Read in 2004
List of the books I’ve read in 2005
- December 2004—Peter Pan tome 6: Destins (Peter Pan book 6: Fates) from Régis Loisel.
The last episode of Peter Pan’s adventures. I feel this is darker and darker. Going back and forth between the forgetful orphans on the island with the little round-buttocked bitch fairy, and Jack the ripper’s London, I felt relief that this was the end of the story.
- December 2004—Maître à bord (Master and commander) from Patrick O’Brian.
The first book in a long series about the English Navy at the start of the 19th century, with the first time Jack Aubrey is given a ship to command, she’s called “Sophie”. Very interesting historical details about the life of the crews during the sea wars at that time.
- November 2004—Le voyage de Jason (The Jason voyage) from Tim Severin.
The story of the reconstitution of a galley and of its use for a trip following the voyage of Jason and the argonauts. From ship-making to the end of the trip in soviet Georgia, very interesting details about techniques and people.
- November 2004—L’orme du Caucase (The elm from Caucasus) from Taniguchi, Jiro based on Utsumi, Ryuichiro writings.
Eight short stories from Utsumi translated into (very beautiful) images by Taniguchi, centered on family stories. Everyday situations, characters very close to us whom we can relate to, and different reactions allowing us to perceive the cultural differences between us and the Japanese.
- November 2004—Au temps de Botchan tome 2 (Botchan’s time book 2) from Sekikawa, Natsuo and Taniguchi, Jiro.
The next book of this series of manga about the Meiji era, following the steps of a perpetually beholden poet, who spends money as soon as he lays hands on it. Not a very likeable character, then, but who lives at a very interesting time.
- October 2004—Da Vinci Code, from Dan Brown.
Recommended by a visitor, I bought it a few months ago. You read this book fast, the episodes of the pursuit (physical chase and puzzle) are tightly linked. I knew part of the theory the book exposes, so I was not very surprised.
- October 2004—Au temps de Botchan tome 1 (Botchan’s time book 1) from Sekikawa, Natsuo and Taniguchi, Jiro.
The first of a series of manga about the Meiji era, this one is focused on the life of the writer Soseki. Very interesting read about a rather unknown period for me, and very beautiful detailed drawings from Taniguchi as always.
- October 2004—Les joueurs du Ā (The players of Ā) from A.E. Van Vogt.
The follow-up to the adventures of Gilbert Gosseyn trying to discover who he is, and unravel mysteries, this time on a galactic scale. I’ve added an excerpt from the postface to my quotations page.
- October 2004—In the shadow of no towers from Art Spiegelman.
A very beautiful object, this black block with thick pages tells about the trauma caused to the Manhattan-dwelling author of Maus by September 11, 2001 and maybe as much by the following months. I prefer this first part to the second, using ancient comics to resonate with the themes of the first.
- October 2004—Sillage 7: H.Q.I. from Morvan and Buchet.
Nävis’ adventures go on, this time centered around a space prison, where her foe Rib’ wund is held prisoner. Just before she arrives to get info from him, a rebellion breaks out in the prison, threatening to kill him before they can talk…
- October 2004—Le génie des Alpages 3: Barre-toi de mon herbe ! et 4: Un grand silence frisé (The genius of the Mountain Pastures 3: Get off my grass! and 4: A big curly silence) from F’murr.
Ovine and philosophic delirium catching up session. When, among a bucolic scene featuring a sheep flock fighting with drawing compartments shaped as visors, one ewe clad as Zorro comes close to the compartment, signs “Z” on it with its sword and a demented stare, and that, at the bottom of the page, one hallucinated submarine crew asks another “How many torpedoes?”, you know you’re in for a wild ride till the end of the album…
- September 2004—Heart of the comet from David Brin and Gregory Benford.
In 2061, a space expedition settles on the Halley comet to follow it after its passage close to Earth. This aventure doesn’t go on as planned at all, the isolation is almost complete, it’s very interesting to follow the characters and the ruthless human relations in a closed world are very well depicted.
- September 2004—The chronicles of Pern: First fall from Anne McCaffrey.
A series of novels about Pern, starting with the planet’s exploration mission, going on with the start of the colonisation of the northern hemisphere and the creation of the Forts, ending with a rescue expedition finding almost nobody in the southern hemisphere.
- September 2004—Venus in copper from Lindsey Davis.
Another detective story following the steps of Marcus Didius Falco, roman private investigator. This time he must disentangle a mystery concerning a woman whose husbands die opportunely, leaving her richer, as always he does it with a good amount of humour and an interesting description of antique Roma.
- August 2004—Cyteen 2 from C.J. Cherryh.
Follow-up to the previous book, I’m sucked into the story, following the characters with interest. The way cloning is viewed is interesting, ruthless, but you can see clearly what a battle it is to try to reproduce someone’s “psyche”. The politician biologist’s copy is much more likeable than the original, for example…
(The English edition doesn’t split the book in two)
- August 2004—Cyteen 1 from C.J. Cherryh.
A future society has colonised planets using clones, and has reached secession from Earth. A politician biologist woman that I disliked at first sight. The start is a little slow, you need to take time to add complexity, but it’s captivating afterwards.
- August 2004—Passagère du silence from Fabienne Verdier.
The autobiography of an artist so passionate about chinese calligraphy that she decided in the 80s to go and study in communist China. Interesting information about life after the cultural revolution, about the old chinese calligraphy masters and their philosophy. The reading is quite harsh, as was her life there.
- July 2004—Interesting times from Terry Pratchett.
Here goes laughter again with the discworld series, this time Rincewind gets sent to the Counterweight continent to answer lord Hong’s plea. Lord Hong is Chinese, extremely refined, intelligent and scheming, and wants to add Ankh-Morpork to his kingdom to be. Of course you get to meet Genghiz Cohen the Barbarian and his centenarian horde…
- July 2004—Le monde des non-A (The world of null-A) from A.E. Van Vogt.
Another science-fiction classic I hadn’t read, a man who doesn’t know who he is tries to untangle the threads of the mystery he represents, between Earth and Venus. The null-A (non aristotelian) philosophy is interesting.
- July 2004—L’orbite déchiquetée (The jagged orbit) from John Brunner.
The last book of the “black tetralogy” that remained in my to-read list, this one focuses a racially divided society, weapon merchants (I thought of Bowling for Columbine, the Michael Moore movie) and media. A quotation: “If ‘media’ is the plural of ‘medium’, the question is: how many are frauds?”
As it is often the case with Brunner, the construction of the book is interesting, and, surprise, there is a “happy end”.
- July 2004—Convoi, l’intégrale (Convoi, the essential) from Smolderen and Gauckler.
The Humanoïdes Associés Editions have re-released Convoi, as an essential collection!! It’s the end of my desperate quest for book number 3! I dive again in the virtual game and Karen Springwell’s adventures, which had been with me during my architect’s diploma.
- June 2004—La planète des singes (Planet of the apes) from Pierre Boulle.
I’ve seen the remake of the movie, I had never read the book, the perspective switch between experimented-upon and scientists is interesting. The way of presenting how the apes have evolved remains tinged with a simian inferiority bias, and a not so clever sanctimonious side. Among the ape species, the bonobos are missing…
- June 2004—À travers la mer des soleils (Across the sea of suns) from Gregory Benford.
The follow-up to In the ocean of night, we’ll see what happens to Nigel Whalmsley once he sets on an interstellar expedition to look for explanations to extra-terrestrial visits around Earth. But as he encounters and explores, Earth is invaded in a very intelligent way.
- April 2004—Perdido street station, from China Miéville.
A steampunk-looking book, an overspread and anarchic city, insect, humans. This book is a gift, it’s a coincidence, a visitor had told me I would be interested. Some ideas are interesting (the mix of physics and magic, the aerial trains…), but violence and systematic filth are a bit on the heavy side.
- April 2004—Inversions, from Iain M. Banks.
The Culture seems not to be directly mentioned. The book is set on a world which undergoes political and religious transformations. Two of the characters seem more enlightened than the others, may they be Contact emissaries? Iain M. Banks used to describe the Culture from outside, he takes one step further away, but his universe is so strong that the movie belongs to the cycle.
- April 2004—All the weyrs of Pern, from Anne McCaffrey.
After they find the material left behind by the first colonists, Pern’s inhabitants start to talk with AIVAS, an artificial intelligence which will allow them to catch up on many forgotten techniques, and to attempts to get rid of Thread forever.
- March 2004—Stupid white men from Michael Moore.
A gathering of Moore’s thought about the state of the United States of America. You can’t avoid laughing even if it shouldn’t be funny at all.
- March 2004—Soul music from Terry Pratchett.
Where Death and the whole Discworld discover music with rocks in, and Death’s granddaughter has to take charge of its grandfather’s job. Hilarious as usual.
- February 2004—Sheep look up, from John Brunner.
I’ve wanted to read it for a very long time, couldn’t find it, and here it is, with a foreword from David Brin to boost. A very memorable book, totally pessimistic, about a world destroyed by pollution in the 70s. While and after reading, you read the news with a different frame of mind, and tend to shudder often.
- February 2004—Gribouillis, from Turf.
A chicken scratch scribbled on a page of the mail catalogue of the Marvellous Mechanical Modern Factories awakes to life and visits the catalogue, meeting its inhabitants and its sovereign, and getting caught in an adventure. A “bande dessinée” with a mood and drawing style close to Alice in wonderland.
- February 2004—Shaolin Moussaka, from Chauvel, Pedrosa and Araldi.
Miss Moussaka is a nice slice of moussaka roaming around on the Far West roads, she meets the shaolin monk Wang (that’s his short name). A crazy “bande dessinée” with a very nice graphic touch, and energetic colours.
- January 2004—Dans l’océan de la nuit (In the ocean of night), from Gregory Benford.
An astronaut lands on an asteroid threatening to impact earth, which leads to the first contact with an extra-terrestrial civilization. A very rich and complex book, with interesting characters, observations about our human flaws.
List of the books I’ve read in 2003