Blogs about novels and literature in general

The Slitheen Excursion by Simon Guerrier

The novel “The Slitheen Excursion” by Simon Guerrier was published for the first time in 2009.

June is visiting Greece as part of her classical studies at the university. She’s about to finish her journey and wants to see the Acropolis but during her excursion she sees what appears to be a British Police telephone booth with a man coming out and running towards the nearby caves. Curious, she follows him and sees him animatedly arguing with strange creatures that apparently want to destroy the Parthenon. She decides to intervene and helps him to capture the aliens.

June asks for explanations and discovers that the strange man is the Doctor, who doesn’t explain the events but, when he discovers the girl’s interest in ancient Greece, suggests that she travel with him back in time. The idea is to go to 480 B.C. but the discovery of an anomaly in 1500 B.C. leads to a change of plans, especially when the arrival at the new destination occurs with an explosion that leaves the Doctor stunned.

Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick (Italian edition)

The novel “Chasing the Phoenix” by Michael Swanwick was published for the first time in 2015. It’s part of the Darger and Surplus series.

Sir Blackthorpe Ravenscairn de Plus Precieux said Surplus arrived in the Chinese city of Brocade bringing with him the body of his friend Aubrey Darger in search of the Infallible Physician, the only one who can make him come back to life. Assisted by Capable Servant, whom he met in the city, he succeeds in its intent but their arrival has attracted the attention of the Hidden King, the ruler of that region.

Taken before the Hidden King, Darger and Surplus use their subterfuge to be accepted as his advisers, becoming the Perfect Strategist and the Noble Dog Warrior. Seconds only to Powerful Locomotive and White Squall, they use every trick they can think of to ingratiate themselves with the sovereign helping him to conquer the surrounding kingdoms. Their main problem seems to come from the romantic complications that develop in the royal enturage.

Falling free by Lois McMaster Bujold (Italian edition)

The novel “Falling free” by Lois McMaster Bujold was published for the first time in 1988. It won the Nebula Award as the best novel of the year.

Leo Graf is an engineer who takes care of quality control in space habitats. Working for GalacTech, a very important space corporation, on their Cay Habitat is instructed to train a group of Quaddies, the product of genetic engineering applied to human beings to make them suitable to live and work in microgravity conditions.

The Quaddies have no legal protection, in fact they’re GalacTech’s property because legally they’re the product of their biological experiment. For Leo Graf it’s not easy to work in that situation and he’s very disturbed by the idea that the Quaddies are considered a product to be used and sold to other space habitats. The situation becomes even more serious when the news arrives of the invention of an artificial gravity generator, a technology that will make the Quaddies obsolete as a work force in space habitats.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The novel “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman was published for the first time in 1990.

Aziraphale is an angel while Crowley is a demon, although they’re part of the opposite factions among them a sincere friendship developed and both of them enjoy their life on Earth, where they have lived for millennia. For this reason the Apocalypse is really a nuisance for them and, despite the fact that it was carefully planned since the Creation, the two them are looking for a loophole to avoid it.

The Antichrist is about to reach the age when he will start manifesting his powers and the only hope for Aziraphale and Crowley is that he grows in a way that never leads him to perform the acts needed to start the end of the world. The plan could work despite the signs of the impending Apocalypse if the child the two are trying to influence was indeed the Antichrist.

Needle by Hal Clement (Italian edition)

The novel “Needle” by Hal Clement was published for the first time in 1949 in the magazine “Astounding” and in 1950 as a book.

The Hunter is chasing the fugitive in space to bring him to justice on their planet but their spaceships fell to Earth, in the Pacific Ocean. Both belong to a symbiotic species living inside hosts that belong to other species. On reaching the beach, the Hunter finds Bob Kinnaird, a boy of fifteen, and takes advantage of the fact that he is asleep to enter his body.

For the Hunter, taking care of his host and not hurting him is one of the most important laws, but humans are an unknown species for him and must proceed with caution. Slowly he learns enough about his host to establish a form of contact with him, which is essential to begin the search for the fugitive, who could have entered the body of any large Earth’s organism.