Short Book Reviews

Justin Cronin - The Passage
Gwyneth Jones - Bold as Love
Brian Aldiss - Non-Stop

Justin Cronin - The Passage

if someone told me "here's a really good book about the zombie apocalypse, featuring a manga-style century-old eternally teenage girl", i wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot selfie stick. if they told me after that "actually really it's the vampire apocalypse", that wouldn't help either. it's a good thing i picked up Justin Cronin - The Passage on a whim and without knowing what it is. the story spans centuries and goes beyond the north american continent, and it never focuses on gore or suspense, but always on people. not the typical action-hero-have-to-save-humanity type either.

shortly, it's a well written scifi/fantasy novel, don't be put off by the vampire apocalypse framework. the author is deliberately avoiding the apocalyptic mega-action anyhow, it's all about the small stories that develop in between, and the big, long, encompassing story.

Gwyneth Jones - Bold as Love

I was reading Gwyneth Jones's "Bold As Love" until a day ago. I can't really put a genre on it, there's sci-fi, fantasy, alternative history and plain socio-critical novel in it.
The author has a vision of how human interaction might change in the future. It definitely has its charms, and parallels to my current festival summer holiday, camping with fellow travellers.

The basic idea of the book is so crazy, you have to be intrigued by it: After a political crisis in Great Britain and Europe, Rockstars get real power in the government (ecoterrorists are also a significant political power). This might sound a tad silly, but Jones manages it well. The characters are real, the story is realistic, and the more one reads on the more one sees the parallels to things that are happening nowadays and how the whole idea actually makes sense. It's possible. 50 years ago, who would have thought the Green Parties might become a significant political power?
All this brings me great joy (and a maniacal grin & chuckle), unbelievable things are happening, but even towards the end of the book there's no climax as far as i can see, no conclusion; I miss a little bit of suspense.
But definitely worth a read.

Brian Aldiss, Gwyneth Jones

Bryan Aldiss - Non-Stop

So now i started reading Bryan Aldiss' "Non-Stop". a classic of sci-fi, i am told. Great story, a little too wild-west-like for my taste (a group of rough men, thrown together by fate rather than by choice), but I appreciate the depth of vision, so far (about one third in). A non-scifi friend was amazed when I said it's from the fifties, and so am I. As far as I know, only Stanisław Lem compares to this time period and depth of vision.

Now i arrived at the last third of the book. It's - maybe not fast-paced but well-paced: things are happening all the time, the story goes on and on from one unbelievable turn to the next. A treasure hunt for truth.
The only gripe I have is with the ever-present military hierarchical structure of all communities in the book.
The vision is deep, but as so many classical Sci-Fi stories it lacks a little on the social side: the ways of human interaction are a little too familiar, more like a fifties detective novel.