Review of Escape the Bone Yard by RC Scott

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★★☆ 


In Escape from the Bone Yard by RC Scott, Ja Keen is at university at the bequest of his mother’s unlimited funds. He is a genius, who at the young age of sixteen is struggling with the strictures her overbearing nature places upon him. Put simply… he wants to go home. Ja Keen dreams and sometimes these dreams reveal impossible things, things he shouldn’t / couldn’t know.


On another planet Thayan orphans, unloved and unwanted are promised a new home. Telepathically gifted they rarely speak out loud and are universally feared and hated. A new planet awaits them offering hope and home. Cojun, a fifteen year old boy struggles to overcome his Toran heritage from his father and battles daily with his rage.

The Bone Yard is an asteroid in space inhabited by nine pirate captains who fearlessly raid across the galaxy believing themselves to be outside and above the law. Their world is dominating by back stabbing and infighting with each of them trying to consolidate their position above the others. It is also occupied by the beautiful Madam Nar Tana whose brothels are playgrounds for the very rich and powerful. However it is she who holds all the power.

These different worlds and people are about to collide, the consequences of this will spiral across the galaxy.

I will be honest and say it took me a while to get into this book but once I did I couldn’t put it down. There was lots of action, battles and I did mention pirates didn’t I? But what really made this such an excellent read was the complex characters that Scott created. For me, Ja Keen and Cojun simply stole the show and ran with it. It was simply fascinating to view this story about nature verses nurture played across a galaxy. A truly epic read.

Have you read Escape the Bone Yard? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Escape the Bone Yard.

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About the Reviewer: Yvonne lives on the NSW/Victorian border in Australia so it is always boiling hot or freezing cold, in other words great reading weather. She reads across all genres with the exception of Westerns. During the day Yvonne works at a library and loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

You can connect with Yvonne on Twitter or Goodreads.

Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep And Blade Runner

-Science Fiction author, Philip K. Dick, died in 1982. In honor of his distinguished writing career and influence on the Science Fiction writing community, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society established the annual The Philip K. Dick Award in 1983. Each year, an original published work of science fiction from the United States receives this honor at Norwescon.

I’ve always wanted to learn my about Philip K. Dick and am especially excited to share this original piece from contributor, Ren Zelen.

More Human than Human

Philip K Dick, as his interviews, letters and essays make clear, enjoyed film and television. In 1981 he had the opportunity to talk with Ridley Scott, the director of the film adaptation of his novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep‘. He read and was pleased by the final screenplay of the movie, entitled Blade Runner, and was able to view 20 minutes of footage which caused him to ultimately embrace the altered cinematic adaptation. Less than 2 months before his death, he told an interviewer “The opening sequence is simply the most stupendous thing I have ever seen in the way of a film”. Dick never lived to see the premiere of the movie, nor to enjoy how it has earned its place as a milestone in American Science-fiction cinema.


This tragedy prompts readers of Dick’s fiction to wonder how he would have judged the many movie adaptations that have come after: Total Recall (1982 and again in 2012) Confessions d’un Barjo (1992) Screamers (1995) Impostor (2002) Minority Report (2002) Paycheck (2003) A Scanner Darkly (2006) Next (2007) The Adjustment Bureau (2011). Fans of his work would like to think that Philip K Dick would have had requested some involvement  in these later films, although he had wryly commented in 1980, “You would have to kill me and prop me up in the seat of my car with a smile painted on my face to get me to go near Hollywood…” As it turned out, Hollywood came to him, or at least to his body of work – and kept on coming.


After the release of Blade Runner, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ became Philip K Dick’s best known and most referenced work. The book is a good example and a paradigm of Dick’s recurring preoccupations, ideas and motifs: the enigmatic and shifting nature of reality, the difficulty of distinguishing between the real and the artificial and a constant underlying sense of unease and paranoia. The most obvious difference between Blade Runner and ‘Electric Sheep’ is that the movie had to compress Dick’s 240 page novel into 2 hours of film narrative. This required that Ridley and the screenwriters, Fancher and Peoples, exclude many of the novels events and characters to trim the story into a manageable cinematic length. Dick himself accepted this necessity. He explained in an interview, “The book had about 16 plots going through it and they would have had to make a movie lasting 16 hours, and it would have been impossible…this is not how you make a movie out of a book.”

The movie reduces the quirkiness and fantastical elements of Dick’s novel, losing the  central Religion/Philosophy of Mercerism, the almost non-stop TV talk show, and indeed, the electric sheep itself. The movie chooses to concentrate on the figure of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who has to track androids or ‘replicants’ masquerading as humans, and eliminate them. Six of the most advanced models, the Nexus-6, are at large and Deckard is employed, somewhat unwillingly, to ‘retire’ them. Use of the Voigt-Kampff test is supposed to differentiate the androids from the humans by exposing their emotional inexperience and underdevelopment, but as Deckard pursues the Nexus-6 androids, his observations and experiences call into doubt both the value of the test and the differences between the androids and the humans.

He finds himself drawn to Rachel Rosen, introduced as the niece of Dr. Eldon Tyrell, the head of the Tyrell Corporation, but who it transpires, has unwittingly been implanted with the niece’s memories, imagining herself ‘human’ and thus making it necessary for a much more rigorous empathy test to be performed before she can be identified as ‘not human’. To quote Tyrell himself, the motto of the corporation is to make androids ‘More human than Human’. Deckard is conflicted by his growing feelings for Rachel, and begins to doubt the morality of his task as assassin.

In Dick’s novel, the androids are exposed as being little more than cold and pitiless automatons. Deckard’s sexual encounter with Rachel is an empty and false imitation of intimacy and the story ends with his degeneration into a spiritual and emotional numbness. Blade Runner revises this bleak conclusion by blurring the differences between the human and the artificial and presenting the replicants as dynamic beings on a fervent quest to confront their ‘creator’ and question him regarding their shortened term of existence and to try to persuade him to extend it. They feel the sting of prejudice and bondage and hope for  the chance to further explore ‘human’ sensations and gather experiences – they have the, not unreasonable, wish to live an authentic life. Whereas the androids in ‘Electric Sheep’ seek maliciously to demolish the tenuous religious system that supports the sad inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic culture, Blade Runner’s replicants ask questions about life and spirituality that might shake the complacency of the human residents of a hyper-industrialised and technologically dependent society.

Deckard is a loner, who in the early scenes of the movie, behaves much like an emotionally distant automation himself, but as his sexual attraction to Rachel surfaces, he is forced to confront rising hopes and feelings that he had buried long ago. Their hunger for life and experience makes the replicants of the movie appear more ‘alive’ than the jaded humans – or as Tyrell had unwittingly asserted, it makes them ‘more human than human’. One of the final scenes of the movie, the replicant Roy Batty’s death scene, (beautifully played by Rutger Hauer) emphasises this point. As Batty’s short four year life-span comes to a close, he utters the most famous speech of the film, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”   It evokes the memories, experiences and passions that have driven Batty and his fellow replicants to seek more out of their lives. At the last he has a respect for all life – he reacts to save Deckard from falling to his death. The reason why he saves Deckard’s life’s remains ambiguous. In his last moments, gently holding a white dove, Batty resembles a  fallen angel – at odds with and cast out by his ‘creator’, but his final act of mercy to his antagonist shows a spiritual transformation – the replicant appears more compassionate than his pursuer – at the end he is a more ‘human’ man than Deckard. If indeed, Deckard is human…

There is a school of thought regarding the ending of the movie which has led some viewers to consider whether Deckard himself is not also an advanced ‘Nexus 7′ replicant with implanted memories, in the way that Rachel is. Gaff, second-in-command to Deckard’s replicant-hating boss, has some enigmatic last words as he leaves after inspecting Batty’s dead body on the roof. As Gaff turns to go he declares over his shoulder, “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does.”

It is specifically the presence of the tiny silver origami unicorn that is discovered in the corridor outside Deckard’s apartment during his hurried escape with Rachel, which indicates that Gaff has been there and has seen Rachel asleep inside. The unicorn happened to be a feature of Deckard’s dream and Gaff’s parting origami gift suggests he may have had access to those dreams, or implanted memories? (Viewers who are unsure of such a conclusion should watch the movie again and note whether Deckard’s eyes ever ‘glow’ like those of the replicants when seen in semi-darkness, and then make-up their own minds).

In general the movie, despite its changes to the novel, is considered to be a successful adaptation of the book. Philip K Dick himself supported this point of view: “If you start off with the book. Then you can go to the movie, and then you get more material…The book and the movie do not fight each other – they reinforce each other”. The success of the movie is not simply due to the stunning visual representation of the future world presented by Ridley Scott and the haunting soundtrack by Vangelis, but also in its willingness to embrace the ambiguities  of morality, identity and the fragile nature of spiritual fulfilment that make life so complex and uncertain in a twenty-first century world.

Copyright held by Ren Zelen (2013)

Have you seen Blade Runner or read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Please share your comments below.

If you’re a fan of Philip K Dick, you may also want to read our review of ‘The Man In The High Castle.’

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About Reviewer, Ren Zelen
REN ZELEN describes herself as “a writer, academic editor, reviewer, pop culture junkie, movie buff, rock music enthusiast, science nerd and Sandra Bullock lookalike”. Her fiction and past reviews can be found on her own website: Lethal Lexicon.

Her post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel ‘The HATHOR DIARIES’ is available from Amazon in both the UK and USA.

Her book/film/TV reviews can be found on various sites on the web. Information and contact on twitter.

Review of Vicious by V.E. Schnab

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★★☆ 


Just to whet our appetite, the publishers of Vicious by V.E. Schnab sent us a 100-page sneak peak. Here’s our review of the first 100 pages, we’ll be back with a review of the entire story once it is available.

As noted I have only read the first 100 pages, but let me say from the onset, I can’t wait to read more.


Eli and Victor are university roommates, sometimes friends but always rivals in both academia and personal issues. They are brilliant and constantly pushing themselves to more extremes. It is when they have to declare their thesis that things between them take on a decidedly dark edge. Victor chooses to study Adrenal inducers, what makes up the fight or flight behaviour in humans. It is Eli’s decision that truly astonishes and upsets his friend. Eli wants to study EOs – people who are extra ordinary, someone who has a power that normal humans don’t and whether these people are born that way or made. Flash forward ten years and Victor has escaped from prison with a plan. We don’t know what sent him to prison but we do know that Victor blames Eli and wants revenge.

Schwab uses the past and the present to tell a story that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It is gripping and fraught with tension as you get closer to the answers as to why the events have unfolded the way they have. It is Victor and Eli’s relationship that really makes this story so compelling. Both characters seem to be functioning psychopaths that are slowly unraveling as the plot progresses.

This story is dark and gritty and really something that you can sink your teeth into.

Have you read Vicious? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Vicious.

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About the Reviewer: Yvonne lives on the NSW/Victorian border in Australia so it is always boiling hot or freezing cold, in other words great reading weather. She reads across all genres with the exception of Westerns. During the day Yvonne works at a library and loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

You can connect with Yvonne on Twitter or Goodreads.

Review of The Arrivals by Melissa Marr

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★★☆ 


Science Fiction Western is probably the most accurate classification for The Arrivals by Melissa Marr


Jake and Kitty have been in the Wasteland for twenty six years now. They originally came from the Wild West in the 1800′s and have no idea how they came to this alien environment. They have new arrivals that join their crew from different moments in history but none from before their time. They occasionally die as well but never permanently though their companions aren’t so lucky. Their greatest enemy is a man called Ajani who is raping the land of all its mineral wealth and leaving it barren with no hope of survival to the indigenous inhabitants. Life in the Wasteland is full of danger with dragon worms, insect vampires and demon monks but for Jake and Kitty it feels like home.

I really enjoyed this interesting combination of a western science fiction novel. Kitty is by far the most interesting character though the rest of the motley crew make for an interesting read. What stopped me from given this a higher rating is that it felt like a short story that was stretched out. Yes it was fun and thrilling but I felt the characters could have been developed a little more and we never find out why Kitty can do spells and no one else from earth can. None the less I remain a fan of the amazing Melissa Marr.

If you’re skeptical of blending Westerns with Science Fiction, this formula has been used successfully with Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ television series, and with classic Science Fiction author, Andre Norton.

Have you read The Arrivals? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of The Arrivals.

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About the Reviewer: Yvonne lives on the NSW/Victorian border in Australia so it is always boiling hot or freezing cold, in other words great reading weather. She reads across all genres with the exception of Westerns. During the day Yvonne works at a library and loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

You can connect with Yvonne on Twitter or Goodreads.

Review of The Ups and Downs of Being Dead by M. R. Cornelius

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★★☆ 


In The Ups and Downs of Being Dead by M. R. Cornelius, Robert is the protagonist, and his life wasn’t going as expected. His marriage wasn’t a happy one, and while his daughter made him proud, his son was a drug addict with no prospects. Robert then gets diagnosed with cancer and his options suddenly become very limited. But Robert is never one to gracefully accept defeat, and a chance meeting with Alex Darden changes his options. Instead of dying, Robert chooses to get cryonically preserved. While the technology is there to freeze people no one knows when or if it will be there to thaw them out again.


Robert expects to lie down to sleep and wake up suddenly in a brave new world so he is very surprised to be met by two people who are frozen themselves. Robert can do or go anywhere in the world he wants, but he can’t touch anything and no one can see him. He can’t eat or drink or sleep again. Against warnings Robert makes a decision that will change his un-dead life, he tries to go home…

I really enjoyed this story of a man who was a workaholic and to be quite honest, not a nice man and the transformation that occurs over the years of him being dead. The story makes you think about the choices you make in life and how it affects the people around you. It was well written and the story had me gripped until the very end.

Have you read The Ups and Downs of Being Dead? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.

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About the Reviewer: Yvonne lives on the NSW/Victorian border in Australia so it is always boiling hot or freezing cold, in other words great reading weather. She reads across all genres with the exception of Westerns. During the day Yvonne works at a library and loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

You can connect with Yvonne on Twitter or Goodreads.

Book Review of Pacific Rim. Novelization by Alex Irvine

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★★☆ 


-We couldn’t keep nuking them (the kaiju), or pretty soon the Earth was going to be destroyed while we were trying to save it.

I didn’t want to like Pacific Rim-I suppose I thought I was too sophisticated for what’s essentially Die Hard meets Godzilla with a little bit of Rocky thrown in for good measure. I have to admit, however, that Pacific Rim is an entertaining read. Let’s face it, we all need a little junk-food for the soul from time to time, and this book serves it up in a very digestible format.


Is this an original story, or is it a rip off of Godzilla? As a kid, I watched UltraMan on TV. Yes, it was the exact same storyline in every episode, but I didn’t mind. Of course the UltraMan special effects were an absolute joke with plastic monsters stepping on cardboard buildings, but old-school Godzilla special effects were no better. Pacific Rim takes these established international cultural icons and pulls them into the twenty-first century.

I’m torn on the question of originality, because on one hand the story is essentially a chapter right out of Godzilla/UltraMan lure, yet on the other hand it’s been so long since there’s been a mainstream quality adaptation that it really was refreshing. Viewed through the lens of current time where we’ve been doused with sequels upon sequels like Ironman, the Avengers and X-Men, I really do feel like this is an original (almost “new”) creative concept.

Is the story-line cliché? Yes, there are absolutely some stereotypical science fiction/action elements, but I found that the original creative elements substantially outweighed the tired and clichéd. Certainly putting humans inside giant robots was a new twist, although a little hard to embrace with modern technology going the other way with the deployment of drones (no pilots) in modern combat.

There were a few other legitimate surprises that popped up throughout the story. These really helped to keep the plot line a little off balance and less predictable which I thought was a nice touch.

Why did the Kaiju come? Pacific Rim has an environmental backdrop to the story with quotes like “We terraformed Earth for the kaiju.” Basically kaiju are the second coming of the prehistoric dinosaurs, and the damage that we as humans have done to the Earth has just started the downward spiral of the planet which the kaiju will finish.

There are a lot of valid reasons to take better care of our environment, but I don’t think sewing the seeds for kaiju destruction is among them. This is the first of several weak science backdrops that really didn’t work for me.

Where’s the Science in this Science Fiction? I am not a hard science geek who reads Science Fiction books with the intent of identifying any scientific impossibilities, but the major premises in Pacific Rim are really more like fantasy than Science Fiction.

I really don’t think we have to worry about dinosaurs rising out of the Marianas Trench (the “breach”) trying to take over the Earth. Even more far-fetched to me was the synching of minds (the “drift”) needed to operate a Jaeger. This concept worked brilliantly to create some tension within the story line, but it’s just not believable to me on any scale, and I’m really not that fussy. I’m fine with technology that makes people invisible, travelling faster than the speed of light, teleporting, time-travel and many other questionable technologies that Science Fiction stories employ, but this was just too far off the “never gonna happen” spectrum for me.

Humor in a story like ‘Pacific Rim’? The utter geekiness and tension between the two scientists, Newt & Gottlieb, added a humorous element to the story. I wouldn’t necessarily expect any humor in a science fiction/action film like this, but I quite enjoyed it. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m curious to see if any of this humor gets translated into the big screen.

How does the story mesh with current society? As impossible as it was for me to embrace some of the fictional elements of the story, I really appreciated other elements that meshed nicely with the real world.

For instance, I thought it was really clever to have crime bosses who were responsible for selling kaiju body parts on the black market for a huge profit. Additionally, I liked the concept of the “kaiju slum” where people opted to live in the radioactive forbidden zones despite the contamination from the dead kaiju. This seemed plausible as well based on trade-offs made by people who are poor or looking to go off-the-grid.

-Today we are cancelling the apocalypse. -Striker Pentecost

Pacific Rim is no Shakespeare, but it doesn’t pretend to be. If you enjoy action stories, military Science Fiction or monster stories then you will almost certainly like the fast-paced action in Pacific Rim. Even though it’s not an especially deep storyline, it does cover a lot of ground. Once you get through about the first third of the book which layouts out the plot and provides character background, the final two-thirds are hard-to-put-down exciting.

By the way, if you’re looking for a film review of Pacific Rim, I came across this one which I thought was quite good.

Have you read Pacific Rim or seen the film? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Pacific Rim.

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Review of Scout’s Honour by Peter Laurent

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★½☆ 


In Scout’s Honour by Peter Laurent, Jayson is the pilot of the Machaera, one of the ships belonging to the Academy. He is sent out on what should have been a routine mission, to get supplies along with Matt and Zoe. But right from the start it is obvious that something more is happening here. The location off the coast of Hong Kong puts them in enemy territory. The team prepare for the worst, they armor up and pack some serious heat but nothing they do will make them ready for what they will face when they arrive.


This novella bridges the gap between book one and two of The Covert Academy series. It is fast paced and full of action. It was a quick, intense and enjoyable read. My only problem with it was that the dialogue had a tendency to get a bit clunky and wooden. This aside it is a must read for anyone who enjoyed the first book as I did.

We also reviewed Peter Laurent’s first book, The Covert Academy; click here to take a peek.

Have you read Scout’s Honour? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Scout’s Honour.

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About the Reviewer: Yvonne lives on the NSW/Victorian border in Australia so it is always boiling hot or freezing cold, in other words great reading weather. She reads across all genres with the exception of Westerns. During the day Yvonne works at a library and loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

You can connect with Yvonne on Twitter or Goodreads.

Review of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

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Rating from TwistedSciFi ★★★★★ 


There is no doubt that David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is a clever book. It is a work that makes demands on its readers but rewards the persistent student with a novel of breathtaking scope, one peopled with well-drawn characters and written with an exquisite, flowing prose.


The greatest challenge is its construction: six chronological novellas, spanning the nineteenth century to the far future, each of which are interrupted half way through by the next story in line. The sixth and final story is completed as a single piece and at its end the author picks up the fifth story and finishes it, and then concludes the fourth, the third, the second and finally he ends the novel by closing the story with which it began. Some, including the author, have called this a “Russian doll” structure, but to the reader it is more akin to scaling a mountain, climbing through each climatic zone to reach the peak, then descending each level until eventually returning to base.

As the reader begins the latest story both the plot and the characters of each previous story must be retained ready for its conclusion. The task is made more difficult as Mitchell adopts a different style and genre for each novella and writes using sentence construction and vocabulary suitable to the time period in which it takes place (including a derivative English in the sixth story, a post-apocalyptical tale set in the far future). This has the effect of encouraging the reader to focus on the story in hand but threatens to overwhelm the details of the one just read. This danger is alleviated by each story being linked. As the novel moves through time a character in one story is able to read a document or view a film describing the previous story; sometimes a younger character in one will appear as an older character in the next. There is a more tenuous connection involving a comet shaped birthmark and there are many broader themes running throughout concerning, prejudice, slavery, freedom and power – to name a few.

Is the novel science fiction? Story five, (An Orison of Somni-451) about a cloned fabricant ascending to independent self-awareness, and story six, the post-apocalyptic central core  (Stoosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After) most definitely are. The third novella (Half Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery) is a modern thriller and would only be considered science fiction by those who thought The China Syndrome to be in the genre, while the fourth (The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish) about a publisher who accidentally books into a nursing home then cannot escape, is more a horror story. The first (The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing) a diary of an American’s adventures in the Chatham Islands and the second (Letters from Zedelghem) a story concerning an amanuensis to a famous but dying composer told through his letters to an old friend,  are mainstream. However, the overall effect of this mixed genre journey from the past to the far future is one that sits comfortably within the SF label.

Is the novel the masterpiece that some have claimed? Almost. The cleverness of its construction and its beautifully written prose brings it very close, but it lacks revelation, a moment that changes one’s thinking. To the avid SF reader the plots are hardly original but their execution is superb and the characters live on long after completion. In turn it is sad, funny, suspenseful, insightful, and thoroughly enjoyable. Despite its demands on the reader the novel is a delight and should be on everyone’s bookshelf. I first read Cloud Atlas on an e-reader and then went out immediately and bought the paper book so that I could delve amongst the pages more readily. I have returned to it on several occasions and will do so again and again. If you have not yet read this novel I urge you to do so. A treat awaits you.

If you’re interested in Cloud Atlas, you’ll probably want to take a look at our review of the recent film adaptation.

Have you read Cloud Atlas or any works by David Mitchell? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Cloud Atlas.

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About the Reviewer:  Bruce Taylor lives in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England and is married with two grown up daughters. He left school at seventeen, became a computer programmer in 1969 and worked in or around IT until he retired in 2011. He’s an avid reader mostly of Science Fiction.

You can connect with Bruce on Twitter.