music student Cassidy escaping from an unspecified attack on her college. Was it a nuclear explosion, a natural disaster, or perhaps some sort of supernatural monster? When Cassidy arrives wounded and confused in the nearest town, it becomes obvious that something strange is going on: no one knows anything about her college, they’ve never even heard of it. From here on, reading this book is like floundering about in the dark, or attempting to read a novel in a language you can’t speak. Apparently Sound Mind is a follow-up to a previous novel, Double Vision, but there is no reference to this anywhere in the book and Sound Mind is offered up as a stand-alone novel. Having not read Double Vision, I came to the conclusion that you must need to read it to have even the slightest hope of understanding this one. The concepts Sullivan tries to grapple with – alternative realities, worlds within worlds – are intriguing, but unfortunately her exploration of them is too complex to make for enjoyable reading.You may enjoy this if you have read Sullivan’s earlier work, but for me, even an extra layer of understanding wouldn’t compensate for the poor narrative style. ★ Orbit $22.95 Reviewed by Samantha Cosier science fiction / fantasy word of mouth Black Man Richard Morgan Earth, 23rd century. The USA is frac- tured into several oli- garchies, a dominant China threatens, mankind is settling Mars and ‘the 13s’ are the pariahs of the world. Carl Marsalis is a 13: a genetically-engineered human, a super soldier trained to ignore pain who owes no loyalties, feels no emo- tions. He has tur ned against his own kind and is licensed to hunt and destroy them. Hated and feared by his own kind and reviled by humanity, he lives in a half-world of darkness –atrueBlackMan…andhe’sina Florida jail. To get out, he cuts a deal and goes in search of another rogue 13 who is on a killing spree across America. But Marsalis soon finds that there are powerful forces arraigned against him; forces that will kill him in the blink of an eye. Morgan is in the first rank of edgy, cyber-punk sci-fi authors, always seeking to remind us that future utopias will probably be as dysfunctional, prejudiced, power- hungry, loving, daring and caring as present-day society. He combines the tale of a deadly manhunt and an unlikely love with comment on prejudice and the consequences of genetic engineering. Black Man is punchy, pumped-up Chandler noir-esque sci-fi with a heart. ★★★★ Gollancz $35.00 Reviewed by Brooke Walker Emperor Stephen Baxter In this first book of the ‘Time’s Tapestry’ series, it’s 4 BC in Roman Britain. A woman struggles to give birth and, as she does so, she starts speaking in Latin, repeating sixteen lines of verse over and over. Her words, smacking of witch- craft and madness, are written down by her literate brother-in-law; only later does it become evident that the words, spoken in a tongue of which she had no knowledge, for m a dire prophecy that speaks of the death of an emperor and cataclysmic change for the Roman Empire.This prophecy is handed down through many generations, and Baxter ntertwines its effects on this family’s descendants, their countrymen and their Roman overlords with the history of early Roman Britain. Baxter has packed a lot – over 400 years of British history – into 300 pages. Unfortunately, character development has suffered some- what as a result, but he has managed to fairly deftly portray the lives, times and politics of early Roman Britain.You do pick up a good sense of what it might have been like to live through those times of clashing cultures, on an island at the far Western end of the Roman Empire. An imaginative historical read. ★★★ Gollancz $22.95 Reviewed by Leslie Lightfoot The Dragon Queens Traci Harding Mia Montrose had been close to death. Her protector, Albray Devere, had helped defeat their enemy and saved her life. Mia had freed him from the vow that bound him to the ethereal plane as the protector of those women who carry the bloodline of the Holy Grail. Mia is one such woman. So is Tamar, the daughter of Mia and Albray. It is now 14 years after those events. The balance of power between good and evil is fragile. The possibility of humankind fulfilling its ultimate destiny rests in the heart and mind of Tamar. Are Mia and Tamar from the line of fabled Dragon Queens reaching back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden? Can Tamar help humankind from fall- ing once again from grace? Mia must guide Tamar through the journals of her ancestor, Ashlee Devere, as she tries to understand her place in the story of the Holy Grail, and the future of our world. Harding displays her extensive interest in grail lore and esoteric philosophy here and has researched her material meticulously. However, she indulges herself too deeply in parts of this work. In the end, an engaging nar rative gets lost in preference for an extensive dissertation on soul spheres, planetary alignments and time travel. One for diehard fans. ★★ Voyager $32.99 Reviewed by David Johnson www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au Find a book event happening near you!