Althea Fallon Reviews Jeremy's Best Books Of 2020 Part 1
Well, it’s the end of 2020. Assuming there isn't a giant asteroid on its way to wipe out life on the planet, we made it.
I'm keeping my eye on the sky for any new stars that suddenly appear, however.
I did get some reading done this year. Less than I wanted on account of having a kid back in September. Don't know if ya'll know this, but kids are a fuckin' time sink.
But I still have a tradition to uphold. Well... kind of a tradition. I did it last year and it was fun and people seemed to like it. (read: nobody complained loud enough for me to hear) So I figure if I did it again this year, than it is a tradition. Because, really, isn't that all a tradition is? Doing the same stupid shit for more than one year?
That thing I did last year was to have one of the characters of my books review my top reads over the past year. For 2020, Althea Fallon will be doing the honors. As always you can read all about her and the rest of the Human Recconection Project here and here. Mostly here, the second book features her pretty heavily. So without further ado.. adoo? A doo doo? Here's Althea.
I guess, thank you for that introduction, Jeremy. As he... completely failed to mention, I am the medical officer with the Human Recconection project. We're on a bit of a sabbatical at the moment having had a... I guess you could call it a minor disaster on Venus. So I guess it is the perfect time to sit down with a few books while we wait for... I guess I'm not even sure what. I suppose I'd rather not talk about it. Shall we get to the books then?
Well, I er… I’m at a loss frankly.
In medical school I took several courses on psychology and mental health. Not that I was all that interested in the brain, I decided some time ago that I was interested in infectious diseases. But they do encourage students to study broadly and, I must confess I do find the field fascinating.
I remember a professor encouraging us not to dismiss what we might regard as the ‘mad rantings of a lunatic’. Because, while what they say might not make sense to us, they make sense to the patient and that’s a clue as to what is going on in their head.
I bring this up because I was reminded of that professor when I read this book. I feel like we take a journey through a disordered mind; a place where what is real and what is completely fake get mashed together so hard that nobody can tell one from the other.
The story follows the titular character and his life as an abandoned child in Africa who grows up to become a great hunter who goes to New York City.. for some reason to become a vigilante before finding a submarine tank to take him along the coast to... Listen. I still can’t tell if what I read was brilliant or mad. Maybe both, maybe neither. I will say I’ve read nothing like it, so there’s that. I can't explain it, you'll just have to read it.
Jeremy’s Review of I Am Marcus Fox
I liked this one quite a lot. Shame it’s so far down on the list.
The Queensmen is an story of political intrigue that always seems to twist around the minute you think you know where its going. The story takes place in a fantasy medieval universe and it mostly follows a girl, Senna, who poses as the mistress of a royal house in order to spy on it for a group of outlaws loyal to the old monarch.
But she soon finds that the government official she is spying on is, in fact, a spy as well working deep within the ranks to bring down the current regime. From there, well, I’m sure you can guess. There are plots and plans, betrayals and lies, murder and machinations. Add a touch of romance and you have a book that I really couldn’t put down. And, through it all, there’s a light-hearted feeling to it. This is a book to curl up next to a fire to. It is a story that is best enjoyed with glass of wine and your most comfortable clothes.
Jeremy’s Review of The Queensmen
This book was a lot like the previous, only with starships and energy weapons mixed in. Honestly reminds me of our visit to Venus a bit.
It follows the remains of a criminal gang running to a backwater planet to escape justice and the crime syndicates they managed to annoy in previous books. But they pick this planet specifically because there is a secret buried deep inside a the forests of this world that can save their friend Avilon who was injured and put into stasis.
Of course the planet itself is in the middle of political upheaval. So you have politics that are most often sorted with swords and axes in a world where people have learned to solve things in a more sophisticated manner. Namely guns and blasters.
Oh, and a hitman has tracked them down to the planet.
Again, I liked it a lot. It’s dark and moody. There's a character I think Viekko would enjoy. Another fireside book. But this might require something stronger to get into the spirit. A nice scotch perhaps.
This story is just bloody adorable.
A young fighter ace named Monk decides he’s had enough with the endless fighting and decides to fake his own death in order to desert and return to his home world. It doesn’t go well. He finds himself stranded on a hostile planet with an enemy soldier who... well doesn't have his best interests at heart, lets say.
But in the process of convincing the soldier not to kill him, Monk ends up forming a kind of super team of peaceful warriors who try and use pranks to stop all wars in the galaxy.
It was a lovely mix of silly fun with some more serious messages about our species and societies which, as I can attest, don’t change as much as you would hope. Especially when it comes to the concept of killing one another.
I think an older child would probably enjoy this book. It has a… well childish sounds insulting— let’s call it innocence about it. It has hope, it has wonder and it has… a staff that douses people with sugar water it pulls from a hedonistic planet via a black hole. I think you see my point. Its just a fun, playful story.
I’ve only heard about Ancient Egypt in the vaguest of terms. I mean the pyramids are still there in case you were at all worried. Actually, despite Northern Africa being a bit of a flash point during the Global Revolutions a lot of the ruins remain. Which makes sense when you think about it. I mean one thousand years might seem like a long time, but a lot of those monuments are so old that people who actually lived in Ancient Egypt thought they were ancient. And they were, by the way. Those Egyptians lived closer to your time than they did the founding of their society. So what’s another thousand years?
Sorry, I’m rambling a bit.
The point is that it was not a subject I studied much on. But this book made me feel like I was there. Well close enough, the novel takes place in the mid-20th century after the World Wars. And it feels that, in some sense the writer lived in that time and place. The sights, the smells, the culture… It does what so many books promise but only a few deliver, it manages to put you in a special time and place.
And, again, it has a cozy feel to it. That, with the exception of a couple of books, seems to be a theme on the back bit of this book list. I’m forced to wonder if ‘cozy’ is just not Jeremy’s thing.
The list continues next week, I hope you will stop by.