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Martin Kopischke

Joined 9 months, 1 week ago

Purveyor of finest boredom since 1969. Lost causes catered for. He / him. English / deutsch / français. (@kopischke on BirdSite)

My ratings can look harsh, because they do not reflect how much I enjoyed a book; instead, I try to assess how exceptional a piece of literature I find it. I quite like a lot of books I “only” rate three stars, and I wouldn’t necessarily enjoy re-reading everything I rate above that, but the only service I use which helps me express that kind of nuance is Letterboxd.

For reference: ★★★★★ Flawless 
★★★★☆ Must read 
★★★☆☆ Above average 
★★☆☆☆ Oh, well
 ★☆☆☆☆ Blargh

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Martin Kopischke's books

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replied to bookafnd's status

@agafnd yeah, me too. BTW, if you need a palate cleanser after The Big Time, may I recommand This Is How You Lose the Time War? It is kind of a riff on it, but for modern sensibilities: imagine the main operators of the time war falling in love with each other, and communicating by … subtly altering the timelines they fight over. It is queer, fun, smart and engaging. Quite the achievement IMO.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (EBook, 2020, Tom Doherty Associates) 4 stars

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of …

Highly recommended

4 stars

I wasn’t quite sure how Nghi Vo would continue after her Empress of Salt and Fortune – after all, her main character Chih, the recording monk, is hardly fit to carry sustained narratives. I needn’t have worried: this never tries to burden them with that task.

Instead, we are treated (and what a treat it is) to another take on the magic of storytelling and the nature of truth. If Empress was all about the true story lying hidden, this is about how the truth of stories is negotiable. Formally consistent with, and sharing the same rich world building as its predecessor, this second instalment is as enjoyable as the first, a wonderful feat of complex storytelling happening without any of the usual fanfare.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune (EBook, 2020, Tom Doherty Associates) 4 stars

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period …

Slow reading with a capital “S”

3 stars

– which, in case you were unsure, is a good thing, because you can enjoy peeling away fine layer after fine layer away from the story Nghi Vo so intricately wrapped for you. The experience is, there is no other word for it, exquisite.

Invisible Sun (EBook, 2021, Pan McMillan) 3 stars

Two twinned worlds are waiting for war …

America is caught in a deadly arms …

Sometimes, taking your premise and running with it is all that is needed

3 stars

Stross’ Merchant Princes series, of which the Empire Games trilogy this concludes is a part, is a poster child for this principle: assuming there are parallel Earth timelines in which development of society (and life, at times) wildly varies, what happens when one technologically less advanced line discovers it can travel to a more advanced one? Start with a knight armed with a submachine gun attacking your hapless protagonist, and take it from there until you arrive at transtemporal nuclear powered space battleships parked on the ISS’ lawn.

If you think this sounds like a silly, incoherent mess, you can be forgiven: in the hands of a lesser author, it easily might have been. What saves Stross are his well rounded characters and an ironclad grasp of what plotting individual arcs along the basic workings of society and history means. Add complex, richly textured world building, a healthy dose of …