And in other news…

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Hope you’re all making a great start to 2018.  I thought I’d do a quick post rounding up a few interesting blogging items that you all might like to see.

Firstly a new blog that you should take a look at –  The Fantasy Hive – a great collaboration of people with lots of interesting ideas – plus lets face it you can’t have too many people to discuss SFF with.  They’ve got off to a great start already.  If you enjoy taking part in Tough Travelling then please note this monthly meme has moved to The Fantasy Hive.  This month’s topic is elves and if you want to hook up the link is here.  You have the whole month to come up with your favourite elves.

Also, the FH have set up a monthly book club – the details are here.  I love the idea of this and I’m definitely joining in with this month’s book (The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan) as I already own a copy.  I think this will give me the extra motivation to read some of the books I’ve already bought and are currently stacked up on Mount TBR.  Check out the above link for upcoming months  and their book titles.

Which cover do you like best??  I’m going for the dark, moody version although clearly both are very good – because DRAGONS:

The New Year brings with it Vintage Sci Fi.  Established by the Little Red Reviewer a few years ago this is a great event that encourages us all to read and discuss older science fiction.  More information can be found here if you want to hook up and also for Twitter followers check out this and this .  Plus, Red Star Reviews are hosting a Dune readalong – details here.   Coincidentally, and if you love Sci Fi,  Vintage Sci Fi also runs at the same time as Stainless Steel Droppings Sci Fi Experience – the link is here if you want to take a look.  Neither of these are challenges – they’re very easy going, stress free, events and they have a cross over appeal – if you read a sci fi book that is vintage you can also post it for the Sci Fi Experience – voila.

The Bibliosanctum have posted an excellent piece with some upcoming 2018 book releases for the first few months.  Here is the link.  I’m very lazy and love it when people put together nice convenient lists – but beware: this post should come with a TBR health warning.

A link here to a readalong that’s due to start – Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7 by James S A Corey) – this is another sci fi book (so obvs if you join in you could post your review to the Sci Fi Experience!).  I wish I could take part in this because I love readalongs but I have yet to start this series and as this is no.7…….  If you’re uptodate then I would definitely encourage you to join in.  These are always great fun.

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The SPFBO (Self Published Fantasy Blog Off) is into the final stage and all 10 finalists are  now selected – the books are here.  I’ll be posting about my next books very shortly.

Finally, here’s my favourite books from 2017 – if you want to link up then drop me your url and I’ll make a list.

TTFN

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Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift is one of my December reads that I’m just catching up to reviewing.  I enjoyed this book – very much actually, but not as much as Wool I have to admit.  It is a good book.  It’s intriguing and thought provoking but for me it suffers a terrible case of ‘excellent first book syndrome’. That being said I really do think you need to read this book.

Shift takes us back to a different time frame.  It has a number of different elements to the story but primarily it’s about answering the whys and wherefores about the silos that we were all gagging to know about after Wool.  The problem of course is that Wool built up an incredible amount of tension, I hadn’t anticipated where it was going and so the reveal was shocking and original.  Now, to go back to the beginning, when all has already been revealed – well, it’s difficult to match that impact, it’s a bit like watching the Star Wars movies – the later three. They’re prequels and they show you about Darth Vader’s beginnings but they don’t tell you anything new in terms of the story.  The fact is, you already know what’s what at this point and everything before is all very nice, but, well, it’s simply not as gripping, is it?  However, having given this some thought, I don’t think that Howie could have written this series the other way around, in a traditional linear fashion, I don’t think it would have had anywhere near the impact if he’d started with Shift and then released Wool.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.

So, we go back in time.  We look at how the silos came to exist – and frankly, it’s a bit of a scary story.  We also have a story of Troy, the Chief Controller (sometimes) of Silo No.1.  Silo No.1 doesn’t operate like the others where families, lives out their lives with jobs, school, growing food, etc.  Silo 1 is the HQ.  The Big Brother.  It’s watching the other silos and it has the ability to pull the plug!  Be afraid people.  You may have survived up to now, but, well, don’t let that make you develop a sense of complacency – there is no ‘you made’ it badge, not yet anyway.

On top of this we meet up with Solo.  Actually, if you read Wool you’ve already met him but what you get to see now is a silo in panic and a young boy being hidden away by his parents.  Only his parents don’t return for him and he lives in his hidey hole, in complete isolation.  This does dovetail very nicely with Wool and I enjoyed reading about Solo and his trials and tribulations.  In reality I think it’s difficult to believe that he kept such a grip on normality, but, that being said, did he really keep a grip – just thinking of Wool here!

So, we have Troy who is a conundrum.  Part of the drugged type of workforce created by the new ‘all powerful forgetfulness wonderdrug’.  Except the drug isn’t working quite so effectively on Troy and he’s starting to remember things – remember things that probably should be best left forgotten.  This particular storyline is quite sombre to read.  All the people in the silo live a strange existence, being brought in and out of deep freeze as and when required to work their shift.  There are no women or families in Silo 1 (apparently to stop the men from fighting??)

Basically, there are three timeframes with the three storylines.  In the first, it’s totally scary to watch somebody who seems to be in control and trusted to be the caretaker of the future of humanity.  In the second, we watch a man breaking down as he starts to realise what he’s actually in control of and with the third scenario we get to see the actual effect on one of the innocent bystanders.  For me, this is the beauty of the novel – the differing levels.  It’s not just about jumping backwards and forwards in time but more a display of the effects on the survivors.

In terms of criticisms I personally think it would have been difficult to top the first book.  The Characterisation in Wool is just amazing and you can’t help loving the people and feeling for them with what they’re going through. You don’t really come to the same point with Shift – it’s literally quite difficult to care about some of these characters – and yet, that’s almost the beauty of the writing.  It’s like Howey is proving what he can do as an author.  In book one he sucked us in and made us love the majority of the people.  I mean I really cared about some of those characters and in a strange way was ever so slightly gutted that we weren’t returning to their storyline in the second book!   In this novel it’s difficult to really feel an affinity for any of the characters. You just don’t care about them in the same way, in fact they almost feel like part of the problem.  Apart from Solo – whilst you might not think he’s a wonderful character, it is interesting to learn his story and you obviously can’t help feeling sorry for him.

I think the most compelling part of this novel and its predecessor, is, could this really happen?  Are we really at the whim of a man who is so out of control?

Read these books – but read them in order!

I’m submitting this for one of my reads of Carl at Stainless Steel Dropping’s Sci Fi event.

Also I  received this book from NetGalley in return for a honest review.  This is my own opinion.

Rest in peace RIP VIII – your work here is complete!

Break out the dust sheets and cover up those stacks.  We have once again reached the conclusion of RIP hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Where did the time go.  I feel like I only just posted the start of the event and there I was at the end. I think it’s fairly safe to say that this year’s event has just about turned into a historical fact with masses of bloggers taking part and about 500 reviews posted! Whew – that’s a lot of reading and looking at a lot of the posts Dr Sleep seems to have been very popular!  Cant wait to read that one.

I really enjoyed taking part although I think I fell far short of my over ambitious plans.

My books this year:

  1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  2. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  3. Skulk by Rosie Best
  4. The Returned by Jason Mott
  5. Charm by Sarah Pinborough
  6. The Shining by Stephen King
  7. The Dolls House (Sandman Series Vol 2) by Neil Gaiman
  8. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

So, ahem, didn’t exactly stick to my original list although I did complete three of my intended reads.

The biggest surprise for me was The Shining.  And what I mean by that was I didn’t expect to find it superior to the film (because I do like the film) – but it was far superior!  I loved it.

The Boneshaker was a great adventure to read with dirigibles and zombies.  Charm was a lovely twisted take on Cinderella and Something Wicked This Way Comes exceeded my expectations magnificently.

Just remains to say a really enthusiastic thanks to Carl for hosting another amazing year.  I love Stainless Steel Dropping because it allows me to take part in so many great blogger events.  Thanks Carl 😀

Now, don’t be too sad that this event has ended because as the saying goes, one door closes and another one opens up.  Wave goodbye to all things chilling and get ready for flying saucers and little green men.

Firstly Sci Fi month over at Rinn’s Reads – check out the details here – a whole month celebrating sci fi.  Then from December 1st Carl’s own Science Fiction Experience will begin which also dovetails nicely with Vintage Sci Fi hosted by Andrea at Little Red Reviewer in the New Year.

Thinking caps and space helmets on then to find some great books to take read for these events!  May the Force be with you…

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Just finished reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  I’m reading this book to include as part of my Vintage Sci Fi being hosted by the Little Red Reviewer and also the Sci Fi Experience over at Stainless Steel Droppings.

This is the classic story of a man who experiments with his own nature with disastrous results.

I do have mixed feelings about this story.  I can’t say I didn’t like it but at the same time I felt a little bit underwhelmed, I think perhaps I was expecting something a bit more horrible and dastardly.  It may also partly be due to the fact that the twist in the tale is already known to me.  Perhaps reading this story when it was originally written and not at that point knowing that Mr Hyde was in fact Dr Jekyll I can imagine the surprise you would receive.

What the story is really good at is looking at people’s nature.  I suppose you could say that Dr Jekyll struggles in keeping himself on the straight and narrow.  He comes up with the idea that by experimentation he can separate his two identities – the good and the bad – and with this in mind he basically develops a drug.  At this point I’m not quite sure that the drug really worked in the way he intended.  It allows him to roll back the years and become a less inhibited version of his self where he has no reserves or rules, Mr Hyde.  Nobody likes Hyde.  People shy away instinctively from him.  He seems to ooze evil.  Now, this is one of the parts I wasn’t sure of – did Jekyll really intend to just release the ‘bad’ inner self – the nature of which soon starts to dominate the ‘good’?  Or was he hoping that by separating the two he would have more control over both sides.  Effectively he develops two personas, Dr Jekyll himself does indeed seem to become more gentle and reserved but in splitting the two aspects of his nature the bad side seems to have the upper hand and Dr Jekyll begins to struggle in maintaining a presence at all.  Again, is this because Jekyll was already more predisposed to the evil side of his character – it does make you wonder.

The start of the story is told through Jekyll’s solicitor who has recently rewritten the Dr’s will to ensure that Hyde inherits his fortune.  The solicitor suspecting fowl prey begins to insist on seeing more of Jekyll to satisfy himself that the gentleman hasn’t become the victim of some scheme of Hydes.  Of course, it becomes more and more difficult to see Jekyll as he is rapidly losing control to the bad side of his nature.  Things spiral more out of control after Hyde is witnessed committing a murder which necessitates him going into hiding – difficult to do as the drug taken by Jekyll to induce the split seems no longer to work effectively and Hyde has become the dominant one.

At about two thirds into the story we then change tack in the way the story is told as we read a memoir written by Jekyll before his ultimate and untimely demise in which he writes of his experiments and subsequent struggles.

I did like the way this makes you think about human nature.  Clearly Jekyll seem more predisposed to commit wrongs and struggled to remain on the side of good – in taking this drug he appears to have indulged not just in his own guilty pleasures but also in his own addictive nature.  By the time he realises the damage he’s causing it’s already two late for him and he seeks solitude in a desperate attempt to remain undiscovered.

I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this – it’s only a short story and very readable.  I think personally I had some misguided notion about spending time with Jekyll as he tries to uncover his serum and works into the early hours, pent up in his laboratory and also maybe being more of a witness to the struggles he encounters during the change.  I also hadn’t quite realised just how literal the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde change would be – I always kind of imagined it was almost like a dual personality – but in the actual story Jekyll physically changes – his looks, his age, even his stature.

Anyway, I’m glad I read this but I think it’s probably one of those books where it’s own fame has outreached the actual story itself.