I have enjoyed two very different books in the past week. The first was a book of science fiction short stories, the second an absorbing dystopia that mirrors our own situation.
The short story collection is called Federations, edited by John Joseph Adams. Here is the blurb:
“From STAR TREK to STAR WARS, from DUNE to FOUNDATION, science fiction has a rich history of exploring the idea of vast intergalactic societies, and the challenges facing those living in or trying to manage such societies.
The stories in FEDERATIONS will continue that tradition, and herein you will find a mix of all-new, original fiction, alongside selected reprints from authors whose work exemplifies what interstellar SF is capable of, including Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne McCaffrey, George R.R. Martin, Catherynne M. Valente, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Alastair Reynolds, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Silverberg, Harry Turtledove, and many more.”
This is quite a large collection and it took me a while to finish. This is my short response as written on Goodreads:Federations by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Generally an enjoyable read with some good stories by some of my favourite authors: McCaffrey and Bujold. Others were poor or mildly irritating! Worth a try if you like science fiction.
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Apologies for such a short review. Unfortunately I was unable to write something longer and more detailed. I can recommend having a look at some of the responses on Goodreads as many members have written detailed story by story reviews.
My second book was completely different…
This was another completely random selection from the Library’s ebook service and what a choice! The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird was a gripping read. Here is the blurb:
“Set in a world where a virus stalks our male population, The End of Men is an electrifying and unforgettable debut from a remarkable new talent that asks: what would our world truly look like without men?
Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.
The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world.
What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the “male plague;” intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.”
I must have read this book in record time as I was so absorbed in the story. This is my review:The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, I am glad that I read this in 2022 and not in the earlier years of our own, real, pandemic! I think I would have frozen in fear. Anyway, I thought the book was excellent and very well thought out. As I have a husband and two sons, I found the whole idea of a man-killing plague terrifying. As a feminist, I found the whole idea of a world run by women really interesting and intriguing.
Yes, there are some faults in the book – pointed out by some of the reviewers on here who are more expert in medical issues. But as a work of fiction, I enjoyed the structure, the progress of the story and the final ending. I wonder what the author can come up with next!
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Yes, once again the book has mixed reviews on Goodreads. Most are very positive, but a minority have strong criticisms and some of the negativity rings true. I do think that this book is well worth reading. After all, we can all come to our own conclusions!
I am presently totally lost in another book, which I will write about in next week’s Reading Roundup post. So, in the meantime…
Happy Reading to you all!
Love and best wishes,