In 2029 CE, the Earth is run by the Unity organisation after a devastating world war. Unity runs the planet, controlling humans from childhood education onwards, gaining authority by using a series of AI called Vulcan. But it faces rebellion from the Healer movement, led by the charismatic preacher Frank Fields.
Unity Director William Barris discovers that the Vulcan 3 computer has become sentient. It is considering drastic action to combat what it sees as a threat to itself. And that there is corruption in Unity, with his superior having secret meetings with Vulcan 2… Continue reading “Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K Dick”→
Altered States by Anita Brookner is a excellent novel of the ‘repressed, English, and unreliable’ genre perfected by authors like Kazuo Ishiguro. It follows solicitor Alan Sherwood, his failed marriage, his blended family and the object of his obsession.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was a 1968 novel by Philip K Dick. The novel’s protagonist is Rick Deckard, a man who hunts sentient androids for profit on a ruined, irradiated earth where the majority of the population have emigrated to Mars. Animals are mostly extinct, and extremely valuable; Rick can only afford an electric sheep, not the real thing. The book explores the nature of the soul, the value of animals, and what constitutes a human being.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (Edith Mary Pargeter OBE BEM). The Rose Rent is a classic. It is a medieval mystery novel set in the summer of 1142, as the battle between King Stephen and Empress Maud rages on. This is the thirteenth novel in The Cadfael Chronicles, first published in 1986. It charts a wealthy young widow who donates a house to the Abbey for a symbolic rent of a single white rose a year.
An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautiful, hazy portrait of life in post war Japan. It explores generational tension, changing social mores, guilt and atonement. It is also another excellent example of the unreliable narrator, a trope of Ishiguro’s work.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a tale of beauty, race and social ostracism. It takes place in Lorain, Ohio and centres on the destruction of a vulnerable little girl who believes herself to be ugly.
Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man lives with his sister’s family in a sleepy suburban 1950s town. He makes a living by winning a newspaper contest over and over again. He dallies with his neighbour and plots where the Little Green Man will be Next, but starts to realise all is not well. This is how Time out of Joint, by Philip K Dick, begins.
An interweaving tale of two entrapped women; a suicidal noblewoman with no purpose and an imprisoned spiritualist claiming innocence. Reality, voice and oppression – not to mention manipulation – are the key themes in this stunning lesbian Victorian ghost story. A rich, beautiful, haunting novel by an excellent author, set in the late 19th century.
I just finished reading A Pale View of Hills, by Kazuo Ishiguro. As usual with his work, the book has stayed with me for over a day now. Etsuko is a Japanese woman, living in rural England in the 1970s. Her younger daughter Niki visits, and their conversation triggers a series of dreams and memories. She recalls a strange friendship she had with another woman called Sachiko in post-war Japan. Based in the still rebuilding city of Nagasaki, sweltering and devastated by the atomic bomb.