Cheeseburger Gothic

Book review. SALVATION by Peter F. Hamilton

Posted January 27 into Books by John Birmingham

I didn't finish Hamilton's last door stopper, Night Without Stars. It was set within his 'Commonwealth' story world, which I hugely enjoyed, but this particular narrative side quest simply didn't appeal. I came to SALVATION then, with some misgivings. Thankfully, they were unfounded.
SALVATION isn't the pure space opera of the early Commonwealth Saga or the even earlier Night's Dawn trilogy, but it does offer a satisfying buffet of devious space aliens, big honking space guns, and futuristic world building. There's even a pretty decent terraforming/terrorism sub plot set in Australia.
Most of Hamilton's vividly imagined creations tend to revolve around one central technological conceit. In Night's Dawn its encoded consciousness (don't argue with me, it just is). In SALVATION it's portal technology. Stargates, if you like, but prosaic, almost banal stargates. Sure, they can let you walk between the stars, but they're also used for getting around locally on now defunct bus routes.
The portals are not the point of the story. They're the enabling architecture. They channel the stories of the main narrators towards a surprise ending that sets up a conventional—but for me quite exciting—sequel promising lots of devious space aliens getting splattered by big honking space guns.
Like Night Without Stars, SALVATION proceeds in two time periods, inviting the reader to speculate how one led to the other. In the earlier period, an ensemble cast of characters recalling some of the great Hollywood anthology films of the 1940s travel to a far-flung world in search of an alien artefact. One of them is an alien spy, and Hamilton's deft handling of the whodunnitry recalls some of the best Paula Myo cases from the Commonwealth.
The second seemingly self contained story arc is set hundreds of years later and could be thought of as a reimagined Ender's Game, as we follow a small cohort of children through ten years of education and training in preparation for battle with the above mentioned but unnamed devious alien threat. By the end of SALVATION Hamilton has threaded the two timelines together and pulled off a pretty decent surprise when revealing the identity of the spy.
I read this book while we travelled around Vietnam, usually getting through thirty or forty pages a night before crashing out, and finishing it on the plane as we flew home. It was compelling and ocasionally quite stunning as an imaginative tour de force. I enjoyed it so much that I feel like I should go back and give Night Without Stars another chance.

9 Responses to ‘Book review. SALVATION by Peter F. Hamilton’

thetick asserts...

Posted January 27
I really enjoyed Salvation.

Hamilton's been a bit hit and miss with his Commonwealth saga (which overall I enjoy). I really enjoyed Great North Road as well.

Genuinely looking forward to the rest of the books.

Have you read Brian Mcclellan's Powder Mage novels?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted January 27
I was listening to it on Audible. Oddly, I recognised that it was a great piece of work, but for some reason I just couldn't get into it.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted January 29
i find the same with Audible, and it all depends on the reader. Doing a good rendition seems to be bloody hard. Storytellers who use their voice to maximum effect should be once again kings of the world.

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted January 27
Excellent, keep the recommendations coming. You had me at 'Big hoinking space guns'. I shall commence it once I have finished "Will to battle" book 3 in Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series.

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted January 27
Did you see Charles Stross recommending Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone on the Twits the other day? It looks epic, I have it on pre-order with iBooks, but I thought it would be up your alley when I read the blurb for it

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 27
Added to my stack!

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jason asserts...

Posted January 28
Breville BRC460
Panasonic SR-DF181WST

These are the two top ranked units by Choice Magazine Australia.

I used to use the stove top in my quest for a real Asian feel and then went to Asia where rice cookers are everywhere.

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jl puts forth...

Posted January 28
I'll have to look this up. Currently finished a bunch of reading for a research project, now I'm into a book called "Bloodlands" about the violence in Eastern Europe 1933-1945. Starts with the famine in Soviet Ukraine 1933. Not exactly light reading.

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Oldy mutters...

Posted January 29
Sold.

I'll check it out :)

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Raw vegan dirt

Posted January 24 into Books by John Birmingham

From the Orbital Operations newsletter by Mr Warren Ellis: "I personally enjoy the 21st Century consumer affordance of carrying a small slate that contains a couple of hundred books and can quickly and wirelessly grab more. Slave of platform capitalism, yes yes, go and live on the fucking land and raise your memes on bespoke raw vegan dirt. Living in the future has had many disappointments, but my electric books are a personal positive."

I forget what Ellis was talking about, other than his unnatural physcial love for his Kindle, but I am down with him for this. I took my fancy Kindle on my recent travels; the funny shaped one with the removable battery case. You take that case/cover off and it's both incredibly light and pleasing to hold because of the odd, ergonomic design. I also took my iPad, loaded with Season 3 of Travelers, but I didn't fire up the Netflix app once while I was away. That's not a humblebrag. I just didnt find myself in the mood.

I did, however, finish reading Peter F. Hamilton's latest space opera, Salvation. I'll post a review separately, but long story short, it was enough to keep me entertained along with Steve Stirling's finale to the Change series, The Sky Blue Wolves.

I tended bed down with Salvation at the end of the day and read for half an hour or so. With Steve's book, in which I get a cameo, I chose to do most of my reading on my phone while we were out and about and I found myself with, say, five or six minutes to spare and no scenery or adventures to distract me.

Under those circumstances I'd normally fire up Twitter, or in really desperate straits Facebook, but I made a conscious decision to stay the fuck away from social media while we travelled.

It helped. There's an obsessive-compulsive neediness engineered into those networks that really gets the hooks in. It was the reason I deleted their apps from my phone a year or so back. But even the terrible web interfaces can be addictive. So instead, whenever I found myself at a loose end I'd open up the Kindle app and just read for a few pages.

I honestly think it improved my mood as much as being away for a few weeks. It's why I'm trying to blog more since I got back. Rather than wasting time in Twitter's burning cesspit, I'd prefer to waste it here.

And that's also three books I've read in the last month, (including Alicia WB's Blood of Heirs) a real turn around after a long fallow period. I'm finding it restful to read, in a way I dont find it relaxing at all to contemplate my nearly infinite unwatched stack o' streaming TV. Hence Tuesday's Blunty. One of the things I'd forgotten about books is the way you can pick them up and put them down after just a minute or two if you need to do something else. There's none of the same sense of frustration I feel when I have to stop and start video. Not sure why, but that difference is a real thing.

Next I'm going to move on to Dan Moren's The Bayern Agenda. (I have a sneaky pre-release copy)

And then, after that, I might even attempt a non genre title!

9 Responses to ‘Raw vegan dirt’

Rob ducks in to say...

Posted January 24
argh the Twitters. Where everyone's voice is as loud as everyone elses. Where that voice seems as important as the President of the United States. And where that voice is one of a 14 year old boy who listened to his first anarcho-punk record from the 80s , decides he doesn't need to learn anything because he knows it all and decides to shout what ever woke crap comes out of his head. Or its Karen.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 24
Ugh. Karen.

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Oldy would have you know...

Posted January 24
Travelers Season 3 is pretty good, with some clever writing to tie up some of those things that I thought got a little out of control in Season 2.

And the finale was pretty darn neat. I'm hoping for Season 4, but if it doesn't happen, they didn't leave us hanging.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted January 24
good to welcome you back to the league of readers. With a couple of hours a day on public transport I find plenty of opportunities to read, a task enhanced by you outstanding tips, eg Blood of Heirs so grateful if you can keep reading and maing recommendations.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 24
I have more.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted January 24
iBooks now has a funky "want to read" bucket where you can either add titles you've already got in there, or add stuff that you will purchase and read later, and it's great but also turning into a long list of to-be-read-shame that I keep adding to. In addition to the to-be-read-pile-of-shame of analogue books on my bedside table, which thankfully hasn't grown since I added Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall to it so I looked intellectual to my real estate agent when she does my rent inspections.

I've remained committed to reading every night in bed before sleep, but the last couple of months I've found that I fall asleep before any real reading happens, and then I wake up in the middle of the night, turn my light off and go back to sleep. When once I was smashing through a couple of books a week, now I've been trying to finish Alice Isn't Dead for at least a month. Is this what middle age is? Does crossing the year 40 threshold eliminate your ability to consume fiction? Asking for me :(

The third season of Travellers was excellent, and the ending was both a WTAF moment and immensely satisfying. You should definitely get around to it JB :)

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted January 24
OMG. I have so many unread copies of Wolf Hall I could start one of those pop up Japanese bookstores that only stock one title. Plus the audiobook.

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted January 25
I remember your post on Wolf Hall and how Mantel’s incredible prose broke your brain and you couldn’t finish it, and I was reading Wolf Hall at the time and I had a moment going “OMG JB’s right,” and I persevered a bit longer and then I gave up on it too. And it sits reproachfully on my bedside table in the laughable illusion that I will go back to it one day and try to finish it...

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jason asserts...

Posted January 25
A writer who didn't read. I've been looking for a definition for irony and i think i found it.

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Tsundoko

Posted October 16 into Books by John Birmingham

Nice piece in the New York Times about my teetering stack o' shame, which the Japanese apparently call a tsundoku: a stack of books that you have purchased but not yet read.

The sight of a book you’ve read can remind you of the many things you’ve already learned. The sight of a book you haven’t read can remind you that there are many things you’ve yet to learn. And the sight of a partially read book can remind you that reading is an activity that you hope never to come to the end of.

3 Responses to ‘Tsundoko’

jl mutters...

Posted October 16
Yeah, the older I get the more I realize how little I know. It would take more than my span of years and mastery of a few more languages to get where I'd like to be.

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 16
Is it better or worse if your tsundoko is hidden deep within a Kindle or other such device? It just looks like a pile of one, and is that really worthy of being called a pile?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted October 16
I suspect the chances of your being guilt tripped into reading your Kindle tsundoko are much smaller. Can't say whether that's good or bad.

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Amazon sale: The Golden Minute

Posted October 1, 2018 into Books by John Birmingham

Amazon's sentient robotic core emailed me a while ago to ask if I would like to have THE GOLDEN MINUTE featured as a special deal this month.

I figured, why the hell not!

Also, I'm trying out a new affiliate link here, because reasons.

So if you haven't got a copy of Smith and Cady's latest yet, and you are a slave to the Beast of Bezos, follow this link and you can get all the tasty discount sauce you want.

2 Responses to ‘Amazon sale: The Golden Minute’

Barnesm mutters...

Posted October 1, 2018
Excellent bargin, low cost and over the top explody goodness, what more could I ask for?

Seriously, is this all I am asking for? I need to expand my horizons.

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allenwsnyder reckons...

Posted October 21
The Golden Minute is one of Amazon's Kindle Daily Deals today, for $1.99. I have to admit, the two-sentence description sounded totally stupid to me: Deputy US Marshal John Titanic Smith...really? Puritan Jihads..really again? But there were a lot of five-star reviews, which could mean nothing, but was enough to get me reading the prologue via Amazon's Look Inside feature. The prologue is well written and it totally grabbed me, maybe not quite instantly but close enough. Purchase made.

Also, all the Trumpist one-star reviews on A Girl in Time is moving me to purchase it at $4.99, even though I know that if I wait long enough it will be on sale for $1.99 or less. (Only one Trumpist three-star (!) review on The Golden Minute, so far, but from someone who doesn't even know how to spell "heroine." [Insert shrug emoji here.])

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Finally!

Posted July 31, 2018 into Books by John Birmingham

Golden Minute has finally dropped on iBooks. Not sure what the issue was, but having given the Fruit Company exclusive pre-order status, I found myself yesterday staring at a content management panel which said the book was available in 51 countries, when it wasn't showing up anywhere.

Frustrating much?

Anyway, it's up now, and it turns out to have been a bit of a gift because it made me rethink my normal launch sequence. The book hit a bunch of best seller lists without any publicity, and now I have my artillery lined up and pre-sighted to begin a marketing bombardment.

Huzzah!

Thanks to eveyne who's bought in so far.

I look forward to your verified reviews.

THE GOLDEN MINUTE

7 Responses to ‘Finally!’

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted July 31, 2018
Yay! And congratulations on finally setting the Minute free :)

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2018
I second that! Now then, about that third story.....

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Therbs reckons...

Posted July 31, 2018
Review on its way

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted July 31, 2018
I also just wanted to add that the cover art for the Minute is just brilliant, whatever you're paying your artist it's not enough.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted July 31, 2018
Quiet you.

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Rob asserts...

Posted August 1, 2018
Only got through the first chapter so far, but I get the feeling you might have planned some camping with your kids and made a dream list of cool stuff you might like to purchase. And then you actually had to go camping and your good lady wife said nah we aren't taking all that.

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Sweet Jane Says puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2018
You're a very busy person but you're staying on top of your game. The publicity and promotion rounds now begin. It will go smoothly with your experience. Enjoy the SciFi cons!

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The Golden Minute: Launch Day

Posted July 30, 2018 into Books by John Birmingham

Used to be that launch day meant a piss up. A publisher shipped thousands of copies of your baby off to hundreds of bookshops. You chose one to 'host' the launch, you invited all your friends, and your publisher spent many thousands of dollars more on grog and finger food than they could ever hope to recoup in sales at the event.

These days not even publishers do that. We all just work the algorithm.

I'll be tickling the Beast of Bezos, and the big Fruit Company and all of the others over the next week or two. But I'll start here.

First up, I've dropped the price of A Girl in Time to 99 cents. If by some miracle you have not bought this awesome title, now's your chance to get it cheap and expunge your undying shame. The link above is for Amazon. But you can get it pretty much everywhere via this universal url.

The new hotness is of course The Golden Minute. I'll write about the book itself tomorrow but you can get it by clicking here. It's half price for readers of the Burger and bookclub members for the next couple of days.

29 Responses to ‘The Golden Minute: Launch Day’

Nocturnalist asserts...

Posted July 30, 2018
Not using Bookfunnel any more? Or did they change their name?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 30, 2018
Bookfunnel is for private freebies.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted July 30, 2018
But you do remind me I have to drop a couple of copies in there.

Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted July 30, 2018
Ah, useful to know. Thanks!

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted July 30, 2018
Not to sound alamist, but The Golden Minute appears to be missing from iBooks and TIM COOK HAS NOT GIVEN ME MY PRE-ORDER YET WTF JB? I'll try not to panic, I'm sure you have this in hand :)

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 30, 2018
I have been on this all day, Ms Jedi. It's holding up the entire roll out.

she_jedi reckons...

Posted July 30, 2018
Oh thank goodness. I will wait patiently for you to come to my rescue. I've already re-read A Girl in Time in preparation, so will have to read my current book more slowly so I don't run out of reading material before the Minute drops. #Fangirlproblems.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted July 30, 2018
I'll be doing a phantom launch of Da Minute a bit later today. This will involve Titanic Thunder Lager and Cady Atomic Ale. Might even sign a few Chumley beer mats.

jason has opinions thus...

Posted July 31, 2018
Please provide launch details and I will be there. Anything for a free beer and a signed beer mat.

Therbs mumbles...

Posted July 31, 2018
By the time beers were done the coasters were too wet to take ink.
But the beer was good.

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foreverwar mutters...

Posted July 31, 2018
I pre-ordered when you put the link up on FB, but it's still not available on iBooks UK.

Ah well, I'll just re-read A Girl In Time while I'm waiting.

Keep up the good work, John.

foreverwar would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2018
Just checked, and the Kindle version is available on Amazon UK.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 31, 2018
There's definitely something wrong with iBooks. I'm gonna try get it sorted today, but if you want your copy immediately get your email addy to me and I'll send a link for a free copy via bookfunnel.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted July 31, 2018
So tempting, but i’ll wait so I can give you money for it. Fingers crossed it’s fixed today, good luck John!

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 31, 2018
It appears to be available.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted July 31, 2018
YAAAS!!! Success! Please take my $4.99 with thanks :)

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Robertkocsis swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 31, 2018
yay!
back from UK so keen to read. Link took me straight to amazon ( a saved preference?) . Is the price listed already the 1/2 price Burger reader amount($3.99) or do we have to do somethig to prove we devour your output?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2018
That's the half price. It'll go up to eight bucks eventually. I'm not publicising it widely. Just here and too my various mailing lists. Once they've had a bite, I'll crank up the ask.

Robertkocsis is gonna tell you...

Posted July 31, 2018
Thanks, downloaded and all set once I finish The Outsider, looks good

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Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted July 31, 2018
Made the purchase but sad panda cos its via the Beast. I guess some reviews would be warranted and required as well Mr B?

jl would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2018
Brother, you'd be amazed how hard it is to come by Amazon reviews. I put my two cents out on my website.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 31, 2018
Reviews anywhere would be muchas welcome. But they have a particular power on Amazon.

jl reckons...

Posted July 31, 2018
Posted mine. We'll see if it sticks.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2018
Thanks. It should. It's a verified purchase.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2018
Review posted on Amazon, but it's not up yet, I think they scrutinise it first :)

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KreepyKrawly ducks in to say...

Posted July 31, 2018
I just bought it from kobo. About bloody time too, been hanging for the next JB book. I'll put a review later tonight (Gotta work now...)

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sibeen ducks in to say...

Posted July 31, 2018
OK, I've ordered the damn thing. What now?

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Rob puts forth...

Posted August 1, 2018
its worth way more than 3.99 . Hopefully with the direct supply chain system you have set up, you will see most of it for the down payment on that gold plated rocket car, or at the very least some steamed hams.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted August 1, 2018
The price creeps up as the week goes on.

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