Four years ago:
(All pics from our trip are in this Flickr set.)
New York is a woman — she’ll make you cry
But to her you’re just another guy
Well it used to be everything was fine
Everything, this all was mine
But one fine day, you might say
That I, I threw it all away
‘Cause I made up my mind
I traded holy water for cheap wine
I ran out of time
Or something that I can’t define
I traded my whiskey for your wine
Leaving my river running dry
And a waterline
We went to Grand Canyon
And we stood at the expanse
And we watched the rocks change color
And we watched the shadows dance
And if California slides into the ocean
As the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this hotel will be standing
Until I pay my bill
The latest Laundry novel takes on vampires! Stross does a good job integrating the known lore about his universe - magic as a side-effect of applied mathematics - and his explanation about the origins of his vampiric cell makes internal sense.
However, if there’s one criticism that can be levelled at Stross is that his plotting could be better. This novel deal with double-cross upon double-cross and it gets confusing about who’s crossing who. To deal with this, jarring interludes of exposition are introduced that try to explain what’s happening.
- 400 Hundred Billion Stars
- Eternal Light
These are McAuley’s debut novels, and while they’re set in the same universe, they’re very different. 400 Hundred Billion Stars is basically an alien-contact novel. Functionally it’s a space opera, although thankfully not of the Galactic Imperium style. The main character is also a telepath, and although that’s handwaved as a form of quantum tunneling it’s still a rather 70s detail.
The second crams too much into one novel - Gibsonesque McGuffin chasing, virtual reality, intra-galactic wormholes, civil war IN SPACE, religious fanatic, alien macrostructures. The sensawunda is relegated to background noise.
However I’m a big fan of McAuley and I’m glad I’ve read these. They’re not bad books, just that he’s written better since.
Bit late, I read the following books in April:
- Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
- Crack’d Pot Trail by Stephen Erikson
A trilogy, comprising of the novels Child of the River, Ancient of Days, and Shrine of Stars.
It’s one of McAuley’s first novels and even if it’s cleaned up in this re-release I still think it’s a very good effort. The atmospherics of this far-future world are well-rendered. It reminds me of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, in a good way. Recommended.