You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2015.
We are in the future (a few hundred years or so) and the world has been overtaken by some form of ecological disaster which has apparently left most of the land covered in water. Osiris is a city of great towers and buildings full of the rich while surrounded by refugees living in squalid conditions. There are, of course, tensions between the two, and Osiris concentrates on two characters from opposite sides of this divide: Adelaide, estranged daughter of one of the wealthiest and most important families, and Vikram, former prisoner, protestor and someone who wants to change the lot of the poor outside the city’s limits.
Why did I want to read it?
As you will know by now, I love sci-fi, I love post-apocalyptic stuff, but I bought this mostly because I was lucky enough to hear EJ Swift read from one of the later books in this trilogy at an event earlier this year and met her briefly; I liked her a lot.
What did I think of this?
I’m still in a bit of a reading slump and also went on holiday in the middle of reading this novel so I read it more slowly than I perhaps would have otherwise, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the world-building was very strong, and I got a real sense of the society that Adelaide in particular was part of, the politics and social conventions and the way in which the young rich fill their time with excess and frivolity to escape the rigidity of the world they are part of; Vikram’s world is messier and less clear but that makes sense to me as I would expect it to be chaotic and unstructured with shifting alliances based on a different type of power. The way the two characters are brought together and who their perspectives begin to shift as they experience each others worlds (more Vikram than Adelaide as we spend the majority of the book within Osiris itself) was fascinating, and I came to like both characters very much.
The plot is in some ways very straightforward; Vikram needs a supporter within Osiris to help him achieve his aims, and Adelaide needs someone to help her break the wall of silence around the disappearance (and assumed suicide) of her twin brother, and they are brought together in an alliance born out of necessity. Of course, it doesn’t work out as planned but along the way we discover with them both that there is more going on than meets the eye, and this presumably forms the basis of the rest of the trilogy.
I liked Adelaide a great deal. I’ve seen a couple of reviews elsewhere that suggest that she just responds to the men in her life rather than taking action in her own right, but I didn’t get that sense at all. In particular, her drive to find out what’s happened to her brother seems very much her own and if one of my brothers went missing in such circumstances I would like to think I would focus on finding out what happened to him too. And the rest of her behaviour seems consistent with the society she lives in as it’s described to us.
I didn’t warm to Vikram quite so much until later in the book, as I couldn’t really understand what he thought he was going to be able to achieve.
So, a well-written and absorbing first novel, and I’ve already got a hold of the two sequels. Definitely worth your time.
Subtitled The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile, this is an attempt by Dan Davies to explain (if that’s at all possible) how Savile became (as far as we know, and I shudder at the thought there might be someone worse) the most prolific sexual offender in UK history while maintaining a high-profile career as a TV celebrity over several decades.
Given the subject matter I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this, but it’s been nominated for a major non-fiction award and just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it should be avoided when, as here, it tries to provide answers to the questions those of us who grew up listening to Savile on the radio or watching him on TV have been asking about his crimes.
I was then not at all sure if I wanted to talk about it, but here we are.
The most interesting aspect of the book, and something which I didn’t expect, is that Davies actually started looking into Savile’s life a long time before he died. He spent a lot of time in Savile’s company trying to get underneath the famously prickly personality but didn’t get terribly far; this is a man who protected himself through a combination of misdirection, threats, wilful eccentricity and peculiar charm.
The book alternates between a straightforward chronological telling of the life and the exposure of his crimes, with special focus on the travails of the BBC, almost entirely self-inflicted as they flinched from taking forward an investigation into what were long-standing rumours about Savile’s predilections.
He was a big part of popular culture when I was growing up so reading the stuff about his career took me right back to my teenage years. We all thought he was a bit odd but it was always put down to cleverly manufactured eccentricity. And of course that’s how he got away with it all for so long – a famous man with friends at the highest levels of all walks of life who raised huge amounts of money for charity and used all of this to access vulnerable people who wouldn’t be taken seriously if they told anyone. Appalling.
Well written and in my opinion not at all salacious, but as I was reading it I kept wanting to wash my brain out with soap. I can’t in all conscience recommend it, it’s so grim, but it’s also totally compelling.
Tomorrow morning I fly to Vienna for 10 days (the first part of a 3 week break from work which started today – hurrah!) and because we’re flying and I’m a modern sort of person I am taking my iPad with its lovely Kindle app with me instead of lots of “real” books. I have loads of volumes on there (I’m actually too embarrassed to say how many, so don’t ask me, I won’t tell you) so I’ve set up a collection of potential reads just to be able to manage my choices, and I thought I’d share them here.
So, in no particular order (and with no links, sorry):
- The Troop by Nick Cutter
- The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher
- Horrostor by Grady Hendrix
- A Long Spoon by Jonathan L Howard
- The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
- The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liiu
- Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
- Shutter Man by Richard Montanari
- Into the Fire by Manda Scott
- The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
- The Relic Guild by Edward Cox
- The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
- My Bloody Valentine by Alastair Gunn
- The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
- An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman
There’s no way I’m going to get anywhere near all of these, especially as I ‘m already about a quarter of the way through Osiris by EJ Swift. And I’m not as brave as my husband who is on ebooks alone; I’m taking VE Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic as an emergency just in case my iPad explodes.