Originally uploaded by No Middle Name
waiting for the train, with cracking sunrise.
It's almost the time of year when the nation's braying upper-middle-class idiot quotient collectively decides to stand up and go skiing. Good for them. Speaking as a control freak, I'm opposed to skis, snowboards, and skates on principle. I like to know where I'm going, how soon I'll arrive there, and how quickly I'll stop. I can't imagine doing that on skis. They're slidey. I don't like slidey.
That's not to say that Thud isn't a good book. All the usual Pratchett qualities are there: a decent plot; page-turning prose; familiar characters; and a threat to Ankh-Morpork that only grizzly Commander Vimes can put down in a no-nonsense, old-fashioned, common sense way. It's funny, exciting and intriguing. But there's the nagging feeling that this is a bit too familiar. You know how this is going to turn out.
I'd recommend this to anyone - as long as they've had a nice long break between Pratchetts.
It was written in the early sixties, and it is showing its age. The geophysics is a bit dodgy - the sun is pumping out lots more heat and energy, and yet the climate only gets hotter. There should have been high winds, constant storms from all that warm air expanding. The female character is utterly pointless, having no opinions or ability to think for herself. She's just a device to give the hero something to do. The characters are all very British, with stiff upper lips, having dinner parties for which one is required to dress. In the steaming jungle. Dinner jackets and bow ties. In the steaming fucking jungle.
I stuck with it to the end, hoping something would happen. It didn't. The only other book by Ballard I've read was Cocaine Nights, which left me feeling much the same: nothing happened, and it took a lot of tedious mucking about getting there. James, over at Big Dumb Object, has also reviewed this book recently - he was a (little) bit more forgiving than me, so maybe I just didn't get it.
The main character in Snow Crash is not the most interesting, but that's not a bad thing. His name is Hiro Protagonist, which should give you a clue as to his purpose in the story. He's the one that works out the plot, is in the right place to save the girl at the right time and saves the day by being the badass every geek wants to be. He does this job really well. It's the supporting cast that really lift the book, though: Y.T. the skateboarding courier that hides her job from her mom; Uncle Enzo, the vietnam vet that's head of the mafia (who also deliver pizzas); Raven, the unstoppable baddie.
This is a great book, a classic of S.F. You should read it.
It's a collection of dodgy old jokes based around the Irish-are-thick stereotype. There's no plot to speak of, no coherence or structure to be found apart from the arbitrary slicing of the prose into chapters. It reads like a stream of consciousness experiment rather than a novel. It wouldn't be so bad if the jokes were funny, but they are not.
I guess even geniusseses have off days. Steer clear of this book, read the war memoirs instead.
If you've read "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" you'll know what to expect here: fairy tales where the fairies aren't particularly nice. While they might live at the bottom of your garden there's a good chance they'll steal your children, husband, shiny things, etc. This is a collection of short stories, so if you were interested in Strange & Norrell but were put off by the 800 page investment of time (you lightweight, where's your stamina?) then this might be a gentler introduction to Clarke's wonderfully realised alternative 19th century. Certainly easier to carry anyway.