Blogs about novels and literature in general

Effendi by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

The novel “Effendi” by Jon Courtenay Grimwood was published for the first time in 2002. It’s the second novel in the Arabesk trilogy and is the sequel to “Pashazade”.

Ashraf (Raf) al-Mansur was named Chief of Detectives of the Police in El Iskandryia (Alexandria of Egypt) in the Ottoman Empire but his first case quickly turns out to be a big headache. An investigation leads to the discovery of the past of Hamzah Effendi, the richest man in the city and the father of the girl Raf was supposed to marry.

Hamzah Effendi ends up being charged with war crimes in a case that goes far beyond the borders of the Ottoman Empire and draws the attention of both European powers and the USA. International political clashes start provoking chaos in El Iskandryia when various nations start using a number of means to increase their influence in North Africa.

Something in the Water by Trevor Baxendale

The novel “Something in the Water” by Trevor Baxendale was published for the first time in 2008.

Captain Jack Harkness’s team is looking for who or what has been able to brutally kill a Weevil but an old friend of Jack’s warns him through Gwen Cooper and Toshiko Sato that something big is happening. The investigation leads to what seem to folklore stories but those who work for Torchwood know that the strangest stories can hide obscure truths.

Dr. Bob Strong is treating a growing number of patients with flu-like symptoms but their origin isn’t clear. Meanwhile, his concerns go to Saskia Harden, a patient with a past of suicide attempts who troubles him and hides something strange.

The Jagged Orbit by John Brunner (Italian edition)

The novel “The Jagged Orbit” by John Brunner was published for the first time in 1969. It won the BSFA prize as best novel of the year.

At the beginning of the 21st century, racial segregation in the USA became a total separation but it only exacerbated the tension between black and white with increasingly violent clashes. The Gottschalks, a mix between a lobby and a racket, take advantage of that selling weapons to anyone but leveraging the their clients’s fears they make the situation even worse.

The predictions of the future can be entrusted to sophisticated computers or to people such as Lyla Clay, a pythoness who during a drug-induced trance has visions of the future. For journalist Matthew Flamen, investigating the relationship between the Gottschalks and political power seems a good idea to keep his job.

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

The novel “Blue Mars” by Kim Stanley Robinson was published for the first time in 1996. It won the Hugo and Locus Awards. It’s the third novel in the Mars trilogy and follows “Green Mars”.

Over a century after the arrival of the first human expedition to Mars, terraforming operations caused enormous changes to what used to be the red planet. Water is in its liquid state on the surface forming seas and rivers. On Earth, however, water has become a major issue following climate changes.

The relationship between Earth and Mars remains tense and the treaty between the two planets marks a difficult peace. Immigration from the Earth keeps on growing and represents another reason for conflict among the Martian factions. There are still those who oppose terraforming and consider the Earthlings as invaders that must be stopped.

Master of the House of Darts by Aliette de Bodard

The novel “Master of the House of Darts” by Aliette de Bodard was published for the first time in 2011. It’s the third in the “Obsidian And Blood” series and follows “Harbinger of the Storm”.

Emperor Tizoc’s coronation war turned out to be a failure with the capture of just a few prisoners to be sacrificed during the great ceremonies to be held to celebrate that event. As if that wasn’t enough, one of the prisoners died suddenly and the cause seems to be of magic origin.

The High Priest of the Dead Acatl already carried out a number of investigations into crimes connected to magic and the intervention of a deity but the situation is really delicate. Tizoc became emperor in unique circumstances and if he can’t secure the favor of the gods the prospects for the future are of grave instability.