Review: Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson

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Posted on : 4/10/2017 09:48:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Darwinia Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3/5 stars. I'd call it 3.5 stars. Just a little short of what I'd call a 4-star book.

Darwinia has one foot firmly planted in the early 20th-century western culture and the other foot planted.....somewhere else.

For the first half of the book, we follow various characters as they navigate a world where the better part of Europe and the UK have been replaced by an alternative biome. Geographically the "new" old world is close to the same. Rivers make bends at different places. Bogs and marshes appear in different places. Mountain ranges rise up in a familiar but not quite identical fashion.

There appear to be ancient remains of creatures unlike anything previously seen by humanity.

The world is in shock. British citizens around the world work to return to what was formerly Britain to rebuild what was lost. Citizens from various European nations do the same thing, but with less enthusiasm and effect.

With the loss of Europe, including Russia, America is left as the sole power in the world. The American government has decided that this "new" old world should be open to all for settlement rather than remaining the province for European expatriates to re-settle. A low-level conflict ensues.

Instead of trench warfare on a massive scale, we instead see a low-intensity conflict conducted that mainly involves small-scale raids. History has changed, but it still echoes.

And that is where the foot planted firmly somewhere else comes into play. Just when you think this is another alternate history tale, you discover that it is something else. Something more.

Something that involves conflict on a much grander scale.

I found the concept to be interesting. The characters were engaging and the events kept me coming back. The hook...that conflict on a grander scale...just lost me a bit. After the first half of the book intimating questions about religion and evolution, the shift was not only jarring, it undermined the earlier philosophical debate.

Curiously, this was a finalist for the Hugo award for best novel in 1999. This wouldn't be something that I would select for that level of recognition.

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Review: Servant: The Awakening by L.L. Foster

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Posted on : 4/10/2017 09:25:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Servant: The Awakening Servant: The Awakening by L.L. Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

L.L. Foster's Servant: The Awakening is the best book that I did not finish. I'm giving it 3 stars in this review.

The premise is straightforward.

God...or "god"...or "something" periodically compels our heroine, Gaby, to destroy demons. A feeling comes over her that is both painful and undeniable at the same time. The pain remains until the demon is dead. Or sent back to hell. The early part of the book is unclear on the religious connections involved.

At the start of the book, the characters bore more than a modest whiff of cardboard. Gaby is an angry loner. That's all you get; anger and purposeful separation from the rest of humanity. She doesn't understand why she has to kill these demons and she doesn't like the compulsion to kill them either.

Her landlord has poor self-esteem. Mort is just wishy-washy in every aspect of his life and relationship with others.

Then there is the handsome and dashing police Detective Luther. The good detective inspires feelings in Gaby. Feelings that she doesn't want to have. He is a bit of a mystery as he keeps showing up at all the wrong/right times. And Gaby experiences an unexplainable attraction to him that also messes up her demon-killing skills.

All very cardboardery. But then midway through the book, the interaction of the characters, as well as the developing threat of a continuing stream of new demons, starts to make things interesting. I bought this book at a Dollar Store and it could have been easily worth the original cover price in terms of entertainment.

The problem....cancer. The hook in the book is that all of the demons end up possessing cancer patients. The villain, in this case, is using the patients as potential hosts for the demons. Instead of doing his job and curing the patients, he is actively making it worse.

And I couldn't finish the book. I've lost too many people to cancer. Seeing their pain as a pathway to demon possession isn't fun for me. I think the book has some potential as the characters start to unfold. I would be open to reading something else from this author in the future. Just not any more of this.



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