Books / Year 1998
Date: 1998-12-28 (permlink)
Author: David Filkin
Name: Stephen Hawkingin maailmankaikkeus (Stephen Hawking's Universe)
Rating: 4 stars

Much better than the TV series.

Date: 1998-12-26 (permlink)
Author: H.P. Lovecraft
Name: Alkemisti ja muita kertomuksia
Rating: 2 stars

Lousy.

Date: 1998-12-26 (permlink)
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Name: Luonnoton surmaaja (Unnatural Exposure)
Rating: 0.5 stars

On a scale of 1-5, this book deserves 0.5, and that much only because it's visually hard to portray 0 stars. There are so many things wrong with this book that I won't even attempt to mention them. Trash like this doesn't deserve detailed discussion.

Date: 1998-12-19 (permlink)
Author: Jack London
Name: Great Short Works of Jack London
Rating: Reread

Nothing beats London when it comes to portraying men freezing or starving to death.

Date: 1998-12-18 (permlink)
Author: Hanif Kureishi
Name: Esikaupunkien Buddha (The Buddha of Suburbia)
Rating: 5 stars

Excellent book, though I was at page 198 before I finally discovered that it's situated in the late seventies instead of the late eighties..

Date: 1998-12-17 (permlink)
Author: Roald Dahl
Name: The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl
Rating: Reread

Pretty good.

Date: 1998-12-13 (permlink)
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Name: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Rating: 3 stars

Infinitely better than the movie.

Date: 1998-12-08 (permlink)
Author: Margaret Atwood
Name: The Handmaid's Tale
Rating: 4 stars

Scary.

Date: 1998-12-05 (permlink)
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Name: JOB: A Comedy of Justice
Rating: 5 stars

It's truly amazing how Heinlein can write such a brilliant satire aimed at religion, all the while maintaining his own sexism. But the sexism isn't so overpowering and the attacks on religion are so good that the book is one of Heinlein's best, if not THE best.

Date: 1998-12-03 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Name: Jingo
Rating: 3 stars

Can't really think of anything to say about this yet another Discworld book. It isn't the worst of them, but not the best either.

Date: 1998-11-26 (permlink)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Name: Speaker for the Dead
Rating: Reread

See my comments for Ender's Game.

Date: 1998-11-24 (permlink)
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Name: The Sirens of Titan
Rating: 1.5 stars

I didn't get it. I don't know if that says more about me than about the book, but that's the truth.

Date: 1998-11-18 (permlink)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Name: Ender's Game
Rating: Reread

I remember a quote about Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead that sums up my feelings about them quite well: "Two of the giant SF novels of the eighties."

Date: 1998-11-16 (permlink)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Name: Children of the Mind
Rating: 3.5 stars

Pretty good ending to the Ender saga.

Date: 1998-11-14 (permlink)
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Name: Have Space Suit - Will Travel
Rating: 2 stars

A great example of everything that's wrong with Heinlein.

Date: 1998-11-12 (permlink)
Author: Harry Turtledove (editor)
Name: Alternate Generals
Rating: 2 stars

In one word: boring.

Date: 1998-11-07 (permlink)
Author: David G. Hartwell (editor)
Name: Year's Best SF 3
Rating: 2.5 stars

If these are the best short stories the science fiction field came up with in 1997 it was indeed a lousy year for them.

Date: 1998-11-02 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: As the Crow Flies
Rating: 3.5 stars

The first half of the book contains the same events described from four or five different viewpoints, each one adding some tiny bit of detail that the reader didn't already know. That gets boring quite fast. The latter half of the book doesn't seem to suffer from this nearly as much, and moves along rapidly. The reason I didn't particularly like this book was because it devotes hardly any of its 798 pages to actually describing how the store _itself_ was run. If it weren't for Mrs. Trentham, the store apparently wouldn't have had a single problem in the years between 1920 and 1970. That's hardly realistic or, more to the point, interesting.

Date: 1998-10-30 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: A Matter of Honor
Rating: 3.5 stars

I only wish the Russians had gotten Alaska.

Date: 1998-10-29 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: A Twist in the Tale
Rating: 3.5 stars

Slightly better quality stories this time around, compared to "A Quiver Full of Arrows".

Date: 1998-10-25 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: Shall We Tell the President?
Rating: 3.5 stars

This review contains spoilers. Click here to show it.

The ending sucked, otherwise it was ok. Either the assassins should've succeeded in killing the president, or they should have been caught. Now, they were not caught, and the public isn't even told that there was an assassination attempt. I don't understand what they hoped to gain from not releasing the details of the attempt to the press.

Date: 1998-10-24 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: A Quiver Full of Arrows
Rating: 3 stars

A collection of slightly amusing short stories.

Date: 1998-10-23 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: The Prodigal Daughter
Rating: 3.5 stars

The first 232 pages are mainly repetition from Kane & Abel, but the rest of the book is okay. Written in 1982, it predicted that in 1995, USA would have a female president. It also portrays a very aggressive Soviet Union who's attacking countries left and right in the nineties, and Florentyna Kane is the only person who stands in the way of communism taking over the world. Since USA still hasn't had even a female vice president or something, and the USSR collapsed under its own weight, the book is heavily outdated.

Date: 1998-10-21 (permlink)
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Name: Kane & Abel
Rating: 4.5 stars

A book that keeps you reading till five in the morning and then makes you skip your first class of the day can't be too bad. Though not as good as "Fourth Estate", it's still a great story. Though one wonders why Archer always portrays the Eastern European immigrants as the bad guys.

Date: 1998-10-19 (permlink)
Author: David Brin
Name: Heaven's Reach
Rating: 4 stars

(See below) Well, since we didn't get to meet Tom Orley and company, everything is not forgiven. Quite the contrary. Too many unresolved issues and deus ex machina rescues and very little character development combine to make this book a very disappointing ending for the series. That is, if this is the ending, which is in doubt considering Brin's last words in the book. The book does pick up the pace once more, so it's not all bad.

Date: 1998-10-01 (permlink)
Author: David Brin
Name: Infinity's Shore
Rating: 4 stars

The Uplift series picks up the pace again. A slightly better book than Brightness Reef, but still only average science fiction. The plot seems kind of forced, as do the characters. But everything is forgiven if we get to meet Tom Orley and the others again in Heaven's Reach :)

Date: 1998-09-13 (permlink)
Author: David Brin
Name: Brightness Reef
Rating: 3.5 stars

Has almost nothing in common with the previous trilogy, which contained rapid progress for mankind, exciting new alien races trying to annihilate them in the progress, and interesting characters. And when I say "previous trilogy", I mean for the most part "Startide Rising". The other two books were "normal" science fiction, while "Startide Rising" was truly spectacular. So in all fairness, it's no wonder this book couldn't live up to the huge expectations I had. Still, much of the appeal of the previous trilogy was based on the awe-inspiring ultra-high tech the aliens were using and that humankind was rapidly gaining from them, and in some cases, even inventing better stuff for themselves, and just the grand scale of things. Fleets of ships the size of moons etc. The transition from that to Brightness Reef's petty wars between humans and half-horses using slings and nets is just too much. I guess what I'm getting at is that the book resembles part XVI of some pulp fantasy saga, with elves changed to hoon, dwarves to qheuen, and some minor science fiction parts thrown in. Then the heroes and villains run through forests, ambushing each other, and mystic robots deliver fiery death from the skies above. Not exactly what I want to see in the Uplift-series.

Date: 1998-08-25 (permlink)
Author: David Brin
Name: The Uplift War
Rating: 4 stars

Somewhere between "Startide Rising" and "Sundiver". Much closer to Startide, though.

Date: 1998-08-16 (permlink)
Author: David Brin
Name: Startide Rising
Rating: 6 stars

As I've said before, books like this are the reason I read science fiction.

Date: 1998-08-11 (permlink)
Author: David Brin
Name: Sundiver
Rating: 3 stars

A good start for the Uplift trilogy, but a far cry from the brilliance of later books, like "Startide Rising". Sundiver is Agatha Christie mixed with the sun's physics and strange alien races.

Date: 1998-08-03 (permlink)
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Name: Time Enough for Love
Rating: 4 stars

Sex through the ages. That's what the book basically sums up to. Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely not what you'd expect from a science fiction book. If this can be classified as science fiction at all, which I have my doubts about.

Date: 1998-07-26 (permlink)
Author: Elsa Anttila
Name: Mitäs maineesta neiti emäntä
Rating: 1.5 stars

And you thought Harlequin was bad.

Date: 1998-07-15 (permlink)
Author: Dean Koontz
Name: Sole Survivor
Rating: 2.5 stars

What at first seemed like a copy of "Airframe" with some added twists, turned out to be something entirely different. Through the eyes of Joe Carpenter, we learn the basic truths of this world: science is pure evil, religion is the answer to everything, evolution is just a myth, and last but not least, God exists. I don't know if Koontz himself believes all these things or if he just wrote a book in which things are portrayed as so, but nevertheless, this book seems to be written for the sole purpose of spreading these "truths". And if you don't happen to believe in them, which is the case with me, you won't enjoy the book.

Date: 1998-07-12 (permlink)
Author: Dean Koontz
Name: Fear Nothing
Rating: 5 stars

Couldn't put it it down. Weird but interesting characters combined with a fast-moving plot, all written in the familiar smooth flowing Koontz-style. What more could you possibly want from a book?

Date: 1998-07-10 (permlink)
Author: Dean Koontz
Name: Pimeän pelko (Darkfall)
Rating: Reread

You can easily notice this is one of his earlier works. The characters are one-dimensional, there are many illogicalities in the story, etc. This doesn't mean it's a bad book though; many writers would kill to be able to write something like this.

Date: 1998-07-04 (permlink)
Author: Dean Koontz
Name: Cold Fire
Rating: Reread

An excellent book. Luckily I read the book years ago so I had totally forgotten the ending, which is what the book's all about.

Date: 1998-06-04 (permlink)
Author: Harry Harrison
Name: The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell
Rating: 3 stars

Seems to me Harrison should seriously consider writing "The Stainless Steel Rat Retires"...

Date: 1998-05-05 (permlink)
Author: Dan Simmons
Name: The Rise of Endymion
Rating: 5 stars

A good ending for the series. Otherwise excellent book, but the middle part where Raul is staying on T'ien Shan is boring. I don't understand how ANY of that stuff applies to anything else in the whole series. Do we really need to know geographical details of hundreds of mountain ranges there?

Date: 1998-04-04 (permlink)
Author: David G. Hartwell (editor)
Name: Year's Best SF 2
Rating: 3 stars

Your basic science fiction anthology.

Date: 1998-03-10 (permlink)
Author: Jussi T. Lappalainen
Name: Aseet ja Taistelut
Rating: Reread

Nice overview of the history of warfare.

Date: 1998-03-06 (permlink)
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Name: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Rating: Reread

I didn't even remember I had read the book until I started reading it. Definitely classic science fiction material, despite the usual somewhat sexist tones so common in Heinlein's books.

Date: 1998-02-28 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Name: Hogfather
Rating: 4.5 stars

One of the best Discworld books (so far).

Date: 1998-02-24 (permlink)
Author: Larry Niven
Name: The Integral Trees
Rating: 3.5 stars

Nowhere near Ringworld-class.

Date: 1998-02-21 (permlink)
Author: Ursula K. Leguin
Name: Pimeyden Vasen Käsi (The Left Hand of Darkness)
Rating: 4 stars

I have a hard time thinking up anything to say about this book. It was okay, but by no means excellent.

Date: 1998-02-16 (permlink)
Author: Piers Paul Read
Name: Elossa! (ALIVE - The Story of the Survivors)
Rating: 4.5 stars

Cannibalism is always fun to read about.

Date: 1998-02-12 (permlink)
Author: Daniel Keyes
Name: Kukkia Algernonille (Flowers for Algernon)
Rating: 6 stars

An absolutely fantastic book with a very humane style about a difficult subject.

Date: 1998-02-11 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Name: Feet of Clay
Rating: 4.5 stars

A very good sequel to Men at Arms.

Date: 1998-02-05 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Name: Maskerade
Rating: 3.5 stars

Yet another mediocre Discworld book.

Date: 1998-01-31 (permlink)
Author: Väinö Linna
Name: Tuntematon Sotilas
Rating: 3.5 stars

Finally got around to reading this one. Seems like a pretty normal war story to me..

Date: 1998-01-27 (permlink)
Author: John Irving
Name: Ystäväni Owen Meany (A Prayer for Owen Meany)
Rating: Reread

Irving's best book without a doubt. I love this book.

Date: 1998-01-22 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Name: Good Omens
Rating: Reread

A classic.

Date: 1998-01-16 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Name: Interesting Times
Rating: 4.5 stars

A good Discworld book for a change.

Date: 1998-01-05 (permlink)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Name: Soul Music
Rating: 3 stars

Another mediocre Discworld book.