Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, book one in the Inheritance trilogy, is one of the most discussed releases of 2009. It has launched Jemisin's writing career and since it's release four more books have appeared. I missed this novel at the time and only really noticed it once the nominations for the Hugo and Nebula awards came in for that year.  The reviews I've read about this novel have been mostly positive so I figured it was about time I caught up. Jemisin's approach to fantasy in this novel turns out to be very much oriented towards religion. I must admit I am a bit puzzled by the great number of positive reviews and award nominations. I liked this book well enough but it is certainly not everybody's cup of tea. For a début it is a very interesting work though.

Yeine has been raised in one of the barbaric nations of the north. After her civilized mother's death, she is summoned to the world's centre of power; the magical city of Sky. All nations of the world are controlled from this one miraculous place. With the power of a god behind them the rulers of Sky reign supreme. On arrival, Yeine finds her maternal heritage to be very distasteful. Her huge family is strictly hierarchical and although some safeguards have been put in place by the god they serve, decadence, cruelty and pettiness are rampant. What is worse, Yeine finds out she has been named one of the three possible successors to the current, ageing ruler. Yeine is not interested in taking on the burden of leadership but to her rivals, she is a threat. Staying alive long enough to figure out what drives her family and how she can survive in this lethal environment is going to be a challenge.

The story is told from the first person point of view, for which I always have something of a weakness. In this case, Jemisin does something very interesting with it by plainly stating that the narrator is dead. So far for the much heard criticism that using a first person perspective is a spoiler of sorts. It also allows Jemisin to seamlessly introduce a whole lot of worldbuilding into the tale. Yeine is from a backward province and has never been to Sky. Her mother didn't think it was necessary to teach her much about the city. Yenie is very naive during the opening stages of the novel and that allows the reader to take in a lot of the details that would have been obvious to a long time resident. It does make Yeine a very typical fantasy protagonist though. Girl from an out of the way part of the realm finds out she is heir to a kingdom. Fortunately, Jemisin is smart enough not to make this the centre of the novel.

The question that really interests Yeine is what happened to her mother. She suspects her mother was killed as part of the political machinations in Sky but finding out the truth in an environment here deception is a second nature to most, turns out to be very hard. Soon she is lost in a political game of which she understands neither the rules nor the stakes. As she reveals layer after layer of power struggles the stakes prove to be high indeed. Behind the Lord of Sky, the god Itempas is in complete control. After the the killing of one companions and the enslavement of the other he rules the universe as he sees fit, even forcing his defeated offspring into human shape, their powers at the disposal of his human ruler. This struggle between the gods is where Jemisin takes a different turn from most other fantasy series. These chained divine creatures play an important role in the plot.

Jemisin portrays them as larger than life beings, with dramatic powers and equally dramatic flaws. Yeine walks among them, bargains with them and to a point sympathizes with them. The theological underpinnings of this novel are complex. The gods remind me of those described by Homer in temperament, although the story of creation and cosmology seem more hinduistic, with a force of creation, a maintaining force and a destructive force (or Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). With one of the three most important deities in complete control, the universe is out of balance. I guess we can see where this is going in the rest of the trilogy. Again, Jemisin doesn't take the obvious choice. She uses destructive god, imprisoned in human form, to inject sexual tension and romance into the story. He is dark, dangerous, unpredictable and apparently irresistible. This might not be everybody's favourite but personally I think it isn't overdone and adds something to the story.

The entire novel is set in just a couple of weeks, Yeine never gets the time to find her balance in Sky. Things move more rapidly than she can keep up with making it a very fast paced read. As fantasy novels go, it is not a huge book but still a substantial read. I read it in a few days, during a week where my reading time was severely restricted. I wonder if a bit more measured pace might have done more credit to some of the more technical aspects of the novel. Jemisin does a number of interesting things with point of view and playing with genre conventions and it is very easy to ignore those in favour of the plot. 

All in all I thought The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was a very good read but not quite as original as it has been made out to be. It is still firmly rooted in traditional fantasy, and the story of a youngster from a backward part of the world discovering her heritage is not exactly unheard of in the genre, the twists in the plot don't really change that. Still, Jemisin is obviously talented and clearly willing to challenge genre conventions. That is a very interesting combination, something fantasy needs more of. It may be a while before I get around to it, but I will be reading the rest of this trilogy.

Book Details
Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 425
Year: 2010
Language: English
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-316-04392-2
First published: 2009

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

There is absolutely no point in reviewing The Hobbit (1937) of course. Like Tolkien's Magnun Opus The Lord of the Rings, it has been analysed to death and then some. I very much doubt I'll have something to add. The first movie in a trilogy based on The Hobbit is expected in December so I wanted to reread the book anyway. Jackson will no doubt do a fine job, even if I don't see why he'd want to stretch it to three movies, but his images will change the story forever. Cinema has such a wide audience that even popular novels like The Hobbit run the risk of being relegated to the book behind the movie. Of course Tolkien has been very popular for decades. Maybe that will mitigate the effect some. Anyway, I have a date in December with my girlfriend to go see this movie, now is the last chance to read the book without being affected by Peter Jackson's version.

Poor Bilbo Baggins, a respectable Hobbit very much enjoying his comfortable life at Bag End. It is rudely interrupted when the wizard Gandalf shows up. Before Bilbo knows what is happening, his home is being invaded by a party of thirteen Dwarves. The plan a journey to the far off Lonely Mountain, where the dragon Smaugh has been hoarding a Dwarven treasure. They mean to take it and re-establish the Lonely Mountain as the Dwarven stronghold it once was. Thirteen is an unlucky number however and besides, the Dwaves expect to need a burglar to gain entry into the halls Smaugh now occupies. According to Gandalf, Blilbo is just the man for the job.

Tolkien has been something of a blessing and a curse for the Fantasy genre. Almost forty years after his death Fantasy that can be considered Tolkien clones is being published. Although the popularity of Epic Fantasy in the vein of The Lord of the Rings seems to be receding at the moment in the English Language word, it is still going strong over here in the Netherlands. In Germany as well, stories about Dwarves, Elves and epic struggles between good and evil continue to sell well. Whether we like it or not, Tolkien has made a lasting impression of Fantasy and literature as a whole. And it started with this little novel, which against Tolkien's expectations, became a huge success.

Unlike The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is a children's book. The language is probably a bit dated but it is not nearly as flowery and verbose a text as The Lord of the Rings. I would say it is still very readable for today's children. The Hobbit has a kind of light-heartedness about it that makes it much less dense and much more plain fun that Tolkien's work for adults. I've often wondered what could have driven Tolkien to write two such completely different works, but still part of the same history. Tolkien was always tinkering with his work, even long after it had been published. There have been countless revisions of the texts of The Lord of the Rings over the years. The Hobbit didn't entirely escape this. Some revision was done, especially to Gollum's part of the tale. Apparently he tried to bring The Hobbit more in line the The Lord of the Rings stylistically as well but fortunately his beta readers (or whatever it was they called these folks back then) told him it wouldn't work.

I guess the book shows it age in other ways too. The total absence of female characters is one. I think Bilbo's mother is mentioned once but that is just about the best I can come up with. At least Tolkien improved on that marginally in The Lord of the Rings. That being said, Tolkien does present a pretty fast paced story. Once Bilbo leaves his comfortable home, he rolls from one adventure into another. Each more distressing than the next. Bilbo is at the same time the humorous note in the novel and the voice of reason. Tolkien's Dwarves are stubborn and not entirely free of greed. It also contains less that flattering accounts of human and Elvish actions. Most of the text might be lighthearted, it hides some pretty ugly scenes. Tolkien more or less does the same thing in situations where Bilbo is in mortal ganger. For instance by Gandalf tricking the Trolls and having the Goblins sing silly songs.

My favourite part of the book is the invisible Bilbo facing Smaugh. He is a traditional western dragon. Evil, clever, dangerous, hoarding a treasure and to be killed by a hero. I guess the outcome is a little predictable but I enjoyed Bilbo having fun with the dragon and getting his tail feathers singed when he is being too clever. What always struck me as a little odd about the book was that Smaugh's demise is not actually the climax of the tale. Along the way, the Dwarves seem to have stirred up a hornets' nest and a big battle with Goblins ensues. The Lord of the Rings and its appendices shed some light on the background of these evens but in The Hobbit they aren't very well explained. It is one of those battles that Tolkien would go on to write more of, full of unlikely heroics and tragic deaths. It is what one expects from a man who has such an influence on modern Fantasy I suppose.

While there are many hints of the dark days to come for Middle-Earth I still mostly see The Hobbit as a fun adventure. Tolkien is not yet dragged down by the weight of all the mythology he created or the countless unpronounceable names that complicate his later works. Perhaps it is not a very surprising story for the the more experienced Fantasy reader but I can still see why I enjoyed this book when I first read it in my early teens and why it encouraged me to read more Fantasy. Genre readers may be a bit tired of Tolkien's influence on the genre but that simply isn't an excuse to skip this book. It really is a must read for fans of Fantasy and literature in general.

Book Details
Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.J.R. Tolkien
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 285
Year: 1993
Language: English
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-261-10221-4
First published: 1937

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Be My Enemy - Ian McDonald

Be My Enemy is Ian McDonald's second book in the Young Adult Everness series. I read the first novel, Planesrunner, last year and it turned out to be a fun and very geeky read, full of science fiction elements, cool gadgets and airships. McDonald is clearly aiming at boys in their early teens, a demographic that is currently not very well served. He may be on to something. As far as I know, McDonald has sold three of these novels to Pyr but he clearly set it up to be a much longer series if there is demand for more. I would not be surprised if more novels will be written in the future. Granted, I am not the target audience but I have been enjoying these two novels an awful lot. In fact, I wish there was something like this around when I was the right age for these books.

Warning: spoilers.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

Last month I ran a poll to help me decide which book should be reviewed work number 300 on Random Comments and tied it to the Grand Master Reading Challenge for which I still have to read a couple of novels. Ray Bradbury won. I had expected one of the big names I hadn't covered it to get it, perhaps Jack Vance or Robert Heinlein but, as one commenter pointed out, with Bradbury's passing at the age of 91  just a few months ago, perhaps it is not so surprising he come out the favourite. I haven't read anything by Bradbury before so I figured I'd read the book he is best known for. Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953 so it's too old to have won any of the major science fiction awards but it has been added to countless list of best books in science fiction and is well regarded outside the genre. It is one most influential dystopian novels, often mentioned in one breath with Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. In short, a book with quite a reputation.

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel set in a future America where books are outlawed and a fireman's job is to burn them instead of putting out fires. One such man is Guy Montag, who unquestionably burns book, the source of all dissent in society. Until he meets the 17-year-old Clarisse that is. She talks to him about ideas that make no sense and about doing things that no rational, we ll adjusted man should even consider. She makes Montag thing and without him understanding why, he develops an aversion against his job, starts questioning his life and develops a curiosity about books. Montag is in trouble.

Bradbury's prose is not something you regularly encounter in science fiction. His style is overflowing with metaphors, with lengthy stream of consciousness passages when Montag is face a crisis or living though a breakthrough. Bradbury demands your full attention when reading it, he makes you feel the panic, stress and confusion of Montag in what might appear rambling scenes to the unfocussed reader. By today's standards it is a short novel but it is pretty intense reading. It certainly took me a few pages to get used to this style. I guess it's not surprising people see different things in this book but I was ab it surprised to find the book's message wasn't what I thought it would be.

Book burnings are something of a symbol and censorship, promoting ignorance, removing ideas that don't fit into a particular world view. Books, or rather the ideas they contain, can be dangerous to people with narrow ideas on what society should look like. Books make people think, they stimulate curiosity, open up the mind to experiences one would normally not encounter. Banning books and controlling the media are tools of dictators. Fahrenheit 451 is frequently seen as a work warning us of these dangers and protesting state sponsored censorship. From what I have read about it, I was more or less expecting something along those lines. Much to my surprise, that isn't exactly what this book is about. His depiction of society is chilling but it is not the book burning that is doing the damage. In fact, from the people around Montag you might say they are unnecessary.

Probably the most disturbing element in the novel is the way Montag's wife Mildred surrounds herself by television. The is completely absorbed in empty soap operas or news that is composed of meaningless one liners and takes the shape of cheap entertainment more often than not. Mildred is entirely disconnected from her husband and the world around her. It is not the suppression of ideas that is keeping the population in check, it is just that books are completely replaced by a passive, strictly controlled form of entertainment. It doesn't encourage people to think or be critical. They just have to take it in. When Montag asks his wife what her favourite show is about, she can't really produce a coherent answer. In fact, she is surprised he even asks. It should be obvious. What Bradbury is objecting to here is the replacements of books by simplistic television and other media. If Bradbury felt like that in the 1950s, what must he have thought of the current media landscape? Whatever you may think of Bradbury's position, it clearly is still relevant.

Thematically and stylistically I can see why this novel does well in literary circles as well as the science fiction genre. It does not escape the shortcomings of many science fiction novels of the period though. Montag is the central character and decently rounded but the rest of the cast is mostly there to symbolize a part of Montay's dilemma and rarely rise above the archetypical.  It is also stuck in a very traditional pattern of gender rolls and, by now, fairly dated ideas on future technology. It has aged more gracefully than many of his contemporaries though. Bradbury doesn't focus on a technological idea in this novel and his ideas on the media have turned out to be pretty accurate at some points. The depiction of Montag's pursuit struck a chord with me in particular.

All things considered, Fahrenheit 451 is a remarkable novel in the context of the science fiction genre at the time as well as the literary acclaim it has received. It didn't turn out to be quite the book I had expected but it certainly delivers a thoroughly disturbing image of the future. Right at the end, Bradbury surprised me again, with a ray of hope that Montag is offered. In the same novel Bradbury is showing how easy it is for people not to notice the emptiness of their existence and the lengths they will go to, to preserve something they value highly. For those of you who are still predicting the end of the dead tree type of book, I think  Bradbury would disagree. And for what it's worth, so do I.

Book Details
Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Voyager
Pages: 227
Year: 2008
Language: English
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-00-654606-1
First published: 1953

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Range of Ghosts - Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear has been releasing novels at an impressive rate since 2005. What is even more impressive is the versatility these novels display. They range from science fiction to urban fantasy, from horror to historical fiction and often include elements from various subgenres such as post-apocalyptic or steampunk. Bear's new book, Range of Ghosts, is the first volume in the Eternal Sky trilogy. It is Bear's attempt at epic fantasy and judging from this first volume, this trilogy might be something special. It was published in March so I am a bit late to the party. There is already a host of glowing reviews out there. I can only add my praise to it. Range of Ghosts is a novel that ought to be on the awards shortlists next year.

The novel follows Temur, grandson of a great Khagan of the steppes. Once the sky was littered with a hundred moon, representing his sons and grandson. Now the moons are disappearing at an alarming rate as the the Khaganate is torn apart by civil war. After his brother dies in battle, Temur is the legitimate heir but his faction is weak. He chooses exile to avoid being killed by his stronger cousin. Under a different sky Samakar, once princess of the Rasan empire, has given up her royal status to become a wizard. Once she was heir but after her half-brother was born, she lost that status and the only way not to pose a threat to his reign is to remove herself completely from the line of succession. Together, Temur and Samakar will face a religious cult bent on encouraging war among the nations of the region to further their own goals. Whatever sky they are under, the world is a dangerous place for Temur and Samakar.

The first thing the reader will notice is that Bear opted to abandon the pseudo-medieval Europe setting in favour of a Central Asian one. Temur and his people are clearly inspired by the Mongols, Samakar's people appear to be Tibetan, and Chinese, Arab and Turkish traditions also make an appearance. Just about every nation along to Silk Route, or Celadon Highway, is present somehow. Although non-western settings are becoming more common, Bear's choice is still a nice change for the more experienced fantasy reader. That atmosphere in this novel is very different. I'm not very well versed in the history of the region but I get the impression Bear didn't try to stick too close to actual history. In this case that probably improves the tale.

The supernatural is very present in the story. The sky in particular is an element to take note of. It changes depending on the religion of the local rulers. Temur's iron moon for instance, is only visible in places where the Khagan holds sway. In the Rasan empire the sky looks very different and the characters are always aware of it. You only have to look up to be reminded of the nation you are in, and which religion is dominant in it. Such a clearly visible reminder of the presence of the gods has an impact on the characters. Temur and Samakar are very aware of the different ways the same histories are told in their respective nations.

Temur's story is very much at the forefront during much of the novel but it is the female characters that are most interesting in this story. It is as if Bear wanted to write a fantasy novel that included the full range of what is possible for a female character to achieve into this single volume. The world Bear describes is not without sexism. Arranged, forced marriages are mention, exclusion from the line of succession in some places and the need to wear a veil in others. Samakar and the secondary character Payma experience some of this first hand. But there is tremendous power in these women too. We see women as powerful political figures, honoured advisers and warriors as well as damsels in distress and victims. In Temur's realm they even enjoy a level of sexual freedom than is pretty rare in epic fantasy. As the novel progressed I became more and more convinced Bear was making a statement here. Creating an example of how women could be portrayed in epic fantasy without limiting them the traditional roles they're usually found in.

Like in the other novels by Bear I've read, the style in which she writes is something special as well. Where Bear liked to play with tenses and points of view in the Edda of Burdens trilogy, it he choice of words and, especially in the descriptions, a limited use of contractions that drew my attention in this novel. In Temur's chapters, the horse related idiom is very present. Samakar is more concerned with power, appearance and politics. The undercurrents of politics are always present in her point of view sections. The synthesis between point of view and use of language in this novel is probably my favourite aspect of Range of Ghosts.

If there is one point of criticism I could direct at this novel, it is the fact that it is probably going to be more of a long novel in three parts than a trilogy. There is a strong climatic scene at the end, in which Samakar shows impressive physical strength, but it is also something of a cliffhanger. There is no way you can finish this book and not want to read the sequel Shattered Pillars. Personally I can live with that. All things considered, Range of Ghost is an impressive novel in terms of world building, characterization and prose. It is quite simply one of the best books I've read this year. I guess the good thing about getting to it late is that I won't have to wait too long for the second book, which is expected in March 2013. Bear has placed Shattered Pillars high on my to read list.

Book Details
Title: Range of Ghosts
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 334
Year: 2012
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2754-3
First published: 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fountain of Age - Nancy Kress

I ordered a copy of Nancy Kress' latest collection as a present for my girlfriend. She has recently read an enjoyed Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories (2008) so this one seemed like something she would like. I am a fan of Kress myself, especially a her short work, so I borrowed it from her during my recent visit to Norway. Fountain of Age contains nine pieces of short fiction, all published between 2007 and 2009. Five stories appeared in Asimov's, two in Jim Baen's Universe, one in Fantasy Magazine and the final story is originally part of the anthology Fast Forward 2, edited by Lou Anders. Kress won a Hugo award with the first story in the collection and got a Nebula for the last one. In short, I was expecting some good science fiction when I opened the book and I wasn't disappointed.

This review is very spoilerish, you have been warned.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

I'm in Norway at the moment (although I'll likely be back home before I publish the review) and that means I have the opportunity to borrow my girlfriend's copy of the final Hunger Games book. I own the first book in the series, The Hunger Games, which was mildly entertaining in a brutal way, but didn't really live up to the enormous hype that surrounds it. It might even have worked better a movie. It followed the book pretty closely but I ended up liking the movie better. Stubborn as I am, I did decide to finish the series, despite not really liking Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy. There is always hope the third one will be better but I'm afraid things only go downhill in this final volume. I certainly hope Collins is smart enough not to try and cash in even more on these stories an leave it at these three. This series really has run its course

Katniss has survived her second arena but survival is all it can be called. She is hurt badly both physically and psychologically. The rulers of District Thirteen try to patch her up as best they can but Katniss is depressed and traumatized. Peeta is in the hands of the Capital, suffering the consequences of her actions and her relationship with Gale seems to have changed forever. There is no peace for the weary though. Katniss has a value as figurehead for the rebellion in the Districts. The president of District Thirteen is well aware of that. She will do whatever it takes get Katniss to cooperate and become their mascot, their inspiration, their Mockingjay. The final battle for control of Panem has started.

Mockingjay is without a doubt one of the most depressive novels I have read in a long time. Katniss is a mess in this book. Not surprising given what has been done to her or course, I thought she wasn't nearly traumatized enough in the first novel to make the story believable. In this book Katniss positively wallows in her misery tough. She is hurting bad and frequently passes that on to the people around her, all of whom have their own wounds to heal. Katniss is stubborn, unreasonable, suspicious, sometimes even paranoid. She is also only a step short of being suicidal. It is very dark material considering these books are supposed to be young adult.

I can't say I like Katniss a whole lot in this novel even if her misery is understandable enough. She is pushed into a number of situations where she really shouldn't be in and inevitably ends up making some poor choices. Collins' depiction of District thirteen is almost as bad as that of the Panem. Where the Capital is decadent, District thirteen has adopted a Spartan way of life. Militaristic to the bone, without considerations for anything but survival and completely focussed on destroying the Capital. One of Katniss' many dilemmas in the novel is figuring out if the cure might not be worse than the disease. Would a Panem run by president Coin be any better than one run by president Snow? This question is explored in detail as the reality of the war that is being fought becomes clear to Katniss. The book contains just about every dirty trick and despicable act imaginable short of sexual violence. That, apparently, is where the line is in YA.

Collins' view on this war is a very cynical one. Every rebel we get to see is driven by a need for revenge or a lust for power. Motives to take part in the struggle are carefully disguised to be just and fair but underneath there is no ideology, dreams of a better future or even an idea what that future should look like. The war is all consuming, driving both parties to extreme violence, and apparently leaving no room for thought on what a post-war society should look like. Interesting enough, one of the few things both parties agree on is that the follies or our civilization, that was destroyed by war centuries ago in the novel, should not be repeated. Personally, I doubt these people really have learnt anything. In fact, at the very end of the novel the new President appears to agree with me. Or at least says that any lessons from the war are temporary at best.

I got very little in the way of positive emotions from this novel. I'm not even sure Katniss has any idea why she bothers putting up the Mockingjay show for District Thirteen. Perhaps the most telling scene come at the very end of the novel where a new round of Hunger Games are proposed and Katniss actually votes in favour. It is  typical for the lack of direction and sense of purpose she has in this novel. While I have to admit it is entirely in character, it is not a joy to read. Especially early on it the novel, where Katniss agonizes over the decision of whether or not to become the Mockingjay, the book does very little for me. It is a repetition of issues faced in the first two books mostly. The final part of the book is more action packed and, if possible, even more desperate. It reads a little better, although the outcome of the war is a forgone conclusion.

Maybe the novel has something to offer for readers who are more interested in the love triangle that is an overarching theme in the trilogy. The whole thing is pretty forced in my opinion. All the acting Katniss and Peeta have done, should pretty much have killed any chance of an honest relationship before one even started. I'm not particularly impressed with the way Collins resolved this problem. I must admit is does offer a tiny ray of hope in what is otherwise a very, very dark story but the outcome feels a bit too neat.

As usual with overhyped books I can't help but wondering if the people who rave about this novel have actually read other books. I think the first novel is mildly appealing but as a whole, the trilogy falls flat. Catching Fire is in part repetition and, in the end, relies on things that go on far away from the main character. Mockingjay is long litany of everything that is wrong in Katniss' world, combined with a war that has been decided before it started and some very unsatisfactory resolutions a the end. I guess if there is a lesson to be drawn from this read, it is for me to stay away from books that generate this level of raving.

Book Details
Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 448
Year: 2010
Language: English
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-407-10937-4
First published: 2010

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Number 300 Poll Result

A couple of weeks ago I put up a poll so you could help me pick the book that is going to be reviewed work number 300 and also take up a spot in my Damon Knight Grandmaster Reading Challenge list. The poll closed on Sunday and the results are as follows.
  1. Ray Bradbury - 8 votes
  2. Micheal Moorcock - 5 votes
  3. Damon Knight and Jack Vance - 4 votes
  4. Robert A. Heinlein, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison and Joe Haldeman - 2 votes
  5. Lester del Rey and Harry Harrison - 1 vote
  6. Jack Williamson, Fritz Leiber, A.E. van Vogt, Hal Clement and Philip José Farmer - 0 votes.
So Ray Bradbury takes this one by a fair margin. A bit of a surprise to me, I had thought Vance or Heinlein would have a shot too. Since it was clear for a while that Bradbury was winning, I did some book shopping in Bergen, Norway last week and found a copy of his most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, which to my shame I must admit I haven't read yet. Since I have a few more books to review before I hit 300, A Fall of Moondust being number 296, it will be a couple of weeks before the review is up.

Thanks for voting every one and see you around for the next 100 ;)