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China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

Cool book. Strange title. It's an alternative future where USA went through a 'Communist revolution'. China is looked up to for their well run society. The main character is 'bent' (homosexual). Some of the stories take place on the communes on Earth, and others in New York and in China. There are a few characters that are sort of interlinked in these stories. They were very interesting vignettes of life in a world dominated by 'Communism' where USA is not the global hegemon.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #24 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #China #Mars #SciFi #MaureenFMcHugh #SpeculativeFiction

Recursion by Blake Crouch

What if you could go back in 'time' and fix something in your life – would you do it? To save your child? To become wealthy?

This book is about a scientist who invents such a machine to go back in 'time' and how this utterly fucks up our world. Why do I keep typing 'time' in quotes? This machine actually transplants the consciousness of the person into an earlier memory. Of course this sort of 'time' travel is not without its side effects.


Old Man's War by John Scalzi

(Old Man's War #1)

Whenever I read Scalzi's books, I feel like I'm reading a movie script; the books are easy to read, the dialogue feels like movie lines, and the premise of the stories is interesting but never fleshed out all that much.


Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

(Mighty Jack #1)

A playful re-telling of the Jack and the Beanstalk story. I enjoyed this new series that Hatke has started. It has a trio of different characters, fun vegetation/aliens. I had a good feeling reading this, just like when I read Zita the Spacegirl #1.

I am curious to see where he'll take this story in the future. I noticed that Mighty Jack #2 and 3 team up with some characters he's made in the past including the Goblin King and even my beloved Zita the Spacegirl.

PS if you look carefully you might spot some characters from Hatke's other books!

Rating: ★★★★ Book #10 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #BenHatke #GraphicNovel #SciFi

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

(Zita the Spacegirl #3)

The conclusion to the Zita series follows the conventions of most sequels, in that each subsequent sequel is a little bit worse than the one before it. It still has the fun graphics, playful aliens, and characters you love but the story in this one isn't as strong as Zita the Spacegirl #1, or even #2.

I understand an artist needs to publish to make money, but I hope Hatke can come up with some new exciting characters and keep things fresh. As I've said before, I hope he tries doing some more children's books because my daughter and I enjoyed Nobody Likes a Goblin and Julia's House for Lost Creatures immensely.

Rating: ★★★ Book #9 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #BenHatke #GraphicNovel #SciFi

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

“Can anyone alter fate? All of us combined... or one great figure... or someone strategically placed, who happens to be in the right spot. Chance. Accident. And our lives, our world, hanging on it.”

I'm amazed again at another great story by Dick that I hadn't read before. I admit I have seen some of the first season of the Amazon adaptation of this novel but the novel is far better than the TV show.

This story takes place in an alternate history where Roosevelt is assassinated and the Axis wins World War 2. Japan and Germany win the war and slice America up between themselves.

The plot is an interesting one. There is intrigue between Japan and the Nazis with the Americans stuck in the middle.

In typical Dick style, he moves between characters easily and uses their situations to shine light on the larger world of the novel. Some of the characters we follow are Mr. Baynes, a Swedish businessman in plastics, Mr. Tagomi, Japan's Trade Minister in San Francisco, Frank Frink, a metal worker, Juliana, Frank's (ex)wife, and the art dealer, Mr. Childan.

  • American art and culture before the loss in the war is very popular – Civil war guns etc.
  • Slavery is legal again.
  • Nazis have rocket travel, and have started traveling to Mars
  • The book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a banned book in Nazi areas – it is an alternate fiction book where the Axis loses WW2. Many characters in this book are reading this novel. In the TV series, they have a banned film instead of this book. Some of the characters are amazed that there could be a world where the Axis loses WW2, it's unfathomable to them.
  • The I Ching is very popular. People use it to help them make decisions.

When a book is so good, I am always vague about the plot in my reviews. I certainly don't want to spoil this amazing book for you.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #8 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#SciFi #SpeculativeFiction #WW2 #Books #BookReview #AlternativeHistory

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

This one is a strange one. I'm still trying to get my head around it. It's about a man who one day is famous and recognized by millions, to waking up the next morning and not existing, at least on paper and in all the data banks on Earth, and Mars. It makes him question what is real and not real. He also has to quickly get fake ident cards made so he doesn't get deported to a forced labour camp. He tries to confirm his existence and figure out what happened to him. Why doesn't anybody remember him? There are also police, pols, on his tail trying to figure out how this person could just erase themselves from all the data banks.


Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

(Spin Saga #1)

Incredible world spun up by Mr. Wilson in this sci-fi tale about a mysterious event and what that meant for humanity as a species. It's a huge story but keeps you engaged because of his focus on the characters. I'm glad I chose this as my first book of 2020!


Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

(Zita the Spacegirl #2)

This is a continuation of the wonderful “Zita the Spacegirl” series by Ben Hatke. For those who haven't read “Zita the Spacegirl” (and you should!), at the end of the story, Zita is stranded in space with her 'friend' (frenemy?) Piper after she saves the planet Scriptorium. In “Legends of Zita the Spacegirl”, she tries to avoid some of the unwanted attention brought on by her new 'superhero' fame, but in the process someone impersonates her and travels to go save another planet. The book is about her trying to get back to Piper and the gang, and also trying to save that other planet so she can get the reward, a time crystal, and find her way home.


The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

What if the government decided that what you could remember? What if they enforced people forgetting certain things? Memory is at the center of this dystopian story set on an island. At seemingly random intervals, people wake up and feel a loss of something. They feel something at the edge of their memory is gone. For example, one day they wake up, wander outside, and then struggle to remember what those winged creatures flying in the sky are called. If they have any books, or other references to that 'disappeared' thing, they have to quickly eradicate it before the Memory Police finds it. Not all citizens on the island are affected by the disappearances though; some people can go on remembering the things others have forgotten, but nobody knows why. The Memory Police is focused on trying to root out those people.