Books Read in August, 2018
July, 2018 Locus
Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Time Siege by Wesley Chu
Hellspark by Janet Kagan (r)
The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel by Philip Pullman, Stéphane Melchior and Clélment Oubrerie (Graphic Novel)
The Pleasure Model Repairman by Ruuf Wangersen
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Roleplaying Game by Raphaël Bardas, François Cedelle, Pierre Coppet, Sarah Newton et al (RPG)
Wired by Julie Garwood
The Late Show by Michael Connelly
And those were my reads in the month of August. August was a month of quality of books, as opposed to quantity, as I read several rather many-paged novels this months, not to mention an epic sized roleplaying game. I didn't manage to read a couple of non-fiction books that I was planning on, but what can you do? Only so much time every month to read.
The books I enjoyed the most were:
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger - Nolan Moore leads a team of four TV web series production crew members in an effort to retrace the path of an explorer from 1909 who made an important, but mysterious, discovery of a cave high up in the rock strata of the Grand Canyon. Nolan’s crew hopes to ramp up their reputation of chasing after strange conspiracy theory anomalies and turn this potential find into ratings gold and hopefully an actual TV network program. Thus, they allow a journalist and a representative for their corporate sponsor along for the journey, making for a complete party of six. When, against all odds, they actually find the rumored cave and manage to climb to its entrance (filming their documentary along the way) it remains only to discover what, exactly, lies deep within. I'm not going to spoil anything for the reader, but will say that The Anomaly is an energized and suspenseful archaeological sci-fi (and how I hate that term!) horror story that will keep you reading chapter after chapter. From the beginning of the book to its bizarre climax, the book maintains an ever increasing tone of suspense and anxiety inspiring tension that kept me reading. To put it into perspective, this story becomes a tale of survival. What I didn't realize at the time I read this was that the author, Michael Rutger, is actually the pen name for Michael Marshall Smith (Michael Marshall), the novelist, short story writer and screen writer. This book may make the reader think that they've read this story before, as it's got a lot of similarities to novels of the genre, but there are enough twists and surprises that make the book feel fresh. Told from Nolan's first person perspective, this books feels like it has a deeply personal level (which it does). There's a good measure of humour throughout, which makes the horrific moments all that much sharper, and that added to my enjoyment of the book. Recommended.
Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke - This book was one of my favourite novels of the month's reads. Star’s End is the ultimate book about corporate control, the location itself being the home of the Coromina family. A science fiction story about the Four Sisters, four planets terraformed by Philip Coromina. He not only owns the planets, he owns the people who inhabit them. Any person who doesn’t follow company rules disappears. But what really happens to them is a matter for the reader to discover. The family business manufactures weapons, one of the "products" being humans who are DNA programmed to be soldiers. They fight wars across the galaxy alongside normal human mercenaries hired by the corporations. The protagonist of Star's End is Esme Coromina, Philip's eldest daughter. Her mother is a soldier who left her to be raised by Phillip when she was born. Esme’s three hundred-year-old father is dying, Philip having a disease which kills even those taking rejuvenation treatments. She is taken by surprise, but she has been waiting a long time. Esme will become CEO of the Coromina Group, and wants to change the corporation's direct away from weapons manufacture. The dying Philip wants Esme to find her three younger half-sisters who disappeared some time ago, and the dutiful Esme goes about this, all the time dealing with corporate matters, that include aliens living on the Coromina planets. There are a lot of plot elements that sound familiar and should do, but they are tied up in a nice way. The book jumps between the past and present and shows the history of a very dysfunctional family. There are lots of secrets, both familial and corporate, which we don’t learn until events occur in the past chapters or until Esme reaches a level in the corporation hierarchy to be able to learn them. This novel is an interesting, fun read, though obviously anti-corporate. My only real problem with the book at times was I found Esme's reluctance to follow her father's orders a bit hard to swallow. Still, good read. Highly recommended.
Hellspark by Janet Kagan - I'll state right now that this book was a re-read for me, one of my favourites of my re-reads over the years (for reasons that are evident, if you know me at all), so I'm a bit biased. Hellspark is a wondrous book, being a murder mystery, but with the story really being about the intricacies of language and the meaning of sapience. Every time I read this book I find something new, something that resonates with me. While some people find the book tedious, it's definitely not for everyone. Language is a dance, and language is fascinating. I still have my original version of teh book, though I've bought replacements over the years. I can't recommend this book enough. 'Nuff said.
The Late Show by Michael Connelly - Michael Connelly is best known for his detective series featuring Harry Bosch, but with this novel launches a new series in the City of Angels. Renée Ballard is a well-established detective with the LAPD, working the "late show", police talk for the 11 pm - 7 am shift. It’s mostly about picking up the scraps of the nightlife and directing cases to daytime divisions, but police work all the same. This means that she's called out whenever the need arises, but Ballard is left without closure or any sense of propriety on the cases she catches. During a single shift, two monumental cases land in her lap: the assault of a transgender prostitute, left for dead in a parking lot, and a shooting at a nightclub with three victims left to die in their own blood. I'm not going to spoil the plot too much here, but will say that while wrestling with her own personal demons, Ballard is taken captive for poking her nose around on these cases, but no one knows she’s gone missing. Is this the end of the late show for Ballard? I really liked this book, mainly because the author has crafted a character in Renée Ballard reflects the grit of the LAPD (based on what I know of it) and offers readers an interesting perspective, not only as a woman, but one who is single and not tied down to anyone else, save her dog. I'm not going to say anything else about this book other than the fact that I recommend it very much.
Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG product, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 1 graphic novel in August. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 58 books, 34 RPGs and RPG products, 15 magazines, 0 comics, and 3 graphic novels.
Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. :)