Thursday, March 17, 2011

5 Desert Island Reads -- Phil Middleton

Hello Neal,

Well, that was a challenge and if you give me another ten minutes I’ll change them all again.

One thing I have now noticed is that most of the books I read these days are multiple volume stories. There are many authors I could include, ASHER, Hamilton, Clark, Reynolds, Banks but it’s always nice to have some variation. Of course if I washed up on a desert island with my luck the only other survivor would be the crate of Mills and Boon!

Jack the Bodiless by Julian May. After borrowing The Saga of the Exiles from a friend and thoroughly enjoying it I moved on to this, The Galactic Milieu series. Mankind’s telepathic abilities awake and while they argue and fight among themselves the rest of the galaxy watches, for a while anyway. I just liked the concept and as most of the story was set in modern times you can relate to it a little more. Unfortunately Mays later books did nothing for me.

Illium by Dan Simmons. Now here’s an author that can knock out a mean book. Dan, as already mentioned by Rob Darby, is probably best known for The Hyperion books, which I have read, but my preference is for Illium/Olympus. The siege of Troy mixed with sentient robots and strange goings-on on planet earth, what more could you ask for. Dan is one of these authors who can turn his hand to anything it appears; SF, detectives, horror.

Evolution by Stephen Baxter. Where does this man get his ideas from? Mammoths, alternate history, “human” civilizations existing at the micron size, to name but a few. I have yet to find a Baxter book I didn’t enjoy. I would have to place him as my second favourite author…………..can you guess who’s first?

The Gap into Conflict by Stephen Donaldson. This, of course, represents the whole Gap series. Having read “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” and being very impressed by a fantasy that didn’t obviously rip off the Lord of the Rings I think Donaldson made an exceptional debut in scfi. He has since chosen to revisit Thomas Covenant but hopefully he may write some more scfi in the future.

The Silkie by A E Van Vogt. This I’ve had for a long time so it must have something going for it. If I remember correctly it’s about genetically modified humans. I don’t know if I’ve read any more of his books and certainly can’t name any. This obviously needs more investigation

So there you go, hardest bit of work I’ve done all week!


Best regards

Phil Middleton
Purchasing and Logistics Manager


Arth said...

evolution by S Baxter rocks!!! And absolutely agree with you that all his books are enjoyeable. Evolution, though tops the lot. Talk about being blown away by a book

Phil M said...

Thanks for posting this Neal, nice surprise this morning.
Like the way you've got a link to the company website! Did you mean to do this? Hope nobody thinks I'm trying to advertise.

Neal Asher said...

If there's a link in the email I stick it in, Phil. Why not?

After reading the Saga of the Exiles I can remember how much I wanted to get hold of the next series when it was published. I wasn't disappointed. Must read all those books again some time soon.

A E Van Vogt is another favourite of mine too.

Haven't read the 'Gap' books but, since I enjoyed the Thomas Covenant ones I should give them a try.

Neal Asher said...

Okay, I want to catch up with these Dan Simmons books. I think the one I read, many years ago, was Carrion Comfort. What is the order of all these Hyperion, Endymion, Olympus books?

Phil M said...

Dan Simmons:
The Hyperion Cantos is

The Fall of Hyperion
The Rise of Endymion

These two have no relation to the others except being written by Dan


Xanares said...

Ilium is really interesting. Love the philosophy-discussions some of the main characters have. Have still to really start Hyperion - only got a few chapters in I think. Don't know why it didn't get a hang of me yet.

todd said...

if you are going to read 'Ilium/Olympos' i suggest you start with the prelude short story "Ninth of Av".

i thought the Hyperion cycle to be wonderful reading. i do understand the negative criticism the books have garnered. but say on naysayers, i pay you little heed

Neal Asher said...

I've ordered them all but Olympus, since the reviews didn't look great. Also Zima Blue from Reynolds and seasons 6 & 7 of The Shield.

But where do I get that short story, Tom?

todd said...

it is in one of dozois' best of collections. i can scan you a PDF or copy a physical copy and mail it to you if you like neal.

Neal Asher said...

Hang on a mo, Todd (sorry about that 'Tom') - I've got a couple of Dozois's here. I'll check.

Andrew said...

I didn't get on with Evolution at the end. It was good at the start but for me, like all of his books, went on too long and became a bit boring.

Anyway, we all have different tastes.

I do like the gap into conflict though. Must finish off the series.

What is the Thomas Covenant series like?

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

advice corner for sf lovers: skip Endymion.

Friso said...

Opposite advice corner for SF lovers: do not skip Endymion.

I loved the Hyperion Cantos and even wrote my thesis about it at uni, but for some reason I couldn't get into Ilium. Have to try again one of these days.

todd said...


will be probably the 2001, 2002 or 20o3 best of
and i am with the alternate corner: all 4 hyperion books were liked by me.

Neal Asher said...

It's not in the ones I have: 23rd & 25th (ones with my stories in them).

Phil M said...

"The Ninth of Av" by Simmons is also in "Worlds Enough & Time"

Which I no longer have, sorry. Anybody else?

Jebel Krong said...

didn't like illium - annoying protagonist spoiled it for me, though the tying-in of sci-fi elements with mythology/history was nicely handled.

billd said...

I can recommend The Terror by Dan Simmons if you want to branch out into historical fiction with a supernatural flavour. Hyperion Cantos was excellent - must re-read it some time.

Purple library guy said...

Thomas Covenant books were impressive, especially for when they were written, but to say they don't obviously rip off the Lord of the Rings . . .
So, we have a ringbearer, with a missing finger or two, opposing an overwhelmingly powerful Dark Lord who seems antithetical to the balance of nature and derives still greater power from an evil artifact (the Illearth Stone) which must be destroyed, and who employs large numbers of brutish shock troops . . .
A major difference is that in Covenant, the main character is strongly motivated by anger and self-hate. Some consider this more interesting and realistic, others consider it annoying, or both at once. Another is that, like many books that followed in LoTR's footsteps, it more or less loses the major theme of the danger of power itself.

Disco Stu said...

LOVE the Saga of the Exiles. Devoured them all as a teen - even had the Pleistocene Companion which is rare now? Great reads - and the follow ups.

Got the Simmons and Baxter on my long 'to read' list.

Another interesting five Phil!

Wonder if anyone will read a book further to seeing it on one of these Desert Island Reads?

Neal Asher said...

Well I am, Stu.