Monday, August 27, 2007

The Terror

While I love the multiple award winning author Dan Simmons I was initially reluctant about picking up his latest novel The Terror. My reluctance stems from the fact that the cover of the book reminded me of reading a book by Cassie Brown in eighth grade English entitled Death on the Ice.

Death on the Ice recounts the 1914 Newfoundland sealing disaster in which two thirds of 132 men died as they were left alone on the ice for two days. While The Terror is the fictional recounting of the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin to find the Northwest Passage.

Both books deal with the horrible trials encountered by men lost on the ice but The Terror brings things to a whole new level as the sailors are also being stalked by a super-natural entity which I can best describe as a Wendigo but is more accurately called a Tuurngait.

The story is told partially in flashbacks and from multiple points for view, most notably Captain Francis Crozier but remains quite easy to follow.

I highly recommend this novel even if you are not a fan of the setting as it is a well crafted suspenseful story with great characterization. I believe that most people would love to be as noble as Dr. Goodsir.

Update: Podcast interview on NPR.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Brazen Careerist

I just finished reading Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk and I just have to say that she gets it. She really understands the changing attitudes that Gen X & Y are bringing to the work place.

As a generation X'er I was taught by my elders to get a job with a good company work with them for 25 years and then retire. Sadly that's not the way that the world works anymore. I still remember the near coronary that I gave my father when I told him I was leaving Nortel after two years to pursue a job at a small private Ottawa software firm.

Now you need to be responsible for your own career and you can't expect your company to take responsibility for you. This book is that handbook that everyone from my generation should read.

For more of Penelope's writing please check out her blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay Flag of Canada is his first novel since his Fionavar Tapestry series in which the story takes place in present day. The story is set in Provence, France as a young Canadian boy is accompanying his father, a photographer, on a photo shoot. Almost immediately the reader along with Ned, the boy, stumbles into the middle of a story that has been going on for a very, very long time.

I purchased this book at a reading by Guy Gavriel Kay that was sponsored by Perfect Books at the Clocktower Brew Pub in Ottawa. It was a real treat to hear Kay speak about the time he spent in Provence researching the places he describes so eloquently in the novel. After a dramatic reading by Kay I did get a chance to meet the author to which I had a typical fan boy moment which is better left undocumented.

I absolutely loved this book and I devoured it over two days. I cannot recommend Kay more highly to anyone who wants to read some truly beautifully realized fantasy novels.

Updated 2007/08/11: My friend Alexandre reviews Ysabel as well. Alexandre was with me at the reading by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Last Colony

The Last Colony by John Scalzi is the third in the series preceded by Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades. In this novel Scalzi completes the shift from space opera action to political intrigue that he started in the second offering in the series. Fans of the series should be satisfied with the ending but I couldn't help but wish that it was a bit longer as some of the other characters and situations could have used some fleshing out. In the epilogue Scalzi mentions that this will be his last novel with John Perry and Jane Sagan as the lead characters but he is planning on revisiting the universe he created so I may get my wish.