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Beiträge von Andrew X. Lias
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Rezensionen verfasst von
Andrew X. Lias "http://andrewlias.blogspot.com" (Colorado Springs, CO USA)
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Cryptonomicon
Cryptonomicon
von Neal Stephenson
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,84

10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Chock full o' everything, 25. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Cryptonomicon (Taschenbuch)
The point of most books is the plot. The plot is a sequence of events that carries you from A to B, where A is the opening of the story and B is the conclusion. The only elaboration may be in the inclusion of a prologue and/or and epilogue. Most books are, to use a convinient metaphore, a book like a one way ocean voyage where you start at one beach and end up at another.
This book is not like that. Oh, sure, there IS a beginning and there IS an end, and there is a plot that takes you between them. But the fun of the book *isn't* in the plot. It's in all the wild and unexpected detours that you in strange and interesting directions.
To return to our metaphor, if most books are an ocean cruise, this book is a surf board: you do end up at the beach, but it isn't a straight and sedate path; sometimes you'll be heading straight for shore, sometimes you'll be swingly wildly to the left or right, and sometimes you'll be under the water without any clear sense of where you are or what direction you're facing.
It's like that.
Is it a book for everyone? No. In fact, the author has a FAQ that does a good job of answering the question of whether or not you would enjoy the novel at [...]
In short, if you don't like long novels, novels with lots of exposition, novels that deal with technical materials, novels with sex, violence, and obscenity, etc, then you probably should give this one a miss.
If, on the other hand, you want to take an interesting journey with lots and lots of (apparently) random detours into a whole variety of sub-topics, then I think that this might be a book that you would enjoy.


Into the Darkness
Into the Darkness
von Harry Turtledove
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen Promising concept but pointless retelling of WW2., 6. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Into the Darkness (Gebundene Ausgabe)
I have long appreciated those authors who are willing to write fantasy works in worlds that are not stuck at a medeival level of development. There aren't many of them, unfortunately. Brust's Jhereg series comes to mind as well as Turtledove's own "The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump".
When I picked up "Into the Darkness", I was intrigued by the notion of a world where the magical "technology" was roughly at a level of development equivilent to our own world in World War II. Indeed, the first portions of the book had wonderful examples of this. Instead of planes, one has dragon riders; instead of submarines, one has leviathans; instead of tanks, behemoths; instead of bombs, magically destructive "eggs"; instead of guns, there are magically charged "sticks"; and so forth.
I eagerly devoured the first third of the book. Even when there were direct echoes of WW2, such as research into the deep structure of magic theory that would allow the construction of devices of immense destructive power, I wasn't overly bothered. Alas, it became painfully clear that, rather than narrating a world that was going through a similar conflict as our world had in WW2, Turtledove was simply describing WW2, right down to specific campaigns and political events, in fantasy terms.
I confess that I really don't see the point. It's rather like that horrible sub-genre of science fiction where a hack writer, who only knows how to (for instance) tell westerns writes a book where horses are called "Blurgs", indians are "Rubnars" and six shooters are transformed into laser zappers. The shame is that Turtledove *isn't* a hack writer. He's written some very good alternative history and some very good fantasy. I suspect that his passion as an historian got the better of him.
The thing of it is, WW2 is interesting in and of itself. If I want to read about the actual events of WW2, there are plenty of books out there that talk about it. Turning tanks into behemoths and so forth, just to get people to read about WW2, seems to be a pointless exercise in sugar-coating that which does not need artifical sweetening. At the best, it seems misguided; at the worst is comes across as an insult to the intelligence of his readers.
As it stands, if you are an absolute fan of Turtledove and don't mind reading a, more or less, direct account of WW2 cast in fantasy terms, there's no reason not to pick up this book. For what it is, it's a fun telling in the classical tradition of the epic novel. If, however, you don't see the point (as, I confess, I don't), I'd suggest giving it a miss.


Scepticism Inc
Scepticism Inc
von Bo Fowler
  Taschenbuch

1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Odd, quirky, and very funny. It's also science fiction., 22. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Scepticism Inc (Taschenbuch)
First of all, let me assure you that this is, in fact, a very funny, and quite well written parable. And yes, it is a parable. A satirical parable, an quirky parable, and a parable that is more than a bit odd, but a parable none the less. It's also very enjoyable.
Now, if I may get on my soapbox for a moment, I want to also note that it is also a science-fiction story. I mention this because the publisher seems to have gone to pains to avoid placing it in the science-fiction section. How else would you describe a book whose purported author is a sentient shopping cart sending a transmission back to Earth 80,000 in the future?
My guess is that they wanted to appeal to literatti -- and anyone who considers themselves a member of that self-selected group of high-minded individuals is going to turn their nose up at the first whiff of SF. Sure, they let Vonnegut slip by, but that's only because the science-fictional elements in his books were deliberately (one hopes) campy and self-effacing. How often did KV describe is unaltered-ego, Kilgore Trout, as a bad writer?
The downside is that many people who read SF are never going to notice this great little story because it will be sitting on a shelf that a lot of them never look at, while the people who do purvey the "General Fiction" racks will, more likely than not, give it a miss after a cursory glance at the first few pages. More the pity.
Much the same thing happened with another notable (albeit somewhat less laudible) book, "Resume with Monsters", which clearly belonged in the Horror section of the bookstore but which was, never the less, shelved in that vast expanse of uncatagorized titles.
I guess the lesson is that a lot of publishers have a low opinion of genre fiction readers, beliving them to be interested in cliches and stories whose plots could be written on the wrapper of a pack of bubble-gum, so they attempt to steer literate examples of genre fiction away from the very readers that such fiction is most likely to appeal to. The consequence is that, because genre fiction is perceived as being distinct from literature, it ends up getting cumulatively dumbed-down, while those examples of works that deserve to be called literature is fed to an audience that's primed to reject them on the basis of similar sentiments. In short, such works are the victim of a self-fufilling, self-purpetuating philosophy that ends of hurting everyone in the long run.
Okay, enough of the soapbox. It's a very good, very fun story, and if you don't have any prejudices against science-fiction or "literate" works, and you don't mind a plot that is simultaneously strange and theologically controversial, I imagine that you would probably enjoy the book.


Dragon's Egg (Del Rey Impact)
Dragon's Egg (Del Rey Impact)
von Robert L. Forward
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,56

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen This is Hard SF!, 23. März 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Dragon's Egg (Del Rey Impact) (Taschenbuch)
Let us be clear: This is a Hard Science-Fiction novel. The plot is driven by the science. If deep characterization is a requisit for you enjoying a novel, you will NOT enjoy this one. It would be like reading Hemingway for his purple prose.
That said, this is a great Hard SF work with genuinely mind bending ideas. If you like reading about truly alien environments, there's few things more alien than the surface of a neutron star. Most importantly, Forward makes it all seem plausible.


Lord of Light
Lord of Light
von Roger Zelazny
  Taschenbuch

2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen IT'S BACK IN PRINT!, 23. März 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Lord of Light (Taschenbuch)
IT'S BACK IN PRINT! IT'S BACK IN PRINT! Thank all the gods, it's finally back in print!
The book is everything promised and so much more. A mature counter-point to the (also excellent) "Creature of Light and Darkness", the book is not diminished by re-reading.
Even though I have the story comitted to memory, along with numerous key quotes, it remains fresh and insightful -- indeed, timeless. The book was written in 1967 and could have just as easily been read today.
The characters are distinct and original and, yet, at the same time the story has an epic and poetic feel that is perfectly appropriate to its subject matter.
Zelazny was the Lord of Writers and we shan't see his like again. Let us only hope that this book is the first of many re-prints to come.


The Naked God: Flight - Part 1 (The Night's Dawn)
The Naked God: Flight - Part 1 (The Night's Dawn)
von Peter F. Hamilton
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen It's an ending, 4. Februar 2000
This isn't so much a review as a reflection. After all, if you've read up to this point in the series, you're going to buy the book.
Overall, I liked it. Hamilton is an inventive author with a talent for keeping a huge cast of characters moving around without causing too much confusion for the reader (which really is a talent -- compare Jablokov's _Deepdrive_). The story certainly had its high points and he even managed to pull off a few surprises here and again (which is a feat for the last book in a trilogy when most authors have played the majority of cards from their hands).
Any yet, the ending. I realized, from the title, that I should expect something of a deus ex machina -- but I never expected something so, purile. Really, it was utterly disappointing. That doesn't negate all the good qualities of the stories that lead up to it but, geez, I expected something better than that. C'est la vie.
Like I said, if you read this far, I can't imagine that anything with disuade you from reading this novel. Hell, I'd still recommend it just because it does contain a lot of good points and, overall, it's enjoyable to read. Just be prepared for an ending that will leave you scratching your head. Maybe if you lower your expectations enough, it'll even seem half-way descent once you get to it -- but I wouldn't bet on that.
Final note to the publisher: I realize that this is a big book and that you wanted to get it out ASAP, but the proof-reading really left something to be desired. By the last third of the novel I was coming across obvious errors at a pace of once every fifteen to twenty-five pages, including a few that a dirt-stupid spellchecker should have identified.


Forever Peace (Remembering Tomorrow)
Forever Peace (Remembering Tomorrow)
von Joe Haldeman
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,49

3.0 von 5 Sternen A bullet train that smacks into a marshmellow, 10. Dezember 1999
This is one book that starts off well. Let's be clear about one thing: no one, and I mean no one, writes about military science-fiction with the sense of versimilitude that Joe Haldeman commands. The opening portion of the book is definitely military in nature, then Haldeman does the unexpected by deepening the book with moral and practical dilemmas that take it to a whole new level, all the while ratcheting up the tension and complexity of the story.
I don't think that I've ever felt this much stress when reading a story. I found the characters compelling and engaging and I was impressed that Haldeman didn't pull any punches at throwing problems their way. If anything, it almost seemed like he was trying to destroy them.
By the time it reaches its conclusion, the story is moving along like a bullet train -- sleek, beautiful, and fast -- and then it hits a big, marshmellowish deus ex machina. Worse, the ending *literally* takes the form of "and over the next two years, X happened".
It was a real let-down. I think that Haldeman realized that he was 300+ pages into the story and, dammit, there was the end coming up! I can understand that, but he should have made this into a trilogy. There was certainly enough story potential to turn it into one. As it is, we have a truly brilliant book that's crippled by a truly sallow ending.
I think that it's worth picking up. I really do. The ending is poor but the rest of the book is filled with so much brilliance, energy, and passion that I really think that it deserves to be read. Just... flesh out the ending in your imagination when you get to it.


Teranesia: A Novel
Teranesia: A Novel
von Greg Egan
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Hard Science + Good Characterization = Great Story, 27. Oktober 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Teranesia: A Novel (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Make no mistake, this is a character driven novel. Some of Egan's fans have apparently been put off by this. Don't be. This is a hard SF book, through and through, and it goes a long way towards dispelling the myth that hard science in SF means shallow plotting and characterizations. The central biological mystery, in particular, has a very satisfying and imaginative resolution.
Egan says that he'll be returning to dense physics in his next book, but that he's going to continue striving to make plot and character central elements of his works. I find this a refreshing attitude and wish him luck in doing so.


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