I have been doing a lot of travelling of late — Germany, Sweden, Finland, Chicago — and that means I have been doing a lot of reading as well. When I travel, I read. Always have, always will. There’s no better way to fill the endless hours on the plane, and the strange hours in the middle of the night when the world is sleeping but you’re awake, thanks to jetlag.<br/><br/>A few words about some of the things I’ve read are in order, therefore.<br/><br/>I read the new Eric Larson bestseller, DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF LUSITANIA. Larson is a journalist who writes non-fiction books that read like novels, real page-turners. This one is no exception. I had known a lot about the <i>Titanic</i> but little about the <i>Lusitania</i>. This filled in those gaps. Larson’s masterpiece remains THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, but this one is pretty damned good too. Thoroughly engrossing.<br/><br/>I read an ARC of the long-awaited new novel from Ernie Cline of READY PLAYER ONE fame. ARMADA, like READY PLAYER ONE, is a paean to the videogames of a bygone era, and like READY PLAYER ONE it is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games. (Those who did not may find it incomprehensible, admittedly). Those of you who liked the old movie THE LAST STARFIGHTER will <i>really</i> like this one. Hugely entertaining… though it does make me wonder if we’ll ever see Ernie write something that isn’t about videogames. He’s a talented guy, and I am sure that anything he writes would be terrific.<br/><br/>I read the mega-bestseller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins, a mystery/ thriller/ novel of character about three women who live near the train tracks of a London commuter lines, and how their lives and loves get entwined when one of them disappears under mysterious circumstances. Fans of Gillian Flynn’s books will probably like this one too. I know I did… though I don’t think Hawkins is quite as deft a writer as Flynn. The first person voices of the three narrators sounded too much alike, I thought, but that’s a minor quibble. The main narrator, an alcoholic who is slowly falling apart, is especially well drawn. It’s a strong story, with a great sense of time and place, and one that had me from start to finish.<br/><br/>I read ANGLES OF ATTACK, by Marko Kloos, military SF, third book in his series, and the immediate sequel to LINES OF DEPARTURE, the novel that was (briefly) a Hugo finalist thanks to the Puppies before its author withdrew it as an act of conscience. I’d read LINES OF DEPARTURE as a result of that, my first exposure to Kloos. I liked that one well enough, but didn’t love it. ANGLES OF ATTACK is, I think, better. I’m still the wrong audience for this — my list of “great military SF novels” includes STARSHIP TROOPERS, BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, THE FOREVER WAR, and an oldie called WE ALL DIED AT BREAKAWAY STATION, but not much else — but these are very entertaining books. Since I know there are a lot of fans of military SF out there, I’d say that ANGLES OF ATTACK might actually have an outside chance at earning a genuine Hugo nod solely on its merits… assuming the Puppies don’t slate it again. In any case, Kloos is a writer to watch. (I do hope this series isn’t going on for twenty more books, however. I want to know more about his gigantic and enigmatic aliens, and I want a resolution). <br/><br/>Oh, and I also read a lot more of this year’s Hugo nominees. The stories and books that were NOT withdrawn. Hoo boy. More on that later. Suffice it to say that I was very glad that I had the books listed above to hand, to cleanse my palate after sampling some of the Hugo stuff.
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