Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Book review: THE DARK FOREST by Cixin Liu

THE DARK FOREST (2008) by Cixin Liu

I have read and reviewed Cixin Liu's novel THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, which ended in a huge cliffhanger: Can humanity survive an impending alien invasion?

I must read the third book in the series to find out how this story ends, because the sequel THE DARK FOREST leaves many questions unanswered.

THE DARK FOREST is mainly about preparing humanity for a terrible future - and how hope can survive.

The novel also develops the argument made in THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM - about the inherent danger of alien civilizations... I am not sure where I stand on that subject, but I think that far too much science fiction isn't taking it seriously.

THE DARK FOREST suffers from being the middle book in a trilogy. It is very clear about what it wants to say, but it is unevenly written (or translated??).

The "flatness" of the characters, a typical feature of "Hard" Science Fiction, gets worse here - because the author struggles to give the characters depth, but he doesn't completely succeed.

There are several plot twists - some are good - and a major one that is quite weak (humanity wandering stupidly into an obvious trap, with disastrous consequences).

Despite these criticisms, I just had to read the book to see what would happen next. I recommend it with a caveat: if you're not engaged in the main plot or the trilogy's "big ideas," THE DARK FOREST may bore you.

Me, I'm engaged and then some...

#bookreviews #bookreview #cixinliu #liucixin #thetreebodyproblem #threebodyproblem #thedarkforest #bookstagram #bookcover #bookphotography #books #literature #scifi #sciencefiction #dystopia #reviews #novel #literature #future #aliens #aliens #chinesesciencefiction #chinesescifi #alienlife #extraterrestrial #extraterrestrials

Book reviews: THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM (2008) by Cixin Liu

What surprised me when I began reading this novel was its frank description of the horrors of China's political turmoil in the 1960s and 70s. (I had assumed such books would run into state censorship.)

It was tempting to interpret THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM as criticism of the Communist regime in the guise of SF... but as I read on, it became evident that the author has much bigger fish to fry. The novel carries a very serious message about the search for extraterrestrial life.

The plot has three interwoven threads: the tragic life of the scientist Ye Wenjie, the hunt to uncover a massive conspiracy against science itself, and the history of an extraterrestrial civilization pitted against Earth.

There is a lot I really like about this book. It is mostly well written, there is not an ounce of unnecessary text, it knows what it wants to say and makes a clear, reasoned argument. This is "highbrow" SF of the finest order.

It's refreshing to read SF that comes from a Chinese perspective! Cixin Liu breathes new life into a very old theme - "first contact."

It also contains original ideas and some amazing, memorable scenes.

The only weak part was the depiction of the extraterrestrials themselves - they struck me as behaving too much like Earthlings to be credibly "alien."

Does THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM's message hold up to scrutiny? If it does, it could influence the course of humanity's future. You should read the novel and make up your own mind.

Strongly recommended reading.

#cixinliu #liucixin #thetreebodyproblem #threebodyproblem #bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #sciencefiction #scifi #hardsf #chinesesciencefiction #chinesescifi #aliens #aliens👽#alienlife #extraterrestrial #extraterrestrials #seti #china #bestsellers #hugoawards


by Carl-Johan Vallgren


The English title is too long and blunt, but it does summarize the plot of this remarkable novel. (The original title, in direct translation, reads "The Tale of the Marvellous Love.")

This novel depicts the life of the fictional character Hercules Barefoot, his trials and sorrows as a severely handicapped dwarf with hidden powers... and his love for a beautiful woman.

It is written in a baroque style, contrasting the beautiful and the grotesque, and yet I found it easy to read (I read the Swedish edition).

The story really tugs at the reader's heartstrings. It's impossible not to sympathize with the plight of the protagonist.

If you like David Lynch's movie THE ELEPHANT MAN, or other stories about suffering and disability - or you just enjoy a good story well told - then you should read this book.

Heartily recommended. (NOTE: Not for the faint of heart!)

#carljohanvallgren #herculesbarefoot #bookstagram #bokstagram #bookstagrammer #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #novels #novel #sciencefiction #fantasy #fantastik #disability #disabled #deafness #handicap
#mutants #romance #beautyandthebeast

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Book review: DESCENT FROM XANADU by Harold Robbins

DESCENT FROM XANADU (1984) by Harold Robbins

Let's make it clear from the start: This book is a disaster. It has no redeeming qualities. I expected a trashy thriller - but I just got bored and disappointed.

It may be "educational" for aspiring writers, as an example of how not to tell a story...

The author Harold Robbins was once one of the top bestsellers in the world, with novels like THE CARPETBAGGERS - lurid tales about money, power and sex - daydreams of wordly success and excess.

Robbins tried to live as excessively as his fictional characters - and he used a lot of drugs. Incidentally, the rich protagonist in DESCENT FROM XANADU has two obsessions: finding immortality and cocaine...

Sounds like a thriller, right? Only it isn't.

Turns out the tycoon protagonist's drug habit is actually more important than becoming immortal. The plot literally stops in its tracks many times because he has to score cocaine.

The only friend (sort of) he has is his dealer. Seriously.

After a seemingly endless number of cocaine stops, the novel dimly recalls that the plot was supposed to be about a guy who tries to become immortal. It makes a mad rush for the ending, stumbles and falls flat on its face on the final page.

See, kids, this is what can happen when a writer's personal hangups are allowed to completely take over the narrative, without being questioned or challenged - creative failure.

Writers: Read and learn. (And stay away from cocaine! )

(If you do want a good trashy 80s read, try Jackie Collins instead.)

#haroldrobbins #descentfromxanadu #bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #novels #thriller #1980s #jackiecollins #writing #writerslife #writinglife #authorlife #book #thecarpetbaggers #trash #badbooks #cocaine #bestsellers #bokrecension #bokrecensioner #drugs #addiction

Book review: GOOGOLPLEX by KG Johansson

GOOGOLPLEX (2010) by KG Johansson

This science fiction novel originally appeared in Swedish, but is now also available in an English translation.

GOOGOLPLEX is a tale about obsession, set in the far future. Through the use of advanced science, the protagonist tries to relive his own past... and to recreate a long-lost love.

As he struggles ever more desperately to fufill his deepest desire, he approaches the big question: What does it really mean to get what you want?

Written in plain-spoken prose, KG Johansson's novel is a meditation on human nature. I liked it!

Recommended for science fiction lovers, and for anyone who dwells too much on what could have been...

#bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #sciencefiction #scifi #alternatehistory #paralleluniverse #kgjohansson #googolplex #multiverse #booksuggestion #booksuggestions #boktips

Boktips: SAMAEL av Jorun Modén

Jorun Modens fantasyroman SAMAEL imponerade på mig första gången den kom ut. Den var välskriven, originell och mångbottnad.

Så det är en god nyhet att den nu finns i nyutgåva på Wela Förlag.
Om du gillar Neil Gaimans böcker, är SAMAEL en roman för dig!

Fråga efter denna bok på ditt bibliotek.
(Tipstack till @jorun.moden )

#jorunmoden #jorunmodén #samael #boktips #lästips #fantastik #böcker #litteratur #boktipset #fantasyböcker #författare #svenskfantasy #neilgaiman #fantasybok #fantasyboktips #welaförlag

Bokrecension: FÖR HERR BACHMANNS BROSCHYR av Carl-Johan Vallgren

FÖR HERR BACHMANNS BROSCHYR (1998) av Carl-Johan Vallgren

Det går bra för Carl-Johan Vallgren nu (tror jag). Men i slutet av 1990-talet var han en Arg Ung Man som tyckte att kulturetablissemanget var emot honom...

...och han skrev av sig frustrationen i denna lilla bok, som nästan sprängs av ilska.

Tänk dig ett två timmar långt, oavbrutet vredesutbrott mot svensk småaktighet och Jantelag... som ändå faktiskt får dig att skratta.

(Det närmaste jag kommer på som liknar den här boken skulle vara Lars Ekborgs episka utskällning av Beppe Wolgers, men den var förhållandevis kort.)

Detta är litterär standup comedy. Överdriven? Javisst. Hysteriskt rolig? Absolut.

(Se även, av samme författare: DEN VIDUNDERLIGA KÄRLEKENS HISTORIA.)

#carljohanvallgren #förherrbachmannsbroschyr #bokstagram #bokomslag #böcker #bokrecension #bokrecensioner #bokbloggare #bokbloggar #bokblogg #författare #recension #recensioner #boktips #lästips #humor #satir #jantelagen #litteratur #sverige #svensklitteratur

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Book review: THE MACHINE STOPS by E.M. Forster

THE MACHINE STOPS (1909) by E.M. Forster

E.M. Forster (better known for novels like A PASSAGE TO INDIA) wrote THE MACHINE STOPS as a reaction/response to H.G. Wells' novel THE TIME MACHINE.

This story/novella, set in the far future, is stunningly prescient. Forster depicted a version of the Internet and social media (in 1909!), and robots that take care of all human needs.

THE MACHINE STOPS is a dystopian vision of humans becoming subservient to technology - the "Machine" of the title - and it feels relevant today. It is also well written.

Strongly recommended reading. (A Public Domain audiobook version is available on

There are several TV/movie versions of this story - for example in the classic BBC series OUT OF THE UNKNOWN, and a recent adaptation.

#emforster #themachinestops #apassagetoindia #bookstagram #bookreviews #bookreview #review #reviews #sciencefiction #scifi #classics #fiction #literature #internet #socialmedia #twitter #future #dystopia #dystopianfiction #technology

HOTET UNDER HAVET - mer bilder

Ett smakprov på mina illustrationer från KG Johanssons mellanåldersbok

Bokserien STADEN UNDER JORDEN finns på biblioteket och säljes på

#aryngve #boktips #lästips #böcker #bokstagram #bokomslag #barnböcker #ungdomsböcker #boktipset #stadenunderjorden #mellanåldersbok #boktipsbarn #illustration #illustrationer #grafiskdesign #grafiskdesigner #illustratör

PRECINCT 20: DEAD STRANGE extended trailer

Extended "music video" trailer for my book PRECINCT 20: DEAD STRANGE (available on Amazon):

Monday, February 03, 2020

Book review: THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU by H. G. Wells

THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1896) by H. G. Wells

In THE TIME MACHINE, H.G. Wells speculated about human evolution reaching into the distant future.

But in THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, he took Darwin's discovery directly into the present (the story takes place in the 1880s) - and the result is a tale somewhere in the borderland between science fiction and horror.

Darwin's theory of evolution made a profound impact on Western society, and was met with a furious opposition from the religious establishment. The opposition lost, and the ancient notion that humans were fundamentally apart from other animals - that only humans had a "soul" - shattered forever.

In THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, the protagonist literally and existentially struggles with the consequences of this (to him) new reality, where the "boundary" between human and animal is blurred.

There are some truly profound scenes in this novel that are simultaneously science fiction, horror, satire and allegory. In that respect it may be the best novel Wells ever wrote. Read it and you'll see what I mean.

Recommended as an unforgettable classic of science fiction, horror and psychological literature.

I have a cynical anticipation that some people are going to wilfully misinterpret this novel as a work about simplistic "racism." (That is, to assume that the "beast people" of the story are nothing more than symbols for non-Western or non-"white" peoples.)

But that would be to profoundly miss the point. Evolution is for everybody. Or, to quote the novel: "None escape!"

#hgwells #theislandofdrmoreau #theislandofdoctormoreau #thetimemachine #classics #literature #reviews #review #novel #novels #bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #beautifulbooks #scifi #sciencefiction #horror #satire #evolution #darwin #charlesdarwin #madscientist

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Book review: THE FALL OF HYPERION by Dan Simmons

THE FALL OF HYPERION (1990) by Dan Simmons

I have read and very much enjoyed the author's previous novel HYPERION (see my review). But it ended abruptly - so I had to read this sequel and see what would happen next...

THE FALL OF HYPERION is very long and has many parallel plot threads with different characters. The author uses repeated "reminders" to keep the reader on track, which is helpful in this case.

Even so, this novel is probably longer than it had to be.

The story makes more sense if you bear in mind that HYPERION was inspired by a medieval book (Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES), and that the medieval worldview was profoundly religious and Christian.

In both Chaucer's medieval universe and in Simmons' future galactic civilization, gods are real - and they are engaged in a kind of cosmic football game where the human (and non-human) characters are merely players (or possibly more?).

Frequently, the text wanders into religious mysticism and metaphysics - but that's inevitable, given the theme of the books.
HYPERION and THE FALL OF HYPERION are, I think, really about the future of Christianity, in a space opera setting. To what degree this "works" for you depends on how much you can mentally keep apart the fictional religions of the story and real-life religion.
(I struggled a bit with that.)

The characters are well written and you care for them. There are some good plot twists (and one that I saw coming). The novel ends with enough plot threads wrapped up to make a satisfying whole.

All in all, THE FALL OF HYPERION is quite enjoyable and well crafted - though "your mileage may vary," as the phrase goes.

Recommended for lovers of epic stories, space opera and metaphysical speculation.

#dansimmons #thefallofhyperion #hyperion #hyperioncantos #bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #sciencefiction #scifi #spaceopera #adventure #bookphotography #book #johnkeats #metaphysics #religion #christianity #artificialintelligence #ai #poetry #novel #novels #bookseries

Book review: THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY by G.K. Chesterton

THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY: A Nightmare (1908) by G. K. Chesterton

Chesterton is most famous for his "Father Brown" detective stories - which I have enjoyed. This novel, however, is structured more like a thriller.

The surface plot is about secret police infiltrating an Anarchist cabal that's plotting terrorist attacks. But it turns out the Anarchist menace is not what it seems...

I recall reading THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY when I was younger - and it made a better impression on me then, even though it mystified me... or rather I was impressed because I didn't quite understand it.

Now, when I read it as a more mature man, I understand it perfectly. It is a tract on behalf of the Catholic Church (which Chesterton converted to), pretending to be a thriller.

(The title ought to be simply "Join Us: A Tract".)

Chesterton not only tries to make this tract "entertaining" by cloaking the message in genre fiction, he also dumbs it down until it becomes patronizing. It is embarrassing to see an obviously intelligent writer dumb himself down for the sake of propaganda.

For example: in one passage, the characters are in need of a torchlight for their car. Someone brings a lantern that emits a cross-shaped light...

But that's not allegorical enough for Chesterton! He describes in sentimental terms how the lantern was delivered by a good man, and spells out in the text that the sight of the characters using that lantern seems like an allegory. (You know, in case the readers were too stupid to "get it.")

Not heavy-handed enough? How about the protagonist actually SAYING "the infallibility of the Pope" without irony? Or how about when Chesterton writes that a suspicious character looks "Jewish"? Groan. (There isn't room here for the issue of Chesterton's anti-Semitic tendencies, but they are duly noted.)

If you're a Christian - or if you dislike being condescended to - please avoid this book.
(Or read the "Father Brown" stories instead.)

#bookstagram #bokstagram #bookstagrammer #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #classics #review #gkchesterton #chesterton #themanwhowasthursday #religion #christianity

Allt vad jag har skrivit genom åren...

Jag har skrivit historier sedan jag gick i skolan. Jag började med noveller, och det tog lång tid innan jag var redo att skriva en hel roman.

Sedan 2004 har olika förlag gett ut mina romaner och antologier/tidskrifter där mina noveller ingår.

Om vi inte inkluderar böcker/noveller som jag har gett ut på egen hand (eller enbart lagt ut på min webbsajt), så är dessa titlar som följer:

Romaner (finns på biblioteket eller på

  • Terra Hexa (Wela Förlag, 2004) 
  • Terra Hexa II (Wela Förlag, 2006)

  • Terra Hexa 3 (Wela Förlag, 2007)

  • Supermobilen (Wela Förlag, 2011)

  • Sagopyjamasen (Wela Förlag, 2012)

  • Vaernen den fördömde (Wela Förlag, 2012)

  • Hundra tusen pirater (Wela Förlag, 2013)
  • Darc Ages - De mörka tidevarven - Första boken: Uppvaknandet (Wela Förlag, 2016)
  • Darc Ages - De mörka tidevarven - Andra boken: Ödemarkens barn (Wela Förlag, 2016)
  • Darc Ages - De mörka tidevarven - Tredje boken: Slaget om framtiden (Wela Förlag, 2016)
  • Monster i massor (Wela Förlag, 2016)
  • Darc Ages - De mörka tidevarven - Fjärde boken: Maskernas stad (Wela Förlag, 2017)
  • Rex Omega (TiraTiger Förlag, 2019)


  • Fruktans fysik (Wela Förlag, 2014)
    Fotnot: Denna novellsamling drogs senare in för att frigöra ljudboksrättigheterna till materialet.

    Publicerade noveller/långnoveller (OBS: Denna lista är inkomplett):
    1. "Grisham's World" (Denna satiriska novell om ett samhälle styrt av advokater publicerades i tidskriften The #12 Gauge Review)

    2. "Custom Job"
    3. "I Feel Super, Thanks For Asking"
    4. "By the Nose"
    5. "The War"("Kriget")
    6. "Sins of Our Fathers"
    7. "Physical Terror"("Fruktans fysik")
    8. "The Face In the Door"
    9. "K.C. And the Sunshine World"
    10. "See"(i en kinesisk SF-tidskrift)
    11. "Lonely Planets"
    12. "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To Valhalla"
    13. "Telephone Conversations" ("Telefonsamtal")
    14. "Landscape With Sententers" ("Landskap med sententrer")
    15. "Nightmare Number Six"
    16. "Mannen som föll ut"
    17. "Quadrillennium" ("Quadrillennium")
    18. "Super-Size Security"(I det brittiska skräckmagasinet Murky Depths)
    19. "Stupid!" (i en kinesisk SF-tidskrift)
    20. "6 superkorta"
    21. "Insider" ("Insider")
    22. "Serverad"
    23. "Avagana"
    24. "Historien om P"
    25. "A Man Called Mister Brown" (in
    Min egenutgivning finns på Amazon.

    Monday, December 16, 2019

    Boksläpp: HOTET UNDER HAVET - Staden under jorden del 3

    Nu har den äntligen kommit ut i nätbokhandlarna:
    HOTET UNDER HAVET - Staden under jorden del 3

    En spännande lättläst bok för mellanåldern, med högaktuellt tema.
    KG Johansson har skrivit texten, och jag har illustrerat boken med över 40 bilder.

    Presentation av boken på

    I en dröm får Fia en vision av en jordbävning. Det är i själva verket vännen Jim från staden Salvo långt under jordytan som kontaktar henne med hjälp av robothunden Robban. Datorerna som styr Salvo har fastnat i ett inbördes gräl, när ett beslut omedelbart måste fattas för att rädda livet på elva tusen människor.

    Staden under jorden är en lättläst bokserie för barn på ett mycket gammalt tema: en hemlig värld under jorden. I seriens nya tredje del, Hotet från havet, tas samma tema upp men nu får också klimatkrisen en plats tillsammans med robotar och avancerad teknik. Boken är skriven och tecknad med glimten i ögat - och vem tycker inte om hemliga världar, dinosaurier, talande apor och datorer med mycket mänskliga personligheter?

    Fråga efter de här böckerna på biblioteket!

    Här är några exempel på illustrationer från de tidigare böckerna i serien:

    Thursday, December 12, 2019

    Book review: THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON by H. G. Wells

    THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1901) by H. G. Wells

    A novel that's over 100 years old...about a visit to the Moon... depicting lunar life on a Moon with an atmosphere. Is it really still worth reading?

    The answer is yes. In fact this novel is imaginative, humorous, lighthearted and even satirical.

    It also contains interesting surprises:

    - The characters make a direct reference to Jules Verne's novel FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON -- a "meta-commentary."

    - The narrative, written as a firsthand account of "true events," mixes fantastic events with mundane details of life in the 1890s.

    - The narrator is a greedy opportunist - he tags along on the expedition to the Moon only to strike it rich. In one scene, he gets intoxicated and babbles about the duty to seize control of the Moon as "the White Man's Burden." This is obviously Wells making fun of British imperialism.

    - The depiction of life on the Moon, even though it is outdated, is still impressive and imaginative. It has been an influence on later stories about aliens.

    - There are several ironic twists in the story to keep the excitement up.

    (For example: the two men who travel to the Moon bring lots of provisions and prepare for various difficulties they might face... but once they land on the Moon, it becomes obvious that they forgot to bring a map.)

    - Wells even considered the psychological effects of space travel - in a wonderful scene he depicts a kind of "space madness"!

    I enjoyed THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, a surprisingly entertaining adventure. Recommended as a classic.

    NOTE: The book has been filmed several times. The 2010 BBC adaptation received mostly good reviews.

    You can listen to the free Librivox audiobook version HERE.

    #bookstagram #bookreview #bookreviews #bookcover #bookcovers #bookstagrammers #bookbloggers #reviews #books #literature #sciencefiction #classics #hgwells #thefirstmeninthemoon #themoon #spacetravel