Tag Archives: suspense

Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke

Man was, therefore, still a prisoner on his own planet. It was much fairer, but a much smaller, planet than it had been a century before. When the Overlords abolished war and hunger and disease, they had also abolished adventure.

Childhood’s End is a good scifi from the accomplished author Arthur C Clarke. It starts with a sudden arrival of some aliens, just after the second world war. They bring peace and prosperity, but never disclose their reason to come to Earth. The book ends somewhat surprisingly, into a kind of transcendence for humankind.

childhoods-end
Quality scifi writing

Although written in 1953, the book keeps pace with current development and innovations, which shows the, what proved to be correct, vision of the author for the future.

The plot has several twists, a couple of stories being intermingled, but the narrative is kept straight and easy to follow. The anchor of the book are the aliens and the slow progress towards the inevitable end. It reminded me of the more recent series of Harry Turtledove (Colonization – also on this website).

The book is an easy read and imaginative enough to be an entertaining scifi almost 70 years after writing.

While I enjoyed reading the book, I think it could have explored more the excellent plot lines developed. A solid reading overall.

[Featured picture by ITU Pictures]

Blacksad – Juan Diaz Canales, Juanjo Guarnido

Une étoile s’était éclipsée, abandonnant mon passé dans le noir, égaré quelque part entre les ombres. Et personne ne peut vivre sans son passé.

Là dehors se cachait le coupable de deux meurtres, au moins: celui d’une personne et celui de mes souvenirs.

Et ce salaud allait le payer.

Blacksad est une exceptionnelle série de bande dessinée, anthropomorphiste, en cinq volumes (2016) de Juan Díaz Canales (écrivant) et Juanjo Guarnido (dessinateur).

Blacksad, l’héro.

Le héro est John Blacksad, un chat noir, détective privé aux États-Unis dans les années 1950. L’atmosphère a l’empreinte d’un film noir et est parfaitement exprimé par les dessines. Le graphisme de Guarnido est monumental: les personnages animalières sont superbe choisis, la coloration à l’aquarelle donne un timbre spécial, précis et vivant au action.

Le dialogue est fluide, les mots sont bien choisi. La narration est souple, avec aucune bagage de mots inutile, une qualité rare dans la littérature. C’est un plaisir de lire les histoires de Blacksad, regarder les dessines et être part de cette atmosphère noir crée par Canales et Guarnido.

Les cinq volumes sont : Quelque part entre les ombres (2000); Arctic-Nation (2003); Âme rouge (2005); L’Enfer, le silence (2010) et Amarillo (2013).

John Blacksad n’a pas des qualités incroyable, exceptionnelles, mais il est honnête, courageux et obstiné. Blacksad est sombre et solitaire, mais il reste sociable. Le lecteur se peut identifié facilement avec le héro. Son ami est Weekly, une fouine, journaliste, très bien informé, qui partage les même valeurs, mais pas la même personnalité réservé que Blacksad. John travaille souvent avec  Smirnov, un berger allemand, commissaire de police, aussi honnête et incorruptible.

La intrigue est toujours fraiche, plaine des surprises, mais réaliste. Les options disponible pour le héro ne sont pas simple. Les volumes sont avec mafia, assassinats, racisme, femmes fatales, fume de cigares, anticommunisme. Chacun a une couleur dominante propre:  noir, blanc, rouge, bleu et jaune.

La série de bande dessinée Blacksad reste une ouvre d’art, qui je recommande de voir et lire.

[Feature photo: Photographies prises lors du Festival International de la BD de Sollies Ville by Esby from Wikimedia]

[Article photo by Galvi, flickr]

Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

The Mining Colony now comprised eight modules, plus an inflatable dome that was attached directly to the asteroid. The robots had spent several weeks welding a three-meter-diameter ring into a circular groove that they had prepared on Amalthea’s surface. The inflatable had been mated to it about a hundred days ago, and filled with breathable atmosphere. It was not quite a shirtsleeves environment, since the asteroid was cold and chilled the air in the dome. And many of the robots’ normal operations produced gases that were toxic, or at least irritating. But that wasn’t the point of having a dome.

Seveneves is a book of what is called hard scifi, a category of science fiction focusing on scientific accuracy and technical detail. Neal Stephenson did a fantastic job in researching and writing this book, which is arguably one of the best scifi in the last years. The technical detail is incredible and the plot is perfectly built and sustained.

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What will humanity do if we have to leave Earth?

The novel starts with the destruction with the Moon in a cataclysmic event, an action that will destroy life Earth, leaving only the space as a refuge. After this strong hook for readers in the introduction, which kickstarts the entire action, Stephenson brilliantly describes the logical steps that human race takes for its survival. The author pays considerable attention to scientific accuracy, making the book a true voyage of discovery and imagination.

It is also extremely entertaining: the action has great pace, the descriptions are just enough to understand what is happening, the plot leaves the reader guessing what will come next and the personages are truly easily identifiable and memorable. The reader finds out by the last chapters why the novel is called this way.

The book is recommended by both Financial Times and Bill Gates. It’s incredible how you keep wanting to continue, even after more than 800 pages. A masterpiece.

The adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

I didn’t read the book in my childhood, so I read it recently. Interesting, but I read better ones, such as Monsieur Lecoq by Emile Gaboriau. Gaboriau had more depth.

The short stories didn’t allow characters to develop, although Holmes and Watson are in each of them. Also, the stories are more about mystery rather than dangerous crime.

Still, very fluid stories, smart plots, good dialogue. An interesting book.