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CDRBill

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Design For How People Learn (Voices That Matter)
Julie Dirksen
The Seventh Book of Lost Swords: Wayfinder's Story
Fred Saberhagen
The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny

See my reviews of the individual books in this volume.

Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe

See my review of the individual books in this volume.

The Claw of the Conciliator - Gene Wolfe

I really like this story of the continuing adventures of Severian. However, if you read the first book, The Shadow of the Torturer, you probably came away with a multitude of questions but don't expect to have them answered in this second book. There there are some things where you may see a glimmer of an answer and start to get an idea for what's going on, but nothing becomes absolutely clear. And as another reviewer pointed out (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/205947975?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1) keep a dictionary handy. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

The Shadow of the Torturer - Gene Wolfe
I really liked the ancient archaic feel of this book even though it is set in the far distant future. I can't wait to read the rest of the tetralogy.
 
 

 

The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut

I really like Vonnegut's humor in this book. While this book has the trappings of science fiction, do not expect the type of hard sci fi as you might read from Asimov or Clarke. Currently my favorite Vonnegut book.

Sundiver  - David Brin

This book is both a sci-fi and murder mystery in one. While it took a little work to get through the first few pages which set up the story line, I was engrossed from that point on.

As the story starts, humanity has just joined a galactic civilization where there is a pecking order to each species based on when they were "uplifted" by genetic manipulation and by whom and how many "client" species they have uplifted as a "patron". Each uplifted species is indentured to their patron species for 1,000 years. Humanity is in the enviable and highly unusual position of having been abandoned by their patron species and, as a young "wofling" race, already uplifted 2 other species. All this started with the "progenitors" millennia ago.

 

The story follows Jaacob Demwa as he is asked to join the Sundiver project, which is studying the sun by sending manned craft in to the upper chromosphere. And "ghosts" have been discovered living in the sun. Many wonder if the Solarians are mankind's long lost patrons.

 

Then the unimaginable happens and a craft manned by an uplifted chimp, one of mankind's client species, is apparently destroyed by the Solarians.

 

Thus ensues a great sci-fi murder mystery set in David Brin's Uplift universe with intrigue and politics on an enormous scale. This is a great story with great characters and I can't wait to read the other books in the series.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip José Farmer

Good novel with a great story idea. Every human being (and one alien) that ever lived on Earth is resurrected on an alien world beside a river millions of miles long. Everyone is naked and hairless. They have a canister strapped to their arm that, when placed in "grails" spaced along the river, is filled with food, tobacco, toiletries and a narcotic gum.

 

So what does humanity do with this second chance? Unfortunately, most revert to form. War, rape, murder, but is it really murder if your are resurrected again?

 

This is book 1 of the Riverworld series. It follows the exploits of historical figures Sir Richard Francis Burton and Hermann Göring. Burton is trying to find the "why" of this alien world and after his 777 deaths gets close to the answer while Göring is haunted by his personal demons but eventually seems to come to terms with them and make peace.

 

This book will leave you with a lot of questions and few answers although there are hints such as when introduced to the "Ethicals".

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I hope the others in the series are as good.

 

Oh, and one last thing. For those that saw the made for cable "Riverworld" movie, the book is much better!

The Courts of Chaos - Roger Zelazny

I love The Chronicles of Amber stories and this one is a fitting conclusion to the first quintet, the Cycle of Corwin. There was a surprise twist to the ending, however. At least it was to me!

The Chronicles of Amber: Volume II (Amber #3-5) - Roger Zelazny

This books follows the royal family of Amber, in particular Prince Corwin, through all the in-fighting and machinations for succesion to the throne. The world building and characterizations are exceptional. 

Blood Music - Greg Bear

The idea behind this story is really good. However, the characterizations left a little to be desired. I could never really develop an affinity with any of the characters at all. They just seemed to be a little haphazard. Some of the prose was a little "iffy" as well. 

Emphyrio 19 - Jack Vance

A quick enjoyable read about a hero rising to challenge and change the status quo that has been in place for over 2000 years.

The Hand of Oberon

The Hand of Oberon - Roger Zelazny Great continuation to the story of Amber with a surprise ending.

The Chronicles of Amber

The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny This book contains the first 2 Amber novels, Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon. I have provided a review of each individually.

Nine Princes in Amber:
I can't say much that hasn't already been said about this book, both the good and bad. It was a fast-paced enjoyable read. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Guns of Avalon:
The second installment of the Amber series continues the saga of Corwin and his path to the throne of Amber. This story continues to flesh out the concept of Amber and the royal family and gives hints (but no answers) on where they get their power to travel in shadows. I look forward to learning more about Dworkin. I am going straight to the next book!

The Guns of Avalon

The Guns of Avalon - Roger Zelazny The second installment of the Amber series continues the saga of Corwin and his path to the throne of Amber. This story continues to flesh out the concept of Amber and the royal family and gives hints (but no answers) on where they get their power to travel in shadows. I look forward to learning more about Dworkin. I am going straight to the next book!

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert This book does a great job showing how mankind has effected the Earth and it’s environmental ecosystems, not just in the modern era but for thousands of years. Everything the author discusses is well documented or shown to be very well researched hypotheses.

There have been five mass extinction events: the Cretaceous-Paleogene, the Triassic-Jurassic, the Permian-Triassic, the Late Devonian, and the Ordovician-Silurian. The Sixth Extinction is now in progress in the current Anthropocene (Age of Man) era.

Kolbert begins the book showing how early scientists did not believe in extinction until Cuvier, Lyell and even Darwin pushed forward various hypotheses based on reading of the fossil record.

She then moves into where man starts having a mass effect. We are not just warming the planet but excessive CO2 is acidifying the world’s ocean. We are destroying habit. And in our world travels, we are transporting species out of their native habitat, in effect creating a new Pangea with less diversity. Those of us living in Florida in the United States know all too well the problem invasive species pose.

Many may think that mankind just started having this adverse effect beginning with the Industrial Revolution. However, this book gives compelling evidence that we have been decimating species for thousands of years. As she put it in the book, “Though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it’s not clear that he ever really did.” She writes about the growing body of evidence that man was instrumental in the extinction of the meg-fauna between 40-60 thousand years ago.

In the later chapters, she writes about more recent events such as the great bat die-off (due to an invasive fungus), the Sumatran Rhino and the destruction of species we may not even know about as we destroy rain forest habitat.

One reviewer (http://viiamanda.blogspot.com/2014/03/serial-killer-who-me.html) called this book a good horror novel. That is a valid summation. This information in this book is very depressing and at times downright frightening. However, Kolbert infuses a little humor and just the right time. She also hints that there is still hope and time for reversing some things.

A quote from the book sums it all up very well: “A sign in the Hall of Biodiversity offers a quote from the Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich: IN PUSHING OTHER SPECIES TO EXTINCTION, HUMANITY IS BUSY SAWING OFF THE LIMB ON WHICH IT PERCHES.”

The Drowned World: A Novel (50th Anniversary)

The Drowned World: A Novel (50th Anniversary) - J.G. Ballard, Martin Amis This is a prophetic story about the flooding of the world. The story and character development start slow but do get better. Ballard also introduces a twist that all creatures are devolving to their Triassic equivalent, including some humans, due to genetic memory.

All in all this is a decent read if you give it time to develop.