19 March, 2021

Review - The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric of Melnibone #2) by Michael Moorcock

It's been too long since my first Elric book, Elric of Melnibone, which I read about 14 years ago. I'd been meaning to keep reading, I even own just about every iteration you can find of the series and still only based on that one book read.

I had a blast with this one though it was much weirder than I recall. At the same time, that's part of the mystery and fun of reading these books. Moorcock does not lack for imagination. 

Sailor on the Seas of Fate is essentially three adventures smashed into one book so it's technically even shorter than the already short book. Characterization of any character but Elric is minimal, but Elric is such a rich character that's largely not too much of a problem (though I wouldn't mind some more).

I like exploring the multiverse and it's fun to see that the multiverse isn't a new concept (as I tend to start to think), it's a really cool concept that's been used for years. I will try to make it less than 14 years for the Weird of the White Wolf.

4 out of 5 stars (highly recommended)

18 March, 2021

(Audiobook) Review - The Player of Games (Culture #2) by Iain M. Banks

For my first foray into Iain M. Banks' world of the Culture, The Player of Games pretty well blew me away. I'm still thinking about it weeks after finishing. I've realized I need to know more about the Culture though, so much more.

As I'm last to the party with Banks (it seems to me), I'm sure you already know, but if you don't,  Gurgeh is a professional game player. The best of the best. Better than Ninja (any gen z'ers around?). He's conscripted (I won't get into details) to play the ultimate game on an alien world and it's about to get real.

This game has it all, different levels, different amounts of players, it's so ineffable, we don't really get a description of it, but that just adds to the enigma that is Azad (also the name of the empire). 

It's such a brilliant telling of some relatively typical tropes, but it felt so fresh...even though it was first published in 1988.

I can't wait to get into more of Banks's Culture series and probably anything else he has to offer. I didn't know if starting book 2 of the series was the right choice having never read anything else, but this recommendation worked at least for me.

Narration: This was my first experience with Peter Kenny (to my knowledge) and I thought he did a wonderful job. I barely noticed his involvement, which is the best kind of narrator. Great voices, good simpering machine voices, and flowed quite well.

4.5 out of 5 stars (highly recommended)

16 March, 2021

(Audiobook) Review - Ringworld (Known Space #1) by Larry Niven

This is one of those mandatory reads for sci-fi aficionados (like myself of course) and I have to say it did not quite live up to the hype.

Funny story, I actually read one of the newer books a number of years ago, Betrayer of Worlds or something like that, since I had received BoW as a review book for my blog. Not knowing much (clearly), I jumped in and really ended up enjoying it. 

The funny part is, I didn't love Ringworld all that much. It had some very interesting concepts, but I tend to read for characters or at least some plot with great concepts, but this didn't really have much more than the concepts. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style, but mostly the cardboard cutout characters kept reminding me of characters like Belgarath the Sorcerer from the Eddings books. 

They had one character and that was it. The Kzin is angry, the girl is flighty but lucky, Louis Wu had some character I guess, but it was hardly a focus.

I think what really disappointed me was the "twist" at the end which I'll address with spoiler tags:

spoiler: Then there's equating "luck" with "fate" that just didn't seem to work for me. Maybe I've watched too much Deadpool, but this felt like such a stretch as to make it deus ex machina. End spoiler

Narration: Grover Gardner was one of those old-school narrators. The reading was pretty stiff and didn't do the story I was already bailing on much justice. On the good side, I believed his female voices so that worked.

2.5 out of 5 stars (recommended with reservations)