Well’s second publication after The Time Machine was this little known gem.
Dealing with the story of an Angel who has inexplicably travelled between his dimension, a place assumed to be heaven but never directly described as being so, and this, he lands in a small English village called Siddermorton.
The Angel is mistakenly identified as a rare bird and the Vicar of Siddermorton, a keen ornithologist, manages to shoot it down in the interests of taxonomy. The vicar soon realises his error and takes the Angel home whilst he heals, and so ‘Mr Angel’, as the astral entity becomes known, starts learning about humanity and English society.
This 1864 book was Verne’s fourth novel, but was the second one published in book form. This leapfrogged The English at the North Pole (or The Adventures of Captain Hatteras), then being serialised in the magasin d’education et de recreation, as well as Paris au XXe Siecle (Paris in the 20th Century), which was fated to be lost and finally saw the light of day in 1994. From the beginning, it is clear that between the writing of Five Weeks in a Balloon and Journey to the Centre of the Earth Verne had advanced his craft considerably. Whereas his first novel contained, and indeed started with, lengthy, dry descriptions and lists of scientific principles and names, Journey is much more character led, making it an easier and more enjoyable read. Read full review
Expanded from a novella fist published in 1956 in the periodical ‘Future Science Fiction‘, Vulcan’s Hammer is Philip K. Dicks first novel length publication. Whilst lacking some of the linguistic subtlety of some of his contemporaries Dick more than makes up for it by being a brilliant reflector of his times. Early in the novel Dick gives us a nicely concealed infodump for the basis of his fictional world in the guise of a teacher explaining to a class of children the history of the world. Following an atomic war in the latter part of the twentieth century, control of world governance was handed over to a supercomputer by the name of ‘Vulcan 3’. This computer makes the executive decisions for a human organisation called ‘Unity’, essentially a world government with Vulcan 3 as its head.
Clarke’s second novel (although there does seem to be a touch of confusion around this matter) is something of a fairly middle of the road affair. It first appeared in Startling Stories in 1948, and this goes some way towards explaining the discrepancy in style between this and Prelude to Space. Finally published in novel form in 1953, it was later expanded upon into the 1956 The City and the Stars, more on which later. The story is set on Earth, millions of years into the future, and follows the progress of a boy/man named Alvin who lives in Diaspar, a startlingly ill-named city which is the last on Earth, the rest of the planet having been swallowed by desert after Humanity was on the losing side in an intergalactic war.
The 2007 fantasy ‘The Name of the Wind’ is Rothfuss’ debut novel, but it would be very difficult to tell from this book if not given the information beforehand. The book picked up one of the short-lived Quill awards in 2007, as well as a young adult Alex award in 2008. The book is not billed as YA, but I can see the reasoning. The book is a typical slab of fantasy running to 662 pages, but the writing is clear as a bell all the way through with none of the extraneous scenery chewing that many fantasy authors use to pad out their cash cows. That said, there is some fat that could happily be trimmed, with the setbacks that the principle suffers frequently end up with him being returned to his starting point.
This has been live on this site for some time, but as the project is nearing its conclusion, I thought it was about time to draw a little attention to it. On this page here, (also linked in the ‘short story reviews’ section in the sidebar over there –> ), reside my reviews of all 62 of the short stories that Wells published in his own lifetime. Every story gets a paragraph with a brief overview of plot, most interesting points or themes, and ocassionally an opinion, arranged by year of publication and all with a linked contents section to aid ease of browsing.
The Time Machine was Wells’ first published novel and is widely regarded as the first example of fantastical science fiction. For this reason it is damn nearly impossible to write anything new or useful about it, and unwilling as I am to provide a simple plot overview, I’ll just take a quick look at its underlying themes and let its reputation speak for itself.
The book opens with a brief description of the nature of time as a dimension, which is all well and good. The Time Traveller shows off a miniature version of the time machine which, when activated, dissapears. The protagonist then embarks upon his journey, meeting the coddled and cattled Eloi, and the menacing but squishy Morlocks. My main issue with this book is the fact that the time traveller is referred to as ‘the time traveller’. Read full review