2009 Reading List

2009 was the year I first started recording the date I finished reading books; May of this year is as far back as my records go.  While it is an incomplete year in my database, I still managed to read (and record) 37 novels.

Books completed in 2009
1 Of Alien Bondage John Cleve 1982 20-05-09
2 Corundum's Woman John Cleve 1982 25-05-09
3 Escape from Macho John Cleve 1982 30-05-09
4 Satana Enslaved John Cleve 1982 04-06-09
5 Master of Misfit John Cleve 1982 08-06-09
6 Purrfect Plunder John Cleve 1982 11-06-09
7 The Manhuntress John Cleve 1982 16-06-09
8 Under Twin Suns John Cleve 1982 18-06-09
9 In Quest of Qalara John Cleve 1982 25-06-09
10 The Yoke of Shen John Cleve 1983 27-06-09
11 The Iceworld Connection John Cleve 1983 30-06-09
12 Star Slaver John Cleve 1983 03-07-09
13 Jonuta Rising! John Cleve 1983 06-07-09
14 Assignment: Hellhole John Cleve 1983 08-07-09
15 Starship Sapphire John Cleve 1984 12-07-09
16 The Planet Murderer John Cleve 1984 15-07-09
17 The Carnadyne Horde John Cleve 1984 18-07-09
18 Race Across the Stars John Cleve 1984 21-07-09
19 King of the Slavers John Cleve 1985 24-07-09
20 Girlfriend 44 Mark Barrowcliffe 2000 29-07-09
21 Extro Alfred Bester 1975 07-08-09
22 The Black Cloud Fred Hoyle 1957 14-08-09
23 Deepwater Black: The Complete Story Ken Catran 1995 21-08-09
24 Seven Ancient Wonders Matthew Reilly 2005 26-08-09
25 The Bridge Janine Ellen Young 2000 02-09-09
26 The Six Sacred Stones Matthew Reilly 2007 07-09-09
27 Hell Island Matthew Reilly 2005 08-09-09
28 Digital Fortress Dan Brown 1998 13-09-09
29 Deception Point Dan Brown 2001 20-09-09
30 Angels and Demons Dan Brown 2000 27-09-09
31 The Scent of Shadows Vicki Pettersson 2007 30-09-09
32 The Taste of Night Vicki Pettersson 2007 11-10-09
33 The Touch of Twilight Vicki Pettersson 2008 19-10-09
34 The Face Dean Koontz 2003 26-10-09
35 Your Heart Belongs to Me Dean Koontz 2008 01-11-09
36 City of Souls Vicki Pettersson 2009 14-11-09
37 Master of Secrets George Bartram 1989 28-11-09

The Complete Spaceways Series (19 Books)
by John Cleve

  1. Of Alien Bondage
  2. Corundum's Woman
  3. Escape From Macho
  4. Satana Enslaved
  5. Master of Misfit
  6. Purrfect Plunder
  7. The Manhuntress
  8. Under Twin Suns
  9. In Quest of Qalara
  10. The Yoke of Shen
  11. The Iceworld Connection
  12. Star Slaver
  13. Jonuta Rising!
  14. Assignment: Hellhole
  15. Starship Sapphire
  16. The Planet Murderer
  17. The Carnadyne Horde
  18. Race Across the Stars
  19. King of the Slavers

You might think that some of those titles sound a little lurid -- and a quick search for some of the cover-art (Book 1 shown above is fairly typical) would only confirm that view.  The Spaceways series is Adult Space Opera, full of sex and violence -- not something you'd want your kids to read.  Needless to say, I found my first few Spaceways books in the cheap bin at my local shopping centre in Bundaberg, when I was around 15 years old.  They, uh, made quite an impression on my fragile young mind!

Twenty-five years on, I decided it was time to fill my collection; eBay to the rescue!  Once I had the entire set I started working my way through them; it took me just over two months to finish the series.  The books follow the changing crews of a number of different spaceships -- and even feature a few standalone stories -- but if there were to be two characters who most personify the series, it would be the two shown on the cover above.

The blonde is Janja of Aglaya (aka Janjaheriohir, aka Janjaglaya -- and I'm a little disturbed that I didn't have to look that up!) who is abducted from her idyllic home planet ("Aglaya") in the first novel and sold into slavery.  By the final novel she has become a rather powerful figure in the Spaceways galaxy, a force to be reckoned with.  Her abductor, the guy in the flashy piratical outfit, is Jonuta.  Early on, these two form a three-way hate triangle with Corundum, the only other character to get a book-title of his own (and indeed, Janja is "Corundum's Woman" -- although all they really have in common is their hatred of Jonuta.)  Ultimately, bad things happen to Corundum -- indeed, bad enough that I referenced them in my own third novel!  Of course, this is Spaceways; bad things happen to just about everyone, sooner or later!

These are trashy novels, to be sure, and yet, on the whole, they're pretty good.  The stories and situations alternate between erotic, disturbing, violent, disturbing, and, well, disturbing; they're certainly not for everyone!  And yet there's some great writing here too.  The characters are (apparently) quite memorable; the invented slang is rather clever; one long scene in particular taught me quite a bit about how we (or "I") perceive gender when reading, and pulled some wonderful tricks with identity -- all of which seemed a little out of place for a series which is, on the whole, more than a little misogynistic.

They say one should not judge a book by its cover -- but in this case, you probably wouldn't be wrong.

Girlfriend 44
by Mark Barrowcliffe

Perhaps I'd OD'd on smutty trash by the end of the Spaceways series; for whatever reason, I followed it up with this quasi-romance novel, about which I remember very little.  I do recall being excited enough by it that I went looking for other books by the same author -- although I should also note that this excitement did not last long enough for me to actually buy any more of his books.

Extro (aka The Computer Connection)
by Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester has written some famously classic SF novels; Extro, however, is not one of them.  My vague memories of this novel suggest it was a bit of a confusing mess.  (In fact, I suspect the main reason I bought it was because I confused it with the horror film Xtro -- which I haven't actually seen but which will no doubt be written up in my "Bad Movies" archive one day...)

The Black Cloud
by Fred Hoyle

A science fiction novel written by a scientist; how can you go wrong with that?  (Well okay, let's not go there!)  Written in 1957, this novel combines Apocalyptic and First Contact threads, and explores one possibility for extraterrestrial life: a sentient cloud travelling through interstellar space, large enough to engulf a large chunk of our solar system, dense enough to block out the sun and drop the Earth into a lethal deep freeze.  Can we communicate with it?  Can we tell it that it is killing us?  After our military forces have taken a swipe at it, will it even care?

Deepwater Black: The Complete Story
by Ken Catran

Actually three novels (Deepwater Black, Deepwater Landing, Deepwater Angels) in one, this follows the adventures of a group of children waking from a Matrix-style dream to find themselves aboard a massive spaceship travelling towards the far reaches of the universe.  Why are they onboard?  Where are they going?  Why have they been awakened?  The books spawned a TV series that I would be interested to see sometime...

Seven Ancient Wonders
Six Sacred Stones
by Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly's novels tend to be paced at an exhausting, breakneck speed; non-stop action with barely a chance to pause and draw breath.  These two are no different.  I enjoy his work, but I don't think I could read more than a couple of his books back-to-back -- and, in fact, I slipped another book between these two so I could unclench myself!

Seven Ancient Wonders introduces new character Jack West, Jr, who finds himself on a race against time to solve the puzzles, evade the bad guys, find the MacGuffins, and save the world.  Think of the Tomb Raider movies, combined with the National Treasure movies and throw in Indiana Jones for good measure, then replace the mostly solo heroes of those flicks with the guys from The Expendables -- and, literally, the salvation of the planet as the ultimate prize.  Now compress the whole thing down into standard running length, and that's what it feels like to read these novels.

Love 'em!

The Bridge
by Janine Ellen Young

This was a book with great ideas, but it never really captured my interest.  Of course, it had the misfortune of acting as the buffer between the two Reilly novels above, so perhaps that didn't help.  The Bridge explores a world in which first contact with an alien species had some unexpected side effects: their message was transmitted in what was essentially viral form, and when we received it, the resulting pandemic wiped out the bulk of humanity...

Hell Island
by Matthew Reilly

This novella returns to another of Reilly's characters, Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield and is, well, take Far Cry 3 and Far Cry (the computer games) and throw in, uh, the Expendables, a couple of opposing armies, bake for 90 minutes, and remember to breathe occasionally.  Breakneck pace, et-cetera...

Digital Fortress
Deception Point
Angels and Demons
by Dan Brown

Like many other people, my introduction to Dan Brown came with the release of The Da Vinci Code (which spawned a seemingly endless stream of imitators) but I had never read his earlier novels.  This all changed in September 2009.

I recall quite enjoying his first two novels -- although time has left my memories of their details a little hazy.  However, Angels and Demons struck me as being "more of the same" when compared with The Da Vinci Code (making, of course, due allowance for the order in which they were written...)  Sure, they were different stories, but they're both much the same: Tom Hanks solving puzzles (yeah, I know; but having seen both movies, I cannot picture Robert Langdon any other way...)  Don't even get me started on The Lost Symbol -- because that's in the 2012 list!

The Scent of Shadows
The Taste of Night
The Touch of Twilight
City of Souls
by Vicki Pettersson

I found the first three of these novels -- the "Signs of the Zodiac" series -- in the cheap bins at my local bookstore (which, sadly, went out of business, despite my best efforts!)

This urban fantasy tells the story of two warring factions, the Shadows and the Light, who battle for control of their cities -- in this case, Las Vegas.  Each group has its own Zodiac; twelve members who gain certain powers from their Sign.

Enter Joanna Archer.  In her teens she was brutally attacked, savaged, and left for dead; now, years later, she finds herself attacked once more -- she is the newest Zodiac Sign to gain her powers, and her enemies take their best shot at eliminating her before she even knows what is going on.  They miss her, and instead manage to kill her sister.  Now she must masquerade as her dead sister in order to stay safe (yeah, I know, like it kept her sister safe?!) and try to find her place in this new world of heroes and monsters, fighting a fight that is hidden from the eyes of the general populace.  But who can she really trust?  Are the forces of Light really as pure as they seem?

The first three books were great; and clearly I enjoyed them enough that I went and tracked down book four (and ultimately, once they were written, books five and six (see the 2012 list for those!))  Joanna Archer is a strong but troubled character, who goes through Hell and back (pretty much literally) to fight for those she loves, even as she begins to see through some of the cracks in the facade of her allies.

The Face
Your Heart Belongs to Me
by Dean Koontz

I've loved Dean Koontz's work since I read my first book of his ("Chase") over 25 years ago.  In that time, he has been one of the handful of authors on my "buy immediately" list, and I would faithfully buy every new book he published.  These days, however, his style has changed somewhat, and some of his more recent novels ... well, they're all starting to feel very samey.  I really should go back and read some of his earlier works again -- like I'd have the time to do that!

These two books were good -- I still generally enjoy his work, mostly -- but I can't say anything about either of them really stood out for me.  In fact, I originally started reading The Face several months (possibly even a couple of years) earlier but couldn't get into it; picking it up again here was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to get past whatever blocked my enjoyment of it the first time around, and it turned out to be worth the read.

Master of Secrets
by George Bartram

Apart from the vague impression that it was set in Africa, I remember nothing about this novel.  Pulling it off the shelf, I see that the story begins with the discovery (by Nazi scientists, as I recall) of two skulls in Eastern Africa in 1939; proof of human ancestors much older than previously thought.  Were they genuine?  Fakes?  Products of the Nazi propaganda machine?  Before any of these questions could be answered, they disappeared -- until, fifty years later, their puzzle resurfaced and a high-stakes race to relocate them began.

Oh, and the hero's name is Peter Smith.

Apparently.  None of this rings any bells.  A couple of scenes towards the end of the novel are starting to form in my mind, so I know I read it -- but clearly none of it stuck.  To be fair, I should also note that this was November 2009; NaNoWriMo: I was also making my second (unsuccessful) attempt to finish writing my third novel, so it's quite possible my attention was not on what I was reading...

So that's it; that's all she wrote -- or rather, all he read -- for 2009. My 2010-2011 list should be up in the next few days...

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