Saturday, 21 February 2009

Recent Books

Saturn's Children by Charles Stross
I've read a few novels by Charles Stross since I've started 101/1001, and while I'm not always blown away in the same way I am when I read something by, say, Peter F. Hamilton, I am always left entertained having read something of Stross's. Saturn's Children is a good mystery story, and has as its backdrop the society of robots living in the solar system after humans have become extinct.

The central mystery itself seemed to unravel in a fairly obvious way as time went on (so, for example, you know who the mysterious aristocrat really is long before you have her identity confirmed) but the background is so well thought out and put together that you just find yourself carried along for the ride. The central character being an obsolete sexbot makes for an interesting perspective, as do the observations about how ridiculous the robots' creators were (a human's frailties compared to a robot's resources).

So far, I'd recommend everything I've read by Charles Stross, and Saturn's Children is no exception; he has an amazing imagination and head for all of the little details that go into making something that feels like a real world. If you're new to Stross though, I'd start with The Atrocity Archives or Halting State, I think they're better stories.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
It should be obvious by now to any regular reader of this blog (all three of you) that I am a sucker for a good mystery story. I read A Study In Scarlet years and years ago, but have never read The Hound of the Baskervilles until now (although I was aware of the mystery and what the solution to the mystery was).

Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant creation; far better writers than myself have described how fantastic he and Doctor Watson are. Doyle really makes them jump out of the page at you as fully three-dimensional characters. The fantastical leap in the story is not connected with the ghastly hound of the title; as with every Holmes story the fantastic thing is Holmes himself, and the speed of the deductions that he makes, the evidence that he bases them on. While he is always right, and the explanation matches up, it makes for an excellent read on the strength of Doyle's creations and the mysteries that he conjures up. You suspend disbelief that a man could be that intelligent and go along with it because Holmes is such a fascinating man.

The 100 Classic Novels app I have for my DS has some Holmes stories, I'll have to give those a look some time soon.

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