Reviews: Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Rendezvous With Rama by Arhtur C. Clarke
Rendezvous With Rama by Arhtur C. Clarke

Rendezvous With Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
Spectra, 1990 (reprint, orig. 1972)

What can one say about Rendezvous With Rama?  A winner of just about every sf award ever and more or less a universal classic of the genre it has taken me years to finally get around to reading it.  I should perhaps start with saying, as I have said before (see here), that I’m a sucker for derelict spaceships.  The mystery, the excitement, the hint of threat in the empty corridors push all the right buttons.  Even now I still catch myself wondering, during some idle moments, exactly who  the space jockey was or what it was doing, where the Event Horizon really went, just what happened aboard the Elysium, and I still Tremain woefully disappointed about the lack of exploration aboard the Destiny.  The derelict spaceship, the abandoned space station, the lost space colony all of these are a sort of transcribed genre stand-in to the dusty mansions and abandoned ruins employed in other fiction from mystery to horror to adventure.  It is a fascinating inverse wherein rather than examining our past these future mysteries force us to examine our future and question our place in the universe at large.

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The Mongoliad: Epic Fantasy via the Mongol Invasion

Caught this via BoingBoing to night apparently Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, and others have a little subscription based online fantasy novel (with fan participation) going on.  The premise is pretty neat, while the few BoingBoing commentators are whining about the potentially draconion registration agreement, no-one (outside Doctorow’s initial post) had yet to comment on the nature of the fiction itself.  From The Mongoliad’s FAQ:

The Mongoliad is a serial novel, the kind of thing that Charles Dickens wrote. It’s also an experiment in fiction and technology… Fast Company said that we may be “the future of the novel.” The Mongoliad is set in the thirteenth century of a universe very much like ours, a world we call “Foreworld.” We publish chapters every so often (about weekly), and every chapter has associated discussions and other ways for readers to interact with each other and with us. Sometimes we’ll also have graphics to share as well, or movies, or music. There is a user-editable ‘Pedia with information about Foreworld-related topics, general-purpose user forums, and soon we hope to have easy ways for people to contribute their own stories, art, and music to our shared Foreworld experience.

Hit up the Boing Boing article for more details or head straight over to the Mongoliad now; this is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson
Tor, 2010

The avalanche of reviews has already begun and given that bigger and more prolific bloggers (Wertzone, Neth Space, Book Smugglers, Strange Horizons, and Sffworld; to name a few) have already thrown their voices into the torrent I can’t help but feel like a tiny insignificant pebble  amidst the landslide.  Compacting matters further are my love for epic fantasy and the fact that I was already a Brandon Sanderson fan before getting The Way of Kings.  Can I really sit down and write and honest review of The Way of Kings when, book in hand, I already knew the novel was made specifically for me?  In truth, I suspect that many reviewers as soon as they laid eyes on the book whether in final format or ARC knew whether or not they were going to enjoy it.   I’ll do my best to keep my excitement in check but honestly if you like epic fantasy, if you’ve followed Martin and Jordan, then there’s a 99.99% (that .01% are Goodkind fans and will likely balk at the lack of naked wizards or evil chickens, ‘natch) of  your loving The Way of Kings.

That is a good thing since with The Wheel of Time coming to a close within the next two years Tor is betting on The Way of Kings, the first of the planned 10 book Stormlight Archive, as the Next Big Thing in epic fantasy.   Epic it certainly is weighing in a just over 1000 pages, with lavish illustrations, a glossary/appendix, and color maps printed on the endpaper Tor has certainly made it worth its money.  Of course, all of that would be meaningless if Sanderson, who has released a new book just about every year since 2005 (from 2007-2009 he released an Alcatraz novel in addition to his big fantasy releases), hadn’t honed his craft to a razor sharp keenness over the years, but hone he has and The Way of Kings offers very little to complain about.   Revealing an expansive world filled with expressive characters, The Way of Kings is a book full of magic and mystery and excitement that despite its weight (literally) is difficult to put down.

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