Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance

By George R.R. Martin

Rating: 4 stars

I rather enjoyed this collection of short stories written in honour of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series but I had the unfortunate problem of never actually having read any of the original stories. Still, if these homages do justice to Vance then I certainly look out for his Dying Earth stories. I loved the baroque language and constant hovering between the border of science fiction and fantasy – the epitome of Clarke’s third law. This is very wide world with lots to explore, although it’s sad to think that even by the end of the world Mankind will be no wiser than he is today.

Book details

ISBN: 9780007277483
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year of publication: 2009

Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)

By William Gibson

Rating: 4 stars

The third of William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, this book spins three separate threads deftly creating (and reintroducing) characters, weaving them into the mythology of the Sprawl and then winding them together in a (slightly messy, it has to be said) big conclusion.

I found this book much easier to get into than Count Zero, although perhaps I just give it the time and attention that it deserves, which I didn’t necessarily do with Count Zero. This book also starts weaving together storylines sooner than its predecessor which I found made it more satisfying. The short chapters are punchy and easy to read, and Gibson’s prose is as excellent as his sartorial obsession is inexplicable.

The one problem I had with the story was, um, the story. There wasn’t a huge amount of plot and what there was is somewhat confusing. Molly Millions from Neuromancer makes a return (under a new name) but the motives of those employing her (which make up a major thread of the book) are unexplained, and the shadowy figures behind the scenes seem to be doing things for no real reasons.

Still, there is a lot to enjoy in this book. The characters are all well-drawn, the Sprawl itself is magnificent, and the (quite literal) gods in the machine remain spooky and fresh after all these years. And the final page still packs a punch as one final twist is revealed, leaving me closing the book with a big, goofy grin.

Book details

ISBN: 9780007381531
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year of publication: 1988

Powered by WordPress