Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary book coverProject Hail Mary is Andy Weir’s third novel. Weir began writing full time after the large success of his first novel The Martian which was quickly adapted into a movie. He continued pursuing his hobbies of relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight, all of which are incorporated into his novels. However, Project Hail Mary seems to include more science-based fun than The Martian and Artemis put together. This is because the majority of this story’s adventure takes place off planet.

Dr. Ryland Grace is the only survivor of a last-chance mission to save Earth and humanity as a species. However, he does not know this at the start. The book begins with Grace awakening from an induced coma (more plausible than the now generic cryosleep used for long space travel in science fiction), but he awakens with no memory of who he is or where he is. The story is split between him gradually regaining his memories and what is happening with him in real-time as he attempts to solve humanity’s gravest problem.

I really enjoyed this story, as I have enjoyed all of Weir’s works, but I must admit this one didn’t capture my interest as well as his previous books (I was still interested, but not as enraptured). The story takes a little while to really ramp up though I think my biggest issue was the character of Ryland Grace himself. He seems like a very unlikely candidate to be on such a mission. He is a smart guy, probably even more of a science expert than Mark Watney from The Martian, but he is much more…plucky. There are times he acts without the level of concern expected of an astronaut which seems a bit off considering space is extremely dangerous and resources are limited to what is aboard the ship. Also, if he fails the mission then humanity is doomed. The stakes are high and I personally wouldn’t want Ryland Grace as humanity’s last hope. However, this actually does get addressed later in the book and I think the way things play out actually made me warm up to Ryland and better understand how and why he is there. It just takes quite a long time before we get this information, so if you are reading the book and think, as I did, that Ryland is not the best character, then stick it out and see if you change your mind.

This book is somewhat reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey but more entertaining, more realistic, and actually tells a full story without ambiguous events. If you like The Martian or Artemis (which I think is a little underrated) then you will enjoy Project Hail Mary. It comes with all the science-based fun, some of which may go over your head, that is now expected from Weir, and you will likely learn a bit about space and space travel.

Happy Reading.

The Long Read

I had originally intended to read several larger books this year just as a little theme, but being back in school has hindered my reading in general let alone larger works, so I figured I’d just make a list and hopefully pick this theme up next year when I should be done with my degree and (hopefully) have some more time on my hands. I at least won’t be reading textbooks.

Below are several of the books I’ve been intending to read that near or surpass the 1000 page mark. How many have you read? How do you feel about large books? I’m curious if you have or intend to read any of these as well.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Count of Monte CristoI have been meaning to read this book for a long time. I think I started it several years ago but only made it a few hundred pages in before stopping (I can’t remember why). I really enjoyed the 2001 film of this book and I think that was when I first wanted to give it a read, but I think I will appreciate the book much more now that I am older.

IT

ItOkay, this book was never really one I would have picked up, but I’ve heard many times how good the book is from people who aren’t even avid readers. This made me want to give it a shot. I also saw the newer film adaptation of the book having gone with friends who wanted to see it. Again, not a book or story I would have originally found on my own, which is another reason I am actually interested in reading it. Exploration is good.

The Books of Earthsea

EarthseaThis one is technically a series, but my wife gifted me a one-volume illustrated edition which I am counting as one book for the purposes of my arbitrary theme of reading long books. I enjoy Le Guin and this series is very popular. It will be interesting to experience it and create my own opinion about the story.

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas ShruggedThis one I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Actually, this book first came on my radar when I found out that a video game I really like was basically a critique of this book. The game was Bioshock and it remains a series I go back to from time to time. I know Ayn Rand can be difficult to read, but I am determined to eventually read this book. I’ve heard The Fountainhead by Rand is good and I may give that one a shot too.

Infinite Jest

Infinite JestI really don’t know much about this book except I’ve read little by David Foster Wallace and I want to read this book of his. I may try more of his work prior to tackling this larger volume, but this is considered one of his better works, so I feel drawn to trying it out first.

These five alone may be more than enough reading for some people, but I hope I do get around to them after I finish this degree. Below are a few others I’ve considered that fit the bill, but I am not as gung ho about getting to them anytime soon.

The Stand

The Stand Book CoverA friend of mine, who is a Stephen King fan, really enjoyed this book and has been wanting me to read it. I tried once a while back but couldn’t get into it at the time. I have read Chuck Wendig’s book Wanderers, which he calls his tribute to King’s The Stand. Both have somewhat similar premises but I may eventually get around to this one.

Don Quixote

Don QuixoteThis is one of those classics that you think you should read or people tell you that you should read. I really became interested in reading it when it appeared in the show The Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin and staring Jeff Daniels. I was curious as to the context it played with the show and figured it was something I may want to read eventually anyway.

The Foundation Trilogy

The Foundation Trilogy Book CoverTechnically this is a trilogy that I have in one volume and therefore am counting it as one book (and, yes, technically there are five books but two were written well after the original trilogy so I am only including the original for now). This science fiction story by Isaac Asimov is one that has been on my list for some time and I will eventually get to it. Even as a trilogy it doesn’t quite meet the length of the other books in this list, but it comes close.

Fugitive Telemetry

Fugitive Telemetry book coverFugitive Telemetry is the newest release in The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells. This series is honestly just a lot of fun. I did find out/realize that this is technically the sixth book in the series as Network Effect is considered a standalone novel, so despite it being a fantastic Murderbot adventure, it isn’t included in the series as progressing the overall story of Murderbot. This means the series itself now has six novellas, which are quick and fun reads, and one longer book to keep the fun going.

Is it weird to say a series called Murderbot is fun? Not at all if you are familiar with the story, or rather the character, that is Murderbot.

Fugitive Telemetry takes place on Preservation Station and our not-so-friendly Murderbot finds itself in the middle of a murder investigation where it must interact with humans to solve the mystery.

Basically, this installment is like a Sherlock Holmes episode but with Murderbot. It is an overall solid entry to the series that will leave you once again wanting more. If this is the case, the Murderbot short story “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory” that was originally a pre-order bonus for Network Effect was recently made available at Tor.com. Read it at your leisure. I, for one, hope this series continues for a long time and will be happy with as many Murderbot adventures Martha Wells will give us.

Happy Reading.

May Reading Lineup

I have not been reading lately and I have definitely missed holding a book in my hands. This recent dry spell was directly caused by my graduate courses and other obligations on my time and attention. I am happy to say I have a break, albeit a short one, before my next set of courses begin and I am planning to get back into reading with hopefully no lengthy disruptions like the past several weeks.

I grabbed a few new books just yesterday and they are going to be my return to the lovely world of reading. I figured I’d share my current reading lineup.

Fugitive Telemetry

Fugitive Telemetry book cover

Fugitive Telemetry is the sixth entry into The Murderbot Diaries which I greatly enjoy. This novella came out just last week and is going to be my first book since my unintended hiatus. You will likely see a book recommendation for this one in the next week or so.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary book cover

Project Hail Mary is Andy Weir’s new book that released just this week. He is best known for his first book, The Martian, and I am excited to dive into this one despite not knowing much about it aside from the fact it centers around a lone astronaut who (maybe) finds an ally in an alien.

The Library at Mount Char

Library at Mount Char book cover

The Library at Mount Char has been on my list for some time and I was planning on reading it before my studies consumed my time. I plan to read it after the two books listed above. I can’t remember exactly which author discussed this book or when I first heard of it, but it sounded like something I would really enjoy.

So there we go. My short lineup of books I hope to read this month. I will be starting Fugitive Telemetry today and breaking this unnatural and unholy lack of reading with a story I’m sure I will love as it is Murderbot. Again, you may see me recommending these books as I finish them (should I like them enough to do so). My lack of posts on this blog are also a consequence of recent time constraints and I hope to get back into the rhythm of reading and posting.

Happy Reading.

On Gene Wolfe

Gene WolfeI first discovered Gene Wolfe through one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, who wrote about Gene in a collection of nonfiction called A View From the Cheap Seats. I had not yet read any of Gene’s work when he passed away in 2019. His passing prompted me to finally read his work and I started with his more popular work The Book of the New SunIt was through this four book saga that I grew to love his writing. I later picked up a collection of short fiction title The Best of Gene Wolfe and I knew that he was going to become a favorite of mine.

His writing is unique in a way that seems to tell a story that is just a glimpse into a larger universe vastly different from our own (or perhaps in a very different time than our own). The Fifth Head of Cerberus is a great example of this and is a short story that can be found in the collection mentioned above or in other collections. Though this is something that I really enjoy about his writing, I can see how it could put others off of it because there are many instances where the reader may feel like they don’t know much of what is happening though the characters do because they are inhabitants of that universe. Much is inferred from his prose and perhaps that is one aspect that draws me to it. There is a mystery that can unravel the more attention to give it, but it will never quite reveal itself to you in its entirety.

As a gift to myself (as a reward for losing weight and getting healthier0, I recently purchased a Folio Society print of The Book of the New Sun which is a beautiful edition and includes an introduction by Neil Gaiman himself.

It’s a little difficult to discuss how his work has impacted me because, much like his stories, it touches on aspects that I am not overtly certain of myself. I don’t have any personal stories in relation to him or his work like other authors in this series. I simply enjoy his work. I wish I had known about him and his work earlier then perhaps I would have such stories. From what little I do know, he seemed like a down-to-earth guy who enjoyed life and sharing joy. I will likely learn much more about him as an author the more I delve into his stories. All I can really say is that I look forward to reading more of his work and likely rereading it for his work has aspects that I hope to one day instill in my own writing.