March 8th, 2014


February Books 17) Keeping Up With the Joneses, by Nick Harkaway

Another of this year's series of Doctor Who ebooks by well-known authors - this time one of the surprisingly numerous alumni of Clare College who have gone into the sff field (China Miéville, Marcel Theroux, Rebecca Levene, going a bit further back Peter Ackroyd). It's an extended story largely consisting of Tenth Doctor stream of consciousness, the Tardis having hit a Time Mine left over from the war and come to rest in, or possibly on, a Welsh village where everyone is called Jones except for Lady Christina de Souza. Not quite as good as the sum of its parts, but there is a lovely reference to Iain Banks near the end.

February Books 18) The Adjacent, by Christopher Priest

Next up for my read of BSFA nominations, this is an intricate juxtaposition of narrative segments set in different worlds and time streams, a lot of which draws from Priest's own earlier work. Several chapters are set in a near-future Islamic Republic of Great Britain, rather reminiscent of the Darkening Island of his first book; we revisit the archipelago of The Islanders; and magicians and twins and alternate Second World Wars pop up too.

It didn't quite come off for me. There are a lot of good ideas here, but the Islamic Republic is a bad one; and I had hoped for some actual plot resolution at the end, rather than juyst being expected to admire the pretty pattern of the bits of story put next too each other. (Oddly enough, The Islanders, on its face a more discontinuous text, worked better in that regard.) So I fear that my vote will put it at the end of what is a very good shortlist.

SFF books by women which I have read in the last year