Like January, here’s the books I read in February and what I thought about them.
Stanislaw Lem — Solaris
Considered a sci-fi classic, Solaris is a philosophical book about three scientists who live on the planet of Solaris. Solaris has an ocean that’s sentient. That’s all I can say without giving too much of the twists away.
I believe this book got weighed down a bit with the sections about science and history of the planet’s research and the ocean, but other than that, I had no other issues about the story, characters, or overall. I recommend it if you’re into more weird sci-fi.
Neil Gaiman — Neverwhere
You ever start a book that you’ve been really wanting to read, but haven’t found that book yet? Well, I did. Neverwhere was that book. A story about a girl, a hunter, a marquis, and an office worker who venture through the depths of London Below in a quest for the girl to take revenge for her family’s death. It’s satirical, amusing, and heartening.
Giaman’s prose is alluring and welcoming, almost whimsical. Before this, I’ve only read his Coraline and Norse Mythology. Wasn’t a big fan of the former, but enjoyed the latter. Either way, Neverwhere was a story that pulled me and I didn’t want to be released.
(And, there’s a sequel set for late 2020!)
William Sleator — House of Stairs
A book about five teenagers — three girls, two boys — who’re imprisoned in a place full of stairs. They find a machine that provides food, and that becomes the center of their lives and the story.
The story is quick-paced and due to the setting, not very descriptive (which works for the book). It reminds me of a more watered down version of Lord of the Flies, 1984, Brave New World, etc. So, if you’re into those sort of stories, I recommend picking up House of Stairs.
Philip K. Dick — The Penultimate Truth
I love PKD and he’s one of my favorite authors, but this wasn’t a book I could get into. I really enjoyed the overall story, but not reading about it, if that makes any sense.
It’s a dystopian, sci-fi and political story about tankers (people) who live underground after a nuclear war and still believe, 15 years later, that the world above is decimated and radioactive. A government body with Yance-men who use a robotic politician to feed false news about the world above to the tankers. When, in reality, the world has been livable for all this time. Eventually a tanker is sent above to retrieve a new pancreas for another tanker, then the story really begins.
I’d say this is a PKD version of 1984. If that sounds interesting to you, definitely pick it up.
Michael Talbot — The Delicate Dependency
A vampire story set in Europe in the 1850’s about a doctor who’s secretly hiding a groundbreaking type of disease from the medical community, and on the way somewhere hits seemingly a man with his carriage. This jump starts the story of vampires, their underground world and life, the mysteries past, and their present “games.”
This book is similar to Dracula, The Blood of the Vampire, Interview With A Vampire, and maybe Fevre Dream (but without the action/fight scenes). Although I enjoyed all these books, I wasn’t as engrossed by The Delicate Dependency. The pacing, for me, was too slow and the overly done descriptions of houses, rooms, and people, I felt, ground the story to a halt. Besides that, it’s very well written and Talbot’s prose is beautiful.
For the time it was set in, the descriptions/details make sense; this was how stories were written then. So it’s more of my relationship with the book than the book itself, and if you’re looking for a vampire tale done classically, I recommend this book without a doubt.
Robert Marasco — Burnt Offerings
A story set in the 70’s about a family of three who grows tired of living in New York City. The wife finds an ad in the paper about renting a suitable family home in the country, and convinces her husband to go see it. Which they do the husband becomes hesitant about the suspiciously low price, the house’s apparent decay, and the responsibility of watching over the owners’ mother while they’re gone. But, quickly after they’re alone in the house, they discover that watching only their mother isn’t what they needed to worry about all along.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it’s weirder take on a haunted house story. It reminds me a little of Rosemary’s Baby. The horror is subtle and atmospheric with a weird fiction housing. This was recommend by Mike on the Lovecraft eZine Podcast, and I’m glad I listened to him. Definitely pick this book up.