Romance · Science Fiction

The Last Beginning by Lauren James

I was very eager to start on The Last Beginning, which is a companion novel to, rather than a sequel of The Next Together. While the first book was a reincarnation/romance SF story, this one focuses on time travel, which I am more into. The main character is Clove Sutcliffe, someone from a future where The Next Together‘s “present-time” Katherine and Matthew had long ago vanished without a trace.

A relation of theirs, Clove was determined to find Katherine and Matthew, especially when she discovered that they had been reincarnated at key moments in history. As her scientist parents’ experiments in building a working time machine was pending for approval for human trials, Clove decided to sneak away to become the first time traveler, and find out what really happened to Katherine and Matthew. Continue reading “The Last Beginning by Lauren James”

Romance · Science Fiction

The Next Together by Lauren James

“I don’t think there are any true heroes. Just people who ignore their survival instincts long enough to do something incredibly foolhardy.” – The Next Together, Lauren James

This is a book that my friend Rainbow, who happens to be one of the sales reps I work with, asked me to read. I read the synopsis and didn’t feel like reading more – I did have a phase in which I enjoyed stories about reincarnation, but I just wasn’t sold on the whole “reincarnating lovers who are meant to be together in every lifetime” thing. The words on the cover put me off – “how many times can you lose the one you love?” and “a powerful and epic debut about the timelessness of first love.” I wrote this off as a romance and didn’t think much about it until I finally picked it up to read. Oh, how wrong I was.

It was powerful, all right. And epic. And very romantic. But it’s not really about that, or just that.  Continue reading “The Next Together by Lauren James”

DWJ ReRead · Fantasy

Getting lost in the Great Forest (DWJ’s Hexwood)

“Controller Borasus sighed with relief. Libraries were not places of danger. It had to be a hoax.” ― Diana Wynne Jones, Hexwood

It’s funny how long I’ve waited to reread Hexwood, when it’s the book that made me think about doing this reread in the first place. I first read this book when it was reprinted back in 2000, and was thoroughly confused by it. A couple of years later, I distinctly remember enjoying it but I barely remember the plot. I remembered a forest and a roleplaying game gone wrong, and characters being pulled in to act out scenarios, but nothing more. I also remember that it was more difficult to get through compared to the other DWJs I had been reading at the time. And… that was about it. Continue reading “Getting lost in the Great Forest (DWJ’s Hexwood)”

Fantasy · Romance · Science Fiction

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

A Million Worlds With You is the third of the Firebird series in which the characters can jump between multiverses. The protagonist is Marguerite, whose parents are famous scientists and the inventors of this dimension-hopping tech. When her father is murdered, Marguerite has to go after the killer as he jumps from dimension to dimension. She’s determined to get her revenge, but with each jump, Marguerite learns of the life of another alternate Marguerite, and it makes her wonder if there’s such a thing as fate.

Honestly, I went into this series not knowing what to expect (besides the typical YA thing) and was happy to find it reminiscent of one of my favourite books as a kid, Continue reading “A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray”

Science Fiction

Thoughts on Ninefox Gambit & Too Like the Lightning

Year 1438
Month of Jumada
al-jum’a (Jumaat) the 13th

Dear reader,

The Sci-Fi Experience (hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings) is a challenge that isn’t really a challenge, in which readers “a) continue their love affair with science fiction, b) Return to science fiction after an absence, or c) Experience for the first time just how exhilarating science fiction can be.” You can read/watch/play anything SFnal for it, between December 1st and January 31st. While I usually participate when it comes to reading and watching, these days I realise that the reviewing part of challenges get harder to do. Because I’ve been busier lately, yes. But also because I find these books so mindblowingly amazing and I don’t really know what to say other than “I find this book mindblowingly amazing.”

So I’m not going to write a review. (And I’m not even posting this within the challenge dates!) Continue reading “Thoughts on Ninefox Gambit & Too Like the Lightning”

Comics · Fantasy

Mooncop by Tom Gauld

mooncopI really enjoyed Tom Gauld’s cartoons in You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, and was interested in Goliath when it came out, but I think Mooncop is my first time reading one of his longer comics. Mooncop is so wonderfully spare, which brings a sense of melancholic beauty. The titular Mooncop – a cop working on the moon – has been living on the moon for some time, but unlike our dreams of life in space, his lunar experience is rather stark.

More and more jobs on the moon are being replaced by robots, and one by one the other inhabitants begin to leave. The story begins with his small adventures, if you could call them that – searching for a lost dog, returning a rogue robot. The main constant in his life is the automated donut stall where he gets his coffee and donuts. As he watches more people leave, he wonders if he should get a transfer back to earth…

The lonely, empty moon and its inhabitants were drawn in muted tones, and I finished the book feeling a little bit sad.

“Living on the moon . . . Whatever were we thinking? . . . It seems so silly now.”

A character made this comment to the mooncop, and I guess just as they had forgotten the human aspect of science – even on the moon, people needed to be able to connect to other people – we on earth are slowly replacing these human connections with machines, too. Technology makes everything easier, and machines are more efficient at many things, but this book reminds me that there’s a reason I’m still hanging on to the analog for certain things (zines, piles of notebooks, and snail mail are still the way to go!) Would I still volunteer to live on the moon, though? Most probably. If I can bring all my books. And my cat.

DWJ ReRead · Science Fiction · Short Story

“Mela Worms” by Diana Wynne Jones

arrowsoferos1I think this is the first DWJ adult fiction that I’ve read – not counting Deep Secrets, since I read the expurgated version. “Mela Worms” is a funny (both in the “strange” and “haha” sense) story that is somehow still VERY DWJ-esque despite the sex. And there’s a lot of sex, since this story first appears in Arrows of Eros, an anthology specifically created to address sex in science fiction. I don’t think it was ever reprinted elsewhere.

Fingi is an officer on planet-leave as the ship she works on, Bon Quin, docks on the planet Reiss. Fingi hates Reiss because it’s human-made and she openly admits to being prejudiced against humans. I’m not sure about the true source of her prejudice, but I do understand why she would hate Reiss.

“They say the humans who built Reiss were pirates. I believe it. Their harbour dues made Yanni turn pale and they had already slapped on extra charges in all directions. Before I went upstairs to the interior, I had to pay a fee for the air I was going to breathe. There was a grille across the exit, and there I found I had to buy a permit to drink water and another, costing twice as much, to drink alcohol. Naturally I asked for an information cube then, thinking there must be some sights they didn’t charge you to see. Not a bit of it. The cube, costing as much as the other permits put together, informed me that I hadn’t yet paid my entry fee, and when I had, it kept flashing up: Penalty for littering 1,000 CR. Additional penalty for littering gutters up to ten years hard labour. After which it listed amusements in order of price.

Reminds me of a certain tiny island. Ha. Anyway, with not much money left, Fingi goes to the zoo, which only costs 1.5CR and is basically the cheapest entertainment available to her. There, she wonders about why humans were so proud of their ancenstry as she looks at the caged apes, and is approached by four men of varying species. Assuming that they’re looking for free sex she rejects them, but they go after her, causing her to run in order to avoid a fight (which would get her fined). She ends up not just causing array, but also littering, by throwing one of the men into a gutter, and quickly heads back to her ship… to find out that her human captain Yanni has accepted over a hundred paying passengers (including the four men that had approached her!), and a cargo of mela worms that needed to be kept at a particular temperature at all times.

Fingi doesn’t know the exact temperature, since she’s only told that the room is too hot or too cold, nor does she know what mela worms were, until they escape from storage and wreak havoc on the libidos of everyone on board. (Yup, the worms create a scent that seem to make everyone want sex all the time, although it also seems to affect some species more than others.) So while the passengers and crew were engaged in orgies, Fingi is now desperate to collect and store the worms safely before the captain gives up on piloting altogether.

In the end, she gets help from the four men she had met at the zoo, which I think is very Diana Wynne Jonesian, both in the misunderstanding and needing to correct Fingi’s first impressions, and in the subversive take of the “chosen one” subplot. Perhaps it isn’t as great as her YA and children’s fiction, but it’s still funny and a good read, and so far my favourite in the Arrows of Eros anthology (I’ve only read 1/3 of the stories, though.)

Note: Following my original re-read list, “Mela Worms” would’ve been #35, but I just realised that I had listed “The Green Stone” as a 1996 story, when it was first published in 1988, meaning that I’ve accidentally skipped it. I’ve renumbered my original list, and will be doing “The Green Stone” next before moving on to “The Master”.

DWJ RE-READ no.36 | “Mela Worms” (1989)
next story: “The Master”
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