To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny

To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny is a 174-page science fiction novel originally published by Doubleday & Company in January of 1973. The book is actually the second in the Francis Sandow series–I guess I’ll have to read the rest of the series now! The book can stand alone, though, as it’s not *technically* a sequel. I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing any information about characters, plot, or setting. I read To Die in Italbar as a part of Vintage SciFi Month.

To Die in ItalbarThe story revolves around the journeys of a mysterious man called “H” who has a unique power that allows him to heal even the most terminal of illnesses. Another important point of view is that of Malacar Miles, a military man who is determined to find H to use the horrifying flipside of his healing power–the ability to spread diseases that H has contracted–in order to strike at Malacar’s old enemies. There is one female POV of note–a girl who works in a brothel but secretly idolizes the military prowess of Malacar and wishes to meet and help him take revenge on their mutual enemies. I loved her raw anger, but I can’t remember her name.

The story switches back and forth between points of view so often with no indication of who is the current POV that I was continuously just trying to figure out whose story I was reading. This is in part because four of the main characters are all relatively similar male points of view. What kept me going was the overarching plot and divine nature of H’s gift and the fact that he waivered back and forth between periods of healing and periods of diseasing people near him.

I also really enjoyed Malacar’s plotline. There was a deep political background to the novel through Malacar’s history of war with a planetary alliance that overtaxed and refused to accept his planet as a part of that alliance. His story grounded the otherwise fantasy-like tale of H. Malacar also had a friend of an alien race named Shind that had telepathic powers and was just truly fascinating. I would have been happy to read an entire book about Shind, who helped to give Malacar a little emotional depth.

The resolution of the novel tied up all the loose ends that I didn’t think Zelazny would even bother with. It was a bit surprising but completely satisfying. The cameo by Francis Sandow intrigued me enough to want to read Isle of the Dead (Francis Sandow #1). Sandow is a planet builder, and his story reminded me a bit of the Magratheans from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is one of my favorite space-faring series.

To Die In Italbar was a quick read, although I originally only read 10 pages before putting it down. Vintage SciFi Month encouraged me to reread those pages and finish the book. I’m glad I did, because it was seriously intriguing! This was the first book I’ve read by Zelazny, and I’ll definitely be picking up more books by him. I’d recommend this novel to fans of sci-fi and fantasy that has military and religious overtones.

TITLE: To Die in Italbar
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AUTHORRoger Zelazny
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PAGES: 174
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ALSO WROTE: Chronicles of Amber, Lord of Light
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FIRST LINE: On the night he had chosen months before, Malacar Miles crossed the street numbered seven, passing beneath the glow-globe he had damaged during the day.

 

 

Vintage SciFi Month

January is considered Vintage SciFi Month (I found out this wonderful fact thanks to an awesome Twitter account). For the reading “non-challenge” (which is in no way competitive), a sci-fi book is considered vintage if it was published before you were born (in my case, I’ve got plenty of options–I was born in 1991).

There’s a little more information about the non-challenge on the creator’s blog here. For a more current post with a little more info, check out this post. Also, the creator and moderator of the Twitter account mentioned above are hosting a giveaway for The Book Of Frank Herbert, which is a collection of ten short stories by Frank Herbert that was published in 1973. Even though I really want to win, I’ll share the link, since I’m so nice! You just have to join the conversation about #VintageSciFiMonth on Twitter to enter the giveaway.

I’ve already finished one book (To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny), and I’m in the middle of The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells for my second. Shown below are two other books, both by Ray Bradbury, that I’m planning to read this month. As an ongoing personal challenge, I’ve also decided to finish Dune by Frank Herbert, which I’ve been reading on and off for a few months now!

vintage-books

So throughout January, I’ll be posting reviews of these vintage books (most likely the reviews with be shorter than normal… but we’ll see). If there are any sci-fi classics you’re reading, you especially love, or you’d like my opinion on, let me know! I’ll add them to my January to-read list.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter is a 342-page psychological/speculative thriller. I received the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dark MatterOne of my favorite things to read about in speculative fiction is the multiverse, and that’s the central idea of Dark Matter. Jason Dessen, on a walk home from celebrating a colleague’s scientific achievement, is kidnapped at gunpoint and drugged to sleep. When he wakes, he’s in an unfamiliar lab being congratulated for something he knows nothing about. From there, it’s a wild ride finding out where Jason is, how he’s going to get home, who kidnapped him, and most importantly–why he woke up in this strange world. More

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation is a sci-fi/supernatural/horror novel by Jeff VanderMeer, published by FSG Originals in February of 2014. The other two novels in the Southern Reach Trilogy were both released in 2014 as well.

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)

A journal belonging to a woman who was part of the twelfth expedition to mysterious and dangerous Area X–a place where no one has ever truly come back alive from–is found by an unexpectant reader. Myself. I personally adore novels written in the form of a journal and Annihilation only served to reinforce that adoration.

The main character, a biologist, set out to Area X with a psychologist, surveyor, archeologist, and lingiust. They’re charged with exploring the walled off Area X but things don’t go the way any of them planned. More

Grand Returns

I realized the other day how long it had been since I’d written a review when I got turned down for an ARC of a book. On Netgalley, that has never been the case before and they suggested updating my blog.

After getting a new job, moving, and trying to settle in to a new routine, reading had been the last thing on my mind. But now that I’m settled… I’ve jumped into the “start a million new books” phase. I just started reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, which is the excellent sequel to AnnihilationThe Way of Kings by a favorite of mine–Brandon Sanderson, and I’ve about finished Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds which rides on the blazing space cowboy trail left by Firefly. 

Devoting time to reading has been so refreshing… Damn, I just love a good book. Here’s to many more in both of our futures.

 

Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett

Exodus 2022 is an eco sci-fi thriller (seriously defying some genres) novel written by Kenneth G. Bennett, published by Booktrope Publishing in May 2014. I received a paper copy of the book through Novel Publicity, thanks to reviewing Bennett’s earlier novel, The Gaia Wars The plot of the novel is summed up pretty well (a spoiler-free teaser, anyway) in the synopsis:

EXODUS2022 cover artJoe Stanton is in agony. Out of his mind over the death of his young daughter. Or so it seems. Unable to contain his grief, Joe loses control in public, screaming his daughter’s name and causing a huge scene at a hotel on San Juan Island in Washington State. Thing is, Joe Stanton doesn’t have a daughter. Never did. And when the authorities arrive they blame the 28-year-old’s outburst on drugs. What they don’t yet know is that others up and down the Pacific coast—from the Bering Sea to the Puget Sound—are suffering identical, always fatal mental breakdowns. With the help of his girlfriend—Joe struggles to unravel the meaning of the hallucination destroying his mind. As the couple begins to perceive its significance—and Joe’s role in a looming global calamity— they must also outwit a billionaire weapons contractor bent on exploiting Joe’s newfound understanding of the cosmos, and outlast the time bomb ticking in Joe’s brain.

More

Summer Reading

This summer (starting early May), a few friends and I plan to devour a long list of books. While we all have a few we’re not going to read, a few extras we plan to read, and therefore have an individual list, we will mostly read the same books. We’ll be tweeting about the books (#BookedIt / #bookclub), possibly adding some Youtube videos to the Booktube section, etc.

And of course, I’ll be reviewing a good majority of the books. So I thought I would throw out an invitation to join us. If you would like to join in the reading of the books, they will be updated regularly on my “Currently Contemplating” widgets and posts. I’ve already read some of these, but I’ll either be rereading them or just participating in discussion.

The list is made up of some YA, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. I’ll definitely be reading Republic of Thieves early on, because I’m going to CONvergence in MN in July, and Scott Lynch will be there! I also may reread something by Emma Newman, or continue her series, The Split Worlds, in hope that she’ll be there, too.  Here’s the list:

  1. Infinite Jest* by David Foster Wallace
  2. Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett
  3. Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
  4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  6. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
  7. Between Two Thorns/Any Other Name by Emma Newman
  8. Nothing But Flowers: Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Love edited by Jodi Cleghorn, with a story by Emma Newman
  9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  10. London Falling by Paul Cornell
  11. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (My goal is to finish the last 200 pages, which I got stuck on a year or two ago)
  12. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  13. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  14. Legend by Maria Lu
  15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman
  16. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  17. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  19. Among Others by Jo Walton
  20. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  21. Wool by Hugh Howey
  22. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  23. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  25. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  26. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  27. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  28. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
  29. Light Boxes by Shane Jones
  30. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  31. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  32. The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  33. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
  34. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
  35. Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra
  36. Green Rider by Kristen Britain

*To be read ~ 15-20 pages a day due to massive length and intellectual demands.

We are constantly updating the list, so this is just a temporary one. I will probably add a new post each month updating the order/number of books for the projected month. If you want to read any of these books to join in on the discussion, you are more than welcome!