Books read in August 2012

Charles Dickens: The Old Curiosity Shop.

This old classic was a real pleasure to read and even if it was 700 pages long it felt shorter than many modern long novels. The story was fascinating and intriguing, the persons felt very much alive even if some of the evil ones were a bit too coarse, and the city and landscape were absolutely convincing.

 

Ahmed Khaled Towfik: Utopia.

In the near future in northern Egypt a young man in a gated community with very rich persons and high standard is bored and gets out among the poor outside, in order to get a human arm as a trophy. This is a gruesome story but it is well told and discusses how evil humans can become in a totally segregated community. The book has been translated from Arabic and as far as I can judge this had been well done. It had been nominated (but did not win) for the sf/f Translation Award.

 

Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Japed.

A wonderful early (1956) Dick novel, set in a totalitarian state after a world war, where all acts are controlled by a lot of small mobile robots. The hero of the story has “japed”, desecrated a statue but does not know it. There is also a travel to another planet where food is produced.

 

Simon Armitage: The Death of King Arthur.

An alliterative long poem from around 1400 translated or transcribed to modern English. Fascinating and sometimes even thrilling even if the lengthy battles got boring.

 

 

Chad Oliver: Shadows in the Sun. 

A paranoic and solipsistic novel where a man suspects that he is the only real human in a city with all the others being extraterrestrial. This is done very well and convincing if the ordinary suspension of disbelief is applied. The few real people are believable, and there is a touch of humour in the book.

 

Mike Resnick: Birthright: The Book of Man.

With a lot of humour and by describing many different persons and situations over seventeen millenia Resnick draws the story of mankind when we inhabit far planets and conquer aliens. In this story humans are exceptional in their stubbornness, greed and willingness to use any means to their own ends. Absolutely readable even if the dialogues and site descriptions are a bit simple.

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