Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Songs of Distant Earth

by Arthur C Clarke

The Songs of Distant EarthThe biggest mystery about this book is why I haven’t read it yet. First published in 1986, “Songs of Distant Earth” is a traditional Science Fiction book, in that it deals with concepts and technologies that are understandable and achievable. 

With the Sun due to go Nova, mankind must find a new home if it is to survive. They do this by sending colony ships out into space, aimed at colonising likely looking planets in neighbouring systems. But with journey times running in the hundreds of years, each of these outposts will be very much on their own.

The last ship to leave Earth is the Magellan. Its crew leave behind a world on the verge of destruction. There is no way back. Five hundred years into their journey, and needing to make repairs to the ship, they make planetfall at Thalassa, one of the first planets to be colonised. AT first Thalassa seems like a paradise. Certainly the locals are friendly and welcome their fellow human beings with open arms and support. But things soon start to change. Relationships between locals and the Magellan crew put strains on the relationship between the two very different populations. And there is also the question of the native alien population. Are they seeing the first signs of intelligence? 

Arthur C Clark had a reputation for sticking to foreseeable technologies. There are no warp drives or transporter beams here, just good old fashioned story telling based on science that can be explained and understood. 

An excellent book worthy of any decent sci-fi enthusiasts book shelves. It is definitely one to hold on to and read again. A five-star read.

In A Dry Season

In A Dry Season is another in Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks series. I have enjoyed the TV dramatization of these novels, but the character I am reading about in the books seems very different. Granted, I am not reading these books in any kind of order, so the ongoing themes and relationships are getting a little muddled, but the character on the page is much more likeable than his screen counterpart.

This book sees our beleaguered Inspector at odds with the establishment and put on a case that is expected to be mundane and trivial. But where would the fun be in that? A sever drought the water levels of the Thornfield Reservoir drop, revealing what remains of the small village of Hobbs End. These events re always of interest, but when a young boy uncovers a human skeleton, things begin to change.

Investigating a 40 year old murder is never easy, but when your superiors are determined to see you fail, it gets even harder. Even so, Banks and his new love interest, DC Cabbot, uncover a story of romance, intrigue and murder with more than a few red herrings and dead ends.

In A Dry Season is everything I have come to expect from Peter Robinson: good plot, fast pace, believable characters and a twist in the tale to keep you guessing to the end. 

 

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2)

by Cassandra Clare

City of AshesFollowing on immediately from City of Bones, the teenage Shadowhunters are facing new threats, not only from the expected sources – vampires, werewolves and rogue Shadowhunters, but also from their superiors in the Clave itself.

Now, if you haven’t read the first book, some of that won’t make any sense, in which case, I suggest you stop right now and go and read City of Bones!

If you have already read the first book, then what you will get here is much of the same, just a little darker and with more intrigue and plot.
Where the first book followed a fairly simple narrative, the characters and sub-plots in this book add to the tensions and wonderful characterisations created by Cassandra Clare.

The book is easy to read but difficult to put down! I find myself drawn into the relationships between the characters, maybe because I work with teenagers. Like all teenagers, they are frustrating, flawed and often driven by the emotions (or hormones!). 

At over 400 pages it isn’t a short book, but there are no wasted passages or plot lines. The whole thing has a great pace the style is accessible to readers of any age.

A great book.