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A Thousand Words For Stranger – Julie E. Czerneda

04 Jun

czernedajuliee-athousandwordsforstra2 It’s been a while, a long while, since I’ve got my teeth into any sci-fi, so its high time that I read and reviewed something to redress the balance.  Providence has shined on me once again as this adventurous romp comes highly recommended from that region of Richland, in the country we all know as Americania.

The story focuses primarily on Sira, a lady who has had all her memories blocked.  She must find out what the heck is going on, why people want her captured or dead, why she can’t remember anything, who she is and just what the heck is going on.

The approach to the book is interesting, Sira’s view is always first person and chapters split off to follow other aspects of the story, third person with the rest of the characters.  It’s a nice mix that varies the pace and the style.

Sira’s opening POV has me in mind of one of those internet games where you wake up in a room with no memory and have to get out, rather like The Raw Shark Texts, but that is another story, literally.  It’s all rather neat.

Being wholly ignorant, I quickly realised that this was going to be a more lively and complex plot than I had at first imagined, the signposted and obviously predictable plot lines are not such and evolve into something much more wide-ranging than the clues first given had led me to believe, on reflection though there are subtle portents of what may occur.  Not that this makes anything foreseeable but it may be apt to send your mind spinning to all the clichés that it neatly avoids later on.

The plot feels like it has been lain down long ago, and the political machinations and the feeling that everyone is a pawn in some devious and overarching conspiracy, helps make the story feel like it’s all inevitable no matter what choices our hearty protagonists make it is somehow inevitable. Part of the joy of the book is that you do conversely feel the characters can make their own choices though and that they too, are players in this game.

I hate to sully any review with likening a book to Fifty Shades…however if the lead characters of that, had had half the tension that is flying around the two leads here, then E. L. James would have had something with at least one redeemable feature but there is no accounting for taste. I found the very subtle eroticism rounded out the characters without making them descend into some embarrassingly trite plot device.

Usually I find characters to be fairly flimsy in sci-fi books and I don’t think I have necessarily changed my opinion with this book,here the characters are pleasing without being anywhere near as indepth as the reader would wish them to be.  I would argue that the universe and plot are the most important for this type of story, character comes after but has to be able to retain that likeability and the hint that there is much more to come from them than is already known .

It is a bit slow at the beginning but give it a few chapters and things gradually start to snowball into a swiftly moving plot and a well realised universe peopled by diverse aliens and varied locations.  For someone who has not particularly explored the world of science fiction to a decent depth, I found it not to overly done with all the future stuff, it was enough to give me a sense of the universe as imagined but didn’t become to ridiculous in its imaginings.This is the first in a trilogy and it will be interesting where the next book will go, there are loose ends of course and I am sure I will follow this journey to the end, but all in good time.

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32 Comments

Posted by on 04/06/2013 in Sci-Fi

 

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32 responses to “A Thousand Words For Stranger – Julie E. Czerneda

  1. evermoreevil

    04/06/2013 at 19:10

    I really like the sound of this one! Another cracking review!

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    • StetotheJ

      04/06/2013 at 19:19

      I realised i wasn’t being varied enough in my reviewing so I am hoping to redress the balance on the coming months. Glad you liked it, plenty more to come as well. I wonder what Geoff Blore’s has in store also…

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  2. Alastair

    04/06/2013 at 19:25

    Okay … first off.. I have shared this on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook so hopefully a few more people will grace your doorway.

    The description of this reminded me of a film I saw with … Ben … Affleck. The film was Paycheck which has this as a blurb: What seemed like a breezy idea for an engineer to net him millions of dollars, leaves him on the run for his life and piecing together why he’s being chased. He does a job and has his memory erased and then finds out that people are trying to kill him and he has to try and find out why.

    Your review reminded me of that. Although the way you have described it, makes it sound like it is a more Young Adult sci-fi book which I like as they are easy to get into, unlike Greg Bear who is along the lines Aasimov and Arthur C Clarke albeit not being dead.

    I think I will have a look to see if it is my list of Kindle books that I have, if not then I will if I can add it to my ever growing paper shelf.

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    • StetotheJ

      04/06/2013 at 19:37

      I always appreciate a share so thanks very much, I will welcome anyone in with a Jaffa cake and a cuppa.

      I have only read Clarke, so far, of the authors you name check, I do like his stuff, I do need to read more and have decided to pick up the pace this year for I am long overdue. There are certain similarities to Paycheck but with this one things become more..galactic. It’s a nice easy book to tackle, I found it different in its style, with the different POV’s but then again maybe that is something that goes on a lot in sci-fi, I mst become better aquainted with the genre.

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      • Alastair

        04/06/2013 at 19:50

        The majority of the books I have read – with the exception of Dick Francis – have been third person. The Twilight books are first person but I only managed to get part way through the third book. That was a slog. Apparently The Hunger Games are first person as well. All other sci-fi and fantasy that I have read were third. But there again, most of those were in the Star Wars universe. Well, one Star Trek and a few Doctor Who ones I think .. I wish I could remember books I have read like films I have seen. I know I went through a lot in my teen years, clearing all of the Hardy Boys and a few of the Nancy Drew ones, some Famous Five, all of the Secret Seven – or the other way around.

        Neuromancer (William Gibson) that was a first person. It was an odd book. I read it as the Role-Playing Game Cyberpunk was based on that book.

        I must admit, I am reading more than I had, now that I have switched genres and given Star Wars a much needed rest.

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        • StetotheJ

          04/06/2013 at 20:03

          A lot of those names were new to me, I am wary of sci-fi and fantasy in general. Mainly because I am not knowledgeable in what is good in their respective genres and I go through phases of looking for something more substantial in my readings. Which is no disrespect to either subject but I tend to see them as possibly lacking in the writing and also the meaning I crave. Maybe I should just lighten up and enjoy the stories and be less of a critic though.

          Never read and Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew but Famous Five, fantastic they were, that brings back many a happy memory.

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          • Alastair

            04/06/2013 at 20:35

            I suppose what you need is to see something that you can associate with the everyday world. Science fiction and fantasy don’t have that. A thriller, you can understand the speed a bullet goes through the air, a romance – you can understand the beating of the heart like the beating of a drum, a suspense – you can understand the fear as these are all things found in everyday life. You won’t find blaster rifles, lightsabers, spaceships and laser beams in today’s life and times.

            I have always had the mental age of a 9 year old, so I love the lasers and blasters and jedi. Horror too, but I haven’t read any for a while. I think the last horror I read was when Shaun Hutson released Assassin in 1993

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            • StetotheJ

              05/06/2013 at 17:54

              Yes I think it is a good part that, I think I just like to know there is something that will make me think…I mean in a philosophical or meaningful way. I don’t think a lot of sci-fi/fantasy authors wish to tackle that, or its beyond the scope of the book. Having said that there are exceptions Arthur C. Clarke that I have read, did it wonderfully in his works.

              If you like horror and cheese, have a look at Guy N. Smith of you haven’t already, I reviewed a couple of the Crabs books elsewhere on here. His books are what the comedy Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace was based on, well the style of him anyway. Who needs to grow up stay at 9, everything was more magical then!

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              • Alastair

                05/06/2013 at 18:10

                I remember looking at Smith’s books when I had read all of James Herbert’s and was looking for another author. I had the choice between Smith and Hutson and chose the latter. I will get back into horror again soon as I like that element. The only thing I have against Hutson is that he tends to kill EVERYbody – good guys, bad guys all of them. It’s like he doesn’t know how to end the book, so he thinks “I know; kill em”

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                • StetotheJ

                  05/06/2013 at 18:15

                  Carnage sells, I like it when not all the good guys survive but that seems extreme in the…um, extreme. I have a bunch of unread Herbert, I have read The Fog though, that kept me entertained for pretty much a whole day.

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                  • Alastair

                    05/06/2013 at 18:18

                    The Dark is similar but .. ermm … darker. After reading that, I had to sleep with the light on for a week or two. I was 13 or 14 at the time though. That’s my excuse anyway

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                    • StetotheJ

                      05/06/2013 at 18:23

                      Hang on, you were nine a few comments ago! Time is fickle around your parts.

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                    • Alastair

                      05/06/2013 at 18:25

                      That’s mental age of a nine year old. I was physically 13 or 14

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                    • StetotheJ

                      05/06/2013 at 18:32

                      Apologies for time, I did not mean to make it appear ‘flighty’.

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                    • Alastair

                      05/06/2013 at 18:37

                      That’s okay no worries. Didn’t mean to come across as shirty. Going to upload my photo and give blogging a complete rest for this evening. Try and give my back a chance to let go of it’s pain

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                    • StetotheJ

                      05/06/2013 at 18:50

                      Rest well sirrah and catch you soon. Shirty, you did not come across as, possibly more bowler hatty but then again maybe I am just talking complete ruubbish!

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                    • Alastair

                      05/06/2013 at 18:53

                      LOL. Have fun

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  3. Christina ~

    04/06/2013 at 23:54

    A most excellent review dearest sir….Your reading this has made me wish to relive the adventure of Sira….which only proves the point that not only do your reviews always tempt me to read books I have not….but re-read those I have already. I am most happy you enjoyed this and when the time presents itself…to read the next two in the trilogy.

    Science Fiction/Fantasy was the beginning of my love of books…and now look at what sits beside me over one third devoured…nay…savored…but Márquez… xxxx

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    • StetotheJ

      05/06/2013 at 15:44

      I will read the next two in the trilogy at some point, perhaps if they have them in the second hand bookshop near Tom’s. I will be mostly saving though, for the foreseeable future.

      It is strange Márquez, demands to be both devoured and savoured at the same time, it is a fine and unconscious balancing act, I envy you reading those words for the first time. xxxx

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  4. gargoylebruce

    05/06/2013 at 02:15

    That is one classic example of sci-fi/fantasy cover art!

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    • StetotheJ

      05/06/2013 at 15:39

      A woman in restraints does seem to appeal to a certain demographic I would imagine…

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  5. renxkyoko

    05/06/2013 at 05:40

    What I like about you as a reviewer is that you’re not a literary snob.

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    • StetotheJ

      05/06/2013 at 15:38

      I love to mix up my reading, I do tend to prefer the more literary type of book but find something light is a welcome relief as I digest what I have read. There are great ideas wherever I look, it pays to read about a bit.

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  6. Seyi sandra

    05/06/2013 at 22:27

    Great review, you always write with such sincerity and it shows, no glowing words, just you!
    🙂

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    • StetotheJ

      10/06/2013 at 18:40

      A comment to make me feel proud, I do like to throw myself into analysing books. Always wonderful to receive praise from such a wonderful writer as your good self also!

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  7. LuAnn

    07/06/2013 at 15:31

    I have not read much sic-fi but perhaps I should get started.

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    • StetotheJ

      10/06/2013 at 18:24

      It’s worth a shot, although I am still on the fence about if a lot of it is worth it, some Arthur C. Clarke though is always a safe bet.

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      • LuAnn

        11/06/2013 at 00:48

        Thanks, then that is where I will start. 🙂

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        • StetotheJ

          11/06/2013 at 17:29

          I would suggest 2001: A Space Odyssey or Rendezvous With Rama, there’s some great imagery and imagination in both.

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  8. Robyn Lee

    11/06/2013 at 03:05

    Oh – may consider this — I like the mix of first person from Sira and third person for other characters. Also subtle eroticism is good 🙂 ~ and anything mystical and magical with a touch of psychological thrill mixed in sounds interesting! Not a huge sci-fi fan – but this one may work 🙂 ~ Thank you SteJ!

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    • StetotheJ

      11/06/2013 at 17:44

      Haha, yes a bit of subtle eroticism is always a winner. I am always happy to get people into the less well travelled (by your good self) genres. I hope to keep stretching your taste in books in new and unexpected ways.

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