Read in 2006
List of the books I’ve read in 2007
- December 2006—The wandering fire from Guy Gavriel Kay.
The second book of the Fionavar trilogy, the 5 friends from our world go back to the world of Fionavar to fight a winter which doesn’t want to end, taking a famous hero along with them.
The pace gets quicker, the characters change or adapt to the world of Fionavar, add a good dose of fantasy, and the mix really works, I look forward to reading the third book.
- December 2006—Forty signs of rain from Kim Stanley Robinson.
The first book of a trilogy about climate change, it follows politicians and scientists in the U.S., who either fight to make people accept the reality of these changes or to find solutions to mitigate them.
A very interesting book, a much more realistic version of the Day after tomorrow movie, with lots of informations about the climate and politics of the U.S.. But all these people who are convinced of the necessity of doing something about climate change don’t seem to do much at the personal level, they don’t think about it when they use air-conditioning or fly around. Some of them go to work by public transport or walk, still…
- December 2006—Jingo from Terry Pratchett.
This time it’s war and geopolitics that get the Discworld treatment, with a big part played by the Ankh-Morpork watch.
As always, many hilarious moments, captain Carrot is irresistible, lord Vetinari never takes a back seat. There is a submarine and lots of camels, and the book makes fun of warmongers.
- November 2006—La submersion du Japon (Japan sinks, 日本沈没) from Komatsu Sakyo.
A Japanese anticipation novel describing geological phenomenon threatening Japan: an island is submerged in one night, earthquakes become more and more frequent.
The story underlines the geological instability of Japan, giving an idea of how it feels to live in an earthquake-prone land, and also dwells on how a country and the world can react to such a disaster.
- November 2006—iWoz from Steve Wozniak et Gina Smith.
Woz’s version of his Silicon Valley pioneer and Apple founder adventure.
The tone is really personal, not striving to be loved, and in fact becomes really engaging as the story goes. As is Woz’s personality. Getting a new point of view on the story of Apple is also very interesting.
- November 2006—Harry Potter and the half-blood prince from J.K. Rowling.
As it has been released in paperback, I go on with the adventures of the little sorcerer, starting the penultimate episode.
As usual, it’s a page-turner, and you sleep a little less. The characters grow up and events are more painful. At the end of the book, you tell yourself there are a lot of things to come, on the menu of the last book.
- November 2006—Chroniques d’un pigeon parisien from Pome Bernos.
A graphic novel about the encounters of a rather weird parisian pigeon with several beings which turn out to be urban art forms.
Of course, the pigeon meets M. Chat, but also the Space Invaders, the white man and the black man… and asks itself questions about traces in the city.
- October 2006—Mendoza in Hollywood from Kage Baker.
The third book of the Dr Zeus series, we meet Mendoza again, this time in California starting during the United States civil war.
The rhythm of the book is quite peculiar, the “action” only starts late, and then passes really quickly. But all the description of California at the start of its colonisation and the movie lover anachronisms take a great part in the interest of this book, and make me want to go on reading the series.
- October 2006—Spin from Robert Charles Wilson.
One evening on earth, the moon and the stars disappear. The next morning, the sun rises, but it is only a simulation. The humans discover earth has been put in a time-slowing envelope.
A captivating book, as much about the present state of the United-States and of the world than about an hypothetical future, replacing the fossil resources depletion and ecosystem destruction with a “cosmical” threat. The three main characters at the heart of the book also give interesting and diverse points of view.
- September 2006—A perfect red from Amy Butler Greenfield.
This book tells the history of the search for pigments allowing to dye fabric red, a hard to obtain colour which was a hint for power and wealth, and the book is focused on the discovery of cochineal by the conquistadors in South America.
The whole story of cochineal up to the present day is very interesting, and the author adds many other historical, social and scientific information.
- September 2006—The summer tree, book one of the Fionavar tapestry from Guy Gavriel Kay.
A Tolkien-style fantasy book, where 5 students from our world are transported in the world of Fionavar, bringing an interesting point of view on the usual fantasy tales.
The mix of distance and of fantasy story “recipes” is really very nice, and makes me want to read the next book.
- September 2006—Le retour à la terre 4: le déluge from Jean-Yves Ferri and Manu Larcenet.
The baby is here, and she is in a way the main character of this very funny book.
Misses Mortemont as a baby-sitter or travelling in Paris, underwater creatures, a rave party or two, teenage loves, there’s no time to get bored in the Ravenelles.
- September 2006—L’homme à l’envers (Seeking whom he may devour) from Fred Vargas.
A detective novel about a (were ?) wolf on rampage in the Mercantour national park.
The ending is not necessarily a surprise, but it doesn’t take anything away from the book, which interest lies in characters, very strong individualities, with very surprising and engaging behaviours.
- August 2006—Hogfather from Terry Pratchett.
Let’s go on with the Discworld universe, this time it’s time for Santa Claus to get the delirious treatment.
It’s impressing how Pratchett each time finds new situations perfectly fit for laughter, and adds killing details. So, here Death decides to take the Hogfather’s job and to deliver presents as the Hogfather has gone missing.
- August 2006—Éloge de l’ombre (In praise of shadows - 陰翳礼讃) from Tanizaki Jun’ichirō.
I’m reading this book again to check if my reaction to it has changed after my Japanese teacher mentioned it among a few must-read Japanese books.
The impression is the same, the informations about the importance of shadows in the ancient Japanese society are interesting, but the slightly whining tone and the impression of racism don’t leave a very good taste.
- August 2006—Le pays des marées (The hungry tide) from Amitav Ghosh.
An Indian novel about the coastal fringe of the country close to Bangladesh, its legends and its daily life.
This was a very quick read as I got sucked into the book. Lots of interesting points and discoveries: the people, the area, the ecosystem… It is a little strange to read about a place where sea and rivers are extremely important, but people only float on them because if they dive there’s not much to see and a high risk of death. The tension between protecting the ecosystem and protecting the humans is also interesting, but destroying tsunami-protecting ecosystems like mangroves in order to accomodate more humans ore more industries tends to increase the impact of disasters.
- August 2006—Les synthérétiques 2 (Synners) from Pat Cadigan.
The follow-up to the previous book, this time the story is well under way and you read it really fast (I think the book was artificially cut in two volumes in this edition).
It’s more like a ride than a story, you follow the unbridled rhythm and pinpoint some good ideas. The ending is quite confused and slightly shadowy, but the book as a whole makes for a pleasant reading.
- July 2006—Les synthérétiques 1 (Synners) from Pat Cadigan.
A cyberpunk novel with video junkies, software pirates, people connected directly to the network, and computer viruses frying their heads.
Rather slow to start, in the beginning it’s hard to see who is who, but then it accelerates and you are eager to read the rest.
- July 2006—Coyote celeste (Sky coyote) from Kage Baker.
Second book of the series, again a time travel story, this time one of Dr Zeus agents transforms into a god to protect a Californian pre-colombian civilization.
The story mixes anachronistic humour about California with the wry perspective of the agents on their study subjects and the company which employs them, and the story is well built, very pleasant to read.
- July 2006—Dans le jardin d’Iden (In the garden of Iden) from Kage Baker.
A time-travel story, with special agents going backwards in time to search for extinct species rather than trying to change history.
A very good concept, allowing to dive into 16th century England, with its religious shudders, while keeping the distance of the immortal and rather omniscient narrators.
- July 2006—Éclipse totale (Total eclipse) from John Brunner.
A Brunner book I had not read yet, in which the earthlings discover an extinct neighbour civilization, and start asking themselves if something will not be trying to make them extinct as well…
The progress in the understanding of an alien civilization from its remains is interesting, and I loved the ending, which is completely realistic even if lots of novellists or screenwriters would have tried to avoid it.
- July 2006—Megatokyo 1 from Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston.
I read this webcomic regularly on the Megatokyo website, and reading in again in “dead tree” format has a lot of advantages: the narration has more continuity, there are interesting comments about the creation of the comic, the characters, the story and the reactions of the readers…
I bought the first one as a test, now I want to buy the other books.
- June 2006—Shadows in bronze from Lindsey Davis.
The second book of the adventures of Marcus Didius Falco, who goes on unraveling the threads of a plot to dethrone emperor Vespasian, and asking himself if Helena Justina can think of a small earthworm like him.
Interesting mainly because of the characters and the historic details, one of the “unexpected turns” of the plot is too easy to guess, I saw it coming from very far.
- June 2006—Les îles du soleil (The summer isles) from Ian R. MacLeod.
An uchronia in which Great-Britain has lost the first world war, lets a rather well-accepted dictatorship rise to power, where some of the undesirables vanish without trace and without it being a big problem to those who remain.
A very contemporary uchronia, in the ease of slipping into dictature, of rejecting differences and forgetting the disappeared, interesting also because of the study of the characters.
- May 2006—Red star rising: more chronicles of Pern from Anne McCaffrey.
Another book about Pern, this one about the transition between the first colonists and their descendants, who progressively loose a technological civilization and get back to an agrarian one, while doing all they can to remember the menace of thread.
Yet another different point of view on the Pern history, interesting, it resonates with the books describing how the Pernese rediscover the traces of the first colonists…
- May 2006—Darwin’s children from Greg Bear.
The follow-up to Darwin’s radio, this story follow the children born from a mutation during pregnancy, who must hide in order not to be taken away from their families.
Interesting, the reaction of the U.S.A. to the waves of mutations is chilling. I’d like to see a book in this series centered on what’s happening out of the U.S.A., maybe Asian or European authors could set to this task if Greg Bear doesn’t…
- May 2006—The mammoth hunters from Jean M. Auel.
Third book of Ayla’s adventure, with Jondalar. After discovering life with a man of her species, Ayla must adapt to life in a community, and get over her misunderstandings and those of the others regarding her.
Jean M. Auel is a little bit like Jules Verne (backhanded compliment coming from me), in her long descriptions and plant lists which make you turn pages without really reading them. The incommunicability between the characters is rather infuriating, and makes me think it’s just here to make the book last longer…
- April 2006—The valley of horses from Jean M. Auel.
The follow-up to The clan of the cave bear, where Ayla learns how to live on her own, how to domesticate animals, and where we follow the journey of two brothers who seem to travel in the direction of the area where Ayla lives, preparing us to their encounter.
Quite interesting, even if some elements are a little far-fetched (Ayla discovers so many things no one has ever thought of, both alone and with Jondalar). It’s little like The evolution man, or, how I ate my father, but without humour…
- March 2006—Comme des bêtes from F’murr.
This one really seems to reach impressive heights of ovine nonsense: an ewe who wants to fly, with its herdmates taking bets about the spot she will hit when falling, and the crazy cable car killing tourists…
- March 2006—The clan of the cave bear from Jean M. Auel.
I’m starting this series about a young woman and a clan living during the last ice age, when cro-magnon and neanderthal people coexisted.
The weight of traditions and the sexist division of work of their little society are rather painful to bear (yes, I know, feminists didn’t exist at the time), but the story is well written and endearing, I’m curious about the sequel.
- March 2006—Le combat ordinaire 3: ce qui est précieux (Ordinary victories book 3) from Manu Larcenet.
The follow-up to Marco’s life, after the death of his father, he has to go on with his memories.
I really like discovering this story, the reader is put very close to the characters.
- March 2006—In the winter dark from Tim Winton.
Set in an isolated very small Australian community (four people in three houses), this short novel involves something scary and how people react to it.
I liked the fact that in the end, it is more about the people than about the gore, and how the book uses a formatted genre and twists it.
- February 2006—Oblique (Slant) from Greg Bear.
In the middle of the 21st century, this book follows several characters on a backdrop mixing media, sex, therapy, hope for immortality and artificial intelligence.
A good read, quite gripping, even if the idea of the “cheap” organic AI is far-fetched, the consequences and the stories of the characters surrounding it are more important.
- February 2006—Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the centre of the earth) from Jules Verne.
As the centenary of the death of Jules Verne was in 2005, I read a book from this author for the first time, about a trip under an Icelandic volcano to reach the center of the earth.
After the hardships the real explorers from the previous book endured, the adventures of professor Lidenbrock, his nephew and Hans are utterly ludicrous and unbelievable! The book is a fast read, but I don’t find it very interesting.
- February 2006—The dig tree: the extraordinary story of the ill-fated Burke and Wills 1860 expedition from Sarah Murgatroyd.
In the middle of the 19th century, no one really knew what was in the middle of the Australian continent. It’s the story of an expedition to cross Australia from south to north, which went terribly wrong.
I’ve seldom been that much moved by a book, strangely, torn between contempt for the improvisation and arrogance of these English or Irish who ignored so much about their new country, incomprehension of the pioneer spirit of the “let’s rush without organising support”, and horror at their destruction by bad luck. They shouldn’t have been able to cross half the country, yet success hanged by a thread, repeatedly, and they could have succeeded and lived.
I’ve added a text quoted in this book to my quotations page.
- January 2006—Doraemon—Gadget cat from the future Volume 1 (ドラえもん) from Fujiko F. Fujio.
Doraemon is a cat-robot from the 22nd century, sent to Nobita by his great-great-grandson to help him get out of the worse situations, as he tends to put himself in these easily.
I love the way Doraemon, drawn using only a few simple lines, is very expressive. There are also lots of small details about Japanese daily life.
- January 2006—Blacksad 3: Âme rouge (Blacksad 3: red soul) from Juanjo Guarnido and Juan Díaz Canales.
The follow-up to the adventures of the feline detective, this time in a cold war and McCarthyist ambiance.
The graphics are as always superb and warm, the animal-characters very expressive and human.
List of the books I’ve read in 2005