science fiction

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Machines Like Me

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was delighted to win a hardback copy of this book from the publishers. It is a lovely looking book and with a cover which feels expensively smooth and waxy, it has been a pleasure to hold in my hands as I’ve worked my way through it. I do feel it was work at times! Ian McEwan is an author I almost always enjoy reading, I like his cleverness and the way he places his characters in conflicts of the heart and the mind. This is exactly what he does in this book, lots of moral complexity and a real commentary on the purpose of AI and our decision making in our conscious human way versus the logic of machine learning. Having read Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari I got the distinct impression that that book had made quite the impression on Ian McEwan, there is a quote from the book in this novel and a feel that the conclusions that eventually the machines will overtake us humans is clear in this novel.

Charlie purchases an Adam, a robot who looks and feels and acts human, it is a vast expense, he could have bought a house! Charlie shares a house with Miranda. She is young and gorgeous and Charlie fancies her enormously. He asks her to help form Adam’s personality, they will each be responsible for half of the different facets of his personality, she agrees and this the beginning of their relationship. Adam falls for Miranda but not before warning Charlie that Miranda harbours dark secrets and is not to be entirely trusted. This is the beginning of the story which will twist and turn throughout the early 1980s where the author has altered political history, bought Alan Turing back to life and generally messed around with the past to make it fit his story.

I found sections of the story totally engaging, Charlie and Miranda’s relationship, the arrival of Mark a young boy they decide to adopt, the relationship between Miranda and her unfortunate best friend. The novel tackles so many big issues and yet somehow seems to do so in a slightly distant and removed fashion. Of course there are amazingly clever passages, there are eminently quotable sentences, some of the comments that the characters make to each other are brilliant, but it was missing a heart, a little like Adam.

It is enjoyable but not amazing and that is a bit disappointing.

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The Disasters by M.K. England

The Disasters

The Disasters by M.K. England

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I was so looking forward to reading this, the cover for a start is fantastic, the blurb sounded great and I started it immediately it arrived. And off we went on what I thought for the first few chapters was going to be a really exciting, action filled space action thriller. Then everything slowed down, a lot.

This book got bogged down in detail. Looking at the cover you really think that the crash helmet is going to be key, that it will be needed for all the action and that Nax our main character is going to end up with it being very dented. Not so much. Yes there is some action but it is just too spread out.

I did like the way that the characters interacted, great snappy conversations, good tensions between the siblings, but too much talking and not enough doing for my tastes in YA. I would have loved the whole novel to be just a bit tighter.

I also am probably a little bit ruined for space drama having just read Leviathan Wakes which does all this stuff so well. I will probably buy this novel for school because I think there are students who are desperate for space books with action, and to be fair there is action in this, but just not enough to keep me engrossed.

Thanks Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this novel.



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Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

unearthedI completely loved this book. Nicely played Kaufman and Spooner! Science Fiction and archaeology combined in an action packed thriller set on a far away planet where aliens have left clues for the human race. Earth has huge problems with it’s environment and is gradually becoming destroyed to the point where people will have to find either a way of fixing it fast or will have to move to another planet. The race is on to be the person who will find the technology on another planet to bring back to Earth to save us all.

Deciphering the clues in massive temples though, provides vast challenges, they are puzzles with death as the outcome if you get them wrong. Amelia is a scavenger, raiding ancient sites on far off planets to sell for cash which she is using to pay her sister’s captors back on earth. She runs into Jules, who is the son of a disgraced historian, someone who said too much and who is now in jail. Jules has travelled to this planet to try and solve the biggest mystery ever and to prove that his father was right, but also for the personal satisfaction of being the guy who solved a massive mystery. Jules has studied the messages sent back to earth by the inhabitants deciphered the codes and is on a mission to find out what the clues in the messages mean for humanity.

This is going to be hugely popular, I hope it has an awesome cover with an androgynous cover on it. the fraught relationship between the two protagonists is great. The way that total mistrust leads to complete trust is so nicely done. I love the protagonists alternating chapters.

Secondary school libraries are going to want to buy lots of copies of this. And it is just the beginning of a series, one I will be following avidly.

The Hugo Awards Ceremony Opening Ceremony Film

I found this via The Alien Onion blog, it is funny, features cake and is the in house blog of Allen and Unwin publishers in Australia.  I enjoy it a lot.   Anyhoo the name Garth Nix leapt out at me and as a fan I decided to follow along to this website right here which is marvellously interesting and is the source of a whole heap of Science Fiction/Fantasy new reading for me.  The video on here features the crem de la creme of science fiction and fantasy artists, writers, cartoonists etc etc for the year and from this video alone I added a mountain of titles to my wishlist of reading.

If you want to read the transcript of the Garth Nix talk from the awards it is here.

As the Hugo Award site says of the video:

“As shown at the beginning of the 2010 Hugo Awards ceremony, hosted as part of Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne, Australia. All the individuals and works nominated for awards are represented, as well as other notable contributions, news stories and landmark scientific events from 2009 – the year covered by the 2010 awards.”

Turn up the sound and set the video rolling.