Book #34. The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel
Faber. Unabridged audio.
I loved the concept of this novel as soon as I heard it, but I
confess I was worried. The cynic in me assumed how the story would go, and how
it would end.
The premise is that in the near future (from what I can tell;
I don’t recall a specific year ever being given), an English pastor is called
trillions of miles into space to bring Jesus’ Gospel to the alien natives of a
distant planet. It turns out that the priest, Peter Leigh, is in fact the
second pastor to these people, who he names Oasans. He is shocked when his
congregation welcomes him with a rousing if barely intelligible version of
“Amazing Grace.” They want him to teach from his Bible, which they refer to as the
“book of strange new things.”
The priest was invited to this missionary work, but his wife
oddly was not. She stays behind with their cat, and learns shortly after her
husband leaves that she is pregnant. Through her long-distance emails, Peter
learns that in his time away, Earth has been subject to events that seem
vaguely apocalyptic. Her faith wavers, both in her husband and in their God.
I have read plenty of novels from evangelical authors, from
evangelical publishing houses, and if this were one of those, I could predict every
beat of the certain happy ending. But this is a story from a mainstream
publisher, and I admit that I assumed by the end of the novel, the preacher
would have lost his faith, his marriage, and his congregation. But the story in
fact was much more complicated than that, much more nuanced. And that pleased
This is the author’s sixth published novel, and the
55-year-old announced that he would retire from fiction, this novel standing as
his last. If he chooses to come back to the world of fiction, I’d be interested
in reading what he writes next. If this part of his career ends with this
novel, this is not a bad way to go out.
Book #33. Hot Pursuit, by Stuart Woods. Unabridged audio.
I have read all of Stuart Woods’ novels, even as he pumps out multiple books
per year. I assume he has co-authors or ghostwriters, but none are noted, at
least not in the small print of the audiobooks.
In this novel, the stories of Stone Barrington and the world he lives in
continue on from the prior novels. President Kate Lee has been inaugurated, and
by the end of the novel she has given birth her son. Stone Barrington has
picked up his new airplane, and all looks good.
Until it become clear that terrorist operative are targeting the President,
and her top aides. And perhaps the British PM is also a target. Barrington and
his friend Dino Bichetti are drawn in to the case, and this turns into an
international spy thriller.
The novels that Woods has published over the last five years have been
inconsistent, to put it mildly. But this one was strong, an adventurous romp
with some memorable scenes. The only odd thing was that the novel seemed to
take place around Barrington, with him Holly Barker and others, including a few
new characters, taking center stage. But it was a satisfying read nonetheless.
As always, narrator Tony Roberts does an excellent job bringing Barrington
and his friends to life in the audio version of the novel.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along!
Just do the following:
Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share
doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for
From Page 11 of The Elfish Gene,
by Mark Barrowcliffe
"On Monday the school term began, and by Tuesday the dark forces would take me. Family, friends, girls, food, everything would become as bright images receding into a void as I slipped into a shadow world from which I have never truly emerged. I would discover Dungeons and Dragons."
Over the last few number of weeks, I've been privileged to appear as a guest on a number of friend's excellent podcasts. There are a few more to be recorded and released in the near future, but here are three that have been recently released.
I talked about three Ultra-Man comic books, and an issue of Shogun Warriors with my friend Luke Jaconetti, on episode 41 of his Earth Destruction Directive podcast. Luke's show usually covers Godzilla movies, the Ultra-Man TV show, giant monster comic books and other similar media.
On a totally different note, I recently spoke with my podcasting buddy Michael Bailey on the music-themed podcast Long Play. We spoke about an album we both love, Meat Loaf's classic record "Bat Out Of Hell" on episode 12 of that podcast. I love talking about comic books, but it was great to talk about music for a change.
I thank these podcasting buddies for their hospitality. It is always a pleasure to podcast with them.