Sci-fi and calamity to soothe the troubled soul.
Dan Carlin is best known as the host of the immensely popular Hardcore History podcast. If you have somehow managed to miss Hardcore History, I highly recommend catching up.
One of the recurring themes in the Hardcore History podcast is musing about how us modern people would cope with some of the horrific events of the past and trying to get into the heads of the people living through the events, like a Mongol invasion, or the fall of the Roman Empire, or a plague, or one of the other many, many awful things that have befallen people throughout recorded history.
The End is Always Near picks up on the same theme and focuses in on it.
Carlin is a radio person, and you can tell he’s more used to talking his texts than having them read, but it’s still very interesting.
If you’re a fan of the podcast you’ve probably already read The End is Always Near and if you’re not, the book does serve as an introduction to the podcast.
I personally think Carlin is stronger in podcast form than text form, but The End is Always Near is well worth reading.
Wow. Eat the Apple is the memoir of a marine who served three tours in Iraq, but it is also and more significantly a document of the frailty of toxic masculinity, mental health issues and the bravery to confront these issues.
Young really goes out on a limb from a technical standpoint, working with different and sometimes very pyrotechnical narrative techniques in a prose style that is extremely self-aware.
Self-conscious narrative techniques that scream “workshop” can ruin a book so hard, but in this case, they actually work.
Eat the Apple is not by any stretch of the imagination a fun read, but it’s important and real and very raw.
It feels like an honest attempt at explaining a soldier’s mindset.
A Memory Called Empire gave me really weird dreams. Not sure why, but the entire time I was reading it I had strange dreams. It might be because of the haunting prose style or the intricate society-building Martine performs.
The novel takes place in the far future after humanity has spread out across space. The Teixcalaan empire is old, powerful, and decadent. An ambassador from a weaker society arrives to replace her predecessor who has passed away in mysterious circumstances.
There is far future tech aplenty in A Memory Called Empire but the most fascinating to me is something called an Imago. Which is creepy as hell, but also makes sense within the society that invented it.
With great prose, a fast-paced plot, interesting characters, and decadence aplenty, A Memory Called Empire is well worth reading.
And now we wait for the second installment in the trilogy. Tick tock.
Charlie Stross blurbed Gideon the Ninth: “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!”
This is a surprisingly accurate summary. Yes, really. Though it doesn’t fully convey the sheer weirdness of this novel.
If the blurb made you perk up, get it.
Infinite Detail has a lot to recommend it: An interesting thought experiment and a good story, delivered in precise prose about a near future where the Internet has been destroyed. This of course is the Y2K bug on steroids.
It’s also mainly set in England with a throbbing soundtrack of jungle music. Yes, I’ve listened to a lot of jungle music since reading Infinite Detail. Life is weird.
If you like cyberpunk, put this on your reading list.
Hakan Veil used to be an overrider, a Black Hatch man, sent along in cryosleep on cargo hauls between Earth and Mars and further into the solar system to provide security in case of mutiny.
Now he’s a hired thug in a Martian slum.
Thin Air takes place in the same universe as Thirteen, but a century or two later. It’s solid and fast-moving, but it feels like Morgan tried to bolt on too much—there’s too much plot, too much violence, too much sex for what the story really needs.
Nevertheless, Morgan knows how to take you away into his gritty, noir world of genetically modified people.
Some restraint would have been nice, though.
As you’d expect from Alistair Reynolds, Permafrost is very smart.
This is a short novel (or perhaps a novella) with a very interesting take on time travel I’ve never seen before. One I can’t really describe without spoilers, and one with several very interesting twists.
If you like time travel or Alistair Reynolds, this is well worth reading. And you should like Alastair Reynolds.
This is the 10th novel in the Alex Verus series and it ably continues the story. Not much else to say, really. If you like the series you’ll like this.
The October Man is a novella set in the Rivers of London universe, but changes things up by taking place in Germany with the German magic police.
You obviously need to be up to speed with the universe for this novella to make any sense. It’s a nice little amuse-bouche while we wait for the next novel.
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Back once again with the sci-fi and general calamity. Includes The End is Always Near, Eat the Apple, A Memory Called Empire, Gideon the Ninth, Infinite Detail, Permafrost, Fallen, and The October Man.
A sci-fi and fantasy heavy installment that includes The Valedictorian of Being Dead, The Mastermind, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, Tiamat’s Wrath, The Raven Tower, The Liberation, The Light Brigade and Cryptonomicon.
Includes The Incomplete Book of Running, Aching God, The Murderbot Diaries, Lies Sleeping, The Consuming Fire, and Rendezvous with Rama.
Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.
Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.
Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.
Lots of sci-fi in this installment. Includes Retribution, Boomerang, The Collapsing Empire, All Systems Red, and Ninefox Gambit.
A worthy inclusion to the Malazan canon and great high fantasy to disappear into in troubled times.
Includes a mea culpa, Hillbilly Elegy, Gulp, The Stars are Legion, and The Kill Society.
Lots of fiction series in this one. Includes Grunt, 1177 B.C., Louder Than Hell, Smarter Faster Better, The Hanging Tree, Death’s End, Chains of Command, and Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?.
Hey kids, you like epic fantasy? ’Cause I've got some epic fantasy for you.
This installment features grimdark fantasy, peppy astronauts and the Roman Empire. Includes SPQR, And On That Bombshell, The Code Book, Schiit Happened, Beyond Redemption, The Severed Streets, The Martian and Veiled.
Includes The Antidote, One Nation, Under Gods, Losing the Signal, The Todd Glass Situation, The Last Policeman, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Beacon 23, Killing Pretty and Queen of Fire.
Lots of fantasy and sci-fi in this installment plus a book about sports! Includes Boy on Ice, Difficult Men, Restaurant Man, The Red Line, Cunning Plans, Seveneves, Nemesis Games, Bitter Seeds, The Mechanical, Angles of Attack, and City of Stairs.
Nic is sad about Terry Pratchett's passing. Includes No Land’s Man, Idiot America, Something Coming Through, The Burning Room, Foxglove Summer, and The Dark Defiles.
Things go dark and magical in this installment. Includes So, Anyway…, Yes Please, The Mirror Empire, London Falling, Broken Homes, Perfidia, The Peripheral, Burning Chrome, and the Bel Dame Apocrypha Omnibus.
Lots of good reads in this installment. Includes All Hell Let Loose, Metallica: This Monster Lives, 10% Happier, Onward, Echopraxia, Cibola Burn, The Getaway God, Lock In, The Red: First Light, Terms of Enlistment, and Lines of Departure.
Solid reads abound in this installment of the roundup. Includes Console Wars, Your Inner Fish, Flash Boys, Digital Wars, The Perfect Storm, Tower Lord, By Blood We Live, I am Pilgrim and Lexicon.
Some great reads and a huge disappointment in this installment. Includes The Loudest Voice in the Room, Hatching Twitter, Dogfight, Ancillary Justice, KOP Killer, The Circle, Working God’s Mischief and Where Eagles Dare.
Some solid reading awaits you in this installment. Includes The Outpost, Masters of Doom, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, The Everything Store, Bomber Command, Gods of Guilt, and Low Town.
A slimmer-than-usual book roundup is heavy on the non-fiction, including several must-read titles.
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
From the heights of athletic excellence to the depths of depravity, this roundup includes The First 20 Minutes, Double Cross, The Heroin Diaries, Tattoos and Tequila, Dodger, Farthing, and Devil Said Bang.
Includes Wabi-Sabi, Making Things Happen, D-Day, Tallula Rising, Blood Song, The Americans and Amped. All in all, a happy romp through the meadows of literature.
Includes Search Inside Yourself, The Information Diet, Redshirts, The Gone-Away World, Wool, Leviathan Wakes, and Prince of Thorns. One of these may very well change your life.
Includes Shadow Ops: Control Point, The Night Circus, The Hunger Games, Quiet, The Science of Yoga, and Kitchen Confidential. Lots of good stuff in this one.
Includes Angelmaker, The Magicians, Magician King, Iron Council, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. One of these is the most important book of 2011.
Includes The Drop, Ready Player One, Moon Called, Among Others, Excession, Inferno, The Paleo Solution and I am Ozzy.
Includes Sandman Slim, Snuff, The Cold Commands, Reamde, Goodbye Darkness, Steve Jobs and The Psychopath Test.
Some books you might enjoy reading.