Agency

William Gibson. Penguin. (416p) ISBN 9780241974575

Agency

Agency

I’m a huge fan of William Gibson (I’ve not got a collection of Neuromancer in different editions…) and am always waiting for his next book with great anticipation, waiting to see where he takes us next.

In Agency, he gives us a ‘prequel and sequel’ to The Peripheral.

Like The Peripheral the story of Agency switches between two different timelines, a 2017 where Verity lives in a world where Hilary Clinton won the 2016 elections, and the other is set in the 22nd century post-Jackpot world of Russian crime families and advanced technology.

Written in short punchy chapters switching between the two time frames, developing character depth and interaction which makes you invest very quickly and ensures that you don’t want to put the book down. The explanation of the technology in the book works on extrapolations from existing technology so never really seems that far fetched.

Though the way interaction with ‘stubs’ is achieved is the most ‘out there’ technology mentioned it still doesn’t jar and t hat’s what I’ve always enjoyed about Gibson’s writing, especially Blue Ant Trilogy and the Bridge Trilogy, the technology could be out there now, being developed and tested as it is never an outrageous use of ‘black box’ technologies.

Another great addition to William Gibson’s oeuvre, and I’m now back to anticipating his next work.


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La Belle Sauvage

Philip Pullman. Penguin. (592p) ISBN 9780241365854
La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage

I’ve had the special edition of La Belle Sauvage with the Lynx daemon sat on my shelves since it was released but never got around to reading it.

I found this on the RBDigital service whilst looking through for a fantasy or sci-fi book to listen to and thought walking was a great opportunity to listen to this.

Really pleased to report that Michael Sheen is a wonderful narrator and that the audiobook was wonderfully paced and was a complete pleasure to listen to.

Set twelve years before Lyra’s adventures in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, this helps explain some of the beginnings of that trilogy and how Lyra got to the college in Oxford, also the background to some of the main characters to come.

Malcolm Polstead, Alice, and La Belle Sauvage are the main characters in this adventure, building Malcolm’s strong moral character in the first part of the book and then their flight from danger in the second half of the book.

Well fleshed out characters and world help propel the story along at the speed of the flood that they are caught up in. Some really hard scenes, especially the ones with the hyena in it, sorrow and disgust mingle with a feeling of strangeness when compared to other daemons in Pullman’s world.

A world of strange and totalitarian religious groups which seek to control all, but also a world of magics and old gods, living cheek by jowl with a world of science and engineering.

A wonderful setup for ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy and then onto The Secret Commonwealth which I’ll have to listen to as soon as possible, and any book that mentions Danish oil is all right by me, that and spontaneous combustion always make for a good combination.


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Books for August 2021

The Luminous Novel

The Luminous Novel

I know I’ve just posted a blog on books for July 2021 but I’m trying to get this recommend post out a couple of months in advance so here’s August’s and I’m now going to be working on September’s if there are any books you want me to highlight.

As always these are my personal favourite upcoming books.

The Luminous Novel by Mario Levero, trans. Annie McDermott

This sounds fascinating, a study in procrastination and in a scenario we can really relate to. I’ve read a couple of books translated by Annie McDermott and she has a wonderful touch, I’ve also really enjoyed And Other Stories work in the past.
9781913505011

Great Cities: Their History and Culture

A stunning looking DK book that goes all out to show the subject visually and with a lot of explanation of these images. I’ve got quite a few of. thesee style of books and all are great at doing what they set out to do, nothing greatly in depth but an entertaining read.
9780241471159

Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles

A collection of essays from an award winning nature writer exploring bodies of water and looking at what they mean personally, socially, and culturally. I’ve actually preordered this one already as I’m so looking forward to it.
9781838852153

The Wild Before by Piers Torday

Really looking forward to this prequel to The Last Wild trilogy. I’m trying to be as spoiler free and not reading anything about it as I want it to be lovely and fresh.
9781786541116

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgess

Always love a good shapeshifting story, especially at the 9-12 age range, and this medieval fantasy sounds perfect.
9781526614445

Splinters of Sunshine by Patrice Lawrence

The little of the story so far sounds fascinating and that’s great but it wouldn’t matter if there were no hints as Patrice Lawrence is an author who I buy all that’s written as soon as it comes out.
9781444954777

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

Nice to see this coming out in paperback, wonderful collection of nature essays. I really enjoyed this in audiobook and will be getting it for the shelves as soon as it comes out.
9780099575467


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Glimpses of the Unknown

Mike Ashley (ed). British Library Publishing. (336p) ISBN 9780712352666

Glimpses of the Unknown

Glimpses of the Unknown

I picked this up at random quite a while back as I liked the cover and the concept of revisiting never before republished supernatural stories of the early 20th century.

This is part of a larger overall series that the British Library is publishing, old supernatural tales in volumes with great covers of which I’ve picked up several and still have those to look forward to.

Yes, look forward to as this volume of eighteen short stories is highly varied and a great read. It fit my need for a volume of short stories to have by the bed so I can actually finish something every evening before going to sleep and what better to send you to sleep than spooky supernatural horrors.

Starting with the ghostly presence of the ’empty seat’ in On The Embankment, all the way through to an almost Lovecraftian tale of Mesopotamian treasure seeking in The Treasure of the Tombs, all the stories were well paced with great characterisation as a short story should have.

I found all of the stories strong in their own fashion but my favourite was the above mentioned The Treasure of the Tombs, set in Mesopotamia where ex-servicemen from Britain try to steal from the tombs but find it impossible due to supernatural guardians.

I don’t actually have much space on my bookshelves for ‘keepers’ anymore but this is going to be one as all the stories are fast, fun, and frightening and well worth a read late at night.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

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