Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

December 14, 2010

Some recent reads

Filed under: review — Tags: , — Sam @ 10:31 pm

Surface Detail – Iain M Banks

A story of the harrowing of a virtual Hell, and associated shenanigans. To those who’ve read more of the Culture novels than I have, a particular line at the ending may fall less resoundingly flat. Also: gold does not float in mercury just because it has a lower atomic number. Gold sinks quite hard in mercury, because it has a much higher density. Also, gold dissolves in mercury. Otherwise, good.

Amity – Jeremy D Brooks

A sysadmin has his life destroyed by an internet site where anonymous people compete to outdo each other in sick and tasteless humour, and virtual vandalism. Not for anyone offended by, er, much of anything. Free to download here, though I don’t know for how long.

Winter Song – Colin Harvey

An entertaining planetary romance, though it would be improved by cutting the initial space-battle sequence with its (sparse) infodumps on future society and going straight to the bit where our protagonist wakes up on a cold planet, taken in by an abandoned colony with a Norse-like culture, trying to deal with the sentient computer download in his head. The central female character is good, very competent and not just a love interest, but the other women she’s contrasted with are all either sexually manipulative or shrewish & jealous. (eARC – Angry Robot)

Damage Time – Colin Harvey

A future cop story, and a book about a man trying to find himself after having his memories stolen. Strangely for this genre, the protagonist only loses his memory halfway through, which means that a lot of the usual impact of the plotline is lost. I’m not at all convinced it works. There’s a creditable attempt to counter some transphobia, notably through the mouth of a liberal imam (who explains about khuntsa), but that’s rather counteracted by the appalling ignorance about trans issues that the characters display, and which isn’t countered by the text. Both this and Winter Song also show poly families and bisexuality as the norm in their futures. (eARC – Angry Robot)

WTF FTW and Makers – Cory Doctorow

The more interested an author is in making political, economic, or social points, the more likely they are to resort to Idiot Ball plotting. Doctorow is a definite example of this, and it’s frustrating, but since those points are what drives Doctorow’s writing in the first place we’ll have to live with it. WTF is about gold farming in developing nations and union-forming; Makers is about interesting things you can do with 3D printers, techno-junk, and the vast untapped forces of geek nostalgia. Like all Doctorow’s work, you can read them for free here.


  1. I think that is FTW rather than WTF, valid a title for some Doctorow novels as that is…

    Comment by Martin — December 15, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  2. …you’re right, of course. On both counts. Curse my inadequate TLA-fu.

    Comment by Sam — December 15, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

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