Halting State (Charles Stross)

First things first, I love the cover of this book. It’s got pixelated drawings of people like you’d find in games on Atari ST and Amiga’s in the early 90’s. Brings back fun memories.

Anyway, onto the story, it all begins with a robbery from within an online game. We follow a policewoman as she works with a game programmer to understand what’s happened and why it really means anything. It means a lot when people start getting killed over it. The story twists and turns and reveals an innovative vision of the future. Scotland is an independent country, though it shares some of it’s police computer system with England still. Online gamers play games in the real world unwittingly doing tasks for the government and children still go to school. That last bit is to let you know that as outlandish and creative as some Charles Stross books have been, this one is set in a believable near future. A great read, Rootie Rating 5 out of 5

Out of the Silent Planet (C S Lewis)

Growing up, I read all of the Narnia books. I’d persuaded my parents to buy me the full set of 7 as a 12 year old and read from the first to the last. I loved those books. I already knew of the “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” but until I got the set I didn’t know that was the 2nd in the series. I remember the set taking up a huge space on my bedroom bookshelf. I also remember thinking of the author C S Lewis as someone who lived in the 1800’s. How wrong could I be. In the local second hand bookshop I found 3 books, all by C S Lewis, all in the Sci Fi section. I had to pick them up. Reading the cover of one, I found that CS Lewis only died in 1963 and wrote many other stories.

Onto this story, Out of the Silent Planet is about a man who is taken to a different planet in our solar system. There he meets intelligent beings and discovers lots of things. OK, that’s probably the worst review I’ve written in a long time (not that I’m assuming any have been any good!). The trouble is, this is a really good book that is really worth reading, and if I give away any little part it has a good chance of spoiling the story. I can tell you one thing though, I really like the way the whole aspect of launching a spaceship from Earth was neatly sidestepped. All the physics, all the pages of description there could have been, all made redundant by having our central character unconscious for the time of launch. Rootie Rating 5 out of 5.

The Torch Bearers (Alexander Fullerton)

If you read some of my earlier reviews you’ll find I really didn’t like The Floating Madhouse (Alexander Fullerton) having given it just 1 out of 5. However, I’ll often give an authors other books a try when I come across them as I don’t expect to enjoy 100% of any authors work. This is a book that made me glad I did.

The Torch Bearers follows a Navy Captain as he escorts a small flotilla of ships from the west coast of Africa back to Europe. War is tough, he doesn’t have enough escorts and to make matters worse he is the only one on board that knows the true mission. They are a diversion for ‘Operation Torch’. The object is that the dozens of German submarines will discover this convoy and concentrate their attack there while the ships of soldiers and supplies of Operation Torch slip past to take their fight into North Africa. How well do they do? You’ll need to read the book. Rootie Rating 4 out of 5.