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David Bremner Locked account

Joined 5 months, 4 weeks ago

computer scientist, mathematician, photographer, human. Debian Developer, Notmuch Maintainer, scuba diver

Much of my "reading" these days is actually audiobooks while walking.

FediMain: is also me. Trying a smaller instance to see if the delays are less maddening.

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David Bremner's books

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Feedback (2016) 4 stars

"FEEDBACK is a full-length Newsflesh novel which overlaps the events of Feed and covers the …

Did you like the others in the series? Then you will probably like this one.

4 stars

The main characters are if anything more relatable than the Masons. I always found the semi-incest thing a bit creepy in the other books.

There is are central (positive) non-binary and lesbian characters, for people looking for that kind of thing.

McGuire (writing as Grant) revisits some of the issues about freedom, safety, and privacy that she has touched on in previous books in the series. I think these are interesting topics, and she does a good job of talking about them, but there is probably nothing really new to think about here if you're read several other of the series.

There is a rousing story, and a pleasant sort of escapism for those of us that will probably never actually save our friends by clever application of violence.

I think this would be readable without reading the Mason's volumes first, but I didn't read it that way.

The audiobook …

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel (Hardcover, 2013, William Morrow) 4 stars

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house …

Short and mostly sweet

4 stars

I guess it is long for a novella, but short for a novel. That means there is not a lot of room to build up characters. The protagonist is a bookish but uncomplicated boy but e.g. the parents are mostly ciphers.

It's an engaging story, I finished it in a few sessions, something I don't do very often these days. It feel very English, and very Rural, which isn't what I remember of Gaiman. It doesn't really break any new ground, but it well crafted, and the setting is more completely related than the characters.

It does have some scenes that would probably give sensitive souls (and children) nightmares.

Non-Player Character (2021, Witch Key Fiction) 5 stars

32-year old Tar feels like a Non-Player Character in their own life. They’ve been utterly …

a triumph of empathy

5 stars

At some level this is a standard sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel (mostly sorcery). The device of role-players cast into the game "for reals" has surely been done before. The interesting part is the characters, and how the plot progresses.

The hero (gender neutral) is extremely anxious, and the book presents their struggles in a way that is both relatable and interesting. The reader (at least this reader) sees themselves in these struggles even if they don't normally identify as neurodivergent.

Don't hate me for not giving it five stars, a few of the romantic(?) scenes didn't quite work for me. Maybe that says more about me though.

It grew on me.

4 stars

'I don't know. I have always kept an open mind. There was much to be said on both sides.' Dr Porhoët, supporting character and expert on the occult.

This book achieved something like "suspension of belief", since I was not sure if the lead character was merely charismatic in some weird culty way, or possessed of occult powers until very late in the book.

It took me while to warm to the book. The beautiful young girl engaged to marry her guardian starts things off on a bit of an icky footing, and those are supposed to the the non-creepy characters. It also focuses a lot on youth and beauty in a way that feels quite shallow.

Consider Phlebas (Paperback, 2003, Orbit) 4 stars

Consider Phlebas is perhaps one of the lesser-known, but nevertheless the first, of the revelationary …

It's a space opera. What do you want?

4 stars

I definitely enjoyed this more than (Surface Detail)[]. If nothing else, it is notably shorter, which suggests an instance of "established authors need editing too".

Banks does love to shock, and loves to write "cinematically", which occasionally a bit tiresome.

While I think describing the Culture series as "Literary Science Fiction" is a bit of stretch, there are some interesting big picture ideas, and some of the characters have some depth, or at least some interior life. The choice of having a "bad guy" protagonist already elevates it beyond a lot of more pulpy SF.

The Arabian Nights (AudiobookFormat, 2000, Blackstone Audiobooks) 2 stars

Bad outweighs the good.

2 stars

Most of these stories are very old, and even the translation dates from 1909. I can forgive the (in modern terms) lack of character development and somewhat weak plotting in most of them. The glimpses into the early modern Arab world are occasionally fascinating (Sinbad was particularly interesting for me the discussion of trade and ancient Iraqi cities). The lack of interesting women characters is probably no worse than more recent "prince rescues princess" genre fiction.The casual violence and questionable morality is occasionally a bit shocking, but I guess one can make an argument for that as "thought provoking". I don't think I can excuse the occasional antisemitism and pervasive anti-black racism in the same way. Eventually it just dominated my experience of the book, which is kindof ick.

The Heart Forger (Hardcover, 2018, Sourcebooks Fire) 3 stars

In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she's after revenge...

No one knows death …

OK, but didn't really connect.

3 stars

I didn't read the first book in the series, so that might explain why I had a hard time connecting with the characters.

I found the early romance between the protagonist Tea and her undead lover somewhat cringeworthy (not because of the undead thing, just the breathy internal dialog). Perhaps I'm being what described as an "adult reader mad at kids for being kids".

The book does deal with "coming of age" issues of gender and sexual identity in a positive way.

There are a few twists that I did not see coming.

I did like the narrative structure of the two halves of the story interleaved, more or less converging (although not quite) at the end of the book.

It is definitely the middle book of a trilogy (or longer) series and some important questions are unresolved at the end.

Surface Detail (Paperback, 2011, Orbit) 4 stars

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with …

Flawed but enjoyable.

3 stars

I think Banks wanted to write something of a critique of late stage capitalism (Culture novels in general being a variant of Space Communism). Unfortunately the villain is a bit too much of a parody for my taste. I also found the first third of the book a bit of a slog, as the various in-Hell plot lines involve a fair amount of gratuitous violence and suffering, and don't obviously go anywhere.

That said, I did find the last 2/3 fairly engaging and fun.

I suspect people who are sensitive to the portrayal of sexual violence should not read this book.