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Review: Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Review: Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Minimal spoilers only – no major twists, but does reveal headline content and comments on characterisation, quality of endings and so forth. I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed by this collection, largely because of how brilliant I’d found Stories of Your Life and Others. That being said, it’s still a good collection, with all of the stories enjoyable and some very good – they just didn’t blow me away the way they did in the first collection. Like the…

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Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Minimal spoilers only – no major twists, but does reveal headline content and comments on characterisation, quality of endings and so forth. A brilliant collection of science-fiction short stories. Includes three Nebula Award winners and one Hugo Award winner; the title story, Story of Your Life, was the basis for the major 2016 film, Arrival. The stories are a little longer than most short-stories, typically 40-60 pages and are well plotted, deeply imaginative and have excellent characterisation. Most are set…

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Book Review: The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure by Gerald Durrell

Book Review: The Fantastic Dinosaur Adventure by Gerald Durrell

One of Gerald Durrell’s less well-known books, I first read this myself as a child and have recently read it to my own son, aged five. It was an amazing hit – we read the whole book (95 pages) in under 24 hours – and deservedly so: it’s full of Durrell’s trade-mark charm, description and humour, with added adventure. The plot follows three children who accompany their great-uncle back to the Mezozoic era to track a pair of villains who…

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Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

‘Magisterial’ and ‘epic’ are all words that come to mind to describe Kissinger’s magnum opus, written in 2014 when he was 91. Certainly a book that begins a consideration of the modern international order with a detailed analysis of the Thirty Years War deserves that description – but what is more impressive, is that Kissinger then goes on to consider similar seminal moments in the history of other nations, including China, Russia, the US and the Islamic world. As the…

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Quarterly Book Round Up: July 2018

Quarterly Book Round Up: July 2018

The quarterly book review provides a non-exhaustive list of some of the books I read and enjoyed in the previous quarter. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) I always feel mildly guilty reading Archer, given the perjury issues, but this was a hugely enjoyable book. It followed two people from very  different backgrounds, their rivalry and their rise to success, in this case in the United States in business between about 1910 and 1960. Archer’s gift, as in First Among Equals…

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Book Review: The Three Body Problem

Book Review: The Three Body Problem

Minimal spoilers only – less than reading the blurb of the three books. Quite simply the best science fiction I’ve read in a decade. Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem, with its two sequels (the trilogy is collectively titled ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past) is both gripping and immersive, intensely human in its depiction of characters yet of almost unimaginable grandeur in its scope and scale. The science feels robust, firmly rooted in today’s theories and possibilities, even when speculating on future…

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