gaspode's book recommendations

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Posted by gaspode (1st Feb 2004, 14:08)

Originally published in Wyrmtongue February 2004.

The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

Four friends set off to fulfill an ancient immortality pact at a monastery in the desert. In order for two to achieve eternal life, two must pay the price of their lives. From this starting premise, Silverberg uses a narrative which is almost poetic to lead the reader through a series of sometimes disturbing confrontations with the darker side of human nature. Not recommended for anyone who prefers their fiction comfortable and happy. I've only read it once, and I don't think I'll read it again. It was worth it though.

Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K Le Guin

Although often filed away with juvenile fiction, these works from one of the genre's most decorated authors should not be overlooked. The world of Earthsea is well-realised, and the subject matter scales from the local problems of a few people to events which have far-reaching consequences for the whole world of Earthsea. The books trace the path of a young wizard named Sparrowhawk, as he first confronts a demon accidentally unleashed on the world, then seeks lost treasures in the labyrinths of a primitive culture, finally setting out on a quest to save the magic of Earthsea itself. There is also a fourth book, Tehanu, which was added later.

Mars and Return to Mars by Ben Bova

Yes, more books about human exploration of Mars. This subject has pretty much been done to death by the likes of Greg Bear, Kim Stanley Robinson and their compatriots. Bova presents a fairly realistic look at how exploration could proceed, though it is through the realisation of his characters that the stories become compelling. You really get the sense that these are real people, not stereotyped gung-ho astronauts. The books center around the scientific discoveries of a young geologist, James Waterman, and his unshakable desire to find out more. In a present in which it looks likely that the first human voyage to Mars could be a commercial enterprise, the second book shows what that might be like.

Timescape by Gregory Benford

Physics professors who can write good fiction are few and far between. Gregory Benford is such a person, whose work in both areas has earned him acclaim. In Timescape, he takes one of the stranger hypotheses to come out of quantum mechanics and weaves a compelling story around it. His characters are believable, and his familiarity with the workings of modern physical institutions lends an air of credibility to the proceedings. The story concerns a scientist in the 60s whose investigations into mysterious interference in an experiment lead him to the amazing discovery that people from the future are trying to communicate with the past, in order to avert a major disaster.

About item:

- A Wizard Of Earthsea
- Mars 1: Mars
- Mars 2: Return To Mars
- The Book Of Skulls
- Timescape

Related items:

About author:

- Le Guin, Ursula
- Bova, Ben
- Silverberg, Robert
- Benford, Gregory

Related authors:

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