February 11th, 2014

buzz

February Books 3) God's War, by Kameron Hurley

I still feel like I'm coughing my lungs out, but I struggled into work both yesterday and today, so I guess I am well enough to start catching up on book-blogging... Anyway, God's War is the first of this year's BSFA nominees for Best Novel that I have read. I'm taking the approach of reading them in increasing order of pagecount, which nicely orders the first three - God's War (288), Evening's Empires (384), and Ack-Ack Macaque (416), though I shall have to toss a coin between Ancillary Justice and The Adjacent (both 432).

These are 288 very intense pages. Our central character, Nyx, is a woman warrior and assassin in a war whose point seems to have been largely forgotten by the combatants, working her way across the battle-scarred landscapes and streetscapes of a ruined world. There's lots of love, lust, betrayal, and horrible violence. It's awfully well realised.

I found it in the end a bit one-note - concentrating on the vivid setting, at the expense of a real plot, and without quite explaining how this world got itself into such a mess. Perhaps this will be dealt with in future volumes. It's a very good book, but I hope that there are better ones to come.
tardis

Antidote to Oblivion, by Philip Martin

Like a lot of people I have mixed feelings about Colin Baker's time as Doctor Who. But unlike a lot of people, I rate Mindwarp, with the return of the horrific Sil, and the brutal end (or is it?) to Peri's travels with the Doctor, as the best of the Sixth Doctor stories; I'm not a fan of Vengeance on Varos, where the violence and the absurd bird transformation kill the story for me; and Mission to Magnus is one of the worst Who stories never made, competing in the gutter with The Prison In Space.

Philip Martin has taken the bold step of writing another story for the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Sil which is a sequel to all three of these. I'm happy to report that it's closest in form and content to Mindwarp, with Baker, Briant and Shaban on excellent form, and a particularly impressive guest turn from Dawn Murphy as Cordelia Crozier, daughter of the scientist chap from the previous story. Martin often has a bit of a bitter satirical edge to his work, not always well deployed; maybe age has allowed him to tune his talent more forensically, but whatever the reason, I felt that he had updated Sil to the era of Cameron rather than Thatcher with brutal success, and that most of his rhetorical shots landed firmly on target. The plot is still a bit all over the pace, but this is firmly at the Mindwarp rather than Magnus end of the spectrum for me.