Shatterday by Harlan Ellison – 3 out of 5.
This is a collection of 16 short stories ranging from 5 to 60 pages in length (well 60 pages is probably a novella or novelette). Over all I enjoyed it. I'm not really very used to reading short stories, as I'm more a novel person, but it made for a nice change.
Grinny by Nicholas Fisk – 3 out of 5.
This one was another audio-book for the car. Nice & short at 2 disks (2 hours 25 mins), it's a kids SF book from 1973 read here by the legendary Andy Crane.
Helliconia Spring by Brian Aldiss - 3 out of 5.
555 pages (in my edition anyway) is to many for this story & it's only book one of a trilogy. That is my main problem with this book. The pages go by & not a great deal happens, a shame really because it's pretty well written & in the most part quite entertaining. There is some great intrigue in here, but it can get lost amongst all the waffle. It's just all too slow.
The first 125 pages are really just a prelude in the form of an (almost) self contained novella.
Life During Wartime by Lucius Shepard - 2.5 out of 5.
This seems an odd choice, both for an SF Masterworks book (the edition that I read), as it's neither especially great, nor offensively bad, but just okay with some good bits & some mediocre bits.
There isn't all that much SF in this book. There is some near future war technology & a some psychic shenanigans going on, but it's one of those - “is it really a SF book” kind of things.
The book is broken into five definite sections, each of which has it's own separate location & plot.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – 2 out of 5.
The bulk of this 90 page story is in the form of a lengthy monologue, where our time traveller related his adventure to his colleagues. This is bookended by some scene setting & an epilogue.
This may well be the original tale of time travel but, for me, it's certainly not the best. Our main character is not particularly likeable for a start, either in the way he tells his story, which often comes over as a rambling stream of thought, or in his actions within the story itself.
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein – 2 out of 5.
A Hugo winner for best Novel, awarded in 1957 & a pretty short book at 143 pages. It's written in a fairly chatty style, later we find that Lawrence Smith, aka The Great Lorenzo, is relating the story in his own words from several years after the events therein.
The basic plot is that Lorenzo, an out of work actor, is employed to impersonate a political leader who has been kidnapped just as he's on the brink of a major political break through.
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card – 4 out of 5.
In the past I have traditionally read mainly modern-ish novels. Some years back I decided I should try to get through a few more classics, including those that have won the Hugo or Nebula or both. Enders Game was on my list for just this reason, although at 1985 it's not all that old. I knew absolutely nothing about the story before I picked this up & didn't even know what the title meant. As it turns out “Ender” is the nick-name of our hero & “Game”s is what they have Ender playing at Battle School.
Fat by Rob Grant - 4 out of 5.
Here we have the classic triple strand story. We have essentially three separate short stories with the chapters alternating between them all. This is my favourite type of story telling as, when written will, at the end of each chapter you just want to get back to that story thread again, causing you to rattle through the pages at a cracking pace.
Our three stars are Grenville Roberts, an overweight TV chef with anger management issues. Jeremy Slank, an advertising / PR chap who's thrown into the deep end at short notice.
Muriel Spark is one of my favourite authors, mainly for her quirky style and often cruelly funny observations of human behaviour.
The Finishing School is a book of jealousy. The headmaster, Rowland Mahler, of this tiny is trying unsuccessfully to write a book. Chris, one of his pupils, at 17, is writing a book with ease. Rowland's jealousy consumes him and prevents him from writing, while Chris, recognising this jealousy, finds he can't write without it.
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell – 2 out of 5.
An Audio Book for me this one & very much picked out of the library at random, just to see what it was like. I'd heard good things about “Cloud Atlas” (by the same author, which isn't the David Mitchell from Mitchell & Webb by the way). This Novel sees our hero, Jason, as his life moves from childhood into teenager & the struggles involved. It's set back in the early '80s & has some nice nostalgic references sprinkled liberally through the book.