Sunday, January 09, 2022

What is John Birmingham reading?

Featured at Writers Read: John Birmingham, author of The Shattered Skies.

His entry begins:
When John le Carré died last year I realised that I’d never read any of his novels. A bit of an oversight, really, because I quite like spy novels, and le Carré was undoubtedly the foremost author of literature set in that shadow world. I seem to recall, and I'm not even going to check Google here, that he passed away around about the time his penultimate novel Agent Running In The Field was released. I had a free Audible credit at the time so I grabbed it up.

The first surprise was that the author read his own work. To be honest, that was a bit hard to get past, because when he recorded the book le Carré was a very old man, close to his own death, and his voice although beautifully modulated did not match the narrator of the story, a washed up agent in his mid 50s. Nonetheless, I got past it because the writing was just so good.

I remember reading somewhere that le Carré books were not just the greatest spy novels of the last 100 years, they were among the finest works of literature, and thus some of the most exquisite observations of the human condition. It was not an exaggeration.

Agent Running In The Field was possessed of all of his usual, exacting detail about life as a spy, amazing really when you think about it, because...[read on]
About The Shattered Skies, from the publisher:
Humanity’s last surviving heroes must protect a shattered civilization from an all-conquering enemy in this thrilling sequel to The Cruel Stars.

The Sturm, an empire of “species purists,” have returned from the farthest reaches of Dark Space to wage a war against what they call mutants and borgs: any human being with genetic or neural engineering. In a sneak attack, they overwhelmed almost all of humanity’s defenses, blasting vicious malware across galaxy-spanning networks, dark code that transformed anyone connected to the system into a mindless psychotic killer. The Sturm’s victory seemed complete, their final triumph inevitable, until one small band of intrepid, unlikely heroes struck back.

Commander Lucinda Hardy and Admiral Frazer McLennan used the Armadalen Navy’s final surviving warship to fend off the Sturm, destroying the massed power of an entire Attack Fleet. With brilliant tactics—and support from drunken, grief-ravaged pirate Sephina L’trel and treasonous battle-rig operator Booker—this ragtag crew sent the Sturm running, managing to save Princess Alessia, the sole surviving heir to the gigantic Montanblanc ul Haq Corporation and perhaps Earth’s only remaining senator.

Now left with the remains of a fallen civilization, they must work together to rebuild what was lost and root out the numberless enemies of Earth. The Sturm invaders remain vastly more powerful—and they may not be the only threat lurking in the darkness of space.
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My Book, The Movie: The Cruel Stars.

Writers Read: John Birmingham.

--Marshal Zeringue