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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The Power

Naomi Alderman. Penguin Books. (352p) ISBN 9780670919963

The Power

The Power

Naomi Alderman’s novel ‘The Power’ is a well-deserved winner of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. Naomi takes the idea of a change to which gender holds the reins of power and moves it along logical lines to a logical outcome, the end of the book gives this logical progression a wonderful twist.

One day young women wake a power which has been developing in them over a number of years which gives them the ability to channel electricity through them, storing it in an organ called a ‘skein’.

As this develops through the world, women start to control various power centres and men fight back at the gender inequalities raised by the change in their societal position.

One of the funniest, but most poignant changes is the change in gender positions of the newscasters throughout the book.

Written in an episodic fashion reminiscent of ‘World War Z’, the story develops at a cracking pace, in a horrifying but true way which I won’t spoil, but when the only model of holding power is that which has been developed in our patriarchal, capitalist society, the story’s outcomes ring sadly true.

A wonderful novel which should be read by men as well as women as a pointer to what is wrong in our current society, and as a well-written piece of speculative fiction.


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The Sacrifice Box

Martin Stewart. Penguin Random House Children’s UK. (400p) ISBN 9780141371610

The Sacrifice Box

The Sacrifice Box

I have had The Sacrifice Box moving up my TBR pile over the last month or so, but it was immediately catapulted to the top on the advice of a fellow twitter user and I really didn’t regret pushing it up the list.

I usually hate comparisons, but this book read like UK Stephen King (when he’s at his best), mixed with a feeling of Stranger Things if they were Five Abroad in Dorset.

The main characters; Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley were friends for a summer and during that summer they found a box in the woods, so far so strange. Sep had the words for the rules of the box fill his head from out of the blue and the five of them sacrifice items to the box and speak the rules.

Four years later someone breaks the rules.

The characters are well-defined with their own idiosyncrasies and personalities, the pace is blistering at times but never falters. Incidental characters are there for a reason, sometimes a gory one, but a definite reason.

If you like creepy horror with a bit of blood, you really can’t go wrong with this book from Martin Stewart.


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