It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on my reading challenge progress, so it’s time to check what badges I’ve acquired in the Spells and Spaceships badge collecting extravaganza, as well as what prompts I’ve met in the Hodderscape 2021 Reading Challenge. Has this been an “august” performance in terms of reading challenges? No. And I don’t feel ashamed about that (although I might do about that pun). Read on to see what I’ve been up to!
First up, I got the AI badge – finally – for reading Day Zero back in May. With what I read normally, you’d think I’d have had no trouble ticking this one off, but I used those books for various other prompts, knowing that this post-apocalyptic, Calvin and robo-Hobbes was on the horizon. The prequel to C. Robert Cargill’s excellent Sea of Rust – a personal favourite of mine – Day Zero didn’t necessarily add anything new to the story. But then, it didn’t really need to. The action and fun of Sea of Rust is still present and correct, as is a smattering of good old existential questioning, but this time it comes from imaginary-friend-come-to-life Pounce, an adorable, four-foot-tall robotic tiger with a heart of gold and a pocketful of shells. You can read my review of this absolute riot here.
The second badge I earned was the Post-Apocalypse one, for reading Kate Sawyer’s The Stranding. What a book. I knew when I requested it that there was a good chance it would be one of those books that would just absolutely hollow me out (in a good way), and I wasn’t wrong. Main character Ruth survives the apocalypse by sheltering inside a beached whale, emerging to find the world changed utterly. We see the decisions she made that led up to this point, as well as following her as she relearns how to exist. You can read my review of this wonderful book here.
Onto the Hodderscape 2021 Reading Challenge now, featuring two books by Adrian Tchaikovsky (because although he might be wonderfully imaginative, I, apparently, am not). The first of these is one I reviewed as part of a blog tour with The Write Reads. Shards of Earth ticks off the Found Family prompt, as it follows Idris and his crew of loveable misfits (and beings made of swarms of nano-machines) as they attempt to make a living and hopefully ensure humanity doesn’t get wiped out by a terrifying foe with the power to reshape planets. The first of what promises to be a hugely exciting trilogy, I really enjoyed this one – you can read my review here.
Next, I met the Rebellion prompt for reading Kings of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart. There are actually multiple rebellions in this one, so I definitely ticked this one off. I have a review coming for this tomorrow (I know right, two posting days in a row? Who am I, and what have I done with the real Ollie?!) but suffice to say, I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I didn’t appreciate just how much it had stayed with me until I came to write my review of it. Enforced hibernation to preserve Earth’s resources? I mean sure, it sounds fun in principle. Oh wait, no it doesn’t, that sounds horrible. How horrible? You’ll see tomorrow.
My final two books are firmly in the “Oh my god Ollie, I can’t believe you of all people haven’t read that!” camp. WELL I HAVE NOW SO JUST SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALRIGHT? Anyway, I ticked off the 2021 Adaptation prompt thanks to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. I feel like this one might be flying under the radar a bit, as those people I’ve mentioned the forthcoming TV series to have been surprised to find out it’s happening, but it is true. I haven’t made it up just to meet this prompt. Also, if the series gets pushed to next year or something, that’s not my fault, and I still met this prompt. Correct at time of going to press, yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, I loved this, obviously. How could I not? A travelling theatre company perform across the post-apocalyptic US, with the strands that connect them to the past effortlessly teased out and explored with beautiful writing and wonderful characterisation. What a book. A new contender for favourite post-apocalyptic book for me.
Lastly, I finally got round to reading Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, appropriately meeting the prompt for a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages. Adrian Tchaikovsky is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, with the likes of the hysterical One Day All This Will Be Yours and the stirringly epic Shards of Earth being extremely memorable recent reads. Children of Time was a hugely impressive feat of imagination and worldbuilding, unlike anything that I can recall reading before. In an effort to establish humanity on a distant world, a nanovirus is unleashed with the aim of uplifting primates, who will welcome their human progenitors with open (and hopefully not too furry) arms. But things don’t go quite as planned. There are a lot less arms and a hell of a lot more legs than intended, at any rate. Utterly brilliant, and the perfect book to read straight after a rare non-fiction title, Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds, which has some interesting ideas about the evolution of sentience but, for my money, could do with more octopuses. Your mileage may vary.
That about wraps it up for now. I’ll see how I get on with the rest of these prompts, and update when I have a decent amount of progress to add. It isn’t so much that I’ve been too busy to read as much since starting work, more that I just haven’t read many books that meet prompts or earn me badges. Hopefully the next update won’t be too far away. See you then!