domingo, dezembro 29, 2013

"Early Autumn" by Robert B. Parker

Early Autumn - Robert B. Parker
description

# 2013 - 90#

Funny how men dote on these Perfect Men that shoot well, cook well, have the perfect thing to say at every moment, and charm the ladies. What makes a man a Man? Is it the span of his chest, the stomach-muscles-that-are-very-well-developed framework, his towering height, bold face, calm countenance, full beard, mustache, or deep croaky voice? Spenser epitomizes all these traits...

Is this a coming-of-age story or pulp noir fiction? If genre is a type of cultural ritual, what does the combination of genres imply? Does it imply that genres in their traditional form no longer fulfill the needs of the noir fiction culture? The best examples of Noir Fiction are the ones that are able to merge several types of fiction modes, like this book here. Genre works best by using a set of literary codes that are recognized and understood by the reader and the author via shared literary devices as the faux-plot, which is clearly on display here. The classical faux-plot depicted here is the damsel in distress, who wants to protect her son from the father (with ties to the bas-fond). This is a simple way for the damsel's son and Spenser to be introduced. This device allows Parker to introduce a bit of standard private detective lore and a mini-mystery for Spenser and Paul, the son, to pursue. The mini-mystery provides more than one benefit to the young man struggling to find an adult identity.

It's not so much a detective novel as a story about a teenager's path to adulthood that utilizes pulp fiction devices (eg,faux-plot) for story progression. In that regard it works wonderfully.

NB: My last book of 2013... For 2014 I want to wish to myself that I won't care about weight gain, or be depressed about it. I also want to grow taller, but due to the fact that height-wise my genes tend to the short side, maybe that won't happen. And even if I grow bigger horizontally and vertically, I think it's just a matter of personal perspective to accept myself or not...Enough said (smile)!

sexta-feira, dezembro 27, 2013

"China Mountain Zhang" by Maureen F. McHugh

China Mountain Zhang - Maureen F. McHugh
description

#89 – 2013#

“Dao ke dao, fei chang dao” = “The way that can be spoken is not the way” (page 220).

This simple aphorism exemplifies the tone of this novel. Lots of things left unsaid, but at the same time, because of that, conveying lots of meaning.

I’ve just finished this astonishing novel and I’m still trying to deal how it made feel.

One of the things that impressed me the most was McHugh’s refusal to let her secondary characters remain two dimensional pictures in the novel. It included several parallel stories apart from Zhang’s story, each one of them quite above average writing-wise.

China Mountain Zhang is a quiet, and beautiful novel. Although it’s not about heroes, it tells stories of ordinary, everyday fortitude, the kind we need to get out of bed and live our lives. McHugh impregnates each of Zhang’s decisions and actions with significance, reminding us of the momentousness of day-to-day life. 

China Mountain Zhang is a clear example of speculative fiction (SF) that particularly interests me. It’s one of the few types of SF I have much interest in reading these days, ie, the story of ordinary people doing ordinary things in an imagined world.

My love for it was due to the fact that most SF plots required heroes and villains to commit actions that affected many people, and sometimes entire worlds and universes. This has always been one of weakest characteristics for Speculative Fiction. But maybe its lack of character depth is also its strength. Truth be told at the beginning I didn’t read SF because of the characters, but because of the worlds they inhabited. That was what fascinated me. Later as grew old, my interests started to shift.

China Mountain Zhang’s main accomplishment that so impressed me was its ability to portray a sense of intimacy, of merging this reader's consciousness with the imagined consciousness of the characters (Zhang,San-xiang, Martine, Alexys, etc) and allowing me a rapport that is impossible in reality. This is certainly not the only thing that above-average-SF can do, but it is one of the few things it can do better than any other type of genre literature I know of (I’m thinking “mainstream” literature here).

What a way to finish 2013. This novel is going to be everlasting in my mind… It transcended SF and worked on many levels.

sábado, dezembro 21, 2013

"The Farthest Shore" (Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. LeGuin

The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. Le Guin

description 

(read originally in the 80's)

Scope Review: Earthsea Trilogy. 

“Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight
On the empty sky”

Yin & Yang?

I honestly don't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with reading and collecting books. I'd define childhood as a never-ending vacation. A weekend without a week following and reading-time everlasting. I still remember the never-ending days of my childhood. My first date. My first kiss. My first endless book infatuations. One of my favourite childhood memory was when I was twelve years old with my Grandmother Glória at home and me reading to her "O Feiticeiro de Terramar" ("A Wizard of Earthsea"). 

It was with some trepidation that I've re-read one of my childhood favourites... Forget Harry Potter and its look-alikes. This is how it all began for me.

I’ve always had a problem with Fantasy, especially with the one being produced nowadays. The usual Fantasy fodder does not stimulate me. Fantasy, like myth and dream, should assume the existence of a world of being beyond or underneath perceived, empirical reality, and it should also reproduce that other world by means of symbolism and literary prototypes: kingdoms, wizards, shadows, dragons, good, evil, and sword are some of them that should reverberate with ethical and aesthetic meaning.

I’ve never being particularly fond of coming-of-age stories. I’ve always believed that a good coming-of-age story should be a journey that it’s not only psychic, but also moral. My archtype bildungsroman, should trace the development of a young person’s awareness of self, society, and nature. Le Guin’s was able to do this by balancing all the powers in her fictionalized world, supported on the recognition that every act affects self, society, and world. 

Ged (God?), acknowledges the presence of good and evil in himself and transforms himself psychologically to fit into the Earthsea World. In the last pages of the first volume, light and shadow mingle, and there was no longer two beings but only one. That Le Guin was able to achieve this effect in only a handful of pages was quite astonishing (compare with the final chapter of the book “Blood Song” by Anthony Ryan to check on how it shouldn’t be done - My review). 

Each volume of Earthsea tells us a different story about the Erwachsenwerden process. When read together (which I didn’t in the translations in Portuguese), the trilogy gave me an overall perspective of Ged’s journey, which was also a story of the epic hero who successfully deals with the forces that threatened Earthsea.

quinta-feira, dezembro 19, 2013

"The Tombs of Atuan" (Earthsea Cycle, #2) by Ursula K. LeGuin


description 

(read originally in the 80's)

Scope Review: Earthsea Trilogy. 

“Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight
On the empty sky”

Yin & Yang?

I honestly don't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with reading and collecting books. I'd define childhood as a never-ending vacation. A weekend without a week following and reading-time everlasting. I still remember the never-ending days of my childhood. My first date. My first kiss. My first endless book infatuations. One of my favourite childhood memory was when I was twelve years old with my Grandmother Glória at home and me reading to her "O Feiticeiro de Terramar" ("A Wizard of Earthsea"). 

It was with some trepidation that I've re-read one of my childhood favourites... Forget Harry Potter and its look-alikes. This is how it all began for me.

I’ve always had a problem with Fantasy, especially with the one being produced nowadays. The usual Fantasy fodder does not stimulate me. Fantasy, like myth and dream, should assume the existence of a world of being beyond or underneath perceived, empirical reality, and it should also reproduce that other world by means of symbolism and literary prototypes: kingdoms, wizards, shadows, dragons, good, evil, and sword are some of them that should reverberate with ethical and aesthetic meaning.

I’ve never being particularly fond of coming-of-age stories. I’ve always believed that a good coming-of-age story should be a journey that it’s not only psychic, but also moral. My archtype bildungsroman, should trace the development of a young person’s awareness of self, society, and nature. Le Guin’s was able to do this by balancing all the powers in her fictionalized world, supported on the recognition that every act affects self, society, and world. 

Ged (God?), acknowledges the presence of good and evil in himself and transforms himself psychologically to fit into the Earthsea World. In the last pages of the first volume, light and shadow mingle, and there was no longer two beings but only one. That Le Guin was able to achieve this effect in only a handful of pages was quite astonishing (compare with the final chapter of the book “Blood Song” by Anthony Ryan to check on how it shouldn’t be done - My review). 

Each volume of Earthsea tells us a different story about the Erwachsenwerden process. When read together (which I didn’t in the translations in Portuguese), the trilogy gave me an overall perspective of Ged’s journey, which was also a story of the epic hero who successfully deals with the forces that threatened Earthsea. 

quarta-feira, dezembro 18, 2013

"A Wizard of Earthsea" (The Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. LeGuin

A Wizard of Earthsea  - Ursula K. Le Guin
description 

(read originally in the 80's)

Scope Review: Earthsea Trilogy. 

“Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight
On the empty sky”

Yin & Yang?

I honestly don't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with reading and collecting books. I'd define childhood as a never-ending vacation. A weekend without a week following and reading-time everlasting. I still remember the never-ending days of my childhood. My first date. My first kiss. My first endless book infatuations. One of my favourite childhood memory was when I was twelve years old with my Grandmother Glória at home and me reading to her "O Feiticeiro de Terramar" ("A Wizard of Earthsea"). 

It was with some trepidation that I've re-read one of my childhood favourites... Forget Harry Potter and its look-alikes. This is how it all began for me.

I’ve always had a problem with Fantasy, especially with the one being produced nowadays. The usual Fantasy fodder does not stimulate me. Fantasy, like myth and dream, should assume the existence of a world of being beyond or underneath perceived, empirical reality, and it should also reproduce that other world by means of symbolism and literary prototypes: kingdoms, wizards, shadows, dragons, good, evil, and sword are some of them that should reverberate with ethical and aesthetic meaning.

I’ve never being particularly fond of coming-of-age stories. I’ve always believed that a good coming-of-age story should be a journey that it’s not only psychic, but also moral. My archtype bildungsroman should trace the development of a young person’s awareness of self, society, and nature. Le Guin’s was able to do this by balancing all the powers in her fictionalized world, supported on the recognition that every act affects self, society, and world. 

Ged (God?), acknowledges the presence of good and evil in himself and transforms himself psychologically to fit into the Earthsea World. In the last pages of the first volume, light and shadow mingle, and there was no longer two beings but only one. That Le Guin was able to achieve this effect in only a handful of pages was quite astonishing (compare it with the final chapter of the book “Blood Song” by Anthony Ryan to check on how it shouldn’t be done - My review). 

Each volume of Earthsea tells us a different story about the Erwachsenwerden process. When read together (which I didn’t in the translations in Portuguese), the trilogy gave me an overall perspective of Ged’s journey, which was also a story of the epic hero who successfully deals with the forces that threatened Earthsea

sábado, dezembro 14, 2013

"Blood Song" (Raven's Shadow, #1) by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song (Raven's Shadow, #1) - Anthony  Ryan

description


This is just not, as people are wont to say, my thing. As John Clute would say, there’s a clear Thinning (a diminishment of the world depicted) in this novel. It’s quite beyond my grasp the way that no matter how big this world was supposed to be, everyone kept running into one another everywhere. This is a frequently encountered “no-no” for lesser quality fantasy fiction and it was disappointing to see it also here. Travels over great distances and pivotal events (like battles) were often barely portrayed and instead we, the reader, joined the “fray” after they'd already concluded (read “The Heroes” to see how it should be undertaken). This gave the world an unreal feeling and constituted a total failure of world-building.

Someone told me this novel was better than “A Name of the Wind” (a book I also detested), “A Game of Thrones” and “Red Country” by Joe Abercrombie. I don’t do book comparisons. Each book must stand on its own merits, but in this case I can’t resist. Comparing “Blood Song” with “A Game of Thrones” and “The Heroes” is like saying Martin Payne is on the same wavelength as Martin Luther King.

I’ve read Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song because it showed up in my Goodreads “recommended” list with a ton of 5-star reviews (just like “Wool” by Hugh Howey, which I didn't like as well). I’m usually suspicious, however, when the reviews so vigorously rubber-stamp the greatness of a book. Based on my experience with “Blood Song”, I was right to be suspicious.

While "Blood Song" is not really awful, I’m totally baffled as to how it earned so many 5-star reviews. I’m long past the age where I enjoy coming-of-age stories, if I ever did like them much. So maybe that’s the reason I don’t understand why “Blood Song” is getting so much praise.

There is a good story in the book somewhere. I did enjoy the parts that take place in the present. They’re just buried under all the awful writing. The dialogue isn't very realistic and the story comes across as overly outlined instead of continuous.

There is just nothing special enough about “Blood Song” to hold its own against all the other good fantasy books that are currently out there (above-mentioned just some of them). The prose is little more than utilitarian (Ryan uses far too many comma splices in his writing for my taste) and the book just doesn't live up to the fuss. There is no other way to say it.

sexta-feira, dezembro 06, 2013

"The Killing of the Tinkers" by Ken Bruen

The Killing of the Tinkers: A Novel (Jack Taylor) - Ken Bruen
description

“The Killing of the Tinkers” is a lonely book.

I used to read a fair amount of crime fiction. A lot, actually. In the last years I've found myself reading less of it, and in the last years I find that the novels I give up on the soonest are crime novels. Why? Well. For several reasons. For starters the term "noir" is being used today as something of a buzzword. It’s used with the same promiscuity as the snack food industry uses ketchup. I’ve lost count on the number of books I’ve given up on because of that. I don’t want to read an author that just likes to play a noir game. I want an author that really pays attention to reality and logic. Ken Bruen is one of the happy few that despite a few wobbles, and missteps, has been able to avoid tumbling into oblivion (I’m still reading the early Bruen. I’m still withholding judgment on the late Bruen).

After having a taste of Jack Taylor in "The Guards", I was ready for some more. Ken Bruen has a noir writing style that perfectly captures the flavour of the local underground in which the characters live, including the drugs that often exist but are rarely written about in mainstream fiction. Ken Bruen is stylistically in a class of his own. Right from the first page, Bruen hits a faultless noir mood and doesn’t let go until the very last page. The book is full of despair and it takes a special author to be able to find something beautiful and honest in such unrelenting despair, and Bruen is the guy to do it.

If Jack Taylor is your run-of-the-mill detective, what isn’t definitely standard, is Bruen's prose. Not only are you hammered on the head with the Queen’s English, but Bruen has a unique writing style in which he sometimes uses poetry that fits the prose pitch-perfect, even in the middle of a paragraph, or when using a list. Raw poetical prose at its finest.

“The Killing of the Tinkers” isn’t overly concerned with detailing the detection process, and the mysteries are actually easily solved, but that's beside the point. Noir is all-pervasive throughout the book. And maybe that’s why Jack Taylor drinks so much, maybe to stop himself from seeing, not only the worst parts of the world around him, but also himself.

As I said in another review, Bruen is an acquired taste.

domingo, dezembro 01, 2013

"Lights Out" by Jason Starr

Lights Out - Jason Starr
description

"Lights Out" is not so much a thriller as it is a dark, brooding character study. Starr's narrative has an adjacency (to use a noun that became very dear to me after reading "The Adjacency" by Christopher Priest...) that simultaneously unsettles and drives the story forward. Reading it is like walking pell-mell and slightly drunk through a strange locale with the only certain certainty being that each step takes you further away and closer to inimical territory. You trust your ministering angel to protect you, even as you know it has flown the cage long ago. 
Starr has given also his secondary players their moments, portray their places in the neighborhood's impenetrable structure. 

The novel has several stories to tell. Its multiple-POV layout provides the story with a omniscient perspective, while affording Starr the opportunity to display his wonderful ear for internal monologue. The problem was that at times I felt as if Starr was also a central character in the book.

Having read this novel in tandem with "Hard Feelings" (vide my review), I got the feeling Jason Starr is attaining a place in the noir realist tradition that says happy endings don't exist in places such as Brooklyn.

quarta-feira, novembro 27, 2013

"Hard Feelings: A Novel" by Jason Starr

Hard Feelings: A Novel - Jason Starr
description

My first Jason Starr. I'm reading this novel in tandem with "Light's Out" and I sense a running theme.

I'm always a sucker for novels with amoral characters, or unsatisfying endings. This one has plenty of that. Richard Segal looks like a normal guy in every sense of the word. He doesn’t manifest any overt psychological abnormalities if his life. At the beginning everything is running smoothly, but when problems arose, he reverted to his primal state of psychopathology.

Starr likes to draw his characters from everyday life, make everything seem pretty normal. And then he punches you in the stomach... He pushes his story lines and his characters to extremes, and takes it from there.

Character-driven fiction that starts bad and gets worse, but not necessarily with a dark, relentless tone. I don’t need to like the characters I’m reading about, but I need to understand them. That's fully on display here. I like reading about fucked-up characters...

He was able to capture the perverse pleasures, edgy excitement and dark humour of what I see as twenty-first century noir. I've been into 21st-century noir fiction lately, and I was told in vigorous terms that I should start reading Jason Starr. The vigour and diversity of recent literary noir are difficult to convey in a brief review. That's also not the point here. What's definitely the point here is that Jason Starr is worth keeping an eye on.

One of Starr’s strong points is his ability to make uncompromising pulp traditionalism seem both radical and fresh. More than most authors, Jason Starr uses the workplace as a setting to fuel tensions (vide Richard Segal's interactions with his boss Bob).

What definitely won me over was the abrupt ending. What a stunt. Fitting as he

segunda-feira, novembro 25, 2013

"The Web: Lightstorm (Web Series 1)" by Peter F. Hamilton

Lightstorm - Peter F. Hamilton

description

I stopped reading Peter F. Hamilton after trying to finish "Judas Unchained". Suffice to say I couldn't do it. When Peter F. Hamilton is on form, his work is wonderful — accessible, inventive, evocative and unbelievably daring. Sadly, getting to that stage tends to take Hamilton an eternity, and there's more roaming in his novels than in anything I've ever read.
Lightstorm is another disappointment. Mainly because it just doesn't hang together: it's too wordy, too slow and ultimately fails to convince. In fact, the whole scenario depicted in the novel isn't particularly convincing: a bit of localised pollution isn't exactly the worst thing a corporation has ever done. Another main grippe I had was with the boundaries between the real and the virtual worlds. The central question for me was, when Aynsley was confronted by Web-formed enemies, why didn't he just disconnected and concentrated on his real world problems? I know this was a YA novel, but even so Hamilton should avoid these kind of pitfalls.
On top of that the his usual world building comes again in the flavour of info dumps...

domingo, novembro 24, 2013

"Lexicon" by Max Barry

Lexicon - Max Barry
description

My first Max Barry. Maybe my last...

Suspension of Disbelief necessary to read the book.

The characters are overall pretty weak. The rest of the novel is not solid enough to compensate for this shortcoming. The particular of the central plot device is also way, way over the top.

This is one of those books where the sum does not equal some of the good of its parts. The idea is brilliant, the writing is somewhat solid, but the execution is quite flawed, and left me wanting.

Lexicon's gimmick plays on a premise that any lover of language will enjoy (I surely did), ie, that words have power, literally. 

Unfortunatelly getting into the science of this magic system quite in depth was not enough to save the novel. In fact, repeating this over and over again throughout the book became quite exhausting. While some of the ideas regarding how this magic system worked were quite scientific, the restatement of the details ad nauseum got exhausting.

I was constantly hammered over the head with all the nuances and details that went into how words functioned, and whatnot. By the end of it, I felt like I was reading more about psychology than magic. I like my magic systems to be logical and have science behind them, but I don't want to read a treatise on how they work.

Now, let's digress a little on the power words used in the book. On this topic the novel also fails miserably. Some of the power words throughout the book are just plain ridiculous and completely unutterable. They look like someone (a 5-year old...?)just put together a bunch of random letters together. That's why I've started this review by talking about the necessity of Suspension of Desbelief being necessary to try enjoying the novel. All this takes away the believableness of the magic system and the seriousness of it. 

In this internet age is language mightier than the sword...? The answer is no, if you go by this novel.

sábado, novembro 23, 2013

"Mission to Paris: A Novel" by Alan Furst

Mission to Paris: A Novel - Alan Furst
Ronald Colman
(as I read it, the Fredric Stahl character reminded me of the english actor Ronald Colman)

Furst has long been on my TBR.

As this was my first Alan Furst novel that I’ve read, the first thing that came to mind me was how it kind of kept reminding me of John le Carre’s works in a sense of the dark atmosphere, the smooth way in which the espionage business was carried out.

Besides that, there wasn't much in it. There was an awesome book lost somewhere in "Mission to Paris", but Furst did not find it. The end concludes too quickly, and characters are introduced and dropped. On top of that Paris as a setting was woefully wasted. 

Also hard to stand and understand was the way Furst tended to caricature most of the German characters. I'm not sure whether Furst stays on the right side of the line cliche-wise. The difference between a lazy cliche and a comfortingly familiar type can be pretty fine in fiction.

sábado, novembro 16, 2013

Project 13 - OwnCloud on Raspberry Pi - IaaS Cloud Service



OwnCloud is used primarily as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud service. It's built on top of a MySQL database. The program itselfis written in PHP and JavaScript. It now has a new application programming interface (API). This should make it easier to build applications on top of ownCloud's built-in capabilities:



OwnCloud is also a free and open source alternative to services like DropBox and GoogleDrive. To setup your own OwnCloud you need to have a standard Linux Apache MySQL PHP (LAMP) server (see some of my other posts to see how you can about setting it up). 

Should I switch from DropBox/GoodDrive to OwnCloud? If you've got a Raspberry Pi the answer is clearly yes! 
  1. No Space Restrictions
    Services like DropBox give you anywhere from 2 to 15 GB for free but then charge if you want more. With OwnCloud the only limit on your storage size is the capacity of your server.
  2. No Max File Size Restrictions
    Having a "max file size" is one of the things I hate most about cloud storage systems. Some services limit you to a measly max file size of 25 mb!!! With OwnCloud you can decide what the max file size limit is.
  3. Privacy
    When you give your files/data to companies you can never be sure what they are doing with that information. Some companies use your data for marketing purposes or to sell information about you to third parties. Then there is also always the concern that a company may be forced to hand over your data to the government without your consent or knowledge.  With OwnCloud you control who gets the data and how it's used. Also, own cloud can be easily configured to send all client side data through a proxy.
  4. DIY
    Own cloud has a ton of features such as a Calender, Contacts, Music Streamer, Picture Viewer, and an Online Document Editor. But the best part is that there are a TON of additional plugins you can add to extend the functionality of your OwnCloud.
  5. Extra-Features
    Just like with other services you can share specific files or folders, but with OwnCloud you can go a step further and create accounts for your friends, family, or colleges to use.  Own cloud also has client side applications for every platform. You can download client side apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and I-Phone. Own cloud also has version control so that when you modify a file it keeps a copy of the previous version in case you want to roll back. I could go on about other features but needless to say OwnCloud does it all.

Secondly OwnCloud is not just an online locker you can through your stuff into, it has a host of other much smarter features, for example the OwnCloud music player which will keep you entertained while you are accessing your data from your cloud (my usual AOR tracks...):



Since OwnCloud can be accessed from anywhere it also integrates other things which you may need access to such as your calendar (16th November, the day I'm writing this post...), you can view this with your data:



Tasks:



Images:



More so it even gives you the option to save your important bookmarks which you may need since its no good having bookmarked something only to find out that you don’t have access to the bookmark when you need it. Bookmarks will be with you where ever you go on OwnCloud.

Let's get down to business, ie, setting up my ownCloud.


  1. Install with raspi-config:
  2. Package lists' update:
  3. Create ownCloud specific internal user:
  4. Package installation:
  5. Create SSL Certification (1 year validation
    ):
  6. Web Server configuration:



  7. PHP Configuration:
  8. Web Server and PHP Start-up:
  9. ownCloud Installation:
  10. I'm now ready to access my ownCloud (here I've already set up my own URL address to access my IaaS outside my private LAN). The first step here is to choose an user and admin password:
  11. For the purpose of this tutorial I've only used a 8-Gb-PEN, which I had lying around. For a produtive IaaS, just use a bigger disk...:
  12. Syncing ownCloud with my own desktop:

  13. Desktop Agent set-up (only 4.8 Gb available due to the fact that all the SW to make it run occupies around 3 Gb...):
  14. Media Streamer. Here I've used my own favourite (Tomahawk). On the picture down, one can see my own raspbery Pi server (rpibyte.no-ip.org), from which I can stream my own content, be it music or video:
  15. My own local ownCloud Drive:
  16. When accessing ownCloud through the web-based interface we have the same folder configuration as the one above:
  17.  http://rpibyte.no-ip.org/owncloud. And that's that!
Google Drive, SkyDrive Pro, Meo Cloud and now, my ownCloud!!!! Now I have two IaaS:
  1. My own Synology NAS: http://antao.quickconnect.to
  2. My ownCloud NAS: http://rpibyte.no-ip.org/owncloud
NB: Due to their nature they're not available all the time... LOL

quarta-feira, novembro 13, 2013

"Countdown City" by Ben H, Winters

Countdown City - Ben H. Winters
description

It's not easy to blend in a dystopic look at the future with a solid police story, but Winters has a lot of talent as the previous book fully demonstrated (See my review of The Last Policeman).

The plot this time round is darker, and though we still think of Hank Palace as a heroic and solid character who seems to be a lone voice of a serene rationality in a world rapidly going to smithreens, in truth he's anything but.

Ben H. Winters can mix-up several genres in a wonderful way in a way I've never seen before. On top of that he doesn’t let the end-of-the-world aspects of the book swamp the central mystery. It has it all: Crime drama, an emotional ride, and an extraordinary imaginative leap into a world on the edge of extinction.

Both "The Last Policeman" and "Countdown City" are speculative novels (the asteroid's presence means they couldn’t be anything else), but they’re less SF than they are crime fiction seen through a speculative lens. Don´t come looking for a hard-SF treatment of planetary collision a la "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. This is something quite different. His treatment of hard-SF subject here is very loose. Fortunatelly that’s not what this book is all about (the same case with "The Last Policeman"). Not even close.

"Countdown City" is at its core a philosophical novel. Its particular aim is to examine why we do the things we do, and how we derive meaning from them, even in the face of certain death, how long are we bound by the promises we make, what is it that we owe each other, and how much our is our word worth. All of them fundamental moral issues concerning us all.

Aren't these the most important questions that Literature can help us understand?

At the end of it I felt it reminded me of "This Is the Way The World Ends" by James Morrow. Perhaps it's less intellectual, but it is much more realistic.

One of the best novels of 2013.

I'm eagerly waiting the next installment.