Gather, Darkness!

By Fritz Leiber

Rating: 4 stars

A scientific elite has seized absolute power through religion and lives in luxury while the populace lives in a second dark age, knowing nothing about it. Brother Jarles is a renegade priest who believes that this is wrong and teams up with the New Witchcraft to bring down the system.

I quite enjoyed this book, as long you don’t think about it too carefully, when some of the plot holes become evident. Although it was written in the 1940s, it felt pretty modern with sufficiently general technology to not feel obsolete, not that the focus was on that, but rather on psychological manipulation. An enjoyable and fairly easy read.

Book details

ISBN: 9781585861064
Year of publication: 1943

The House at Pooh Corner (Winnie-the-Pooh, #2)

By A.A. Milne

Rating: 5 stars

I’m actually not sure if I’ve read this before. I have vague memories of bits here and there, but I don’t know if they were read to me, if they’re from the Disney film or if I actually did read it. Either way, this is a very lovely book about the Bear with Little Brain and his friends. A charming read.

Book details

ISBN: 9780525444442
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Year of publication: 1928

Doctor Who: Timelash

By Glen McCoy

Rating: 2 stars

This novelization of the 6th Doctor story was, if anything, worse than Terrance Dick’s efforts. The writing was quite awful and was sorely lacking a good editor although the story itself wasn’t that bad for a 6th Doctor story. I think this one will be going to a charity shop pretty quickly.

Book details

ISBN: 9780426202295
Publisher: Target Books; W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd.
Year of publication: 1985

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

Rating: 5 stars

I studied this book many years ago at school and had really enjoyed it but it was an awfully long time ago and couldn’t really remember much about it. After re-reading it, I’m pleased that it’s as good as I remember, telling the story of life in a small town in 1930s deep south US through the eyes of a young girl whose father is a lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white woman.

Its themes of racism, division and small-town mentality all still ring true today, but it also takes pleasure in the gentility of the South, the fact that everyone in this town knows everyone else and the general feel of the 1930s. It’s telling that even the attitudes of the more enlightened characters are still not what would be considered acceptable today, but then progress takes time. A highly recommended read.

Book details

ISBN: 9780099419785
Publisher: Arrow
Year of publication: 1960

Nightfall One

By Isaac Asimov

Rating: 4 stars

This is a collection of some of Asimov’s early work that hadn’t previously appeared in any of his own collections. In contains, of course, Nightfall itself and four other stories. I had read There Breeds a Man… and C-Chute before but it was good to read them again, and both Green Patches and Hostess were entertaining. An enjoyable collection for Asimov fans.

Book details

ISBN: 9780586034668
Publisher: Panther
Year of publication: 1969

The Portable Poe

By Edgar Allan Poe

Rating: 3 stars

This is a collection of work by Edgar Allan Poe, including letters, stories, poems, criticism and opinions. I must confess that I found it hard going. Poe isn’t an easy writer to read. Some of his poems are pretty difficult, and even some of his prose fiction was a slog, without even the denseness of poetry that I find personally difficult. There is a recurring theme of death and loss which grows wearing after a while and when you do encounter something with no mention of it, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Poe was possibly the first writer to write a detective story, with his creation C. Auguste Dupin, all three of whose stories are here, and from whom the descent to Holmes and beyond is clear. In saying that, the Dupin stories themselves aren’t hugely gripping and are more interesting to see the form of the detective story developing than anything else.

I’d never read any Poe before so this was a good selection of his work, but I don’t think I’ll particularly be looking out for any more, to be honest.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140150124
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year of publication: 1945

Science Fiction Hall of Fame: The Novellas Book 3

By Ben Bova

Rating: 4 stars

Although we now have the Hugo awards for the best SF in a given year, the SF Writers of America decided to choose pre-Hugo novellas that deserved recognition, and this collection, along with books 1 and 2 were the result. This one contains three very different stories: C. M. Kornbluth’s The Marching Morons is a different take on the “frozen man unfrozen in the future and has to adapt” theme; …And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell deals with imperialism and planetary colonisation; and finally there is Baby Is Three, by Theodore Sturgeon, which later worked to his famous novel More Than Human tackling Sturgeon’s much-loved themes of evolution and post-humanism. A fine collection.

Book details

ISBN: 9780722117941
Publisher: Sphere Books

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