Recent Reads: A Race of Minds & 5000-1 The Leicester City Story

I gave in to my inner Anglophile last week and read a couple of British books which otherwise have absolutely nothing in common. The first was A Race of Minds by Simon Horrocks. If it doesn't exist in cyberpunk-land, you can at least see it from there. It's a page turner that doesn't come across as deeply weird until you catch your breath and look back on it. The main character is in a coma for the entire novel, although that limits her participation less than you might imagine. There's a good deal of messing about with memory so that, not only is the reader not always certain which side a character is on, sometimes the characters themselves aren't sure of their own place on the board. 

At first I struggled a little to keep up with which characters were which. In the tradition of William Gibson, the reader is expected to pick it up as they go, a technique which contributes to sense of breakneck pace. Speaking of pace, I'd be remiss if I didn't give Mr. Horrocks credit for finding a neat workaround for the "ticking clock" trope. You know the one: An arbitrary deadline which forces the pace when there's otherwise no reason to get X done within twenty four hours. It can be a bomb (obviously), a ransomer's deadline, or "this potion only lasts for one hour!" There's a countdown in A Race of Minds, but handled differently and, I'd say, better.

So, I enjoyed A Race of Minds. It is, however, more of an episode than a complete novel. The ending wouldn't be particularly satisfying if that were The End, but it clearly isn't. The deeper I got into the book, the more I liked it, so it was a little jarring to land on what amounted to a "tune in next week!" Which, of course, I will be doing.

P.S. I haven't read Volume 0 of Horrocks' "Kosmos" series and now I'm thinking perhaps I ought to have done so. If you're interested in reading this book, it's probably a good idea to go back to the introductory volume, huh?

5000-1 The Leicester City Story is Rob Tanner's account of Leicester City football club's miraculous 2015/16 championship season. I was a little surprised to see this book in a local book store, and as such I felt a moral obligation to buy it. I can recite the high points of the Foxes' year by heart, but Tanner, who write for the Leicester Mercury, somehow turned a story I knew by heart into a riveting tale all over ago. 

All of the matches receive a writeup, and there are multiple stories filling in the backgrounds and personalities of the key City players. I'll admit to a massive, massive bias, but reliving those matches, especially the comebacks, made me grin like a loony. In retrospect, the stories about Claudio Ranieri, City's manager last year, are bittersweet given his sacking a few months ago. He was, and remains, a very classy man and I'm gutted that he was let go regardless of the fact that it seems to have been a necessary move.

If you're underwhelmed by the quality of writing in American sports, you'll be pleasantly surprised by Tanner's work. He's a fine writer who avoids the cliched hyperbole you see in so many sports-related books. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he has a novel or two in him. This is a better-than-expected recounting of what is arguably the greatest upset in sporting history. If you're in to that sort of thing, it's a fine read. If you're a Leicester City fan, it's scripture.