nicky2910's book reviews

I've always been an avid reader. And I love writing about and discussing the books I read.

SPOILER ALERT!

Aus Doktor Klimkes Perspektive von Hakan Nesser

Aus Doktor Klimkes Perspektive - Håkan Nesser, Christel Hildebrandt

Dies ist eine Sammlung von 6 Kurzgeschichten, die sich mehr oder weniger alle um Sein und Schein drehen, um Realität vs Illusion, um  Wunschvorstellungen und Abgründe. Dass Nessers Geschichten von kranken Seelen bewohnt werden, sollte kein Geheimnis mehr sein...

 

Da ist der Autor, der in Venedig die Inspiration für sein neues Buch sucht; ein junger Mann, der eine Nachricht zu übermitteln hat; der Fall eines bei der Schulabschlussfeier verschwundenen Mädchens; ein Mädchen, das seine Mutter umbringen will, weil die ihr keinen Hund schenkt; ein Lehrer, der die Klassenarbeit einer toten Schülerin beurteilt; und zuletzt ein Geschichtsprofessor, der beschließt, den Liebhaber seiner Frau zu beseitigen.

 

Insgesamt durchaus spannend und lesenswert.

SPOILER ALERT!

Eine ganz andere Geschichte von Hakan Nesser, Barbarotti #2

Eine ganz andere Geschichte (Barbarotti #2) - Håkan Nesser, Christel Hildebrandt

Auf Urlaub mit seiner Freundin Marianne erhält Barbarotti einen merkwürdigen Brief, der einen Mord ankündigt. Tatsächlich wird auch eine Leiche gefunden. Dieses "Spiel" wiederholt sich, und auch die Medien bekommen Wind vom Kontakt zwischen dem mutmaßlichen Mörder und dem Polizisten. Zuletzt erhält Barbarotti die Aufzeichnungen eines Urlaubs in Frankreich - doch wie hängen diese mit den jetzigen Morden zusammen?

 

Dieser Roman konzentriert sich mehr auf Barbarotti, sowohl beruflich als auch privat, als es "Mensch ohne Hund" tat. So erfährt sein Privatleben einiges an Turbulenzen, auch aufgrund des Scheinwerferlichts, in dem er sich durch die Briefe des Mörders plötzlich befindet... womit er nicht wirklich ideal umgeht. Was ich ausgesprochen zu schätzen lernte, ist die "innere Stimme" Barbarottis im Kontakt mit seiner Familie: die Telefongespräche mit seiner Tochter Sara, die in London weilt, auch der Umgang mit seiner Ex und ihren Neuigkeiten... staubtrocken und enorm witzig.

 

Nach anfänglich durchaus vorhandener Spannung zieht sich der Fall selbst aber zum Schluss ein wenig wie ein Strudelteig - und leider wird er wiederum durch eine Art Geistesblitz gelöst, dessen Ursprung im Dunkeln gelassen wird. Das ist ein wenig unbefriedigend, zieht sich aber auch schon durch die anderen Nesser-Romane, die ich bisher gelesen habe: langsamer, spannender Aufbau und dann, 20 Seiten vor Schluss, bekommt man wegen der unvorhergesehenen Wendung fast ein Peitschenschlagsyndrom.

 

Gut, in diesem Fall wiegt es nicht ganz so schwer, weil sowieso eher die Charakterisierung Barbarottis im Vordergrund stand, aber trotzdem ist diese Art der Auflösung schon ein Negativpunkt.

SPOILER ALERT!

Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a side-novel to Bujold's Vorkosigan series with Miles only being mentionned.

 

The planet Athos is facing a crisis: populated only by men, the eggs needed for reproduction entirely come from ovarial tissue brought with the founders to the planet and/or purchased via trade. Now, the latest shipment turns out to be replaced by non-usable material. Ethan, a specialist in reproductive medicine (who's never seen a living female), is sent out from isolationist Athos to find out what happened to the shipment and, if necessary and possible, procure new ovarial tissue. Caught ill-prepared, he finds himself on Kline Station and is soon embroiled in a plot involving Elli Quinn, Cetagandans, telepaths, station environmental control... and women in general.

 

A rather average novel, I'm afraid, as it concentrates more on action and plots-within-plots rather than on the characters themselves. Therefore, many questions about Athos remain unanswered: I mean what led to the Athosian society's founders to emigrate and denounce/villify all females? How does a society with only one gender work? Why not focus on this social and sci-fi issue instead of devolving into another rendition of the outsider meets real world-theme?

 

Also, I'd have liked Ethan to interact more with Quinn or Cee... because even though the whole novel is from his point of view, he spends most of it confused, chased around, interrogated, told what to do or finding Cee cute. Just those first 2 chapters showing him in his usual environment on Athos aren't enough to make him become real as a person...

 

So, there's some groundwork in world-building and in characterization but it lacks some serious fleshing out - and knowing what Bujold's capable of in both regards, this leaves me rather unsatisfied.

SPOILER ALERT!

Die Einsamen von Hakan Nesser, Barbarotti #4

Die Einsamen - Håkan Nesser, Christel Hildebrandt

35 Jahre nach seiner Lebensgefährtin Maria wird Germund ebenfalls tot am Grund derselben Schlucht gefunden. Inspektor Barbarotti und seine Partnerin Eva Backmann versuchen aufzuklären, was passiert ist - jetzt und damals.

 

Der Roman ist in 2 Ebenen geteilt: einerseits die Ermittlungen im Präsens, andererseits die Geschichte einer Clique von 3 Pärchen Anfang der 70er. Letztere trägt die Erzählung und saugt den Leser ein. Der Ermittlungsteil wirkt anfangs fast wie ein Störfaktor, bekommt aber deutlich Fahrt, als Abgründe ans Licht kommen und auch Barbarottis Pakt mit Gott eine neue Facette erhält. Überhaupt ist dies ein sehr spirituelles Buch, die Frage nach dem menschlichen Wesen, nach göttlicher Inszenierung stellt sich nicht nur am Schluss. Was ist das Böse? Gibt es Menschen, die von Grund auf böse sind? Und ziehen diese das Böse an? Wie hängen Vergangenheit und Gegenwart zusammen?

 

Bis rund 20 Seiten vor Schluss war dieser Roman jedenfalls auf Kurs 5 Sterne - nur leider stellt mich die Auflösung nicht wirklich zufrieden. Der Twist kam für mich zu unerwartet, als dass er sich nahtlos ins bis dahin Gelesene einfügte. Schade.

 

Insgesamt dennoch empfehlenswert.

SPOILER ALERT!

Die Perspektive des Gärtners von Hakan Nesser

Die Perspektive des Gärtners: Roman - Håkan Nesser

16 Monate nach dem Verschwinden der 4-jährigen Tochter Sarah zieht das Paar Winnie und Erik nach New York.

 

Der Roman ist aus der Sicht von Erik in der Ich-Form geschrieben. Er versucht, mit autobiographischen Gedanken der Tragödie Herr zu werden, denn er war Zeuge, als seine Tochter in den Wagen eines anderen stieg. Und er versucht auch, die Verbindung zur psychisch nicht stabilen Winnie nicht zu verlieren, die behauptet, dass Sarah noch lebt, die aber vor Jahren auch schon eine Tochter verloren hat.

 

Auch hier wird man in die Dynamik vollständig hineingesogen, und die Geschichte wird mehr Familiendrama als Kriminalroman. Hintergründe und Zufälle steuern die handelnden Personen, und durch die Ich-Perspektive weiß der Leser nie mehr als Erik (auch wenn man natürlich Vermutungen anstellen kann). Spannend, bedrückend, lesenswert.

SPOILER ALERT!

Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold

Diplomatic Immunity - Lois McMaster Bujold

Once you catch the bug (again), you keep reading... so, still on my reading spree through the Vorkosigan series, and I fear once I run out of books I'll restart from the beginning. *sigh

 

On the return flight from their honeymoon, Miles is assigned to investigate a situation involving the military personnel accompanying a Komarran trade fleet. One officer seems to have gone missing, and another missed the call to duty, his retrieval causing a major incident and all of the involved being arrested on Graf Station in Quaddie space. And something seems to be happening in Cetagandan space.

 

This is my second run through this novel, and I have to say, the situation here is quite the opposite from Komarr. I had good memories of the latter novel, rather lackluster ones of this. But the reread turned the tides quite a bit.

 

First of all, the whole novel is from Miles's PoV, it includes sarcasm, irony and in-jokes (shopping anyone?), this inimitable drive forward, and makes for one coherent story, not bogged down by relationship-issues or angsting over said relationship-issues etc. Just a simple reminder of the Vorkosigan-stories of old, a good old mystery that needs to be solved, nothing more, nothing less. And his inner voice leaves me at times with tears of laughter, and at others with a pensive smile or even a lump down my throat. That's what I'm looking for in books, relatable characters, flawed characters, characters who don't take everything that's happening to them lying down. And how far has Miles come from his beginnings in Warrior's Apprentice to the final few pages of this novel? How far has Barrayar come?

 

Of course, it helps that Bel Thorne makes an appearance and that his character-arc gets some closure. And the deep irony surrounding their reacquaintance, all the changes the characters have undergone since the end of Mirror Dance ("So I've killed Admiral Naismith after all") are meaningful, yet understated.

 

Ekaterin takes a bit of a backseat here. All her contributions (which save Miles and Bel in the end) remain off-screen. But that's okay since we know she keeps her head in emergencies... and quite frankly, she's a supporting character and having her PoV would distract from the ongoing mystery. Armsman Roic again takes over the task of guarding Miles. His feelings of inferiority become a tad repetitive, though, but he's definitely showing some growth into his role by the end.

 

Generally speaking, it's the small things that make this a very enjoyable reading experience: shows of loyalty, things/opinions just expressed with a small gesture, Miles fighting for Bel's life, exasperation all around at Miles's shenanigans etc. It's not the grand stories, the mysteries why I enjoy this series so much. It's rather the connecting subplots (like here the shout back to Cetaganda), the worldbuilding, the 3-dimensional characterization, the slow moments of introspection and realization. The saga might be set 1000 years from now, but it's still dealing with the same basic issues we do every day. Which is what makes is so eminently re-readable (even the weaker parts).

 

So, overall a pretty straight-forward detective story, mixed with old and new friends, a helping of political messes at home and abroad... despite having already read the book before, I was still captivated and at the edge of my seat for the latter half. Pretty good sign, isn't it?

SPOILER ALERT!

The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Flowers of Vashnoi: Vorkosigan Saga (English Edition) - Lois McMaster Bujold

Ha, a new Vorkosigan novella - entirely in Ekaterin's PoV, set concurrently with "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance", i.e. before Miles inherits the Countship.

 

When Ekaterin and Enrique set out to test their new radiation bugs in the fallout zone of Vorkosigan Vashnoi, they stumble across a long-lost secret.

 

Take "Mountains of Mourning", a new use for the butter bugs, the establishment (and surveillance) of a fallout zone, Ekaterin and Enrique confronting the Vorkosigan backcountry... stir... and sit back. Distilled from this mixture is a tragic story, again a conflict between past and future and quite a lot of introspection into the question of how long past events remain in our memory, but unfortunately it doesn't carry the impact of earlier novellas. Maybe because Ekaterin is an outsider and therefore more of a commentator than actual participant, maybe even because the story isn't actually over at the end. It's barely begun.

 

In short, while it's good to revisit beloved characters, I'm not sure whether this story actually needed to be told... retold in a way...

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold

Borders of Infinity (Vorkosigan Saga, #5.3) - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is an omnibus edition of Bujold's 3 earlier novellas, framed by Illyan's interrogation of Miles into the enormous bills the Dendarii Mercenaries seem to accumulate under his command. The framing story is set shortly after Brothers in Arms.

 

Mountains of Mourning (5++++++ stars) - set after Miles's graduation from the Imperial Service Academy, just before The Vor Game

 

already reviewed here - still dearly loved.

 

Labyrinth (3 stars) - set after Cetaganda/Ethan of Athos

 

Miles is sent to Jackson's Whole to extract a geneticist - whose terms are that Miles has to kill the last remnant of an experiment into creating super-soldiers, animal genes mixed with human DNA. But Miles doesn't find a monster, but a frightened, disillusioned girl.

 

The weakest of the 3 stories. Not because of the message, but it seems very compressed. Jackson's Whole and Taura would have deserved a longer introduction, especially because both will turn out to be quite important to Miles's growth as commander and human-being. The way the story stands now, Taura latches on too quickly... I don't know... one tumble in the sheets (well, a stone-cold floor) and she's convinced Miles takes her as fully human? And Miles thinks that the body can't lie? I mean, I'm happy Miles thinks for himself (sometimes too much) and doesn't simply follow orders stupidly - and Taura is certainly worth saving... but... still not satisfied with this story.

 

Borders of Infinity (4 stars) - set right before Brothers in Arms

 

Miles is sent to infiltrate a Cetagandan prison camp. Initially set to rescue one person he ends up organizing the whole camp.

 

Again a story that could profit from expansion because again Miles convinced those disillusioned prisoners who are merely existing instead of living, entirely without hope, that there's someting worth living for, a future worth fighting for. Bujold doesn't pull any punches describing the situation there. The Cetagandans are complying with the interplanetary charta to treat PoW... but only literally, reality is quite another thing entirely. You actually feel hope and even sanity leak from you while reading this story. In the end even escape isn't a victory to celebrate.

 

Curiously, this prison escape also marks the beginning of the end of Admiral Naismith - even if Miles only later learns that fact years later (in A Civil Campaign).

 

Overall, 3 stories definitely not to be missed in this saga.

SPOILER ALERT!

Winterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold

Winterfair Gifts (Vorkosigan Saga) - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is the epilogue to A Civil Campaign, Miles and Ekaterin's wedding (including some last minute assassination plot) told from Armsman Roic's point of view.

 

Roic isn't your usual ImpSec trained armsman. He was a policeman in the Vorkosigan district capital and some heroism brought him to the attention of senior armsman Pym who recruited him. Then he "extinguished" himself in the bug butter disaster, and since then suffers from some kind of minority complex. Now he gets to meet Miles's galactic acquaintances when his Dendarii Mercenary companions join the wedding party - and is confronted with Taura, the bio-engineered super soldier Miles rescued from Jackson's Whole.

 

It's the little things that make this short story memorable: Taura's wariness concerning Ekaterin, absent Quinn's ambiguous wedding present - and Taura's agonizing over whether Quinn would actually hurt Miles (and Ekaterin). And there's of course the innate fear of mutants that hamper Roic's initial interaction with Taura, and Miles's desperate attempt to make her comfortable.

 

But the moments I enjoy most are the little glimpses again into the Vorkosigan family and friends. Gregor's attending Miles's wedding, Ivan getting admonished by Aral not to screw things up (only to leave some kind of obscene sculpture in the garden). This outside view again sums up nicely what's been shown so far in the series.

 

Overall, an enjoyable short story.

SPOILER ALERT!

Post von Karlheinz von Hasnain Kazim

Post von Karlheinz - Hasnain Kazim

Untertitel: Wütende Mails von richtigen Deutschen - und was ich ihnen antworte.

 

Als Journalist der Zeitschrift Der Spiegel ist Kazim täglich mit Massen an Reaktionen auf seine Artikel konfrontiert... Er ist der Meinung, dass er nicht alles, was ihm an Hass und auch absolutem Blödsinn entgegen"gekotzt" wird, einfach stehen lassen kann. Und so tritt er in Dialog mit Leuten, die ihn oft lediglich wegen seines Namens und Aussehens rassistisch beschimpfen, diffamieren oder bedrohen. Denn:

 

Meinungsfreiheit bedeutet nicht Widerspruchsfreiheit.

 

Und genau darum geht es. In Zeiten, wo Likes in den Social Media bestimmen, was man zu lesen bekommt, und Widerspruch sowie gegenteilige Ansichten dementsprechend schnell ausgefiltert werden, sind viele nicht mehr gewöhnt, damit umzugehen. Das Spektrum an informierten(!) Meinungen verarmt zusehends, und intelligenter öffentlicher Diskurs findet so gut wie nicht mehr statt. Das ist die eine Seite.

 

Die andere ist die Verrohung der Sprache, der fehlende Filter zwischen Hirn und Mund/Fingern. Ich kann mich erinnern an die Anfänge meiner Online-Zeiten: Da gab's eine sogenannte Netiquette, an die man sich zu halten hatte in den verschiedenen Newsgroups oder Foren. Davon ist aber weit und breit nichts mehr zu sehen. In welcher geistigen Umnachtung man sich auch befindet, man postet oder mailt, beschimpft oder droht mit sogar strafrechtlich relevanten Taten. Ein Hinterfragen des Tons findet nicht mehr statt, geschweige denn der Wortwahl. Fürchtet man sich vor Konsequenzen? Gibt es überhaupt Konsequenzen? Scheinbar nicht.

 

Es ist salonfähig geworden, rassistische Dinge offen und unter eigenem Namen jemanden an den Kopf zu schmeißen... ganz im Sinne von: Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein. Jeden Tag sieht man dies in der politischen Auseinandersetzung. Es prescht jemand aus der 2. Reihe mit einer rassistischen Äußerung nach vorne. Vielleicht wird die Aussage noch zurückgenommen, aber das ist vollkommen unwichtig. Denn die Samen sind gesät, das nächste Mal wird der Aufschrei leiser sein, bis er verstummt und die eigentlich unerträgliche Aussage einfach Alltag wird. So geschieht es in der Flüchtlings- und Migrationsdebatte seit 30 Jahren in Österreich.

 

Je nach Ausgangskommentar entgegnet Kazim nun entweder sarkastisch/ironisch, fallweise durchaus spöttisch, sehr oft aber auch sehr sachlich und erklärend. Wie darauf dann vom Kommentarautor reagiert wird, ist mitunter entlarvend...

 

Jedenfalls halte ich dieses Buch für eine Pflichtlektüre für alle, die auch nur halbwegs offen durchs Leben gehen, sich in Social Media bewegen oder in Foren partizipieren. Ich muss leider gestehen, dass mein Frustrationsplafonds sehr rasch erreicht ist, sodass ich es nach 1-2 Tagen wieder aufgebe, offensichtlichen Unwahrheiten, die stupide nachgeplappert werden und auf denen trotz Gegendarstellung insistiert wird, entgegenzutreten. Daher Hut ab, Herr Kazim!

 

Für Stoff zum Nachdenken und Diskutieren ist jedenfalls gesorgt - und das kann einer Gesellschaft nur gut tun.

SPOILER ALERT!

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Civil Campaign - Lois McMaster Bujold

Count Romeo Vorkosigan, the one-man strike team.

 

Oh, I've been looking forward to re-reading this novel, and it didn't disappoint.

 

Again with changing point of views, this novel is roughly told in 3 connected parts:

 

* Miles's courtship of Ekaterin - planned like a covert operation which blows up in his face spectacularly

 

* internal Barrayaran politics and

 

* Mark and Kareen's return to Barrayar, the subsequent cultural shock, and them starting a business operation.

 

I adore the first half of this book: Miles setting up his dinner party, hearing Mark's voice again, Kareen's struggle against the rules and regulations coming with her return home from liberal Beta Colony. And then there's Mark's bug butter enterprise with hapless (and clichéd/absentminded) scientist Enrique. There isn't a page that doesn't manage to bring a warm feeling to my heart, all the underlying shows of loyalty (Mark's Killer making an appearance when Mark perceives a threat to Miles's courtship), Ivan's good natured teasing - and of course, trying to make things difficult. The inner voices and humorous situations that don't fail to bring a smile to my face. All culminating in that absolutely hilarious failure of a dinner party because of a lack of communication and ignorance of social customs. I can't remember having laughed so hard reading a book as I did when the returning Vorkosigan parents come across Enrique trying to recover all the dispersed butter bugs.

 

A distracted-looking Enrique, his wiry hair half on-end, prowled into the great hall from the back entry. He had a jar in one hand, and what Miles could only dub Stink-on-a-Stick in the other: a wand with a wad of sickly-sweet scent-soaked fiber attached to its end, which he waved along the baseboards. "Here, buggy, buggy," he cooed plaintively. "Come to Papa, that's the good girls..." He paused, and peered worriedly under a side-table. "Buggy-buggy...?"

 

"Now... that cries out for an explanation," murmured the Count, watching him in arrested fascination.

 

It doesn't matter that the end is a foregone conclusion - that was obvious with the introduction of Ekaterin in Komarr. Too much time has been spent on her characterization and "voice" to have her fade back into the woodwork. So it's not the end that counts, but the road getting there. And perhaps Miles learned a lesson in humility... and also trust - in himself (because most of the spectacle stems from the disbelief that Ekaterin could ever choose him, a physically handicapped man) but also in others.

 

This is also a novel about growing up and stretching (social) boundaries. Cordelia's independence shouldn't pull wool over our eyes. On Barrayar women still are house-bound and don't play an overt role in society (with Lady Alys the obvious exception). Even with the invention of the uterine replicator which makes body births unnecessary, a real change towards equality hasn't occurred yet. Women are there to be married off, they don't have custody over their sons etc. A Civil Campaign addresses this issue in different ways:

 

We have Ekaterin and her custodial issues over Nikki (and her multiple husband-wanna-bes) where some estranged cousin of her late husband's wants to remove Nikki from her sphere of influence. Unfortunately, along with Miles's courtship this is solved by the traditional approach: In many instances she's a bit of a damsel in distress. Whenever something bad happens, a man is there to help her - be it Illyan, be it Gregor, be it her uncle, be it Miles. That Miles gains custody over Nikki in the end isn't mentionned any further. Well, to be honest, neither is the pressure on widow-Ekaterin to remarry. Granted, as said before, it's a foregone conclusion, but in the end she was pressured into her decisions. And as much as she might think otherwise - or that she might have made the same decision but granted more time for it -, the whole process, especially given her experiences with her late husband and the events of Komarr, leaves a bit of a sour taste.

 

Then there are Cordelia and Lady Donna who bulldoze their way through social boundaries. For Cordelia they don't even exist. Being Betan she isn't indoctrinated in Barrayaran customs but continues to view them as a kind of amusing anomaly... and fights for Mark and Kareen's right to lead their lives (and their relationship) the way they like. In a way Miles is Aral's responsibility (honor vs reputation) - and Mark's Cordelia's project.

 

Just a small point of criticism here: Cordelia's perhaps the one character that could use some more fleshing out, to be honest. She comes across as some kind of super-woman, all-knowing, omnipotent. Even Aral has his flaws - and he's had them from the start. And all that talk about her being Betan... it rankles a bit, her being the super-liberal, highly civilized woman for whom Barrayaran politics only serves as amusement. But that only renders her two-dimensional in the end.

 

And Donna? Well, in order to obtain the Vorrutyer Countship (which she de facto already held when her brother was still alive), she undergoes gene therapy on Beta and reinvents herself as Lord Dono. Interesting precedence?

 

I know I repeat myself, but it's this confrontation with tradition and regulation that make the novels set on Barrayar so interesting to me. Miles is a fascinating character, and I love him and his idiosyncracies. But put him back in this narrow-minded environment (albeit which already has changed and opened up so much within the whole series), and things get really interesting. Not to mention the fact that all the Barrayaran-based characters and their interaction are complex and vastly enjoyable in and of themselves. What would this series be without Aral & Cordelia, Ivan, Illyan, Alys, Pym or Gregor?

 

In a sense, this novel could have been the end of the series. Miles is settled in his private and professional life, he's accepted on Barrayar as heir to the Countship and important political figure himself. Mark's on the way to recovery. Gregor's married. And Cordelia and Aral enjoy their retirement on Sergyar. The rest of the series only puts on paper what's inferred here. But that's just a thought...

 

Anyway, an absolute highlight in the series.

SPOILER ALERT!

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm - George Orwell

This might be one of the most popular stories, mostly read in school. And yes, I read it at school as well, but back then I couldn't appreciate this parable to its fullest. But given the developments in the last 25 years, nations risen and fallen, political systems overthrown in the hope for something better - only to end up worse than before -, this text had much more of an impact on me now. Because, as sad as it may sound: the imagery and the message ring true, almost painfully true - despite, or maybe because of the not so very hidden hints of communism and the date it's been written. And what does that say about humankind nowadays that it's still relevant in this day and age?

 

All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.

 

The animals of Manor Farm stage a rebellion against their human owner which succeeds. What begins as a common effort to establish equality among the animals, so that no one rules over them... soon ends up producing the ruling class of the pigs with its leader ever more removed from the "common" working animals and surrounded by vicious dogs. History's rewritten, enemies are created, demagoguery rules - all just to pull wool over the eyes of the rest of the animals.

 

Now I ask you: Is reality so much different?

 

Definitely a must-read.

SPOILER ALERT!

Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold

Komarr - Lois McMaster Bujold

His first mission as Imperial Auditor leads Miles and his colleague Vorthys to Komarr to investigate the partial destruction of the Soletta array, a sort of mirror construction to strengthen the sunlight for terraforming the planet. Much more interesting than the investigation, however, turns out to be his hostess, Vorthys's niece Ekaterin.

 

This is my second complete run through this novel... and admittedly the first one that I found difficult at times. I think most of that is due to the divided point of view between Miles and Ekaterin, the rest comes from the not too complicated plot that clearly takes a backseat here. Ekaterin is married to the administrator of a terraforming business - a man who's ignored his genetic defect for years, and therefore puts their son at risk, which Ekaterin can't abide by. Additionally, there's no love and respect left in their marriage, she feels trapped with little light at the end of the tunnel.

 

I actually liked her point of view in my first reading this novel - her interest in Vorkosigan and his seeming to cope with his defects, the way he apparently doesn't stifle his (past) girlfriends but lets them spread their wings; her horror when she suddenly finds herself in the middle of his investigation.

 

But now I thought this passages dragged on a bit too much. Of course, the whole novel only serves one purpose, which is to introduce Ekaterin as an equal partner for Miles. In the end, though, she comes across as a bit too good a fit: she's quick to look beyond Miles's physical deficiencies (including his seizure condition) because she's used to deal with the fear of genetic imperfection. She's rational, calm in a crisis. She loves Barrayar... and she ends up being available for courtship (which is dealt with in the next novel).

 

Komarr isn't a bad or boring story. But it lacks the re-readability which I've so enjoyed so far. And granted, I love Miles's point of view, and that half of this novel is taken away with bad marriage-turmoil from "other than Miles" doesn't satisfy me at all. Therefore: Komarr's so far, the weakest part of the series.

SPOILER ALERT!

Im Rücken steckt das Messer von Hans Bankl

Im Rücken steckt das Messer: Geschichten aus der Gerichtsmedizin (German Edition) - Hans Bankl

Bankl, eine Koryphäe der Gerichtsmedizin und Autor von so manchem medizinischem Lehrbuch, das sich in meinem Schrank befindet, beschreibt hier in vielen Unterkapiteln Kuriositäten und Wissenschaftliches aus seinem Fach. Er spikt dies mit Fallbeispielen historischer, aber auch aktueller Natur. Und so wird dieses Buch ausgesprochen unterhaltsam und lehrreich - für Kollegen aber auch Laien.

 

Wer also in die Arbeit des forensischen Pathologen Einblick haben will, der möge einen Blick in diese Seiten werfen!

SPOILER ALERT!

Mensch ohne Hund von Hakan Nesser, Barbarotti #1

Mensch ohne Hund - Håkan Nesser, Christel Hildebrandt

Die Handlung ist recht übersichtlich - und die Fragen, was ist geschehen, wer ist der Täter, verkommen hier zur vorhersehbaren Nebensache. Denn Nesser zieht vielmehr den Spannungsbogen rund um die Untiefen der Familie, die geheimen Begierden, der einen fesselt.

 

Kurz vor Weihnachten kommt eine Familie zusammen zur Feier des gemeinsamen Geburtstags des Vaters sowie der ältesten Tochter Ebba, Vaters Liebkind. Da wären der missratene Sohn Walter, die jüngste Tochter Kristina samt Mann und Kind, und natürlich Ebbas Mann und 2 Söhne. Doch die Zusammenkunft steht unter keinem guten Stern: am ersten Abend verschwindet Walter (was keinen wirklich kratzt), am zweiten dann Ebbas Lieblingssohn Henrik. Kommissar Gunnar Barbarotti beginnt mit seinen Ermittlungen...

 

Nesser widmet viel Zeit, um seine Charaktere einzuführen, was einerseits für einen langsamen Beginn sorgt, andererseits aber auch Tiefe vermittelt. Jedenfalls wird die sogenannte Familienidylle durch den Einblick in die Gedankenwelt jedes Einzelnen ziemlich nachhaltig zerstört. So tritt die eigentliche Ermittlungsarbeit in den Hintergrund, und eher beleuchtet, wie die 2 Vermisstenfälle die Protagonisten beeinflussen und aus der Bahn bringen - oder auch so totgeschwiegen werden, dass die Eltern sich auf mehr oder weniger Nimmerwiedersehen nur ein paar Wochen nach Weihnachten nach Spanien in den Ruhestand absetzen. Gleichgültigkeit, Gewohnheit sind sehr starke Themen. Genauso Bevorzugung, Geschwisterkonflikt, Kontrollverlust - und Gewalt in der Familie.

 

Warum der Roman trotzdem nur 3,5 Sterne erhält? Hm... der Schluss ist sehr abrupt, die letzte Konfrontation wird an sich nicht wirklich aufgeklärt. Was ist wirklich passiert?

 

Keine leichte Lektüre, irgendwie hoffnungslos... und deshalb vielleicht auch beklemmend real, dieser Einblick in die Familienidylle.

 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Star Trek: Tales of the Dominion War by var.

Tales of the Dominion War - Keith R.A. DeCandido

Another anthology - this time the common factor is the Dominion War... and what practically every crew ever shown in TV or TrekLit was up to in that time.

 

Michael Jan Friedman's What Dreams May Come focuses on Gilaad Ben Zoma, Picard's former first officer on the Stargazer... rather unmemorable, maybe because it's been so very long since I've read the Stargazer books.

 

Night of the Vulture by Greg Cox follows up on the entity which thrived on dissent and conflict, first shown in TOS' Day of the Dove. Nice idea, but ultimately also not exactly memorable.

 

Keith R. A. DeCandido's The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned is set on Betazed right at the moment of the Dominion invasion. Usually I'm not really a fan of Lwaxana, but this story rang true, all the emotions, the terror, the incredulity that the Dominion would take such a daring step (and the Federation's being caught ill-prepared)... It also fits in with "The Battle of Betazed", a novel about the occupation and liberation of Betazed. Well done.

 

Blood Sacrifice by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz shows Spock on Romulus during In the Pale Moonlight...a Romulus that still contemplates an alliance with the Dominion until the Emperor suddenly dies. A fine glimpse back into the worldbuilding the 2 authors did with their "Vulcan's (noun)"-series.

 

Mirror Eyes by Heather Jarman & Jeffrey Lang is about the outbreak of a disease on Bajor... and only a nurse, presumed Vulcan but actually a Romulan sleeper, can provide the cure. Not exactly exciting.

 

Twilight's Wrath by David Mack highlights Shinzon, turning a suicide mission into success. Actually very good - Mack-like bloody and violent, but also an intriguing tale of oppression, hatred and revenge.

 

Eleven Hours Out by Dave Galanter focuses on Picard and Troi during the Breen attack on Earth... immemorable.

 

Safe Harbors by Howard Weinstein takes place at the same time when Scotty and McCoy are stuck on a semi-hostile planet, reluctant to help with repairs, with a damaged ship when contact to Earth breaks up. Better... but a bit contrived. Or is it really believable that these 2 are on the same ship just at that moment?

 

Field Expediency by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore has SCE's Duffy and Stevens on a planet to retrieve some Dominion gadget from a downed ship when the Jem'Hadar attack. Good read, but still not too different from the early SCE... in short, doesn't tell us anything new about the characters.

 

Haven' read Robert Greenberger's A Song Well Sung - if not absolutely necessary, I won't voluntarily read about Klingons.

 

Zak Kebron tells his son the "heroics" of the Excalibur during the Dominion War in Peter David's Stone Cold Truths... nice tale, definitely one of the highlights, and a nice ring back to a time when I still liked TNF (i.e. up to Dark Alles).

 

Michael A Martin & Andy Mangels' Requital focuses on one of the soldiers in AR-558 who can't just forgive and forget, and is recruited by an equally disillusioned Cardassian to assassinate the Founder after the war's end. Interesting and quite disturbing - especially the apparent lack of psychological aid.

 

Overall, a couple of highlights, the rest mediocre, unfortunately. Still, it was nice to read stories of authors that I haven't seen in modern TrekLit for a decade or so. So much has changed in the production line since the early 2000s when this anthology was published...

 

Currently reading

Mila 18 by Leon Uris
Progress: 105/741pages
Star Trek: Voyager: Architects of Infinity by Kirsten Beyer
Progress: 30%
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
Progress: 30%
Enigma by Robert Harris
Progress: 19%
Worlds of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Volume Two by J. Noah Kym, Michael A. Martin, Andy Mangels
Der Prozeß (German Edition) by Franz Kafka
Progress: 12%
Disavowed by David Mack
Progress: 100/352pages