April 2024 book blog

As promised, ‘Earth’ by David Brin. In the afterword of this book, the author talks about the challenges of writing a book set 50 years in the future. It was written at the end of the 1980s and is set in the late 2030s, and from the perspective of the mid 2020s, Brin did a pretty amazing job of predicting the challenges of the 21st century. I read it in 1990, when it was first published, and again a few years later. It does feel odd to look back at 1990s me and her thoughts and memories about reading this books. It’s tempting to list the things that Brin got right, and discuss the things that he missed or was overly optimistic about, but that would be unfair, it’s a novel, not a prediction.
As a novel, it’s still a wonderfully engrossing and entertaining work of sf. The only jarring notes are the sudden in depth descriptions of someone’s race and skin colour, and a description of a non-white woman as ‘exotic’. Whilst these passages are clearly not written to offend or upset anyone, the passage of time has made them seem odd enough to jolt me out of the story for a while.
This is a plot driven novel, and whilst the characters are relatable and sympathetic, they’re there to serve a purpose. The plot itself is fascinating, and the story remains remarkably fast paced for such a long book. The broad cast of characters all have their own challenges to meet, which helps to keep the story moving.
In a world where the post-apocalyptic thriller holds a lot of sway, it’s fun to read a book which is about trying to avert an ongoing apocalypse where one unexpected threat suddenly puts all the others in the shade.
A very enjoyable book with some memorable scenes.

From a doorstopper SF novel to a collection of Charles Dickens stories … it was time to finish Christmas Stories. I started reading this book a long time ago, probably not the nine and a half years ago that Goodreads claims, but it was certainly several years ago. Then I mislaid it. Go on then, I admit it, I didn’t mislay it, I misremembered the colour of the cover and the size of the book, and it became invisible on the shelf. Also, Dickens needs to have the right mood, because he does go on, doesn’t he? I have to be in the right mood, and when this book actually physically fell off the shelf when I got my knitting caught up my books, it was serendipitously at a time when yes, I was in that kind of mood.
So, it’s a lot, lots of stories, lots of words, and it’s funny and touching and at times it’s laugh out loud. If you like Dickens, you should read it.

From a book that took me YEARS to finish, straight to one that I read in a day. Carol Walker’s ‘The World According to Spud’ is written by a friend of mine, someone I’ve known in the world of cat rescue for decades. This was a fast and fun read. Spud’s views on life are divided into short chapters, and each chapter is divided into sections. For example, the sports section is divided into football, rugby, cricket and darts. This makes it very easy to read. This approach seems to be very practical, but it’s put to great effect. We learn about Spud’s humble origins as an unwanted kitten, and his elevation to a show winning ‘household pet’ at cat shows. We learn about the volunteers who rescued him, and who are still working hard to rescue and help other cats and kittens; and their co-operative work with other local charities. We’re told about the cats that live with Spud, and his ‘mum’, Carol, the author, and their home in a small town just south of Preston, Lancashire. I really enjoyed this book, and how it was laid out, it’s factual and fun, and I recommend it.

I started to read Jeff Noon’s ‘Gogmagog’ at the end of April, but I’ll save the review for my May blog.

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