Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

How popular is NaNoWriMo?

Saturday, December 26th, 2015 | Distractions

When I tell people that I did NaNoWriMo in November, they often ask how popular it is as most people have not heard of it. This is not surprising as I only heard about it through a friend at Toastmasters. It is predominantly an American thing, as the international shipping I refused to pay for my winners t-shirt demonstrates. It does have a large international following however, with plenty of people here in Leeds entering.

In total, 351,489 people entered this year. 40,301 finished it (11.5% of entrants).

In Yorkshire, a total of 1,034 people entered. The average word count was 20,000, though there is no break down of this. It could have been that 400 people finished it and 600 people wrote nothing, it could be a similar breakdown to the worldwide stats. Probably the latter.

The End of Eternity

Friday, December 25th, 2015 | Books

The End of Eternity is a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov. It is one of a handful of full-length novels that does not form part of one series or another (Robot, Foundation, Empire).

It’s a wonderful read. It explores the idea of time travel and the causal loops and problems that follow from that. It had some suspense, but once you have read some Asimov some of it is a little predictable. Other bits are brilliant because I should have been so closing to getting it but did not quite make it.

This is one of my favourite Asimov novels.


Pebble in the Sky

Saturday, December 12th, 2015 | Books

Pebble in the Sky is the third novel in Isaac Asimov’s galactic empire series. The empire of Trantor is now firmly established and spreading to every corner of the galaxy.

Earth on the other hand is not doing so well. The people of the galaxy have forgotten that it was the original home world of man, and Earth has fallen out with the rest of the galaxy. However, they gave a secret plan to destroy the empire.

Having read the Foundation series, it adds a different perspective. Spoilers start here by the way. This novel ends with a note of hope that Earth will rebuild. However, as those of us who have read Foundation and Earth will know, it doesn’t.

Foundation also benefits from originally having been short stories merged into novels. This means a lot happens and you see the story unfold over hundreds of years. The galactic empire series typically take place on one or two planets, and not much happens. They are still good, but it does not have quite the same effect of the first Asimov novels I read.

It does do an excellent job of constructing the amazing world that makes Asimov’s storytelling so enjoyable though. The far future, and the familiar, blended into one.


The Currents of Space

Thursday, December 10th, 2015 | Books

The Currents of Space is the second novel in Isaac Asimov’s galactic empire series. The first in the series, The Stars, Like Dust was not one of my favourite Asimov novels but this one is an improvement.

It still lacks that grander scale of lots of things happening, that the Foundation series has. However, it does open it up to the wider galaxy. It might all take place on two planets, but the empire of Trantor is there and on the rise.

The story follows the two planets of Sark and Florina. The former exploits the latter for it’s valuable kyrt plantations. But what length will they to go to protect it?


The Stars, Like Dust

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 | Books

The Stars, Like Dust is the first in Isaac Asimov’s Galactic Empire series of novels. I had grand visions when I started reading it. It would be the missing link between Robot series and the Foundation series, looking at the growing empire as it expanded and conquered the galaxy.

It was not like that. The empire never even comes into it. It talks about the fighting of a few kingdoms that control some planets. It is apparently set before the empire really arises and while it is okay as a standalone novel, it lacks the grip and brilliance of the better Asimov novels.

It is also a little predictable. Once you have read the Foundation series, you can pretty much guess where the rebellion world turns out to be. They came out at about the same time, so you could argue it the other way around of course.


The Shepherd’s Crown

Monday, December 7th, 2015 | Books

So this is it then, the final Pratchett novel. Worse, it’s a Tiffany Aching novel.

Pratchett comes out swinging for his final work. Perhaps it was his last chance to do something big, or perhaps he was trying to claw back readers from the popularity of George R. R. Martin, but I did not expect it to stat that way.

I did find a surprisingly amount of enjoyment in the book though. I have never been an Aching fan, but this was quite a good one. A nice way to go out on.


Robot Dreams

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 | Books

Robot Dreams is a compilation of short stories by Isaac Asimov. It contains a mixture of his work, including the robot series, but also the multivac series, and unrelated science fiction stories. A few I had already read in The Complete Robot but most were new to me.

I think I enjoyed the book slightly more than The Complete Robot as a lot of the stories felt more polished. Overall, I remain more a fan of his full-length novels than his short stories, though both are good.

The story the book is named after, Robot Dreams is actually one of the worst stories in the book, in my opinion. There does not seem to be a satisfactory motive or conclusion to it.


A Dance with Dragons (Part One)

Saturday, November 14th, 2015 | Books

A Dance with Dragons is the 5th novel in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

I am in two minds about it. Some of it, especially at the start is just confusing. Sam is back at The Wall and being sent to Old Town. I don’t know why as he left in A Feast of Crows. Maybe I missed the sentence that said “Jon Snow had a flashback”, but having talked it over with friends I am not the only one to have suffered déjà vu. Davos too, though this is latter explained.

On the other hand, it feels like quite a bit actually happens in this book. Which is unusual for a book of this series which can often go for hundreds of pages without much happening. I think i like it this way.

A Dance with Dragons

Robots and Empire

Friday, November 6th, 2015 | Books

Robots and Empire is the forth full-length novel in Isaac Asimov’s Robot series. It is set hundreds of years after The Robots of Dawn and so I assumed it would be more about the creation of the Galactic Empire.

It was in some respects but was mostly another adventure of Daneel, Giskard and Gladia, who has a spacer was still alive even after all this time.

I was originally going to get it as an audiobook, but just before I did, it mysteriously disappeared from the Downpour store. Almost as if someone was removing references to Earth from the Galactic Library…

Robots and  Empire


Sunday, November 1st, 2015 | Life

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, takes place every November. The idea is that you commit to writing just under 2,000 words a day and by the end of the month you will have a 50,000 word novel.

I have been meaning to give it a go for years now, so this year I am trying to commit to it. I have an idea and I have outlined the story, which I am hoping will provide me with the framework and remove a major blocker in the motivation. I could be wrong though, we shall see.

I am not committing to writing a full length novel. I have the outline of the story, so I am going to write that and if I finish early then so be it, that will be fine. A short novel is better than no novel at all!