Tag: Mars

Distracted by Other Books

Posted June 5, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 6 Comments

My Thoughts and Reading in May 2018

When I first came to reading I was not sure what I liked and I turned to the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list to help me. I saw myself as a literary explorer (hence my previous blog name) and I was willing to try anything and everything. With this in mind I joined a real life book club as a way to explore and practice talking about literature. Fast forward to now, and I have found my niche and I know what I like, so now sometimes book club feels like a chore more than a joy. Having to read The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland for May and The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman for June have been challenging. It feels like they are picking pretty covers but the content has not been that desirable, for me anyway. I want more from my literature than what is provided in these novels. I feel like The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart was too similar to so many other stories, like The Choke, Nest and Deep Water; all three were novels read because of the book club. I do love being the one that dislikes the books but at what point does it stop being worth attending? I do not plan to quit, but I have been thinking about this since I have not enjoyed a pick in a very long time.

Besides my contemplations on book clubs, I have been thinking about the Man Booker International prize as well. I am very pleased to see Flights win; I thought it was an amazing book. I was able to complete the entire longlist except two books which I might read later but I feel a little burnt out by the experience. While I loved being part of a community reading these books and it really sparked my passion for blogging again I felt very restricted by the task. I am very much a mood reader and to have assigned books can put me in a reading slump. This is not to say I would not attempt to read the longlist again in the future. I just hope to have read some of the books on the list next time. Out of all the books on the list Die, My Love was the one I still think about but I also loved The 7th Function of Language and Frankenstein in Baghdad.

Mexican literature seems to be the flavour of the month having read both Like Water for Chocolate and Faces in the Crowd. There is something about Latin American magical realism that seems to work for me, something that I have not found in other forms of magical realism. I have not been able to put my finger on why I enjoy it more but I will keep exploring. I absolutely adored Faces in the Crowd, which is a book you might hear me talk about in the near future. I think Valeria Luiselli might be one of those authors I will be watching closely in the future. I did read The Story of My Teeth but it was not until I read Faces in the Crowd that I realised just how brilliant she is.

Also this month I read Cop Hater, an old school police procedural and Lullaby, a novel that felt like the author was letting her own fears play out on the page. The final book I want to talk about is Packing My Library. I loved The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel and I expected that Packing My Library would bring me the same amount of joy. Though one book was able to blend his personal narrative eloquently with the history of the library, the other just felt more like digressions from his topic. To be fair the subtitle to Packing My Library is An Elegy and Ten Digressions, so maybe I should have expected this. I love reading books about books but I tend to enjoy the ones that are able to blend the personal with something more which is normal literary criticism.

I went a little overboard with my book buying this month and I told myself it was mainly for my podcast. I do not know how this works but I will defend myself by saying that yes, some are for my podcast and most of them have been read now as well. I do not think I was distracted by other books this month. This might be because I am currently housesitting and only have a handful of books to choose from. I thought it was a rather slow reading month for me as well, but this turned out to be untrue. I was sure I spent too much time watching Netflix instead of reading but the statistics prove otherwise.

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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.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Posted September 2, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. CoreyTitle: Leviathan Wakes (Goodreads)
Author: James S.A. Corey
Series: Expanse #1
Published: Orbit, 2011
Pages: 561
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

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

Humanity has colonised the solar system; the Moon, Mars and even the Asteroid Belt. With the colonisation tensions on the rise, will conflict erupt between Earth’s government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries and the corporations? Leviathan Wakes tells the story of two very different and very explosive characters; Holden  the XO of an ice mining vessel that makes runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. And Detective Miller who is looking for a girl; one girl in a galaxy of billions. Leviathan Wakes is an explosive Science Fiction novel that weaves two different styles into one fast paced novel.

Both Holden and Miller are very dominating characters; the sort of characters that will take a moral stand against anything they don’t believe in. But both characters have a completely different sense of what is right and end up being polar opposites. They tend to end up being their own worst enemies making choices that are inevitably destructive towards themselves. I never really ended up liking Holden or Miller; with Holden’s storyline the writers tended to go for a real firefly style plot and I never felt like it ever worked. Holden is no Malcolm Reynolds and overall he had nothing to him that I ended up liking. I felt like he lacked the charisma and wit to make his story line stand out. Then Detective Miller was the storyline I was most looking forward to, the hard-boiled detective that will stop at nothing to solve his case. I didn’t mind that Miller was the joke of the police force, I thought that was a nice twist but I never felt like he was hard-boiled enough; he was also missing the charisma and wit needed for this character and in the end he was just unmemorable.

I found it interesting to know that James S. A. Corey is actually two people; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and each took on the role of writing one character’s plot and then they interweaved the two storylines to make Leviathan Wakes. I did end up liking the fact that Holden and Miller’s stories felt and read differently and the way they ending up complimenting each other worked really well. The end process is a thrilling novel with some great elements to keep the plot moving forward.

In the end I felt like the characters of this book needed to be fleshed out a bit more, to me they just weren’t three dimensional enough and I felt like I could predict their next moves without even trying. There was nothing in the book that did end up surprising me, except the one love element, which just ending up feeling like sloppy writing. It’s an interesting start for this series and I still think I want to read the next book in The Expanse Trilogy but maybe that was mainly caused by the open ended end to this novel.