Jack Glass – Adam Roberts

It was a good book. Even better than a good book. Most books divided that are into different parts have two plots. One is the more immediate plot with regards to what is happening in that part of the story. The other one is more expansive. It is the plot of the entire story that connects all the different parts of the book and ties them together.

I would give this book 4 stars because there was something, I felt, that was wrong with it. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. However, having thought about it for a while, I think I have it figured out. It was a tad slow and the conclusions of each part were kinda soporific. Otherwise, it was great. It was sci-fi, set in the future sometime, somewhere when the Galaxy is ruled by a bunch of dictators.

Here’s what I loved about it:

The most powerful form of human life seems to be female, which I thought was so refreshing. And it kept this theme going throughout the book. It was really nice how women being the dominant gender was shown to be something that was taken for granted by the people in this book as opposed to how in our society masculinity is assumed to be the more powerful gender.

There are two whodunnits and one story told in a somewhat straightforward manner. Agatha Christie style. And we already know who the murderer is. Well, not exactly but still. What I didn’t like about it was that the three individual stories didn’t have a solid earth-shattering conclusion. By the time each separate story ended, I was like “Meh!”. For a book like this, the last star would have been earned if the conclusions had been a lot more powerful than they were. But the overall plot of the book was really, really good. There was no unnecessary B.S. in the book and even though the author chose to add something I am usually vehemently against, he did it in such a by-the-way fashion that I actually ended up wanting some more of it. Very well done.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Agatha Christie. And, honestly, who doesn’t love Agatha Christie? So I’d recommend it to anyone really. Anyone looking for something different to read.

I think this could be a beginning to a new genre. Agatha Christie/ science fiction mashup. I believe it is unique.

Oh, and did I mention that the cover is absolutely fantabulous!? I have recently grown to love stained glass and this cover just mesmerizes me. I want a copy of this book, just so I can look at it.

The Fold – Peter Clines

This could have been a 5 star book. Had the author stopped at about 60% of the book and just put the pen down. The last 40% of the book was entirely unnecessary drama that a sci-fi of this kind did not need. Ending the book earlier would have saved this book from being..just another wanna-be-famous book. Some authors need to stop trying to fit in plots and storylines in books that are not absolutely needed in the hopes that it will sell more. Stick to one thing and make it awesome!
It was a good book initially. Smartest man on the planet working in a high-school teaching English Lit (wish my Prof was like this protagonist; mine just seem like they’re bumbling idiots)

This is my pet-peeve and I know I rant about this all the time but it is the single most annoying thing in the world for me. Others might not agree but authors really need to learn NOT to stick a love storyline/aliens (ok it’s sci-fi so I’ll forgive the want to stick aliens in it…but books having characters that find their one true love in the middle of a crisis really is starting to piss me off) specially when there is already so much interesting stuff going on in the book already. This isn’t some 1980’s sci-fi. Step into the 21st century people. Not all of us need to find love in situations such as this. Do it later. After the story ends. After the book ends. Do it in your head and don’t let anyone see it. It doesn’t add depth to your character. It cheapens them. All the loose ends could have been tied into a nice loose end, rather than introducing a warring alien species into the mix too.

This really could have been a book deserving 5 stars. The last 40% ruined it. If you are the sort of person who can abandon books, read till you hit 60-70% and then leave it. Keep the memory of this being a great book alive in your mind rather than the mediocre one it becomes soon after crossing that threshold.

Machine of Death

It was an interesting premise. What would happen if you knew how you would die? And no matter what you did, you would still end up dying the way the machine predicted? Ironic this machine may be; wrong, however, it is never.

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine, Fables

I thought Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said this!? I digress.

This is how the short stories works: a machine takes your blood and tells you how you will die. Pretty straight-forward you’d think? It isn’t. The answers you usually get are ironic, confusing and vague at best. “You’ll die by: potato” could mean you could choke on it, have a million tons of potatoes fall on your head while walking down the street, or be stabbed to death by a man dressed as a potato. Most stories went about finding the most interesting solutions to these ambiguous death sentences (pun totally intended). Other stories focused on sociology and psychology. They focused on either the society as a whole or on the individual and the effect it had on them. Very interesting.

As all anthologies go, some stories were great, some were alright and some were just bad. “Vegetables” by Chris Cox was my favorite. It was totally whacky and twisty and just the sort of story I love. I won’t elaborate since all the stories are shorts and I’d feel like I’m giving away too much by talking about it but if you don’t have the time or the inclination to go read the entire book, take my advice and go read just this one story.

I don’t think I’d take the test if the Machine of Death existed. I like to think I’m a rebel. Although some would argue that taking the test is rebelling. I wonder though (for real) how many people WOULD take the test? Would it really become a sensation like most of the stories claim it’ll be? Or would people avoid it? What effect would it have on our lives besides the mental and emotional aspect? Would people start hiring and firing employees? Would it become a government mandate to have each and every child tested? Would this change the face of our planet? Reading the book though, I don’t think that a lot of people should get interesting deaths. It just isn’t likely that half the world will die such interesting deaths. Most people just die due to heart failure. But I guess there is no way of making organ failure more interesting and glorified and special is there?

Overall the book was great and strangely cohesive. I guess the editor picked the stories most in line with the concept. It would have been interesting to see some stories change it a bit here and there but oh well! It was a tad long for my liking and I found myself skipping pages in the last few stories but it was pretty interesting overall.