Wordy Wednesday Roundup 1!

I’ve read two novels and two short stories recently – and now I’m going to talk about them.

Brief summaries first, slightly longer reviews under the cut.

The novels: a sci-fi novel called Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton and a fantasy novel called The Witch Watch by Shamus Young.

The two short stories are by Philip K. Dick: Behind the Door and The Crystal Crypt. You can get them both from the Gutenberg Project if you have an e-reader.

Short stories first!Behind the Door is a so-so short story about a cuckoo clock. Some guy is a dick to his wife, she cheats on him, he finds out, and when he throws her out he insists she leave behind the cuckoo clock. Then the cuckoo bird ends up killing him – it pops him in the eye when he’s about to smash the clock with a hammer. I do not recommend this story.

Not impressed by the review.

The Crystal Crypt is much better, and so I won’t ruin the ending. But with war between Mars and Earth on the horizon, one last ship of Earthlings is departing from Mars. It is stopped by the Mars authorities – a Martian city has been destroyed, and the three culprits were tracked to this ship. There isn’t a lot of suspense. You learn who the saboteurs are very soon, but it’s got a nice surprise ending. Recommended!


Now for the novels, which I enjoyed much more in general.

First, The Witch Watch by Shamus Young. The premise starts off nicely: a group of necromancers are trying to bring their dead Lord Mordaunt back to life. But the wrong body had been left in Mordaunt’s tomb, and they end up bringing back Gilbert. Now just about everyone wants to put Gilbert back in the grave – except, if they do, any hope of awakening the Princess Sophie dies with him.

How Gilbert ended up in Lord Mordaunt’s tomb, what the Witch Watch is and why it is necessary, and why the necromancers even want Mordaunt back – these are all solved admirably. Young never has to resort to a deus ex machina to solve any of these. The resolutions all make sense.

The writing flows nicely. At times I felt like every character had the same speech patterns. Also, the characters seem to go out of their ways to explain everything in the smallest detail, even when it isn’t required. I understand Young was world-building, and the readers needed to know this information even if the characters didn’t.

Overall, I recommend this. It’s a clear, uncomplicated fantasy novel, so if you like that, check it out. You can read the first chapter on Amazon. Shamus Young had his wife, Heather Young, do some artwork for the book as well. It fits the tone of the book perfectly – check out her work.


Now, Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton.

Good sci-fi novel. Well, probably excellent sci-fi.

This book drags at the beginning. I don’t know that I needed to read all about this teenagers’ sad-sack life to understand the character. Actually, now that I’m done the novel, I know I didn’t. It was an okay way to introduce information about the world, but it could be done in other ways just as easily.

Looking at reviews, I’ve seen Hamilton’s work referred to as ‘space opera.’ It’s got action, sure, and the science is, well, fiction. But there are some really solid ideas in the novel that elevate it above the (often derogatory) classification of ‘space opera.’

It’s got bio-enhanced power armor. There’s faster than light travel, and wormholes too. There’s even a little time travel, but I don’t want to spoil that. In any case, the time travel part was annoying. The really good parts are where the novel focuses on the things people do to each other – in the name of love, in the name of pride, in the name of freedom, in the name of profit.

Fallen Dragon is worth your time, even if it ends up slightly annoying you, as it did to me.


About seansynthetic

"...so I says the the guy, I says to him, 'No, YOU ain't allowed back into this Chuck-E-Cheese.'"

Posted on March 7, 2012, in Wordy Wednesdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I laughed really hard at the caption under the picture of Philip K. Dick. Have you read any of his full length stories? If you haven’t already read these, I would recommend, Dr. Bloodmoney, A Scanner Darkly, and Valis (the main characters name is Horselover Fat, how could you not want to read it!).

    • I have read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.’ I thought it was okay, but I’m too into his writing style. I haven’t read enough to have a definitive opinion on him as an author; I’ll check out some of the stories you recommended, thanks!

      • He’s definetley an aquired taste. His style works better in some storie than others. It works really well in Dr. Bloodmoney. It is a very straight forward sci fi story and is less esoteric than most of his works. Valis is nothing but esoteric musings with a loose plot, but it is very interesting. I think you would enjoy it. Maybe not in the “normal” way of defining enjoyment, but interesting none the less.

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