Pump Six and Other Stories is a short story collection. The stories have collectively won about a billion awards. Most of the stories take the crap parts of today, and magnify and extrapolate them. I thought every story in the collection was well done, but more than one of them bummed me out.
“Yellow Card Man” is a story from the “Windup Girl” universe.
The story from the title, “Pump Six” is in a similar vein to “The Locusts” by Niven and Barnes, which was previously the most haunting short piece I had ever read.
Toast is a collection of older short stories by Charles Stross. When it got really hard to find, he released Toast for free as a Creative Commons thing.
I was pointed to Toast by Ron Hale-Evans, who mentioned that he preferred older Stross to his newer stuff. I see where he’s coming from, but I’m not necessarily sure if the axis is older/newer or shorter/longer. The older and shorter works are definitely harder to digest. When they unwrap in your brain few days after you’ve finished, it’s quite a delight. On the other hand, I think his newer work sells better. I was going to try to pick a favorite story, but that’s pretty hard. Big Brother Iron is set in the 1984 universe, and the main character is a sysadmins.
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway starts in the middle of the action–you’ve got a world that isn’t like ours, but it isn’t entirely clear on how it isn’t, and there’s a Very Important Pipeline that’s on fire. The narrator is part of an independent disaster recovery team, and they’re going to go put it out with huge bombs. End of chapter one.
The next 50% of the book are a linear retelling of the narrator’s life, until we catch back up with the first chapter. Heavy on the description, meandering diversions, and humor, it made me actually laugh out loud.
The bulk of the work is a coming-of-age story wrapped up in an action story, with major speculative fiction elements. I absolutely loved it. Without spoiling anything, there’s a few interesting insights on megacorporations and the people inside of them.
Across the Universe is an excellent young adult science fiction novel.
Across the Universe takes place on the first generation ship launched from Earth in our relatively near future. It’s told from two different points of view, alternating by chapter.
While not as action-packed as The Hunger Games, which I see Across the Universe being compared to in other reviews, it deals with the same themes of authority, rebellion, and relationships. Similarly, it doesn’t presume knowledge of science fiction tropes and culture.
While I haven’t confirmed it by asking someone younger than myself, I believe the beginning five pages are a good hook–in fact, I believe they grab you better than a lot of the recent YA sf does.
In summary: Is engaging within 5 pages: check! Doesn’t require the reader to be an experienced SF reader: check! Deals with authority, rebellion, relationships: check!
Across the Universe will be released January 11th, 2011.
Across the Universe is the first time I’ve even glimpsed inside the machinations of a modern teen book launch.
The book website has interactive diagrams of the ship, done up pretty nicely. Normally I hate flashy interfaces, but it was kinda cute how you could zoom up and get cutaways of the different sections of the ship.
One of the things I do when I read a book I enjoy is look for the author on Twitter. Sometimes they’re fun to follow. Beth Revis, the author of Across the Universe, has a static website, a blog, and a Twitter page, @bethrevis.
Something that’s kinda awesome is that io9 will be posting a 111 pg excerpt from 11:11 AM Eastern to 11:11 PM Eastern on 01.11.11. That’s a substantial portion of the book! The first chapter seems to be on Beth’s site in a more permanent capacity.
The Lost Hero is the first book in the post-Percy Jackson series. It’s a worthy successor. I think it’s aimed at a slightly older audience than Percy Jackson was–there’s a lot more luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuve. 4/5.
Sapphique is the sequel to Incarceron. It suffers from frequent POV shifts, and too many “visions.” She pulls the visions off better than most, but they feel pretty crutchy. In terms of continuing the story and ideas from Incarceron, 5/5, but as a whole, 2/5.
What a spectacular book! It’s not a children’s book, by any means, but it plays off both Harry Potter and Narnia. It feels quite a bit more literary than most books I read, and multiple times while reading I stopped to think, “That feels really True.” Grossman did a really good job with his characters. He really captures the teenage experience.
This is the second book in the Hungry City Chronicles. It follows at least a year after the events in Mortal Engines, and chronicles further exploits of Tom and Hester. I liked it a little less than I liked Mortal Engines.