TS’s Monthly Wrap-Up : Nov 2022

TS’s Monthly Wrap-Up : Nov 2022

Hello all, and welcome to my Science Fiction November monthly wrap-up.  While not all of my reads are strictly within the science fiction genre, I would argue that a couple of them are genre-blending enough to qualify as fantasy scifi and scifi horror.   I think the Book of the Month will come as a surprise… to absolutely no one.

NB. Books are rated within its genre.  For avoidance of doubt, rereads are not considered for Book of the Month.

Book of the Month

The Lost Metal (Mistborn, #7) by Brandon Sanderson

That was rusting incredible! It’s been 14 years since Hero of Ages that Sanderson had given us a series conclusion and he has once again stuck the landing for another Mistborn conclusion. And I think he did even better this time.

The Lost Metal was pretty much the perfect finale. The last few books provided the much needed foundation of the worldbuilding especially around the progression of the magic system, and developing characters that we know and loved so much, and the basis of the overarching story for Mistborn Era 2. Armed with this strong foundation, this finale was a high-stakes, fast-paced story that pointed our main characters towards the primary threat almost right from the get-go. I was a bit surprised and delighted that we also got some answers pretty early in the book, and typical of Sanderson, continued to get more which were craftily scattered throughout the narrative keeping me absolutely riveted. However, despite the pace and the revelations, and the amount of incredible action scenes, we still got plenty of character moments which continue to develop our characters even more. The ending was a beautifully bittersweet one, and one which will keep me thinking about it for days and weeks to come.

Then we have the Cosmere stuff. Holy moly, when Sanderson said this will be the most Cosmere-aware book to date, he wasn’t kidding and I was loving it to bits. As he said in his release party, the gloves are finally off. There’s no holding him back now and it’s only going to get even more exciting and fun from now on. Can someone without knowledge of the Cosmere still enjoy this book? I believe so as the characters are amazing in their own right, and the action scenes are classic Sanderson – freaking cool and cinematic. But you’ll miss out on the extra layer of excitement and the fun of discovery and connecting the bigger picture.

The Lost Metal is not a big book by Sanderson’s standards. That he managed to pack so much in this and yet keep it so well-balanced clearly shows the vast improvement in his writing skills since the first Mistborn trilogy and Hero of Ages. The best example of this I think was in the Prologue. A perfectly executed scene and PoV chapter that will hit you right in the gut with just one sentence right at the very end, it made me understand that one single character (okay, it’s Wayne) even better without having to spend an inordinate amount of time in his head. It also magnifies the moments you spend in Wayne’s head in his following PoV chapters throughout the book. As for the rest of the characters, rest assured that they were in no way sidelined and everyone was given their moment to shine and grow into their role in the overall story. The more I think about it, the more I think that this could be Sanderson’s finest character work to date.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Science Fiction

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Incredibly fascinating and thought-provoking.  The Doors of Eden was an excellent stand-alone scifi novel that just shows how well Tchaikovsky understands evolution. While the story was totally different from Children of Time similar themes of evolution and cooperation are present. This one takes the concept of being better together through diversity and inclusion to a whole new and unfathomable level.  The only thing that made this less than 5 stars was that I wasn’t that invested in the characters until way past the midway point of the book.  The application of the themes of evolution, however, was the highlight of the book by far.  It’s so imaginative in stretching the boundaries of what is plausible, it made for a most fascinating and engaging read.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Network Effect (Murderbot, #5) by Martha Wells

My favourite Murderbot entry was Artificial Condition, and now Network Effect has superceded it for the same reason that made me loved the former in the beginning.  I never knew I needed machine intelligence bromance, but I’m all for it now. It’s so endearing and funny at the same time. This first full-length novel really did justice for The Murderbot Diaries. It’s full of great action, with some creepy scifi horror and loads of heart and feelgood. Network Effect not only reminded me why I enjoyed the novellas so much, but made me love it even more.  The character development of Murderbot in the past four novellas made a difference to how quickly I started to fall in love again with this series after a fairly long hiatus since I last read Exit Strategy.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) by Becky Chambers

As expected and hoped, this was another one of Becky Chamber’s cosy science fiction narratives that are in equal measures philosophical and heart-warming.   The manner in which she explores the human condition through science fiction in an alien setting is inherently charming and still highly relatable even when it involves beings and creatures which are far from what we know as human.  A robot and a monk is definitely an unexpected pairing, but which somehow worked strangely well.  Similar to almost of all Chambers’ works, there is no plot but just a highly character-driven narrative about our connection to nature and whether finding purpose is truly that important.

My ratings: 4 of 5 stars

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Well, that was really entertaining and fun. I’ve always enjoyed Scalzi’s writing and this one did not disappoint.  Humour in books I find could be touch and go, and may not land well with some readers.  So far I find that I’m highly receptive to the brand of humour that is commonly found in scifi and fantasy classics (Hitchhiker’s Guide and Discworld for example).  Scalzi was another writer whose humour lands well with me.  My first foray into his works was Old Man’s War which had me in stitches for a good half of the book.  The Kaiju Preservation Society moves at a really good pace, and for a relatively short book it still managed to make me care for the key characters.  All in all, just a really enjoyable read.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars. 

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) by Dan Simmons

I’ve finally read this highly-acclaimed science fiction classic by Dan Simmons, and I’ve to say that I’m both impressed and slightly disappointed.  The worldbuilding was highly imaginative and well-conceived, as was the mysterious creature, the Shrike, and the Time Tombs on the world of Hyperion.  While the stories of the pilgrims vary in terms of its emotional impact, or shock factor, they all point to one thing – the Shrike is terrifying and all of the intergalactic political play are aimed towards this strange world for some reason yet unknown to me.  However, it will remain unknown to me for now as the book ended really abruptly and left feeling unsatisfied.  I dare say that I’ll continue with the series to know what happens, but the lack of the ending for now just gave me a knee-jerk reaction to take a break first.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Sandman: Act II

Fantastic performances all-round again, with the first big story, Season of Mists, being the best of the entire collection.  If this is what’s coming for Season 2 of The Sandman on Netflix, it’s going to be amazing and wild!

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars. 

Terminus (Threshold, #4) by Peter Clines

Ray Porter’s narration was once again on point, which made me enjoy this instalment just a bit more than I would have.  Even though this is considered the 4th book in the Threshold series, I would say that Terminus is the directly linked continuation from 14 , the first and best book of the series in my view.  Terminus was more action-packed and while some mysteries still abound, it does not have the same intriguing allure present in 14, one of the best genre-bending novels incorporating horror, science fiction, mystery that I’ve read.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars. 

What’s Next in December 

December has always been a month where I gravitate towards more feel-good reads, and since the pandemic started in 2020 marked the start of my annual festive reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.   This time I’ll be adding some mysteries, mainly the good old classics by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to all, and have a Very Merry Christmas and a Gloriously Happy New Year!

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