The Absolute Book

A few chapters into The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox I was ready to give up. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere and there was a lot of book ahead of me. One more chapter I thought, and kapow! suddenly the book really lifts off, you start to get an insight into the clever plot threads and then it is a delight.

I don’t know how to describe The Absolute Book without spoiling those first revelations so I will just say, if you enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and American Gods then there is a good chance that you will love this.


Scarlet Odyssey

Scarlet Odyssey by CT Rwizi is a fusion of magical fantasy and sci-fi set in Africa. It takes a while to grasp what is going on (I’m still a little puzzled) but it’s well worth the effort.

Salo is a young man who struggles with his mystical talents inherited from his mother. In his community men are warriors not mystics. When his village is attacked and his young friend is killed Salo knows it is time for him to declare his magical skills.

Salo is sent on a journey to the heart of Africa pursued by an evil enchantress and her minions.

This was described as a “young adult” novel but it seems pretty readable and adult to me. Certainly good enough to look forward to the second in this series!


Friends have recommended William Gibson’s novels to me for some time but I hadn’t got round to reading any of his stuff. Agency is a cracker of a SciFi novel.

Agency isn’t an easy read, you have to work at it, as the basis of the plot unfolds quite slowly and you are left wondering what is going on and struggling to keep track of the different threads for a while. Press on because it is well worth the effort.

The novel switches from San Francisco in 2017, where Clinton won and Brexit didn’t happen, to a weird techno London a century in the future. Are we jumping back and forward in time or are these different parallel strands of history and who controls who?

This is very reminiscent of some of the best of Philip K Dick (the all time master of SciFi for me) leaving the reader wrestling shifting reality and consciousness. I loved it and will be plunging into more of Gibson’s work soon. Read it!


Spaceman of Bohemia

I’m not sure about Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar. It’s quirky, amusing but somehow unsatisfying.

This tale of the first Czech astronaut, his abortive mission, the breakdown of his marriage and his friendship with an alien spider just didn’t do it for me. Literary and sort of humorous, but ultimately pointless. I like my scifi with a bit more mystery and perhaps some tension or drama.

Others may rave about this but I would give it a miss


The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu is the second part of the “Three-Body Problem” trilogy. This is much more ‘straight’ scifi with less Cultural Revolution than the first part, it is very very good though.

This is classic scifi, alien invasion pending, how does earth come together to defend itself sort of stuff, but with the twist that the plot evolves over a 400 year period with people knowing that the invasion is approaching and unable to prevent it (or are they?). There are some thought provoking ideas around characters hibernating and then awakening a century later and having to adapt to dramatically changed technologies and societal organisation which have resonance for the older generations of today who may struggle to cope with the pace of technological innovation.

A cracking scifi novel, I will grab the final part of the trilogy when it is published later this year. No plot busters please from people who have already read in the Chinese.



The Three-Body Problem

Take a good dollop of SciFi, set it in today’s China, add in a dash of history of the Cultural Revolution, season with some aliens looking for a new home planet, an immersive reality computer game and some politics – that’s The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, a Hugo Award winner.

Liu, is one of China’s foremast SciFi writers, he has won their national SciFi award 9 times. Who knew that there was a big SciFi culture in China? Not me.

This book is fantastic, hard core SciFi combined with mystery and a surprisingly frank navigation of recent Chinese history and politics. I can’t recommend it highly enough, SciFi at its very best. And there are 2 more novels in the series, I love it when you get to the end of a book and know there is more to follow 🙂

If you like SciFi, read this. If you like mystery, read this. If you are interested in the Cultural Revolution, read this. And if you don’t fall into any of those buckets, read it any way.

This is the first book I have read since starting this blog that ranks as 5/5