11/22/63 – Book Review

11/22/63 is fun Stephen King. That’s first and foremost. I went in wondering if this would be heavy examination a la Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, but I was surprised to find a thoughtful sci-fi story. One of those late-phase King tales about people and the way they would live their lives in a near-past environment that’s at once real and unreal. That’s a nice touch that left me wanting more and ready to be lost in the tale.

In fact, the closest comparison I have is Michael Chricton’s “Timeline,” although that has involves centuries of backwards time travel. Both novelists do manage the same thing: to give an accurate, detailed, and well-written story that’s utterly readable while stills managing to be about something. These are my favorite books. They blend literature and popular storytelling. As a writer myself, I say bravo to that, always.

And on a side note, as a King fan, I love that the author can surprise me with finding a way to revisit “It” as part of this tale. Richie and Bevvie swing dancing! Nice!

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Book Review – The Quantum Thief

The Quantum Thief (The Quantum Thief Trilogy #1)The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like Alastair Reynolds, the stories of Hannu Rajaniemi require a certain level of…not faith, exactly, but a desire to immerse oneself in a brand-new sci-fi universe of technology. A willingness to put up with a barrage of terminology, concepts, and advancements without the aid of a glossary, companion “History of This Universe” book, or anything like that. In short, you have to love hard sci-fi, and you have to trust the author won’t leave you out of your depth for too long.

Rajaniemi does a great job helping the reader to understand the most pertinent concepts, then dolling out information as it becomes necessary for his compelling caper plot. He’s got a unique vision for the fractured future of humanity, and the interplay between various factions is at the heart of this novel. It’s an entertaining read – not necessarily for casual, Star Wars-type fans – but solid enough for those of us immersed in the genre. I’m honestly curious how the rest of the trilogy turns out.

My only reservation about this book was the shifting point-of-view. For one character, we’re presented with first-person POV, and soon after, another main character is told from an close third-person POV. In a novel chock full of “new/different,” it’s more hurdle than technique; I’m already learning about q-dots, Mars, a ton of unconventional names, etc, and the back-and-forth POV switch felt like an obstacle at times. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it does make the reader work a little bit harder.

A solid effort, I’d recommend The Quantum Thief to anyone who enjoys sci-fi, mystery, likes a bit of a challenge.

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