Archive for the ‘Will McIntosh’ Category
When a book has the kind of effect on you that McIntosh’s Defenders had on me, it’s time for a reread!
published in 2014, read my original review here.
What I remember most about the first time reading this book is that it scared the living crap out of me. Not “omg, there’s a spider, someone kill it!” scared, not “why did a fire truck just pull into my apartment parking lot” scared, but the kind of scared that made me want to hide in the back of the bedroom closet, cover myself with a blanket, and be so silent that nothing would even know I existed.
When people ask me about books that had a strong emotional impact on me, this book gets a mention.
The first time I read Defenders, I read the last chunk of it in one sitting in the middle of the night because I was afraid that if I put the book down all the main characters would die before I could pick the book back up.
I’ve been itching to re-read Defenders for over a year. It’s so absorbing that it makes for an absolutely perfect escapist thriller. Near future, but so ridiculous that none of this stuff could ever happen. . . right? I mean, right?
Actually, the only thing in this book that I see as not happening in the next 50 years is us making contact with an alien species. That’s how the book opens: contact with an alien species that lands in remote areas on Earth. The Luyten are telepathic, and can easily read the minds of any human within 8 miles. When we come up with plans to attack them, they can easily pull those plans out of the mind of anyone involved and nearby, so a counter attack is easy. The Luyten didn’t come here to exterminate us, but they don’t want to die either. I’m reminded of something author Tade Thompson said when I interviewed him:
“LRR: If Earth does experience first contact with an alien species, how do you think humanity will react?
TT: If we encounter intelligent life, blind panic and religious hysteria.
If we encounter flora or fauna, blind panic and religious hysteria.
Humans don’t handle the unknown well. Look at our history.”
published October 2016
where I got it: Accessed ARC via Netgalley
If people had a chance to start fresh, to start again with no history, how could things in our world be different? With no memories, you have no guilt, no regrets, and no shame. You can truly start fresh. And that would be great, right?
Although Faller follows two very intense and ultra fast paced story lines, you’ll have no problem keeping track of what’s happening in each plotline. One plotline follows brilliant scientist Peter Sandoval and his colleagues as they develop technologies, and the other follows a populace that has been afflicted with biographical amnesia. People can remember how to use a can opener, how to use a gun, what a telephone is. But no one remembers what their name is, where they live, or who they are married to. And the telephones aren’t ringing anymore because there is no electricity. Some people open wallets to find photos of assumed loved ones, yet one man’s pockets are empty except for a photo of him and a beautiful woman, a plastic army guy with a parachute, and a drawing that makes no sense.
As in all his novels, McIntosh has seeded a garden of abundant visuals, and as the story progresses, it’s as if the flowers are bursting into bloom. The man who spent the morning fidgeting with a plastic army guy and a parachute ends up building a parachute and jumping off a building. But he doesn’t land on the road, in fact he doesn’t land at all. Known as Faller, he falls right off the edge of the world. While reading, I could see a visual novel unfolding in my mind, complete with shadowed faces and moments of clarity that last pages as people take the plunge towards the consequences of their decisions.
That man falls, and falls, and falls. Until he reaches the next world. When will he find what he’s looking for? How fall will he need to fall?
Is it just me, or did 2015 fly by in like two weeks? How did that even happen? It certainly was a crazy year – I started a new job, we moved into a bigger apartment, i learned a whole new definition of the work “workaholic”, I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted.
Anyway, here is my annual “Best of the year” list, presented in no particular order, with links if you’d like to read my reviews.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, easily my favorite novel of 2015.
The Bone Swans of Amandale – by C.S.E Cooney, in her short story collection Bone Swans
The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
Binti, by Nnedo Okorafor
Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz
The Apex Book of World SF Vol 4 edited by Mahvesh Murad
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh
Babel-17 by Samuel Delany
The Life of the World to Come, by Kage Baker
Honorable mentions for the year go to:
City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett. I read it in 2015, but can’t actually talk about how freaking amazing it was until 2016. So I guess it’ll have to make my best of 2016 list.
and this stuff, which is omg, what I always wished ginger ale would taste like. Also? it’s alcoholic.
2015 was a crazy year, and I don’t mind that it’s over. I’ll see everyone on January 1st for Vintage Science Fiction month!
2014 has been a pretty good year for me. Personally, I’m damn impressed with how many of these books were actually published in 2014. As a bonus, there’s even a few novellas and short stories in here. In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2014!
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (2014) – that this book is on my list should surprise no one. And if you haven’t read it yet, seriously, get with the program. This is one of those amazing books that defies genre categorization, it just *is*. To give you a big picture without spoiling anything, it’s about watching your worldview dissolve before your eyes, and understanding that games can be played with many sets of rules. Also? it’s simply fucking amazing.
Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (2014) – This is probably the most important book I read in 2014. Remember when Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother took high school government classes by storm? I wish the same for this book. Gemsigns touches on enforced marginalization, building (and breaking down) cultures of racism and classism and fear, and religiously and politically promoted hatred, and handles it in a blunt and emotional way. Also? fucking awesome. And for what it’s worth, I cried at the end.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (2014) – I’ve been a Vandermeer fan for a long, long time (yet somehow I can still eat mushrooms). Annihilation was strange, surreal, and seemed to be magnetically attuned to me. The words in the tunnel rang for me like a tuning fork. And there was just something about characters who don’t have names. I am a jerk, however, because I own but haven’t yet read the third book in the series.
published May 13 2014
where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Orbit!)
Can my entire review just consist of “holy fuck this book completely shattered me”? Because really, that’s all you need to know. But a seven word review? boring!
It’s 2029 and our first contact with an alien species is an invasion. The Luyten look like giant six or seven legged starfish, and they fell from the sky. We attacked them, they fought back. They seemed to always know where our troops were, what our plan was. The Luyten could read our minds. They knew every thought going through every human’s mind, our dreams, our fears, everything.
And they were winning.
Homeless, hungry, and freezing to death, Kai helps a Luyten who claims to be an unarmed and wounded scout. A tenuous trust grows, and the Luyten begs Kai to keep silent about it’s hiding spot. How is a starving teen supposed to say no to a human soldier who promises food and a warm bed? The Luyten is captured and tortured.
But still, the Luyten were winning. There was nowhere we could hide, nothing we could hide from them. If a Luyten were within eight miles of a human, the entire Luyten population knew what that human was planning. We needed to come up with something, and fast.
Are you scared yet? You should be. And this is only the beginning.
Thanks to the amazing organization skills of Rinn over at Rinn Reads, we’re right in the heart of Science Fiction Month. And I’ve noticed something. Something wonderful: lots of folks who are participating in SciFi Month are completely new to science fiction.
This is fantastic! That so many people who have never picked up a science fiction book are interested in giving some weird stuff a try, it warms my heart. Getting into science fiction isn’t always easy. Strange names, alien planets, technobabble, far future technologies. . . it can be a bit much. Luckily, there are plenty (countless, actually) of “gate way” books, books that take place right now, or maybe a few years in the future, or even a few years in past. Books that don’t leave the solar system, maybe don’t even leave the Earth. You don’t need to be fluent in technobabble or have a degree in astronomy to enjoy these. You just need to turn the first page. . .
to help you on your journey into scifi, I’ve linked the titles to my reviews. If you have any suggestions for other gateway books, let everyone know in the comments!
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett – After her parent’s death, Mona inherits her Mom’s old house in a sleepy town in the southwest. It’s one of those old fashioned towns, where everyone knows everyone else, and the oldsters remember all the family secrets. there are family secrets, and then there are Family Secrets. How will Mona react when she learns her own?
In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. I love Kage Baker, it’s as simple as that. This novel is the first of her Company Series. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, you won’t feel sucked into reading another long series. Mendoza is an operative with a company that collects historical artifacts, and they’ve turned her into an immortal cyborg, of sorts. She spies on people, but can’t tell anyone who or what she is. Really sucks, when she falls in love with someone on her first mission. This book is as heartbreaking as it is funny. By the way, I’ve got a review of some Kage Baker Company short stories that’ll be posting in a few days.