Beneath the Dark Ice was on my Amazon recommendations list for ages. Clearly it ticked a lot of boxes for my likes and being written by a fellow Aussie was another big tick. Needless to say, when I was in a bookstore that hadn’t been swallowed by a bank, I bought a copy.
For anyone who has read James Rollins’ Subterranean, or drowned themselves in HP Lovecraft at any stage in their life, you will see some similar ideas in this techno-thriller. Mix a super soldier and his team, his long time enemy, a band of scientists and a world beneath ours and you have the makings of a fine thriller. I always enjoy playing, “guess who dies next” in these sorts of novels.
So why only 3 stars? Well, I’m not a fan of exposition. Sorry, let me rephrase: you know how everyone loved Steig Larson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Well I hated it; because I didn’t need the first 50 pages of the book to describe flowers, home renovations and nautical exploits. Greig’s book is fast paced and doesn’t flounder in blocks of boring detail like Larson, but he does use a style of exposition in his writing that I don’t enjoy. Nothing wrong with the story, or the style, just that whilst I enjoyed the story, the style just didn’t do it for me.
This was Greig’s first book, so I expect his work will be ‘tighter’* in the subsequent books (which are rated higher on Goodreads). His super soldier, Alex Hunter, is definitely setup for another adventure. How Greig will top the story in this novel I don’t know though.
*tighter – this is reviewer talk for “I have no idea how to write a book but writers seem to get better at it somehow, I’m assuming magic”.
I’m not sure of what to think with this book. I’ve read a few Clive Cussler novels, most recently The Chase, but this was my first Dirk Pitt adventure. Before I go any further I should say I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
I had just finished The Chase when I was in a bookstore that was having a receivership sale. For e-book fans, a bookstore is a place where the good trees go to die. I was browsing the remaining stock and picked up Sahara, knowing I would enjoy it. Even the movie was able to rise above Matthew McConaughey’s terrible acting – thanks in large part to Steve Zahn’s terrific turn as Giordino.
Reasonably fast paced (remembering that the last few books I’ve read were by Matthew Reilly and Andy McDermott) and with a couple of plots, Sahara is an entertaining read. The doubts I have are two fold: pushing the envelope of human endurance and the generational gap. The first point is that Dirk and Al are dragged through hell and back, most of the time running on fumes. For anyone who has really pushed themselves you know how long it takes to recover from that sort of ordeal. The second point is that Cussler’s take on the world is ‘old school’. He has some quaint things to say about women, despite their strength and indomitable presence in the story. Oh, and I can’t be an Aussie without mentioning the fact that no-one in Australia drinks Fosters beer. The only time I have seen it on sale is when I have been overseas.
Either way, Cussler’s novels are always entertaining.
Things that are difficult to say when you’re drunk:
Things that are VERY difficult to say when you’re drunk:
Things that are downright IMPOSSIBLE to say when you’re drunk:
Thanks, but I don’t want to have sex.
Nope, no more alcohol for me.
Sorry, but you’re not really my type.
Good evening officer, isn’t it lovely out tonight?
Oh, I just couldn’t. No one wants to hear me sing.
You’re right, I can’t jump over that table.
It is the season to be jolly, apparently. The jolliest people are, of course, retailers, who are doing their impersonations of Scrooge McDuck swimming. The rest of us are just happy to have some time off work and an excuse to eat until our arteries congeal and drink until the tile floor looks comfy.
Don’t get me wrong, Xmas is a lovely time of year, but I have some issues with it.
1) It’s Xmas not Christmas.
This celebration stopped being about Christ’s birthday when shops started advertising how many shopping days there were left before Xmas. I’m glad we have the holiday but lets stop pretending it is a religious holiday. To the 16% of Australian’s (check your country stats here) who actually attend church, feel free to ignore this point. And yes I’m aware of the irony here.
2) Xmas cards.
I understand the idea of sending correspondence to family and friends and given the “holiday season” it only seems logical to catch up with people. But I’m under 40, so I have Facebook, Twitter, Email, Linkedin, mobile phones, and know how to use them. Sending cards feels like people the world over are taking a vow of technophobia in order to contract hand cramps and level a rain forest.
3) Xmas lights.
I think the goal of Xmas lights, if I am understanding them correctly, is blind people in the space station orbiting Earth. In the day and age of climate change, when we really should be cutting down on energy usage, we decide to set up a whole lot of lights to blind people. It has become a competition between neighbours and streets to see who can have the most gaudy display of flashing eyesores. The winner is usually the person or street who wake up to the electricity bill in January realising they need a second job and to sell a kidney.
Why is it that people only remember for the other eleven months of the year that they can’t sing?
Which also brings me to:
5) Xmas songs.
I’m not talking about the traditional carols here, I’m talking about the saccharine odes to love and presents that bombard the airwaves from every pop singer/group the world has to offer. These “artists” were barely tolerable in small doses as it was, but the competition to have the highest selling drink coaster means you can’t even go near a TV or radio for fear of diabetes and the desire to hug a puppy.
6) The celebrity biography.
Speaking of stocking stuffers, every Xmas there must be more celebrity biographies bought for Dads the world over than any other time of year. In fact, it is safe to say that the book reading statistics are built on this Xmas tradition of buying a book no-one wants to read for people who don’t read in the first place. Is it really a surprise that so few people read when the only book they start each year is about the mundane life of somebody with decent hand-eye coordination or a backstabbing politician proposing to tell all, but really just relating the party political line of events. I’d prefer the socks.
With that said, Merry Xmas everyone!
Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket.
Australia has Matthew Reilly. The US has Clive Cussler and James Rollins. The UK has Andy McDermott.
The Sacred Vault is Andy’s sixth Nina and Eddie adventure and he just keeps the adrenalin pumping as much as ever. I’ve met archaeologists, they make soil scientists seem exciting by comparison. Yet the world has more archaeologist adventurers than any other science: Indiana Jones, Jack West Jnr, Dirk Pitt, Nina and Eddie, the list goes on. But who can blame writers for picking archaeologists over the other sciences, ancient stuff doesn’t go in the sci-fi section.
Andy has served up another thriller that doesn’t let up. Much like Reilly, he knows how to keep you glued to the page and blow things up. What I also like is the humour he manages to weave into the dialogue, making for a fun and exciting read. Something I noticed with this book in the series was that as the action peaked, so did the amount of witty banter.
This is definitely a book (and series) for thriller and adventure fans.
Think of it this way, imagine school kids around the world actually writing something that is legible (A41A14A) because of NaNoWriMo. Imagine a November were you don’t receive a single tweet asking you to buy an author’s book, because they are too busy doing NaNoWriMo. Isn’t that worth a couple of bucks?
Dear Office of Letters and Light Superhero,
I have many things to tell you.
First off, THANK YOU. The fact that you’re getting this email means you’ve earned the superhero moniker by making a donation to one (or many) of our programs. Because of your support, NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program grew again this year; we had 250,000 adults and 80,000 kids and teens in more than 2,000 classrooms writing with us. Your contributions also helped 500 public libraries transform their spaces into community noveling zones.
You inspired so many stories, and unleashed a life-changing creative confidence in writers around the world.
This has been a big year for all of our programs. We launched the brand-new Camp NaNoWriMo, and rebuilt the entire NaNoWriMo site in order to keep it speedy during November’s monster traffic spike. For the first year ever, we had a year-round, full-time Young Writers Program Director to expand our free curriculum and resources for schools, and a year-round, full-time staff member dedicated to supporting our libraries and 500 volunteer-run chapters around the world.
All in all, November capped an ambitious, heartwarming, and expensive year for OLL.
And this is why I’ve turned on the bat signal. As of today, we still have $200,000 left to raise before we hit our organizational break-even point for the year. If we miss our fundraising goal, we won’t shut down, but we will have to cut back on all the programs you so generously supported this year.
I hesitated to bother you again with a fundraising appeal; you’ve already done so much for us. This moment, though, is such a crucial one for the future of our programs that I’m asking you to please consider making a donation to the Office of Letters and Light today.
If you’ve already given all you can this year, we understand, and we’re so grateful to you. But if you can make an additional donation, even a very small one, it will have a huge impact on the lives of the 400,000 writers we hope to inspire together in 2012.
The Office of Letters and Light
Donate via credit card or PayPal through the OLL Donation StationSkip the thank-you gifts and donate directly through PayPalDonate by check or money order
Barry Eisler is an interesting fellow, but this blog post is mainly for my writer friends.
I can’t claim to have read any of Barry’s books yet – although I have bought two which are waiting on my Kindle to-be-read list – but he does have some interesting things to say about publishing and writing. These videos are from a Q&A session he did in Boston. Enjoy.
I really do enjoy a good mystery novel. They can make do without the sex and violence of normal crime or thriller stories and yet still keep you intrigued. Shamini did have a good reason for eschewing sex and violence, her mother edits it all out. Fortunately she left the humour and intrigue in.
This is my first Shamini Flint novel, and features the fat Indian Inspector from Singapore, Inspector Singh. Singh is the atypical hero, someone you would prefer not to know. Yet you find yourself wanting the inspector to triumph in his battle to find the truth. You also wish that he went somewhere a little less humid, so as to avoid sweating.
Shamini takes an interesting approach to writing a murder mystery. She picks a topic or issue she wants to explore and then writes a murder to bring the fat inspector onto the scene. In this way, her novel is as much social commentary as it is murder mystery. I was quite interested in the look into law in Asia, especially the conflicts and overlaps between the different court systems there.
If you like mysteries, then you’ll enjoy Inspector Singh Investigates.
The report of my death was an exaggeration – Mark Twain
You know, there is nothing better than media speculators. Any possible change in an industry, government, or price of coffee and they suddenly start predicting the end of the world. Some changes, like any Apple product, are welcomed with open advertising arms, other changes, like e-books, are threatening jobs.
So how did the publishers fare this year? They lost major stores (Borders, REDGroup), had a decrease in stocking at big box stores, and had the market flooded with a slush pile. Turns out they did pretty well.
That’s right, e-books are more profitable and have generally replaced the paperback sales decline. Who’d have thought that people who enjoy reading wouldn’t suddenly stop reading? Did not see that one coming.