Saturday, June 21, 2008


Here, for your delectation, is a sort-of-review of the seventh book I've read this year. Good going, eh?

The book centres around a group of friends who live in, or around, Oxenworth, near Bradley in Yorkshire. The main setting is The Fleece, a pub in the village, and usually, it's winter. Snow seems to be a favourite theme to the author - It's almost always winter and almost always snowing. Hard. When it's not snowing, snow has just fallen and the countryside is covered with a thick white blanket. I know 'oop north' gets more snow than the more temperate climes of the UK, such as sunny Norfolk, but really, I don't think it gets that much! I'm not quite sure what Mr Brown is trying to say with the snow - I kept thinking 'white' and 'virginal'. A blank canvas for the stories, maybe?
There is a main protagonist who tells his story and who introduces his friends stories. The book has chapters, but it's more like a collection of novellas or short stories, which I found very easy to read - Probably because this format makes the book really easy to pick up and put down in a short space of time.

Each story is about how the friends lives have been affected by the Kethani - an alien race who come to Earth in a benign invasion and offer humanity an amazing gift: Immortality.

Now, before some of you think "Oh, here we go. Another sci-fi tale" it's not about the Kethani at all. In fact, we don't learn an awful lot about them, nevermind actually see one. Instead, this book challenges the friends - and the reader's - views on religion, faith, philosophy, science, humanity and mortality. And all due to the gift the Kethani bring.

Several times, the characters mention that the Kethani have brought humanity to the human race, and I found myself thinking, No. They've brought Kethanity. Humanity includes those greedy, violent, selfish and savage impulses that make humans what they are, as well as compassion, selflessness, understanding and love.

I must admit to feeling unsettled as I read this book. I found myself constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't know if my reaction is commonplace amongst people who've read it, or if it's just my paranoia and cynicism brought about by watching/reading about alien invasions.

I really liked this book and found it very thought provoking. It also scared me how the Kethani somewhat insidiously changed the human race, despite changing it for the better (if you think that the change is better).

P.S. I totally bought this book by judging its cover!


  1. I'll have to actually read this tomorrow.

    Too much text to get through and I've got way too little Pierre Ponnelle in my glass.

    I'm sure it's a good book, the cover is excellent!

  2. If we somehow got immortality, then we'd either:

    A) Have to stop breeding altogether


    B) Invest in a good terraforming program of other planets

    Wouldn't we run out of room if people didn't die? I secind the motion that the cover is lovely. I think I will keep my eye out for this one.

  3. I'm assuming you also bought it because there were lots and lots of pictures.

  4. Tim: Were you stroking your chin when you said that? And possibly tapping out your pipe* on a nearby mantlepiece?

    * Not a pervy euphemism, this time.

    Top it up, CyberPetra. Top it up!

    T-Bird: Two very good points which had me concerned as I was reading it, too. However, the consequences of immortality seem to have been taken care of in the book. Quite late on, if I remember rightly.

    MJ: Sadly, there weren't. I was very disappointed.

  5. I was stroking my chin… Are you outside my window again?!

  6. Apparently I did top it up.

    The book sounds very good. I will also keep an eye out for this one.

    I should do a book update sometime.

  7. I have never seen excessive snow in Yorkshire but it is a whole coat colder up there. My mother tells stories of being snowed in for weeks at a time in her youth, but I guess global warming has put paid to that now. This book sounds interesting, I like the sound of the format.

  8. Tim: Not this time. I didn't want to drive down as you seem to live in a suspect neighbourhood if the wheels from pretty Alfas get stolen.

    I was remote viewing, instead. perhaps next time, you could wear something a little... Less?

    CyberPetra: So I see! Excellent 'Shorts useage.

    W*P*D: There really was a lot of snow. I think winter must be the author's favourite season.

  9. No, the wheels hadn't been stolen, it was being raised from behind. I think to make all the fluids descend … somewhere.

    In other words it had broken.

  10. Tim: Broken? An Alfa? That's preposterous! It must have just been having a clean out, that's all...

    * goes out to pet Car *

  11. I'm glad you liked it! We get lots of snow over here, so I'm not sure if I would like the idea of snow throughout the story or if I could relate to it or both.

  12. Thank you. It seemed fitting as you and Tatas took them gardening and all.

  13. I've heard of this, and now I'm going to read it. that was a good damn review, idv.

    my question: did you go to solstice at stonehenge??????

  14. I wonder if the Kethani can help me out with who owns the penis garter? They seem wise and all knowing.

  15. The cover made me think this was a He Man story at first. By the Power of Grayskull!!!

    The snow could be result of a post nuclear winter world, possibly climate change--or maybe an allusion to cocaine and all the characters are high, hallucinating about immortality and philosophizing as some junkies are prone to while toasted.

    Sounds like a great book. I enjoy sci fi because they challenge the imagination and our belief systems. Who wants to live forever anyway? I'd much rather be reincarnated...

  16. Ooooh sounds good. Yorkshire you say , did the kethani also gift Piggies Bedroom would explain a lot !

  17. I would reply to you all, but I'm too tired. Maybe tomorrow?

    Oh, and First Nations: Solstice at Stonehenge?! Have you seen the bunch of weirdos who gather there?
    No. I celebrated the solstice by draping myself over the paving stones on my paysho. A book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other!


Tickle my fancy, why don't you?