Tag: Andy Weir

Skinjob by Bruce McCabe

Posted July 22, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

Skinjob by Bruce McCabeTitle: Skinjob (Goodreads)
Author: Bruce McCabe
Published: Bantam Press, 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Bruce McCabe joins a growing list of authors finding success from self-publishing his novel. I know I take a very cynical view on self-published books; I tend to treat a publishing house as the filter to sift through the slush piles and pulling out the best it has to offer. That isn’t to say there isn’t anything good coming from the self-publishing world but in my experience the pimping of books and desperation makes it hard to find the ones I’d like to read. My policy is to ignore the world of self-publishing, this probably isn’t the best way to go about it but it works for me.

Every now and then a self-published novel gets picked up by a publishing house; I’m thinking Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, and dare I say it, E.L. James. Bruce McCabe is the next self-published author to enjoy similar success, his debut novel Skinjob has been published by a Random House imprint Bantam Press. In the not-so-distant future sexdolls (or if you prefer, sexbots) will become a reality, allowing and even encouraging people to act out their dark and disturbing sexual fantasies; this is the world of Skinjob.

I want to diverse from the story line of Skinjob for a moment to look at the theme McCabe is trying to explore. The sex industry is often depicted as a dark and shady place and the invention of sexdolls is obviously going to be a difficult concept; the politics and ethical challenges are explored within the novel. What I find problematic about the use of sexdolls is this idea that using a doll to live out a dark, disturbing or violent fantasy isn’t going to be healthy. I would be concerned with the psychological damage they could cause of themselves and others around them, to assume the use of a sexdoll isn’t hurting others would be a naïve approach to the issue. There is also a very ethical issue to consider; making sexdolls in all shapes and sizes seems indicates the very real possibility of childlike sex dolls.

I enjoy how Bruce McCabe takes a crack at the thriller genre, using the tropes you expect from a novel like this to explore these ideas. While looking at the growing sex industry I was most impressed with how McCabe allowed the thriller genre to work with him in this exploration. I was interested in the approach he took by allowing militant religious and feminist groups blow up dollhouses (an obvious nod to Joss Whedon) full of sexdolls. This approach meant we have a violent act where real people are not the target. This allows the reader to explore all sides of the issue without forcing them to show unwanted sympathy. The reader can then look at issue of sexual politics within the book and society. The only thing that will get in the way of exploring the issue will come down to the readers and their preconceived notions.

Skinjob is a very issue heavy novel, if you want a straight thriller then this book is not for you. In fact I was less interested in the plot and characters than I was the issues being explored. All the characters felt very two dimensional and unmemorable, even the plot could have used a lot more work but I think this works in the books favour. In the end I was left not really remembering much of the plot and people with the novel but I was still thinking about the themes.

Sexual politics is a complicated and difficult subject; Bruce McCabe’s Skinjob did a great job exploring the topic. While it doesn’t cover everything, it will leave the reader pondering the issues; I’m very glad I picked up this book and hope it has as much of an impact on other readers as it did for me. This is a debut novel and I can’t help but feel excited at what McCabe does next; I hope he continues to explore hard-hitting themes in unique and interesting ways.


The Martian by Andy Weir

Posted December 9, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Speculative Fiction / 4 Comments

The Martian by Andy WeirTitle: The Martian (Goodreads)
Author: Andy Weir
Published: Crown, February 11th 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Speculative Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Edelweiss

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In a freak dust storm NASA aborted a mission on Mars. leaving behind one astronaut; the crew evacuated thinking him dead. Now Mark Watney is stuck, with the damage done to the equipment he might not have time to starve to death. He was the first person to walk on Mars and he is going to be the first to die there too.

The age of the self-published novel is upon us and every now and then we hear people talking about a book getting a publishing deal and going on to be hugely successful. Fifty Shades of Grey being the first of these, then came Wool and I believe The Martian will be the next sensation book. I can’t help but think of this book as Moon (the movie) set on Mars. You have this man verses nature, fight to survive type thriller but help is about 225 million kilometres away (that’s the average; it does depend on the time of year).

You have a few parts to this novel; firstly you have a log book telling the majority of Mark Watney’s story. Then you read about NASA’s rush attempts to find a way to save him and finally you get a first-hand account of Watney when the epistolary style won’t work. The tension that builds in this book is key to why this novel works so well; this is edge of your seat thriller writing at its best.

What I loved the most about this novel was the humour, while this was a tense book, the little one liners thrown in really worked for me. I just liked how Mark Watney’s mind worked; it was a case of too much time on his hands. At one point in the novel he uses maritime law to work out how he can become a space pirate. Then the novel gets scientific, I’m not good at science but I did wonder how accurate this part of the book was. I’m not going to try mixing Oxygen and two parts Hydrogen to make water, it just sounds too dangerous.

For me, I loved every minute of reading The Martian, which is a little surprising; I can’t remember when the last time I truly enjoyed a Science Fiction novel. There are some that I got a lot out of but nothing this enjoyable. This book isn’t going to be released till February next year and unfortunately the self-published ebook is no longer available. Having said that, pre-order this one; I think there will be a lot of hype behind this, but don’t let that stop you from ordering first.


Monthly Review – November 2013

Posted November 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 5 Comments

the bone peopleNow that November is coming to an end, I feel like I need to breathe a sigh of relief. I feel like I’ve been in a major reading slump during this month, but on reflecting it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought, there was a period of a few weeks where I struggled to finish anything but in the end I was able to manage nine books; not too bad.

Let’s have a quick look back at the month for the book club on Goodreads and our book of the month, The Bone People.  I went into this book not knowing anything about it, I never heard of it and glad I was able to read it. This was a controversial and confronting book and as readers of this blog know, I do enjoy a confronting read. If you missed the conversation about this book, head over on to Goodreads, there is still time to join in.

Next month we are in for a mystery, when we look at And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I’ve not read any Christie so this will be a new experience for me. I hope it is a nice quick and enjoyable book to read over the holiday period. If you’re not aware, the book discussion and everything else will be happening over on the Goodreads forums, so feel free to join in there.

As I said before, this was a difficult reading month for me; not that I didn’t like the books, just an annoying slump. Check out my thoughts about reading slumps in this post if you are interested.  I had a great month in October; I did enjoy some interesting non-fiction books this month. Highlights include The Know-It-All and Perv. As for fiction, I think I did better with the lighter books, like Moon Over Soho and The Martian. How did you go this month?

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