Archive for July, 2007


One of the many reasons why I like reading books so much is the fact that every novel doesn’t only contain a tale, but the book itself has its own story as well. Hand me any one of my books and I can tell you where I bought it and more often than not I can tell you what happened when I read it. The story about the book varies greatly in grades of mind-numbingly boring to, for me at least, very interesting. Crystal Rain will forever hold a special place in my collection because of the circumstances that brought it to my doorstep.

I was surfing teh intarweb and happened upon a link to Tobias S. Buckell’s blog. I suddenly remembered that John Scalzi had been pimping this fellow quite heavily a while ago because of his newest novel, Ragamuffin, and that I’d seen him mentioned in a positive context by other sources I trust. A quick browsing of the page resulted in me reading a post where he stated that he had several copies of his two books available to online reviewers. To make a short story even shorter: I e-mailed Buckell about A Slight Apocalypse, gave him my address and heard nothing but crickets until I returned from Italy. It turned out that Buckell had in fact mailed me a copy of Crystal Rain, and seeing as I wasn’t reading anything at the time, I could begin reading it at once.

Crystal Rain can be described as a steampunk, lost colony, adventure novel, which naturally makes it science fiction. Set far off into the future, we get to travel along on an violent journey in the air and on the sea (but mostly on, well, normal ground). The world of Nanagada was established by the mythical old-fathers and everyone prospered. But soon a this little colony became the center for an intergalactic war that resulted in a giant blast which knocked out everything with a microchip, effectively setting the settlers back to square one. Buckell’s world is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, filled with the airships, steamboats and Carribean inspired lifestyle.

Meet John, the main character. He washed up on the shore some twenty seven years ago, suffering from a severe case of amnesia. However, being a strong man in many ways, John manages to make a life for himself in this unknown place in which he clearly not belongs. But dangers looms close and bloodthirsty savages will soon come and break the tranquility of Brungstown. John becomes a part of the struggle to free Nanagada of the dreaded Azteca, and to do so he has to take part in a great adventure.

Buckell’s ambition with this novel is to entertain the reader with a great romp that will make for an easy summer read. In that much he succeeds. Told from a third person narrative, he manages to bind together pretty epic events with short and descriptive chapters and effective prose that at times borders on barren. With these tools he drives his plot to an exciting culmination and the novel is well worth reading.

However.

To be frank with you, I wouldn’t have finished this novel if I hadn’t gotten it from the author himself. I have always been of the mind that if a book hasn’t hooked by the first hundred and fifty pages, chances are that you won’t like it much if you read the whole damn thing (this is especially relevant if you’re not reading anything labeled “epic”).

I’ve already mentioned that I thought Buckell’s prose is a bit barren. It also lacks a bit flow and at times it reads somewhat staccato. But his prose is easy to read in comparison the Caribbean accented dialog, which required me to slow down my reading pace and figure out how the characters would actually say this in real life (yes, my mind sounds much like a stage play when I read, with a special voice attributed to every character). This got better in the last hundred and fifty pages, mainly because John doesn’t talk that way.

Characterizations is the bread and butter of every novel. Crystal Rain’s characters differ very in the amount they’re fleshed out. Pepper and John were my favourite ones, and to be frank I didn’t much care for any of the other POV’s, which were flat, to simple in their realizations and hard to read.

When all this is said, I have to mention that this is Buckell’s debut and you can hardly wait that he delivers a flawless piece on the first attempt. I’ve read far worse novels than Crystal Rain, but I could also easily name a handful novels in the same category as it that are far, far better. The word is that Buckell improves his writing in the sequel, Ragamuffin, which I’ll pick up if I ever see the paperback version.

Crystal Rain gets a 5,5/10. Buckell gets credit for an original setting and a fast paced and, ultimately, entertaining novel, but it’s problems are to severe and apparent that it can be claimed to be more than a nice, summer read.

Which isn’t bad, but not really good either…

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Amazon must love me. They keep sending me these great books and all I can do is to read so I don’t drown in the ever-growing stock pile that is my collection. Here’s what the bastards saw fit to mail me this time:

  • 1 of: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • 1 of: Acacia: Book One: The War with the Mein (Acacia) by David Anthony Durham
  • 1 of: The Extremes (Gollancz) by Christoper Priest
  • 1 of: The Affirmation (Gollancz) by Christoper Priest
  • 1 of: The Prestige (Gollancz) by Christoper Priest
  • 1 of: The Glamour (Gollancz) by Christoper Priest
  • 1 of: Fool Moon (Dresden Case Files) by Jim Butcher
  • 1 of: Summer Knight (Dresden Case Files) by Jim Butcher
  • 1 of: Grave Peril (Dresden Case Files) by Jim Butcher
  • 1 of: Dead Beat (Dresden Case Files) by Jim Butcher

The book to watch out for in this pack is Acacia by Durham. It’s one of this years best fantasy debuts (supposedly), and I’m looking forward to reading it with great anticipation. Before I get around to any of these I’m probably going to read The Prince of Nothing trilogy, book 2 and 3, which I’ve been putting of since February, and finish Crystal Rain.

I’m done with the book reviews for the time being. Everything that remains now is the billion movie reviews I’ve had on hold. So here goes; my thoughts of the latest Harry Potter flick.

As you may have noticed when you read my book review of The Deathly Hallows (if you haven’t read it, it’s the one titled “Thoughts on a Scarred Youth”), I am something of a Pothead. I don’t deny it and I’m not ashamed of it. I am not, however, a fan of these crappy movies. The problem with writing a review of them is that I find them so flawed that I don’t know in which end I should start.

Should I comment upon the dreadful acting of the three leads and some of the supporting cast (worthy exceptions being Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman, and Minerva McGonagall, played by Maggie Smith. I also enjoyed Evanna Lynch’s version of Luna Lovegood – I actually liked that character in the film, which is more than I can say I did in book 5 and 6).

Should I comment upon the logical flaws that keep occurring more and more because so much of the previous books have been cut. Trimming the fat is O.K. by me, but there is a broad red line between making the films make sense and not just being a fun thing for the fans.

Should I make a smart remark upon how the movie makers have ceaselessly been cutting away nearly all those scenes that made me love the books in the first place? If I were the director of these films, my main goal would be to tell the story while keeping the mood of the books intact. The mood is totally my-merry-bells-flew-over-the-mountain screwed up. They feel soulless and downright cheap to me.

But I shall do neither of these things because I know they are the ravings of a mad fan. If I look at The Order of the Pheonix from an slightly less subjective viewpoint, I recognize the fact that they are not as bad as I feel they are. They are in fact rather mainstream, or in other words, your everyday Hollywood crap. I loath them with an intensity with which they probably not deserve, and I will probably watch the next two in the series because I’m insane that way (too).

All in all this is the worst evening I’ve had in a cinema ever since The Goblet of Fire came out (which is definitely a much worse than this. I rate them in order of less crappy to total crappiness: 1. The Prisoner of Azkaban 2. The Chamber of Secrets 3. The Philosopher’s Stone 4. The Order of the Pheonix 5. The Goblet of Fire).

I know this review won’t mean a damn thing, ’cause those of you who’re going to see it have already done so or will do so in the near future. This is, however, my two cents on the subject. Take them or leave them, it matters not to me. I’ve said my piece.

What is this, you ask yourself. A book review of real novel without all that fancy schmancy Science Fiction or Fantasy things to befuddle the experience? A book review of a real classic, as if yours truly have ever been known to read those. Why, yes. Of course this is what it is. I won’t proclaim that I’ll go very far in delving what Heller tries to say with this book, but I will do my best to tell you what I thought of it.

I might as well start off with telling you why I decided to buy a non-speculative novel in the first place. As any good idea, the idea of Catch-22 came to me while I was watching one of my favourite TV-shows, Scrubs. JD was lecturing his new interns in a matter I know longer remember, but I do recall that he at long last came to halt when he said that this was a Catch-22 situation and made a mention of the book (apparently according to JD it’s about a fisherman who tries to catch 22 fish). What the heck is that, I asked myself, and Googled it to find out.

A Catch-22 situation is, for the unenlightened readers, a situation which you cannot solve or otherwise get out off. You can find countless Catch-22’s in the book and for the sake of your understanding I’ll try to give you one.

The main character is named Yossarian and he is a bombardier in an American bomber squad during the WWII.Yossarian never wanted to go to war, so he chose the profession bombardier because it had the longest period of education and he had high hopes that the war would be over by the time he’d finished. No such luck, sadly.

We meet up with Yossarian for the first time when he’s lying in the base hospital of Pienosa, a little island some miles of the south coast of Italy. Yossarian is in the hospital because he has an idiot colonel who tries to impress his commanders by making his squadron of bombers fly more missions than everyone else. Every time Yossarian comes anywhere close of finishing his missions, Colonel Cathcart raises them again. And every time Colonel Cathcart raises the number of missions, Yossarian protests by vowing to lie in the hospital with his liver that’s just short of becoming jauntice until the war is over. But after fourteen days or so Yossarian is thrown out and has to fly more mission. Yossarian is of course absolutely incensed about this, because a. he’s clearly crazy and should therefore not be permitted to fly (he really is crazy. At one point he walks around naked for fourteen days because he no longer wants to wear a uniform.) and b. he’s already flewn the initial 25 mission that the other squadrons are demanding. When he goes to the doctor and tells him this, he gets a most unwanted explanation. By law, doctor Daneeka cannot permit people who are crazy to fly planes, but by the same law he cannot ground anyone until they ask to be grounded. But the same law also states that if a person asks to be grounded, he is clearly not crazy because only sane people would ask to be grounded (that’s the infamous Catch-22 clause), and since he isn’t crazy, anyone who asks to be grounded must keep flying until he has finished his missions (which always goes up). Ladies and gentlemen, that is the original Catch-22.

However, it wasn’t the premise of the book that led me to read it. It was the fact that it is counted amongst the greatest American novels ever written and it also said to be amongst the funniest novels ever written. That’s a hard combo to argue with in any situation.

Catch-22 is a book unlike every other book I’ve ever read. First of all, it has no plot. No plot whatsoever. If you ever think you’ve found something you can point at and shout “Looksey! Plot!”, you are clearly mistaken. I normally like my books to have some kind of plot, but in this case you don’t really contemplate the fact until you’re some way into the book and then you only thought of it because you found the fact refreshing. This book is all about the characters. Never in my life have I ever stumbled on such a gang of weirdos and crazies and shitheads who have been so endearing. I have also never in my life read a book as funny as Heller’s masterpiece. Add to that that I’ve never read a more original book in terms of it’s prose and style, and you’ve pretty much summed up the entire experience of reading the book.

I can find no fault with this book and it should therefore not come as a shock when I grant it a 10/10. The only other book who has deserved that grade is my beloved The Lord of the Rings. My online friend, Brækar, once asked why I would never give a book the highest grade possible, even if I loved it endlessly. I answered that, no, I would in fact give a book the highest grade possible if I could ever find a book that was as good as the best book I’ve ever read. Catch-22 is that book I was talking about and I beg you to read it

It’s pure magic printed on paper. Except that it doesn’t really have any magic in it. It’s just damned funny.

Yossarian Lives!

There’s a good chance that you’ve become aware of much awaited book release lately. You’d have to be either a total hermit or in a severe coma to miss the the news that the latest Harry Potter book hit the shelves last Saturday. People had been lying outside bookstores for days and every shop with some sense had night open and maybe they also threw a Potter party to mark the end of publishing era.

I’ve been reading Harry Potter ever since my sister gave me the books with a warning that if I didn’t like ’em I might as well give up on books all together. That’s a harsh thing for an eleven year old to hear, especially one who really preferred audio books to those heavy things with black print in them. But I gave the books a try and soon enough I became your average Pothead addict. I tore threw the first two books available and when the Prisoner of Azkaban was released it became my first adventure into the world of English books.

In many ways Harry became my way into world of speculative fiction. Every time a new book would come out I’d be trembling with anticipation, hardly able to contain the lust to rip the damn thing out of my sisters hand (who was always the one to read them first) and make a run for it. I think I did try that once, but the memory is pretty blurred. She’s got a mean right hook, my sister of mine. Suffice to say that I never did pull something similar again.

When I finally finished the new book I normally re-read the entire series back to back, and if I didn’t find anything new to catch my interest, I’d read them yet another time. The books are like drugs – once I tried them I couldn’t get enough. By the fifth book I was old enough to know that Rowling wasn’t the only one who could write books full of magic and fun, and the rest is, as they say, history. There are few teens my age that read nearly as much books, and even fewer who’s got a weirder taste in literature. Harry, in many ways, opened that door and its remained open ever since.

That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise for you to know that I was up bright and early last Saturday. The average temperature when I was in Italy was a blistering 40 degrees in the shade and this particular Saturday seemed like the hottest day of them all. I borrowed an old bicycle, grabbing some breakfast on my way out, and rode hastily the two miles to the nearest bookstore who carried English books (few Italian shops do, apparently). By the time I pulled up in front of it I looked like a Tour de France rider on rehab; sweaty, shivering and with a light in my eyes that made other tourists step away, saying “Loui e pazzo” or something equally insulting…

There it stood!

A new Harry Potter book, and it was mine! All mine, not my sister’s or someone else’s sister’s or I don’t know what. I surged forward and took the nearest copy in my hands, trying hard to fight the urge to flick threw to the infamous last chapter. Sensibility won out in the end and I even remembered to pay the old woman behind the counter.

Back in my apartment I took a quick bath and a cold shower to calm down. Then I found a cold beer in the fridge and settled down in the most comfortable sunbathing chair, making sure to stay out of the blinding midday sun. I remember quite clearly that I looked at my watch before I opened my crispy new hardback. It read 12.05.

The same watch read 03.23 when I closed book, having read continuously through the day and into the night, only stopping to grab new beers and a warm pizza in between my intense concentration. The book itself is just over 600 pages long, which normally means that I could finish it in just over six hours if I really tried to tear through it (not hard math, really). However, I decided that since this was the last new Harry Potter ever, I would take my time and enjoy the experience.

Two things buzzed around in my head while I sat in my chair, sipping beer. One was that I should really cut down on this alcoholic beverages or I would end up not remembering anything about the book. The other thing was a dawning realization that Harry Potter no longer was the Greatest Book Series Which I Love Endlessly and Without Fault. The Deathly Hallows was in fact a very mediocre book!

This might sound like a very simple minded thing to realize, but you have to keep in mind that this series and I have a special relationship which I won’t share with any other book ever again. I grew up with Harry and Ron and Hermoine. I grew up while attending Hogwarts, a silent observer of the characters lives, the magic of this unreal world and all the possibilities it opened up in my mind. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I lay in my bed with a firm knowledge that an owl from Hogwarts would arrive any minute, or maybe from some other Scandinavian wizarding school. Somewhere inside that little child remains, telling me that magic really exists and all I have to do is to open my eyes, expand my horizons and see the unseen. I hope I’ll always keep that silent faith, because when it goes away I know that my childhood have finally come to an end…

That’s the reason why I don’t blame myself for not noticing what a mediocre writer J.K. Rowling really is. Love makes blind, they say, and I really do love the story of Harry Potter. But Deathly Hallows isn’t a great book, and looking back, nor are any of the other books in the series. The Prisoner of Azkaban, book three, is maybe my favourite, but I’ll have to do yet another re-read to be certain.

Now don’t all you Potheads go crazy on me and start calling me cynical bastard – I still count myself one you. It’s just that I have read so many better books since the last Harry Potter installment. I was even reading a better book before and after I read The Deathly Hallows. I’m remiss to acknowledge that Rowling’s prose is at points very weak and that both the book and the series have become sadly repetitive and easy to see through. Even the final plot that was supposed to sweep us off our feet felt like the author was cheating. A good author would have dropped hints about a lot of this stuff early on. Imagine, if you will, Neil Gaiman as the author. He would have taken Harry Potter to unimaginable heights. Rowling doesn’t reach Gaiman to his ankles in a technical study, but she had a brilliant idea at a time that every teenager and child was growing cynical and losing faith in the idea of Magic. Harry Potter became the modern version of a fairy tale, making adults and youths alike imagining a world much like our own, but flavored with something of the extraordinary. The news station report daily of mass murders, war and plague – the sunshine story about the Boy Who Lived was just what everyone needed.

People keep crying about how sad it is that we’ll never get another book about Harry. I find myself somewhat relieved. I grew up with him and we both went our different ways at the age of seventeen. I’m happy to close that chapter of my life and walk away with a smile on my face. We had some good times together, now its over.

I’m glad. I’ve got better books to read.

Some of my more avid readers may remember a certain movie review of mine. The film in question was titled The Prestige and I claimed it be one of the very best films I’ve ever seen. In the very same review I vowed that I would read a novel by Christopher Priest, the author of the book upon which the film is based. Priest has written quite a few novels in his time, but I decided upon looking up his newest work. The Separation came highly recommended to me from countless sources and, now, I add my voice to the praise chorus.

Trying to give a good plot summary of The Separation is like trying to come up with a conclusive argument that settles all further debate on subject of “Who came first? The hen or the egg?” In other words: it’s nearly impossible because everything I might tell you would be bordering ominously on devastating spoilers. I will, however, persevere to give you an insight into the story.

Stuart Gratton is a famous historical writer who has made his career on writing documentary novels on WWII. One day while he’s sitting in a book store  signing his newest book, a woman walks up to him and asks him to look over a manuscript written by her deceased father. Gratton is at first not very interested, but when she mentions that her father was named J.L Sawyer, things stand in a very different light. Gratton have for a long time been researching a mysterious memo by Winston Churchill, in which the Prime Minister mentions a Red Cross conscientious war objector employee named J.L Sawyer who also, rather curiously, flew a bomber in the RAF.

With this new information in hand, Gratton starts to unravel the mystery of Sawyer and his unknown hand in the outcome of the War. The reader is provided with a first hand in look into the manuscript, and we there learn that J.L Sawyer had a twin with identical initials. They were inseparable in their youth, but when the war approached the two of them became separated by their own desires for individuality, by love for the same woman and by different sets of ideology. Gratton manages to lay his hands on the diaries of both the brothers and tries desperately to find out what really happened to them, but Priest manages to keep us guessing all the way through.

This is an SF novel, and it qualifies to that title by the fact that it deploys a trick called Alternate History. The fates of the twins are very different and very similar in the same time. Their fates both changed the history of the war, and thus, how the world is today. Gratton lives in a world where America have dwindled from their former glory and become a poor, powerless police state. The manuscript Gratton received from the daughter of Sawyer, however, tells of a world like our own. Priest manages to keep the reader enthralled by writing a book that’s so frustratingly hard to wrap your mind around that you simply have to finish it to solve the mystery.

In the end I thought it was one of the very best books I’ve ever read. Priest’s themes of identity and duality, of the hopelessness war and how every faith may change the course of history were thoroughly engrossing. The ending leaves much up to the reader in terms of how he should perceive what really happened. Some may find such an open ending very hard to contemplate and argue that the book suffers from it. I, however, thought it was nothing less than brilliant and will enjoy thinking about the Sawyer mystery for a long, long time. The book even taught me a great many things about sides of WWII that I’ve never considered.

If you want a book thats hard to read, beautifully written and with a story which will keep you guessing everything you read, try The Separation. I count it among the very best novels I’ve ever read, granting it a 9 /10.

And to answer a special someone out there’s immediate question: Yes, I liked it.But I didn’t think it was great.

I picked up the The Drawing of the Dark solely because of Terje’s high opinion of it. I was expecting a Gaimanesque book with clever dialog, good characters and an elaborate plot. All though why I expected an elaborate plot seems more an effect of my taking Terje’s comparison with Scott Lynch to a greater length than what can be described as implicit. I found almost everything I was looking for, but I finished the book feeling that the one thing that didn’t lay hidden beneath the white pages was the very thing it lacked…

Brian Duffy is an Irishman who’s been fighting in wars too long as a mercenary and a soldier. He’s current whereabouts is the fair city of Venice, where he has done his best to get thoroughly acquainted with various dubious liquids. Returning from a night filled with the red colors of his favorite friend, Duffy finds himself the target of an unexpected, all though poorly executed attempt on his life. When he has dealt wit the danger, an old man calls down to him and asks if he could maybe if he wanted to please travel to Vienna and work as a bouncer in his inn. Which inn, asks Duffy, and the old man gives him a most unexpected answer: The Herzwesten Inn, which is world renowned for its tasty beer. Duffy is offered an unreasonable high amount of money to take the job, and thus, naturally does.

But everything isn’t quite what it seems. Duffy suddenly finds himself the center of unnatural events and soon will even the drawing of the dark begin…

Set in the early 14th century, this is a book that is based upon a real historic event, but flavored with folk lore come alive, real vikings and ancient myths. Powers has a very straightforward way of writing, which enables him to pack a vast amount of action into a short book (328 pages). I was never bored when reading it, and that simple fact means that Powers has managed to write a good book. However, when I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman (the closest comparison to tDotD I can think of), it wasn’t primarily the mythic quality of it that I prized so high. It was the characters, the mood and the plot.

The Drawing of the Dark has all those things – but they’re not as good as in Gaiman’s masterpiece. Especially the fact that I was able to guess where the book was going made the experience greatly inferior to me. I also felt that American Gods contained more depth than this story.

I grade this book a very weak 7,5/10 and I’ll recommend it to fans of aforementioned authors and also those of you who have a weak heart for Steven Erikson. My above ramblings may seem a little weird, but they are there to justify my opinion that this is merely a good book and not a masterpiece by any means.

I’d recommend it though.

Heartily 😉

Storm Front is the first book of an unfinished series about a wizard detective for hire. Nine books has so far been released and the series has gained quite the following, even managing to break into the New York Times Besteller List. The books have even been made into a television show, but it was cancelled due to the fact that it apparently sucked harder than your average Hungarian orange juice commercial. I haven’t had the horror of watching the show, but I have read the first book about Harry Dresden.

Business is very slow for Harry. It seems like no one in the entire city of Chicago has need for a real, live wizard. It’s on one of these quiet afternoons that a woman walks into his office with a real mission, and, more importantly, real money! But moments before his new client walks in the door, the police calls him and asks if he could please move his magic ass over to them to consult them in a new case. Two people have had their hearts ripped out without anything touching them. Suddenly Harry finds himself in the middle of wild events that seem intent on taking him out – no matter the means.

One thing I was painfully aware of when I decided to read the Dresden Files was the fact that this isn’t High Literature. Much like Lynch and Scalzi, Butcher writes books that are first and foremost aimed at entertaining the reader, and much like Lynch and Scalzi, Butcher succeeds at his ambition. Storm Front is a book that will take you on a roller coaster / horror ride filled with deceit, demons, vampires, magic and witty dialog. Like a Hollywood blockbuster, this book contains something for everyone and I can hardly wait to lay my hands on the sequels.

That being said, I must warn you that this is super duper fun – and nothing more. It felt like guilty reading at times and I have a strong suspicion that I’ll have to spend my time wisely when reading this series so I’ll not grow bored with the already shady concept.

This three hundred pages plus change book took me two sittings to finish. I might suffer from indigestion if I read the series straight through – too little fiber in your diet isn’t desirable. Storm Front deserves a nice 6/10, and I’d recommend it to those of you who have a hard time finding fun books which require next to nothing on your own part to keep you entertained. It’s too light in my taste, but I liked it anyways.

It reminded me slightly of a one-man show version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel.

Which isn’t bad at all.

The Forever War is one of those books every SF geek has to read at some point. It’s a true classic in every sense of the word, ranking up there with the likes of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, Gibson’s Neuromancer and Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. The book won both the Nebula award and the Hugo Award in its time and if you add to the mix that it’s supposed to better than John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War (which I found immensely entertaining), you should see why I picked it up.

The premise of the book is quite capturing. Written in the early 70’s, Haldeman took it upon himself to write a book which describes the way the human civilizations develops through countless centuries, giving the reader many opportunities to marvel if something like this could ever happen. I am currently living in Haldeman’s future world so I can safely say that he didn’t get everything right (and thank the Gods for that).

The main character, William Mandella, gets drafted into the military when he hits college age. He is the part of the very first group to be drafted under the Elite Conscription Act, which gives the government the opportunity to pick the brightest and best individuals to fight their war.

Earth has long since become too small for the human race and we are developing colonies on several different planets. However, several of our colony vessels keep disappearing and we decide to send military ships along with them. On the very first trip, an alien vessel is discovered and the government naturally presumes that these “Thurans” are vicious creature with a flair for destruction…

The Forever War is a well written book which is clearly critical of the military. The book is supposedly a critique of the Vietnam War via the concept of a space opera, and even though I’m somewhat unfamiliar with that era of modern history, I was able to pick up what Haldeman was telling me without much trouble. For example, when the soldiers return to Earth after their first mission, they have only been in the military for eighteen subjective months. But due to time dilation caused by traveling in near-to-light speed, several decades has passed on Earth (they only traveled to a “close” planet. If they went to a “distant” one, several hundred centuries may pass on Earth. Thus: The Forever War).

The alienation of their own makes for a fascinating read and I must readily admit that I enjoyed Haldeman’s world building better than the war itself. I recognize that Haldeman had several break through ideas which grants this book the rank of a classic all of their own. The story isn’t very fun and I thought it lacked in important areas such as characterization, which caused me to become very bland to the destiny of the hero. I suspect that Haldeman did this on purpose – in war there are no real heroes, only normal people trying not die.

In the end i became very ambivalent to the whole book. I loved what it told me of the future. I snored through everything else. When the world building became my main factor of enjoyment, I knew that I couldn’t like the book. It’s not bad, however, so I’d give it a healthy 7/10, which is exactly what I gave Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. But if you ask me which of them I prefer, I’d say OMW by miles and miles.

And miles.

And almost a light year.

Why? Because I read fiction to enjoy myself. If I learn a thing or two in the process I happy for it. In OMW’s case I didn’t learn a single thing. TFW taught me several things, but it’s not any fun.

Some three weeks ago I became aware of the fact that the up&coming Sci-fi writer, Tobias S. Buckell, was giving away copies of his two books, Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin to online reviewers. What the heck, I’m an online reviewer! Why shouldn’t I qualify?

So I sent Buckell an e-mail telling him about A Slight Apocalypse and myself and I never heard back from him. I presumed he had uttered a good natured “Guffaw!” at my request. It’s what I’d do if I were a famous author and some unknown Norwegian “reviewer” tried to pull something similar.

But what do you know: awaiting my homecoming was a foreign looking parcel containing a copy of Crystal Rain. Imagine my glee when I realized that I can now call myself a notorious figure in Norwegian online reviewing. This is exactly what I aimed at when I began blogging about books!

Okay, maybe not notorious, but I’ll at least have a good argument if someone asks me about the blog: “Why yes, this blog is very good. Even Tobias S. Buckell thinks so!” (I imagine that very few of you have actually heard of Mr. Buckell, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s not my fault that you’re totally out of the loop!).

As for the book: I’m one third into Crystal Rain and can’t really say that I’m being blown away. I wanted to give you a heads up if I suddenly decided that I loved the book with Lynch-like fervor. If so, it will be because of the book’s own merit, not because I was bought and paid for by the author.

That was one of my reasons for this post. The other one was, obviously, to gloat.

*Gloating*

😀