Books Read in March

Like in previous months, here’s the books I read in March and what I thought about them.

For those who just want a list:

George R. R. Martin — Nightflyer & Other Stories
Dan Simmons — Hyperion
Berkley Medallion Book — Selections from the Pan Book of Horror Stories #4
Arthur C. Clarke — The Deep Range
Andy Weir — The Martian
Perry Lake — Hugo Krantz
George R. R. Martin — A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

George R. R. Martin — Nightflyer & Other Stories

This book is a collection of short stories and two novellas that blend sci-fi, space opera, and horror. I enjoyed a few of the stories and some reminded me of Martin’s Game of Thrones (“Weekend in a War Zone”), but overall I couldn’t become engrossed in this collection like I did with Martin’s longer works (Game of Thrones, Fevre Dream).

If you’re a fan of Martin’s work or have seen the Nightflyer television show and enjoyed that, then I recommend picking up Nightflyer & Other Stories.

Dan Simmons — Hyperion

A high sci-fi journey of seven people to a temple on the planet called Hyperion. Highly imaginative with intricate and heavy world building throughout, and wonderfully written. Moreover, it’s like a collection of six short stories than a novel.

However, if I would’ve known prior to reading that this was likened to a prologue to the second book than a stand alone, I probably wouldn’t have read it. It’s quite long and, in my opinion, a lot of the stories could’ve been shortened a bit. Also, without spoiling anything, the ending left a bad taste in my mouth.

But, if you enjoyed Simmon’s The Terror, you may like this. (In all likelihood, you probably already have read Hyperion by now.)

Berkley Medallion Book — Selections from the Pan Book of Horror Stories #4

This short anthology is full of horror stories from the 60’s from authors like Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Robert Aickman, and others. While I enjoyed the stories in this book, I thought they were quite tame to be considered horror, and in some stories the payoffs weren’t that satisfying. Even Bradbury’s, whose work I adore, story, “The Emissary” wasn’t near his best work. My favorite stories are the last two: Adobe Jame’s “The Ohio Love Sculpture” and Davis Grubb’s “The Horsehair Trunk.”

Arthur C. Clarke — The Deep Range

A drama, thriller book about a man with astrophobia, due to his bout in space, who starts working at a naval base that protects the environment and mating habits of whales, while also farming for kelp. The story focuses on him throughout his life — meeting his future wife, dealing and prevailing over his phobia, having a child, changing his world views, etc. — and that’s about it.

To be honest, I didn’t expect The Deep Range to be this kind of book. I saw Clarke’s name on the binding, and figured it was going to be a deep sea, sci-fi story, like Crichton’s Sphere or Child’s Deep Storm or even Cutter’s The Deep, but it was more similar to Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Melville’s Moby Dick. Absolutely nothing wrong with either novels, just not my preferred style of stories.

Although I didn’t enjoy the book, it was well written and definitely something I can see many others enjoying. So, if you’re looking more for a Melville or Verne deep sea story written by a master of sci-fi, pick up The Deep Range.

Andy Weir — The Martian

A well paced sci-fi book about an astronaut who seemingly is left for dead on Mars, to only find, to the world’s surprise, he’s still alive. The story switches POV from the astronaut, workers at NASA, and later on, the crew who’re still in space.

This book was extremely hyped when it came out, and is still recommended to anyone who’s looking for a well written and overall good sci-fi story, so I don’t have much more to add except that I agree with the hype. I really enjoyed The Martian, and I recommend as well.

Isaac Asimov — Foundation

One of the classics of and masters of sci-fi, Foundation is a collection of politically-fueled periodical stories about the city of Foundation that occurs over the course of centuries. You quickly learn the intentions of its founder, Hari Seldon, and read of its future.

I know it’s highly praised, but I couldn’t become engrossed in the story and with the way the book is written, I didn’t feel like I got the chance to really understand the characters completely. However, I’m glad I have read it and recommend anyone other sci-fi fan to read it, too.

Perry Lake — Hugo Krantz

Before I begin, I’d like to mention this book was given to me by the author in exchange for his feedback on my novel.

Hugo Krantz is a collection of autobiographical/memoir stories centered around the ghoul Hugo Krantz, who ventures around the world in the late 1600’s and 1700’s meeting other ghouls (a species who eats humans and lives underground, typically under cemeteries/graveyards), secret cults, werewolves, witches, vampires, mad doctors, Lovecraftian entities, and so on. There’s a plethora of memorable horror monsters found in the book as well, like Dracula, Averiogne, Ghalla, etc.

This book reminds me of Interview With A Vampire, but written in a more carefree and fun way. I did enjoy it, but it’s typically not the type of book I would read. I’m a bigger fan of the older style of monster stories, like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Island of Dr. Moreau or similar stories like the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

However, I recommend this to anyone looking for a well written, carefree romp with a variety of monsters and ghouls.

Philip K. Dick — Confessions of a Crap Artist

Confessions of a Crap Artist is a book about a wife, a husband, the wife’s brother, and the wife’s love affair, all circling around a house the husband and wife built. It switches POV throughout, and you quickly learn everyone is unlikable and in most cases, terrible. They all care about the house, money, what everything costs, who knows who and who owns what. When they do lose what they own, which originally they didn’t care about, they grow vicious and jealous and possessive.

This is the first Dick novel I’ve read that wasn’t sci-fi in the slightest, and relating closer to literary fiction. If I could compare it, it would be similar to Kurt Vonnegut’s work. I’m not certain if Dick meant for all the characters to be unlikable and in most cases, terrible, but that’s what I got from the book.

I recommend this to any PKD fan who wants to read all his works, because this is much different than his usual stories, or anyone who enjoys Vonnegut’s work, though I wouldn’t say Confessions of a Crap Artist stands up to Vonnegut’s books.

George R. R. Martin — A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a collection of three novellas set in the Game of Thrones’ world 100 years prior that follow Ser Duncan (Dunk), a hedge knight, and his squire, Egg. Each novella is set about a year a part and, while it’s not as dramatic and tense as the Game of Thrones books, they’re very engrossing, despite the more lighthearted stories.

However, it leaves me wanting more, like Martin’s other works (looking at Fevre Dream). He says there’ll be more to come, but I doubt that’ll happen with Wind of Winter still not released and, of course, there’s still Dreams of Spring that (unfortunately) probably won’t see the light of day at this rate.

I’m not blaming him or anything. I understand how difficult it is to write a fully-fleshed out novel. With how massive and intricate the GoT universe is, I can imagine it’s very frustrating to ensure all characters’ stories line up and write a fulfilling ending.

Either way, I recommend this to any fan of Game of Thrones or anyone who just loves the world of Westeros.

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