February 4th, 2015


The Algebraist, by Iain M. Banks

The Algebraist is not a Culture novel, but it's sort of Culture-adjacent. Some particular differences are that there is a more structured government, and AIs are banned as abominations.

A mustache-twirlingly evil (and fortunately seldom on-stage) invader is leading a force into a star system, and the system has to prepare in various ways for it, including chasing after a probably mythical MacGuffin that was learned of, almost by accident, in a conversation with a representative of the gas giant-dwelling ancient species in the system. On the smaller scale, four friends go on a little exploration, and one dies. The remaining three bump into each other over the ensuing years, dealing with the overall situation and their interpersonal relationships. Sex, violence, a little puzzle, some whiz-bangery... it's a pretty satisfying mix, but I'm a little surprised it got a Hugo nod (though I certainly enjoyed it more than the winner, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell).

2015 Book Challenge

A few of us on Goodreads are working on the challenge. If you're on Goodreads, do consider asking to join up. I'm just leaving this here so I can check off the things I've ticked off the list.

✓500+ pages (The System of the world 892)
✓classic romance (well, a doomed romance, is that classic?)
✓became a movie (Family Fang is shooting)
✓published this year
✓with a number in the title
✓written by someone under 30
✓with nonhuman characters
✓funny book
✓female author
✓mystery or thriller
✓one-word title
✓book of short stories
✓set in a different country
✓A popular author's first book (We'll see if Jason makes it!)
✓from an author you love that you haven't read yet
✓recommended by a friend
✓Pulitzer Prize-winning
✓based on a true story
✓at the bottom of your to-read list
a book your mom loves
book that scares you
✓more than 100 years old
✓'based entirely on its cover'
supposed to read in school but didn't
✓A memoir (More Wonders of the Invisible World mostly counts)
✓book you can finish in a day
book with antonyms in the title
✓set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
came out the year you were born
✓with bad reviews
✓a trilogy (System of the World counts, dammit. It comprises 3 books.)
from your childhood
✓with a love triangle
✓set in the future
set in high school
✓with a color in the title
made you cry
✓with magic [Clarke's Law!]
✓graphic novel
✓by an author you've never read
✓'a book you own but have never read' (I think - I mean what does that mean? If you buy a book and haven't yet read it, then when you read it, it's a book you own but have never read?)
✓takes place in your hometown (Cinnamon Kiss mostly counts)
✓originally written in another language
set during Christmas
written by an author with your initials
✓A play
✓A banned book
Based on or turned into a TV show
✓Book you started but never finished