The Dead Zone. Stephen King. 1980. This book is oddly prescient. It follows two characters. One is a young man who at times has a form of second sight when he touches some people and he can glimpse their future. The other is a career huckster , with a vicious self importance who builds a business, then becomes sheriff, mayor and the Congressman. At that time the young man gets to touch the Congressman and he sees a portent of the future that is terrible. The congressman bears an uncanny resemblance to Trump in his growth an actions. This book is 37 years old. Like other king novels, it is a galloping good read, but the story is often too close to home these days. Soon to be a TV series.
The three-body problem. Cixin Liu. 2014 ISBN 19781466853447. This is part 1 of a sci fi trilogy by Cixin Liu, China’s most famous sci fi writer. Much of the early chapters revolve around the impacts/effects of The Cultural Revolution on chinese scientists. From this emerges a decision to reach out to the stars to find extraterrestrial life. Unfortunately the first earth person to make contact has become disaffected by humanity and she starts a sequence whereby an invasion force is sent to earth – and the journey will take 400 years. This book ends with mankind realizing the terrible impact of the future invasion and what may ensue (besides the elimination of humanity) . The author takes you on a terrific journey in physics ( maths and computer science) that will really keep your attention. In this the author is refreshingly different from American authors. He does not try to spoon feed the science and maths, nor over simplify the challenges. Now I have to find the next two books ( The Dark Forest, Death’s End) to see how this comes out.
Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, The Last Firewall, The Turing Exception. William Hertling. 2013. Four interesting scifi books on the future by this author. Avogadro Corp ( Loosely modeled on Google I suspect) is the world’s largest Internet company , which in the work of making email more efficient, an AI emerges. A.I. Apocalypse is years after, when a whole civilization of A.I is created through an evolutionary computer virus. The Last Firewall is years after that when A.I . is embedded into our society and a rogue A. I attempts to take over the World. The Turing Exception pits the wworld against an AI group, with the US and China behaving ,like they always do. Lots here to chew on in the three books. The author writes a fast easy to read book that is compelling as just enough predictable human responses are there to make the premise believable. Good for an escapist cross country read. See more at www.williamhertling.com
The Reluctant Jesus. Duncan Whitehead. 2014. What if The Messiah was actually here? But God had not told him for 30 years who he was, what he was going to do and what was involved? That is the core of this tongue in cheek, amusing story. Clearly written and fun to read, this is a good “summer’ escape book. It should be taken as a bit of fun and not more.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. George R.R. Martin. 2015. ISBN 9780345533487. Martin has placed this story about 100 years before A Game of Thrones. So it has all the royal families and famous names the predate his bigger story. It revolved around the misadventures and adventures of a hedge knight Ser Duncan (Dunk ) and Egg (Prince Aegbert) his squire. Full of tournaments, fighting, and various Lord s and Ladies, it is a tale well up to Martins skills. We are given a bit of a foreshadowing at the end of perhaps many more tales to come of Ser Duncan and Egg. Easy rollicking read.
C.J Sansom Books
A prolific historical fiction writer I recently discovered. C.J. Sansom has 6 titles detailing the Henry VIII period, The Matthiew Shardlake series, (Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation). One on the Spanish Civil War (Winter in Madrid) and one based on what would have happened if Britain had made a peace treaty with Germany in 1940 ( Dominion) . I like his ability to drop you quickly into what it is like to live in this times, the sights, smells, daily activities and attitudes. The writing is an easy style that keeps you very interested in the stories progress. At the end is a fascinating history lesson/commentary from the author which is as good as the book. Well worth it.
The Outlander series. Diana Gabaldon. 2005 to 2014. This is an eight part series in the romantic historical fiction genre. These book s, if done well require an enormous amount of work to write to retain some form of historical accuracy. This author also chooses to write huge books, with good character development. So much development that she writes other novels that insert between the main novels in the series.
While playing in the Aegean Sea over the last 18 days I plowed through the main 8 part series, thank you Kindle. Despite being at first glance chick books the author writes a damn good tale and drives to lots of suspense. However she does not kill off any of her main characters, which makes the stores less gripping as you know they will be saved.
Interested ? Google for more detail on the stories. If nothing else you will improve your Gaelic. The present TV series grabs parts from a few of the books. Reading the books will spoil any surprise in the TV series.
The Best Laid Plans & The High Road. Terry Fallis. 2008. 2010. These two books are hilarious ( and satirical). The author takes on a two volume story of how an eloquent, articulate, inelegant engineering professor finds himself an unlikely MP candidate in a riding that he has no chance of winning. His co star in this drama is a, jaundiced for his years, political speech writing Ph.D. in English. In the style of Jonathan Swift the author carves just north of a ludicrous path through the corridors of almost power in the House of Commons. His insights cut very close to exposing the bone of seedy and parochial displays in the House and how ideals could fall to the pursuit of re-election. The present CBC comedy series on The Best Laid Plans adheres somewhat to the book , but does sway into a bit more melodrama than that book. In my mind the book is quite good enough without a TV producer “juicing” it up.
- How authors and other experts can use audio products (trafcom.typepad.com)
- Best Laid Plans miniseries starts airing Sunday, Jan. 5 (fhaca.wordpress.com)
- CBC’s ‘Best Laid Plans’ airs at apt time (metronews.ca)
The Hittite. Ben Bova 2010. ISBN 9780765324023. From the pen of a very famous and prolific science fiction writer comes his first historical fiction novel. I read it as part of my trip to Turkey. The Hittites were the prominent tribe of ancient Turkey after the Sumerians and alongside the Assyrians. The time is the siege of Troy after Paris has stolen Helen away from Menalaos, brother of Agamemnon. The Hittite empire has fallen and a small band of seasoned Hittite warriors get caught up in the siege of Troy and Helen as well. They travel trhough many parts of Turkey. Read the book for its depiction of those ancient brutal times and the descriptions of the ancient cities including Ephesus. A quick easy read for the plane ride over .
Too much Happiness. Alice Munro. 2009. ISBN 9780307273239. In respect of our newest Nobel prize winner I decided I needed to read at least one of her books. The title called out to me. I guess I was looking for a happy book. From the first short story on, you quickly find out that it is not happiness but something dark that lurks in every tale. I listened to a Peter Gzowski interview with her on CBC radio and found the author to be a perfectly delightful humble Canadian. Despite my illogical antipathy to short stories ( if this was so good , why not make a real story out of it), I have to say I read this book with relish, being able to put my latent misogyny well away, replacing it with a delight in skillful prose.