The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games

Synopsis: “The Culture–a humanoid/machine symbiotic society–has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.”  The first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas, did a lot of world-building heavy lifting from a Culture antagonistic POV. Having read that previously, this one is allowed to come in and really flesh out the world from a pro-Culture POV, which was really fun. Reading them in order… Continue reading

Axiomatic, by Greg Egan

Axiomatic, by Greg Egan

Hugely original ideas, not every story is a home run but there are enough 5/5 stories here to make this very recommended for any fan of hard science fiction. The concepts are extremely unique even 20 years later. Very similar to Ted Chiang’s writing. I have no idea why Greg Egan isn’t a household name in SF. “As the unknowable future becomes the unchangeable past, risk must collapse into certainty, one way or another.” “We think of our lives as circumscribed by cultural and biological taboos, but if people really want to break them, they always seem to find a way. Human beings are capable of anything:torture, genocide, cannibalism, rape. After which — or so I’d heard — most can still be kind to children and animals, be moved to… Continue reading

Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace

There are 2 kinds of difficult novels: those that you don’t enjoy while reading, but you genuinely enjoying having read, and those that you only enjoy while reading because the small picture stuff is infinitely better than the novel as a whole. Infinite Jest is one of the latter, and I think that’s why people never really stop reading it; it’s only good while you’re reading it. You finish and then start right over again, trying to piece things together until you create something in your mind that slightly makes sense of it all. This thing is a real love/hate affair. There are moments of true brilliance that are exceptional achievements, and the characters are fantastic, the world-building absolute top-notch, but if you have to leave the “ending” up to… Continue reading

The New and Improved Romie Futch, by Julia Elliott

Julia Elliott

    Synopsis: Meet the South’s newest antihero: Romie Futch. Down on his luck and pining for his ex-wife, the fortysomething taxidermist spends his evenings drunkenly surfing the Internet, then passing out on his couch. In a last-ditch attempt to pay his mortgage, he becomes a research subject at the Center for Cybernetic Neuroscience, where “scientists” download humanities disciplines into his brain. Suddenly, Romie and his fellow guinea pigs are speaking in hifalutin SAT words and hashing out the intricacies of postmodern subjectivity. With his new and improved brain, Romie hopes to reclaim his marriage, revolutionize his life, and revive his artistic aspirations. While tracking down specimens for elaborate animatronic taxidermy dioramas, he learns of “Hogzilla,” a thousand-pound feral hog with supernatural traits that has been terrorizing the locals. As… Continue reading

The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley

“We all create the stories we need to survive.” Synopsis: Set within a system of decaying world-ships travelling through deep space, this breakout novel of epic science fiction follows a pair of sisters who must wrest control of their war-torn legion of worlds—and may have to destroy everything they know in order to survive. On the outer rim of the universe, a galactic war has been waged for centuries upon hundreds of world-ships. But these worlds will continue to die through decay and constant war unless a desperate plan succeeds. Anat, leader of the Katazyrna world-ship and the most fearsome raiding force on the Outer Rim, wants peace. To do so she offers the hand of her daughter, Jayd, to her rival. Jayd has dreamed about leading her mother’s armies… Continue reading