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Bookworm 2012: Winners

Posted on | January 18, 2013 | No Comments

Top Tier:

Joe Abercrombie - The HeroesJoe Abercrombie – The Heroes

Pro: Vivid, dynamic, brutal and different fantasy story about a battle and its consequences, and a grim cast of characters with no real good guys to be found.

Contra: Occasionally slips into slight cliché with the characterization, the initial battle description feels slightly gimmicky at first, but these objections are completely irrelevant.

Justina Robson - Natural HistoryJustina Robson – Natural History

Pro: Beautifully written story of very alien, yet recognizably human beings, uplifted almost to the point of incomprehensibility, yet with multidimensional characters one can relate to, topped off by solid faux science.

Contra: No serious objections, but avoid the sequel like it’s rabid.

Paul McAuley - The Quiet WarPaul McAuley – The Quiet War

Pro: Gorgeous worldbuilding, non-US-centric future global politics, surprisingly well captured atmosphere of imminent wartime.

Contra: Occasionally too wordy in large, descriptive passages, particularly regarding scientific or faux-scientific tangents with little bearing on the plot.

Jo Walton - Among OthersJo Walton – Among Others

Pro: Beautiful, poetic tale of growing up as a bookish and generally different child, told after the main story seems to be over, in a sort of anti-hogwartian style of boarding school story. Oh, and the way the magic works – or doesn’t work – is lovely.

Contra: The constant references to classic SF titles do become somewhat tedious and slightly forced after a point.

Chris Beckett - Dark EdenChris Beckett – Dark Eden

Pro: A thoughtful, layered and brutally unflinching meditation on the nature of humanity, both its positive and negative sides, from the perspective of descendants of a crashed ship on a thoroughly alien sunless planet.

Contra: Occasionally our primary hero manages to achieve certain things just a wee bit too easily.

Also Groovy:

Liam Callanan - The Cloud AtlasLiam Callanan – Cloud Atlas

Pro: Beautiful love story and wartime fantasy unfolding in the arctic wastes of Alaska, revolving around an actual cloud atlas and Japanese firebombing of US mainland during WWII.

Contra: Not sure why, but the wife lost interest in the book very early on, claims “nothing happened for a long time”.

James SA Corey - Leviathan WakesJames SA Corey – Leviathan Wakes/Caliban’s War

Pro: Perfect books for relaxed reading on the beach. It has space zombies, so I’m not sure what else needs to be said.

Contra: Pulpy style, so not good if you are looking for “serious” or “intellectual” books. Also, preemptively ripped off my novel idea, so yeah.

Justin Cronin - The TwelveJustin Cronin – The Passage/The Twelve

Pro: Vampiric apocalypse and post-apocalypse that is exquisitely good even when it gets a bit stupid.

Contra: Becomes serious pulpy on occasion, and becomes exquisitely stupid sometimes even though it is still rather good. The second book is slightly worse than the first.

Greg Bear - Hull Zero ThreeGreg Bear – Hull Zero Three

Pro: Weird amnesiac adventure after our hero wakes up from the perfect dream into the nightmarish reality of a broken-down generation ship where almost everything is out to kill him.

Contra: Slightly derivative – the opening is almost exactly the same as Pandorum. One of the most interesting characters is underdeveloped.

Ben Winters - BedbugsBen Winters – Bedbugs

Pro: Mix of economic and lovecraftian horror that opts to make you extremely itchy instead of extremely frightened. Spot-on Brooklyn atmosphere.

Contra: Certain details are predictable, such as the fact that some of the characters will turn out to be evil.

Adam Roberts - New Model ArmyAdam Roberts – New Model Army

Pro: Twisted tale of a different type of warfare style set against old military structures, presenting a deep clash between hierarchical modes of thinking set against mesh-type conceptualizations.

Contra: The action moves on in a relatively linear fashion, some of the exploits of our hero are sometimes really unfeasible.

 Classic Standing Strong:

Roger Zelazny - Creatures of Light and DarknessRoger Zelazny – Creatures of Light and Darkness

Pro: Seriously disturbed mythological fantasy/far future SF full of dark humour and whimsy, a gorgeous literary experiment that was never meant for publication and all the more beautiful for it.

Contra: In a few rare spots it tends to show its age, particularly in the chapters regarding the computer powered by orgasms.

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  • Goodreads

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
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