Mick Farren: More Than Mortal
The third novel in the Requist Quartet of remix vampire novels takes the pop-culture vampire king to England. A tomb is about to be opened, and it sounds like it's Merlin's. Farren's vampires want to control a power from their alien past - so cultured vampires from London and LA find themselves pitted in a struggle with their savage Scottish cousins. This third part of Farren's take on the vampire myth throws more light on his monster's Von Danikenesque origins. The results of alien experiments, they crave links with their pasts, while struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile world. If Merlin wakes and isn't in their clutches, it's a world that's going to take a turn for the worse.
Like all Farren's novels, this is a fun read, with distinctly dark undertones. Farren is a connosieur of the darkness of the human heart, and his vampires, the Nosferatau, are reflections of that darkness. In a death match of fictional vampires, Rice's Lestat would never survive a meeting with Farren's Renquist...
John C. Wright: The Golden Transcendence
The final part of the story that began with The Golden Age brings us to Phaeton's final conflict with the Silent Oecumene. The Golden Transcendence is here, the merging of all into one. It's a time of glorious exultation - and the point when all that is great about the Golden Oecumene can be lost. Wright's far future is a place of wonderful things, of great deeds, but also a time where there's a sense of closure, where the boundaries of the great dark around the Solar System are closed to humanity in its many forms. Phaeton has built his starship to found new Earths - but he may have to sacrifice his dreams to save everything.
Only Wright can make a climactic battle as much a war of ideas as a physical conflict. It's a war that will change everything, and mark the end of another Golden Age. Wright argues that utopias can't last, that they are ultimately sterile. Phaeton's battle with the Silent Oecumene will lead to the heart of the Sun - but will help open the walls around the solar system, and usher in a new - and very different - future.
Wright has given us an excellent novel in three parts - enjoyable, challenging and intriguing. Highly recommended.
Larry Niven: Scatterbrain
Larry Niven has been producing novels and short stories for many years now, and his early short story collections were staples of my early SF reading. Nowadays he's nowhere as prolific as he used to be, and his collections tend to mix old stories with new, along with essays and excerpts from novels. Scatterbrain is one of these latterday collections, with a few new Known Space stories (including a Gil Hamilton yarn), some essays and fanzine writings, along with excerpts from novels I already own... The highlight is a recent collaboration with Brenda Cooper, "Ice and Mirrors", along with a collection of the emails that helped construct the short story.
Collections like this leave me feeling a little underwhelmed. Sure, it's good to read the new fiction, but when more than 50% of the book is from other collections or novels, then it's hard to shake the feeling that it might well have been better to have saved the money for something else...
Avoid, unless you're a fan of Niven's work who hasn't bought any of his more recent books...