Monday, March 23, 2009

Nugget Reviews

A Nugget Review is just a small review.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon is the speculative fiction communities little darling and I did enjoy it quite a bit. Not as much as some others but all around it was a good solid mystery yarn with good character development and world building. Anyone can come up with a great concept but its all about the execution. Morgan executes his resleeving concept admirably. Was a bit slow at times for me which lost it a few points but overall I a very good novel.


The Company by K.J. Parker

I really enjoyed this novel as Parker interlaces the history of the character with the present very nicely. The story unfolds from multiple perspectives which is nice as we see situations from different perspectives. To me it’s Robinson Crusoe with swords. It is in the Fantasy genre but it has only a very small underlying fantastic element which you’ll see if you read the novel.


Book on Tape: The Business by Iain M. Banks

This is my first time listening to a book on tape and I’ll say one thing for books on tape they make a twelve hour car ride go much faster. At parts the novel’s dialogue seems a bit trite when read out loud and the cadence was awkward. I did like the narrators female voice with English accent. All of the male parts though seemed to have been read by an effeminate geek. Its tough to take some of the main villains seriously when their voices sound like a mixture of Boy George and Urkel.

The story was good however.


Fahrenheit 451

Amazing book. Read it for the first time in high school. I have reread it many times since and each time discover something new. Bradbury has crafted an exquisite masterpiece with this one.


Your Blog Is Fabulous!

I've been gone for quite some time. As I was making the rounds to some of my favorite blogs it was nice to see that Plinydogg thinks I'm fabulous! (Well me and four other exceptional blogs.)

The standard is to now list 5 things that you're obsessed with and can not live without. So here goes nothing:

----Long Hiatuses From Blogging: I love sharing my thoughts on books with people, but I need to recharge my batteries every so often. When I start over analyzing books and start thinking about what I'm going to write in my review of the book instead of simply enjoying the book I need to take a break.

----My dog: I've always had big dogs. Golden Retrievers, Labs, Irish Terriers but when I saw my current dog Missy at the Humane Society I fell in love with her. She's a 15 lb Schnoodle (Cross between a poodle and a Schnauzer) and besides my girlfriend she's the love of my life.

----Books: Obviously I love reading, but the thing I like most about books is that they require no technology what so ever to work. As long as your brain is working and you can crack a book open it's going to work and to me that is incredibly comforting.

----Exercise: Without exercise I'd be fatter than I am now.

----HBO: I'm one of those sanctimonious sons of guns who like to say at parties with their noses raised "Oh I don't watch much TV." and it's the truth I watch one TV show a week and that's history channel's Ax Men. However I watch a ton of HBO shows on DVD while I'm working out. I love them all. Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Rome if its on HBO its quality.

Now I'm supposed to nominate 5 blogs for this award as well but I think I'm going to skip this portion as I'm about a month behind the times and every blog on my blogroll is worthy of a nomination.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Review: The Steel Remains

Fantasy has grown up and many aren’t going to recognize nor are they going to like the man it’s become. You try so hard to raise ‘em well but eventually they become their own man. They cast off the shackles of their elders as you won’t find poetical prose and happy go lucky elves in Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains what you get is a nihilistic, immoral, depraved joyride that leaves you feeling like a good shower is in order.

I pride myself on having a thick thin. There’s not much that makes me feel uncomfortable however The Steel Remains left me uncomfortable throughout. Some novels allude to sexual intercourse The Steel Remains is not one of those. Both homosexual and heterosexual intercourse is written about in graphic detail. I was cringing as I read whole passages about the main characters Ringil’s carnal appetites.

As well if you’re offended by the use of fuck, cunt, bitch, slut, shit, faggot then this is not the novel for you. The word cocksucker is used as much in this novel as it is in the show Deadwood, which means its used quite a lot. So if you don’t like your fantasy full of sex and foul language avoid this one.

If you do however enjoy your fantasy full of sex and foul language you’re in for a treat. This is by far the most adult fantasy I have ever read. There are a number of complex issues that are dealt with throughout the novel such as the aforementioned homosexuality. Also religion, family, slavery are all dealt with in a manner which makes you reflect on each issue and may even make you question your own beliefs. The author pulls no punches in his writing. It is abrasive and puts things in your face that are going to make you uncomfortable.

Ringil, the main protagonist is a homosexual but Morgan does an admirable job of not letting this one small facet of Ringil’s life become his defining characteristic. He fleshes out Ringil with so many other facets of his personality that his homosexuality while ever present doesn’t overpower his other personality traits. Ringil is the asshole friend you have. He’s clearly an asshole but he does have just enough redeeming qualities for you to like him and root for him to succeed.

The world of The Steel Remains is an interesting place as they have fought and defeated the great evil which encroached upon their lives but now with the evil defeated they’re at a loss of what to do now. Life goes on, but for many the scars of the great war they fought will never heal and it has left a generation of humanity feeling very lost and confused. The world they fought so hard to defend isn’t what they believed it to be. Its this common link and nihilism that runs throughout this book that makes it so dark. Even when humor is mixed in, the darkness is always there just under the surface.

Richard Morgan set out to write a fantasy novel for adults and he’s succeeded. This is one that is going to stick with you for awhile and it’s not going to be an uplifting experience. It is an experience I think any reader however should embark on. This novel is going to push your limits when it comes to good taste and in my opinion it’s always good to see just where your own limits lie.