Tag Archives: science fiction

Book Review : In the Garden of Iden

Title : In the Garden of Iden

Author : Kage Baker In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1)

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Company Series

Three Words : science fiction, historical, romance

Red Flags : sex, violence, bad language (NSFC)

Summary :

This entire book is narrated by Mendoza who explains “The Company” and how she came to be part of it. The Company, or Dr. Zeus, Inc., is a 24th century organization that has discovered the secrets to both time travel and immortality. They use this knowledge not to serve humanity but to become wealthy. They go back in time and make children immortal through a treatment that turns them into cyborgs. These children then gather objects from the past, hide them and live through the centuries until the 24th century at which time the Company “finds” these items and sells them for vast sums of money. Mendoza was rescued from the Spanish inquisition as a small child and turned into a cyborg. Her specialty is botany. When she emerges from her training fifteen years later, she is stationed in the garden of Sir Walter Iden to collect rare plant species. She travels with two other Company cyborgs, Joseph and Nefer. When she arrives in England at Iden’s estate, she meets his secretary – Nicholas Harpole. She is immediately attracted to him, he is intelligent and seems to be ahead of his time in his views. She sets out to seduce him believing it would be advantageous to the Company…she didn’t plan to have actual feelings for him. We follow her as she deals with the implications of being an immortal cyborg, being Spanish in an anti-Catholic England and being in love with an all too mortal questioning human.

My Take :

I’m not really sure what to write about this book. In some ways I really liked it, but in other ways it was a little boring. The underlying premise is so interesting and promising but honestly sometimes I was struggling to get through the book. When reading the description I really expected this to be a little more romantic than it was, but don’t let it fool you – this is hard core science fiction. Which is great, just not what I was expecting. I fully believe that how we receive books, movies, TV, really any entertainment has a lot to do with where we are in our lives and our expectations as much as the actual content. So…I did enjoy this and I would recommend it just maybe not wholeheartedly. I give it six shoes – ankle boots that I can’t seem to figure out what to wear with.

Anybody else read one of the Company books? What did you think?

 

 

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Happy Birthday Dad!!!!

Today is my Dad’s birthday and in honor of this momentous occassion I am providing a reading list just for him (fair warning – if you don’t like science fiction or technothrillers you are SOL). For as long as I can remember my dad always read Asimov – he always tried to get me to read the Robot Foundation series. Unfortunately, teenage girls aren’t as interested in classic science fiction as say, historical romance novels or watching Dirty Dancing for the thousandth time. So if you haven’t read Asimov, take some time and read I, Robot – it was written in 1950 and is considered THE classic sci-fi novel. If you have read it, then maybe peruse some of these novels :

1) The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

A collection of eighteen short stories following the destiny of humankind. A mixture of science fiction, magic, reality, and imagination. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro

Robotics expert Megan O’Flannery is the sole human contact with the new self-aware android project dubbed Aris. Programmed as part of a top-secret defense project, Aris proves to be resourceful and uncontrollable. Megan enlists the help of robotics genius Raj Sundaram. Aris soon becomes jealous of Raj, and Megan discovers that Raj may be a greater danger than Aris. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Peace on Earth by Stanislaw Lem

A comic send-up of militarism, espionage, scientists and psychiatrists in which the unflappable hero fights for truth and justice in a world gone mad. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

4) The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein

When Dan Davis is crossed in love and stabbed in the back by his business associates, the immediate future doesn’t look too bright for him and Pete, his independent-minded tom cat. Suddenly, the lure of suspended animation, the Long Sleep, becomes irresistible and Dan wakes up thirty years later in the twenty-first century. He discovers that the robot household appliances he invented, far from having been stolen from him, have, mysteriously, been patented in his name. There’s only thing for it. Dan has to, somehow, travel back in time to investigate… (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

5) Gateway by Frederick Pohl

Wealth … or death.  Those were the choices Gateway offered.  Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee. Their destinations are preprogrammed.  They are easy to operate, but impossible to control.  Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable.  It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers. Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
6) Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg
Set in an immense world teeming with alien races and fantastic magical machinery, Valentine wakes up one morning with only a vague and troubled idea of who he is. His dreams suggest he is the ruler of Majipor – but no one will believe him. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
My dad also loves the Tom Clancy technothriller. Here are some books that Tom Clancy himself recommends :

1) Storm Warning by Jack Higgins

During World War II, a group of German expatriates trapped in Brazil must sail across five thousand miles of tempestuous water to reach their homeland-and face the deadly barricade of American and British military power. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Spanish Gambit by Stephen Hunter

Julian Raines was a golden boy from Eton, a renowned young poet who fled into the Spanish Civil War. Robert Florry was once Raine’s friend.  Now he is being blackmailed by British Intelligence into hunting down his old friend in Spain.  MI-6 says Julian Raines has turned KGB spy. The whorehouses of Barcelona are jammed.  The bars are filled with laughter, and the streets are running with wine and blood.  In the chaos, Robert Florry will find his old friend, unaware that a noose of espionage, psychological terror, and murder is being tightened around them by masters of the craft. A Soviet agent named the Devil Himself has gone rogue; an American mobster turned secret policeman is after a missing gold shipment; and all the rules have changed. Now there’s only one way out of Spain: on a path of terror, lies and blood. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3) The Generals by W E B Griffin
 They were the leaders, the men who made the decision that changed the outcome of battles…and the fate of the continents. From the awesome landing at Normandy to the torturous campaigns of the South Pacific, from the frozen hills of Korea to the devastated wastes of Dien Bien Phu, they had earned their stars. Now they led America’s finest against her most relentless enemy deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was a new kind of war, but the Generals led a new kind of army, ready for battle–and for glory…(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
4) The Legacy of Hereot by Steven Barnes, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Civilization on Earth was rich, comfortable and overcrowded. Millions applied, but only the best were chosen to settle on Tau Ceti Four. The colony was a success, an idyll, the stuff of dreams, but beyond the perimeter the nightmare has begun to chatter.(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
Lastly, if you know anything about my dad you know he is Hungarian and proud! So I thought he might like to read some books by Hungarian authors…check them out!
1) Fateless by Imre Kertesz (Sorstalansag)
On his return to his native Budapest from a German concentration camp, 14-year-old George Koves senses the difference of people on the street. Left to ponder the meaning of his experience alone, he comes to the conclusion that neither his Hungarian or Jewish heritage was at the heart of his fate. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) Embers by Sandor Marai
In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend but who he has not seen in forty-one years.  Over the ensuing hours host and guest will fight a duel of words and silences, accusations and evasions. They will exhume the memory of their friendship and that of the General’s beautiful, long-dead wife. And they will return to the time the three of them last sat together following a hunt in the nearby forest–a hunt in which no game was taken but during which something was lost forever. Originally published in 1942. (taken from Goodreads)
3) The Door by Magda Szabo
The story of two women, a writer and her housekeeper. While responding to her own needs for recognition and acceptance as an artist, the writer encourages her very private housekeeper to emerge from inner isolation. But when the housekeeper becomes ill and dies, the writer is not available to her. The book serves as the writer’s apology for neglecting her human responsibilities. (taken from Goodreads)
4) The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
A circus, promising to display the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world, arrives in the dead of winter, prompting bizarre rumors. Word spreads that the circus folk have a sinister purpose in mind, and the frightened citizens cling to any manifestation of order they can find—music, cosmology, fascism. The novel’s characters are unforgettable: the evil Mrs. Eszter, plotting her takeover of the town; her weakling husband; and Valuska, our hapless hero with his head in the clouds, who is the tender center of the book, the only pure and noble soul to be found. (taken from Goodreads)
As you can see, Hungarians are an upbeat bunch ;P  Anyway, Isten éltessen sokáig Dad! Enjoy these books. Thanks for always picking up ridiculous teeny bopper movies from the video store (which must have been embarrassing) and turning me onto Blood Sport. I love you.
Trina

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A New Title, Look and Format for the Blog!! Get Excited Readers!

After some time off to get through this holiday thing (whew!) and finish up a Master’s Degree (yeah!) I did some research in the blogosphere of book reviews and decided this blog needed some sprucing up. I hope everybody likes it and I’d love to see some comments on the new look. As you can see (———–>>>) I’ve fallen behind on the reviews but NOT on the reading. Soooooo in an effort to atone for my silence in the blog, I will be featuring a book review a day for the month of January! Fair warning, although most of the books have been pretty awesome there may be some stinkers thrown in…. Without further ado here is my first review of the new year – one of my favorite books of this year When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.

When She Woke is a retelling of the classic The Scarlett Letter except in this version the heroine’s skin bears the color red instead of just a letter on her dress and it is set in a future theocratic America where conservative evangelical values have taken over the government. Hannah Payne is sentenced to life as a Red through a process called “chroming” -where an injection changes the color of the skin of the offender. These Chromes are then thrust back into society where they must survive as best they can. Hannah has been convicted of the murder of her unborn child. Her sentence is extended even further because she refuses to reveal the identity of the baby’s father, a prominent married minister. We follow Hannah through her initial incarceration where her every movement is broadcast for live television for millions to watch, then to a half-way house for other women in her situation and finally as she makes an escape hopefully to a better life. In between we find out the story of her passionate love affair and how she came to be convicted.

I have one word for this book – AMAZEBALLS! I loved it. This was a great combination of the Scarlett Letter with tones of The Handmaid’s Tale (another of my favorite books). The characters were interesting, flawed, sympathetic, and complex. The story was exciting and fast-paced but still took the time for back story. There was definitely an underlying message about the dangers of blurring the lines between church and state, but Jordan managed not to make it too preachy. The end of the book was great, a journey with Hannah as discovers herself and questions her upbringing.  I highly recommend this book – I give it nine shoes (oooooh my first!).

First Line : When she woke, she was red.

Three Appeals : futuristic dystopian sci-fi, interesting characters, retelling of a classic

Red Flags : I’m gonna guess you will not enjoy this if you are a conservative Christian…. the subject matter is also probably not for children, some violence and language, sexual situations.

If you like this book then try:

1) The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hester Prynne has been sentenced to wear the scarlett letter A for having a child from an adulterous affair. She refuses to name the father but when her estranged husband shows up, he is determined to find out who it is. A classic.

2) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the house of the Commander and his wife in the Republic of Gilead, a conservative theocratic society which is a feminist’s nightmare. Women are not allowed to read or hold jobs, and are seperated into classes : the Wives who are childless but morally superior, the Marthas who are housekeepers and the Handmaids who are supposed to have children to then turn over to the Wives. However, Offred can remember a time when she had a husband, a daughter and a job and starts to question her place in this society. An amazing classic and one of my favorite books of all time – definitely also take the time to check out some of Atwood’s other books including Alias Grace.

3) Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion. (taken from Amazon.com)

Enjoy this one my friends, and let me know if you like it.

Don’t forget to sign up for an email subscription to my blog.

Thanks,

Trina B.

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