Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Reading List

Carl (Stainless Steel Droppings) posted about "Diving Into Summer".  I decided to do a short Summer Reading List along with him.

Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny
The third in the Amber series.  I started and stopped reading this a couple of times not because I did not like it but other things took priority.  I am currently reading it before I read anything else.  This was my first Zelazny book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Pride of Chanur by C. J. Cherryh

Based on the recommendation of the late Bob Sabella (“Visions of Paradise”) I decided to read a C. J. Cherryh novel.  I remember reading her first two novels (“Gate of Ivrel” and “Brothers of Earth”) when they were first published by DAW Books.  After that I eagerly devoured “The Faded Sun:  Kesrith” as it was serialized in Galaxy SF.  After that, I forgot about her.  Sure, I would think about reading more of her work when I would see an award nomination but for some reason I never got around to it.  Cherryh was one of Bob’s favorite authors.  He and I had very similar tastes in science fiction so when I was looking for a good science fiction book to sink my teeth into, I picked up “The Pride of Chanur”.  If I liked it, I could go ahead and read the other four books in the series.  Well, I will definitely be reading the next four novels (“Chanur’s Venture”, “The Kif Strike Back”, “Chanur’s Homecoming”, “Chanur’s Legacy”).

From interviews I have read, Cherryh wrote this as her universe’s version of a “Star Wars” adventure.  She captures the fast paced adventure story aspect while adding more characterization and science that seems more realistic.  The main character is Pyanfar Chanur, the captain of “The Pride of Chanur”.  When a strange alien stows away on her ship, we find out that this is humanities first encounter with the main universe.  Chanur’s troubles begin when she gives asylum to the human.  The backbone of this universe is the Compact.  It established the foundations for trading between races.  Each race determines its own laws within its domain but peace is kept on the space stations that serve as the commerce centers.  Being the first to set up relations with a new race is a major boon.  Unfortunately for humanity, the Kif was their first contact.  The human ship was destroyed and only one member of the crew survived.  When the Kif docked at Meetpoint Station, the human took the opportunity to escape.  Pyanfar realizes what is going on and escapes with the human.  Since this is the first meeting, the two races cannot understand each other’s language.  Part of the back story is spent working on a translator which becomes a powerful bargaining tool. 

Cherryh incorporates space battles, turmoil on the home planet, deals between various races and much more into this excellent novel.  Without sticking in infodumps, she reveals the background of this universe to the reader.  Even though this book tells a complete story, the ending sets up the future of this series.  I can’t wait to read the next book.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

“Fool Moon” is the second book in the Dresden Files series.  I enjoyed the first book (“Storm Front”) and decided to read this one for Carl’s “Once Upon a Time Challenge”.

Any time I pick up a fantasy book with the word “Moon” in the title it automatically makes me think of werewolves.  It was done intentionally by the author.  In this case, Harry Dresden-wizard for hire- is called in to help the police with what appears to be a murder committed by a werewolf.  Many of the characters from the first book are in this one.  Butcher includes a gang of werewolves for our heroes to fight.  He also reveals that there are more than one type of werewolf.  I found the different types to be an interesting addition.  Most stories I have read only have one way of becoming a werewolf.  I did not check up on it but it appears to me that Butcher researched various legends about how they came into being. 

Butcher knows how to write a page turner.  The action and revelations keep your interest.  The combination of the classic crime noir detective with the fantasy element makes for a different reading experience.  If you like wizards in the modern day and detective stories, this is the perfect book for you.