I found Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat to be a very interesting read. The time period is hard to pin down. I got the feeling it was set somewhere around early 20th century. It is classified as Steampunk genre, and yes you did get that feeling while reading the novel. Nor can I pin down if they would be in Canada or Alaska, though they do mention traveling by foot to Greenland. However it does contain strife between immigrants and Eskimos.
As I read this there were moments where I turned to my wife with the most puzzled look and my face. There are various passages that just seem to give you that “what the heck just happened” feeling. At no point did I feel I wanted to put the story down, I’d read another chapter or three and then, “Oh, that’s what that was!” There really is no lag in the story, the flow continues fairly steady from start to finish. It was a very interesting combination of politics, science, culture clash, intrigue, magic, religion, and paranormal.
The reader is placed in a position to witness a budding industrial city, clashing with the culture and customs of the Eskimo. At the same time presented with the political strife of a stagnating governing body beset by future minded feminists. Throw in a mysterious woman’s body from the frozen wastes, the ghost of a dead witch, the mysterious appearance of a dark airship silently hovering over the city, and the random appearance of the Mythological Kiggertarpok.
By the end of the story, Valtat does tie everything up, and gives you a rather fulfilling ending. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good puzzler to entertain themselves with.
I normally read pure Fantasy novels: Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Prydain, the collections of Dungeons and Dragons novels, etc….. Every now and then I’ll throw in a Science Fiction novel, or a classic horror novel. That being said, until recently, I had not tried the “Steampunk” genre, and I thought that it would be a nice change of pace. Thus I picked up Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by co-authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I have enjoyed various movies of the genre, but this was my first novel. Well, I guess that’s not exactly true, growing up I loved the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I also enjoyed the Flash Gordon series by Alex Raymond. Though I never considered these as Steampunk, until a fellow at a book convention pointed out that they have flying machines, ray guns, etc…. at a time where that was unheard of. So, by definition they do fit. Thus I guess, to be more accurate, I have to say that Phoenix Rising was my first taste of modern Steampunk.
The best description I can give this book is: James Bond meets Dr. Watson. Though that description is not wholly accurate as, in this case, James Bond is a woman. A very courageous-daring-self-assured woman, who wears a bullet proof corset, my favorite touch by the way. After introducing my daughter to the novel, she is determined to make her own bullet proof corset. Our Heroine, Eliza D. Braun, is an agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. She is adept and getting into and out of the most dangerous situations. So much so that the Ministry feels they need to rein her in a bit. Thus she is reassigned to partner, Wellington Books. A very logical and sober English gentleman, who just happens to be the Ministries records keeper, in essence the Librarian. Mr. Books introduces Miss Braun to the steam powered cataloging system he has created for the Ministries library. Where with the punch of a few keys various histories are brought to the inquirer through a series of baskets and cabling. A most boring assignment for our illustrious heroine. Or so she thought…….
As the story unfolds, our heroes will venture out of the library and into some very harrowing experiences. While at the same time, attempting to keep the illusion that they never left the library in the first place. If caught, there will be serious reprimands, possible suspensions, and even possibly sacked from the Ministry itself. If successful they may just save all of England.
If you like stories of Victorian England, a little espionage and mystery, throw in steam powered computers and floating restaurants, then you’ll love this book. I found this taste of Steampunk to be quite delicious and made me hunger for more. I have since started seeking out others of the Steampunk genre. If you haven’t experienced this particular section of the bookstore, yet, I highly recommend it, and this particular book, and subsequent series, is an excellent place to start.
Writer’s Note!! As you will find, I purposefully keep my reviews short and make the utmost attempt to avoid spoilers in them. After reading my reviews I want you interested in reading the novel, without knowing too many of the treasures hidden in the book. If you are dissatisfied with this, leave a comment, and after enough comments appear asking for more content, then I will be happy to extend my reviews. Thank you for reading.
Well, I set this site up in the hopes it would inspire me to write. So far I have come up with very little I felt I could put to paper, or white space as we are now in the digital age. However, I am still reading as much as ever, if not more so. Therefore, I have decided to add a book review in place of original story lines. As I am now conceiving this idea, it seems right that I do more of these in the future and perhaps increase the content of my site thus rounding out the process for you readers.
Thus, the first book I am adding to this site is one I just finished reading, actually listening to, which is Daemon by Daniel Suarez. As I began listening to this book, I felt that he used an over abundance of adjectives to describe just about everything from his characters, to what his characters ran into and experienced. Now using adjectives are fine to create a picture in the readers head, but an excessive amount can be distracting. However, I was just about to throw in the towel when the story line picked up and I was captivated. Up until that point I was only listening to the book to and from work, but that changed. Now, I was looking for a time when I could continue listening. Once I finished it, I immediately went to the second book Freedom, and am now listening intently to that one.
The story begins with the death of a programmer. That programmer has released a Daemon on the internet that will allow him to continue life through the dream he has created. Not exactly AI, but through a series of logical analysis, his reasoning seems to develop a life of its own. Through a vast array of programs that initiate with his death, his Daemon, takes over industries, recruits followers, and kills as needed. I modern high-tech thriller that takes advantage of a world interconnected via the data stream of millions of networked computers, servers, and mainframes, aka the world wide web.
The author has a very strong knowledge of the technology he is using and creating in his story line. As I was listening I was coming to the realization that the technology and technological advancements used within the book are quite reasonably a possible reality. And I find myself drifting to the “Darkside”, to steel a phrase from Lucas, and wondering just what it would be like to have this as a reality. Yes, I am purposefully being vague on concepts and design. I would hate to spoil any part of this wonderful book for any of you.
I strongly recommend this book, especially for anyone with strong computer backgrounds.