Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “kim stanley robinson”

loveallthis’s #cbr4 reviews 18, 19, 20: Insurgent, 2312, Angelmaker

(cross-posted from my blog.)

18 / Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent, which I reviewed earlier. It is, unfortunately, not quite as good as the first in the series. (The similarities to The Hunger Games continue!)

We learn much more about the other Factions in this installment, as well as unexpected things about our protagonists’ families. Other than that, there’s a lot of somewhat confusing double-crossing, teenaged angst, freedom fighting, and a promise that things will get more exciting in the as-yet-untitled third in the trilogy.

Three stars. Might read the next one.

19 / 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

I got a good hundred pages into 2312 thinking “holy shit, I finally found a ballsy female hard sci-fi author!” before looking up Kim Stanley Robinson and finding out that yeah, he is a dude.

In which case, (and I don’t know why I’d be easier on a woman – there’s probably something wrong with this) this is a pretty forgettable attempt at an Iain M. Banks-like story. Sprawling and with lots of characters (check), super-advanced human/alien diaspora (check), secret evil cabal potentially run by robots trying to control the universe (check), mysterious bombings of technologically advanced cities on far-flung planets (check).

This is a nicely-crafted and intellectually impressive book without a lot of heart. Like this summer’s unfortunate Prometheus, it’s a story about commuting. From Earth to Mercury to Mars to Saturn to Jupiter’s moons, with lots of shuttles and asteroids-turned-spaceliners in between, our characters hop around the solar system incessantly – all the while investigating who or what is behind the attacks.

There are some interesting bits, to do with body modification, art, music, and technology. The book’s 560 pages, though it felt significantly longer.

Three stars. A decent read.

20 / Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

This book, like Nick Harkaway’s first (The Gone-Away World) is nerd heaven.

We’ve got a literally-underground society of thieves in London, a terrorist organization of clockmakers, kickass nuns, and uber-makers who travel in a handcrafted train named after Ada Lovelace.

I’m not going to get into the plot, because it’s mostly an excuse to throw all of these amazing elements into conflict with one another. Plus, come on: if the list in the previous paragraph hasn’t already sent you to your local library’s website to put this thing on hold, there’s not much more I can say to convince you.

Four stars. Totally enjoyable.


The Fatling’s #CBR4 Review #9 The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson


As a fan of Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent Mars trilogy, which chronicles man’s colonization of Mars in painstaking detail, I had been meaning to read The Martians for quite some time.  I read two of the short stories in the collection a while ago, but found myself put off by the fact that one of them (“Maya and Desmond”) didn’t fit into the chronology of the original trilogy.

This time, I read the collection from the beginning, and realized after the first story (“Michel in Antarctica”) that deviations from the canon chronology are the point of this collection.  Sort of.  Certain stories fit in seamlessly with what we know about the Martian colonists and their descendants (my favorite, “Jackie on Zo,” for example), while others imagine wildly different outcomes of the Earth’s space program or events from the previous books, and still others push far into the Martian future.  Robinson paints a lovely series of vignettes that illustrate the range of possibilities he had with his previous characters, and manages to enhance and enrich the original books even further.

Robinson effectively creates an emotional and temporal throughline in this collection by checking in with new character Roger Claybourne every few stories and tells the tale of his political, emotional, and romantic evolution throughout his artificially extended lifetime (Note: everyone on Mars has an artificially extended lifetime.)  The tales range from silly to bittersweet to topographical (I admit to skimming those stories; I’ve never been a big fan of reading about landscapes), and only become self-indulgent toward the end, where Robinson has included a list of music he listened to while writing about Mars, a bunch of poems, and a short story about the day he finished his novel (Red Mars, presumably, although the chapter is called “Purple Mars.)

This is definitely a book for those who have already read Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars.  Out of context, I’m not sure how much impact the stories would have, since prior knowledge of characters’ personalities and relationships are often vital.  In some ways, it’s just fan fiction from the author of the source material, but it’s such a delight to spend just a little more time with the Martians, that doesn’t really matter.

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