Two journalists on a futuristic magazine (zine) are always on the look-out for stories. They are the number one asset of the zine, and known for cutting edge exposés as well as their restaurant reviews. Due to their past histories, they are also used to communicating with immigrants from all over the solar system – Venusians, Plutonians, Neptunians… well you get the picture. Due to the floods at the Thames Barrier and some heroic work by a group of fluid-loving Neptunians, our journalists get involved in this group, who would love to stay in the area, but there’s a shady politician involved. Meanwhile, one of the journos is exploring the lighter side of London life (did I mention it’s set in a futuristic, and very recognisable London?) by joining a dating site for red-haired people. While colour and race sensitivities have declined, since the advent of the off-Earthers, there is still plenty of prejudice around. Our journalist meets up with Tania, a red-head, sure, but with hair unlike an Earthlings, since it seems to twirl itself towards the sun.
These stories and more keep our heroes on their toes, and we see plenty of the underworld as well as the different norms in society of the future. I was gripped by the tale and the magnificent world-building (just what would Pluto produce that make it worthwhile to export to Earth?), which is coupled with some deep history of the London Underground and other nooks and crannies which those who have lived in London may be familiar. Clare O’Beara has done a great job with this book, the second in a series which started off featuring the inner planets. There’s a third featuring the Gas Giants (Jupiter and Saturn) but they all involve our journalist heroes. And that comes with plenty of tips on keeping yourself out of the public eye or only known for what you want to be known for--very useful for the internet!
With this second helping in the Dining Out science fantasy series, we're filling in some of the gaps in Donal and Myron's journalistic career and finding more quirky insights into the secret lives of the visitors from the outermost planets in the System. The Ice Giants are, of course, Uranus and Neptune, but immigrants from dwarf planet Pluto are also prominent in this book where we find out more about their early days in London before they go into the ice cream and frosty treats trade.
What I really like about O'Beara's dystopian London are the left field details that take what's starting to happen in the present to logical but often surprising and illuminating conclusions as hinted at in headlines of the book blurb, from ethnic James Bonds, to flood surges, to heavy runs on 'Flu vaccines (the British Space Mining variety). The friendly and courageous Neptunians are again stepping up (or should that be swimming) when the Thames starts to show its vicious side, before looking for a more permanent residence alongside the river. Our intrepid reporters are able to help them find something suitable AND affordable in return for past hospitality and favours from these gentle giants and also help the Plutonians find a much better place to stay after a rather unpleasant and macabre experience with a scary Uranian mushroom farmer.
Red-headed Tania (short for Titania) is first glimpsed by hyper-sensitive Donal at London's New Years Eve Fireworks celebration by the river and, realising there's something literally other-worldly about her, he and Myron go on a Cinderella hunt across the city and cyberspace, after losing her in the crowds after midnight. Once found, Donal quickly realises this is not going to go anywhere romantically, but uber-cool, almost mannequin-like Tania and he are interested enough in each other to stay in touch for mutual pursuits (Donal also does restaurant reviews). Which is when he discovers that Tania has dozens of wage-slave plutonians tending to her underground mushroom plantation. Suffice it to say Uranians don't appear to know the first thing about health and safety, although she does have a very basic, if not fundamental understanding of re-cycling... Hint of a spoiler there, but far better to take the ride yourself!
Yet another excellent and insightful read from Clare O'Beara, well-deserving of 4+ stars and, I hope, not the last we'll see of Donal and Myron.
Dining Out With The Ice Giants is a very well-written futuristic, yet realistic novel set in London, which revolves around two journalists Donal and Myron who work as reviewers in a zine aptly named, the London Eye.
They investigate a number of potentially scandalous stories, one of which involves the misdeeds of an MP.
As the two friends and colleagues follow the different stories, they come in contact with different characters some of which are from other planets such as Mercury, Uranus and Neptune. Their investigation also exposes them to potentially dangerous situations.
What I particularly enjoyed about reading this novel was the way the physical characteristics of the “outer-earthers” were so beautifully described. I could almost picture them in my mind’s eye.
It was also very clear that a lot of research had gone into the writing which made it very easy to follow, easy to relate to and difficult to put down.
I certainly picked a good time to read this middle book in Clare O'Beara's Dining Out series; January 2016, just after the horrendous Christmas and New Year floods in the UK. Here's what we hope is not a prediction for us, from Clare's vision of the not-so-distant future in her alternate earth. “Half of Somerset and Norfolk is under water, Lyme Regis cliffs falling into the sea, snow blocking roads in the Pennines. Cornwall, those sixty foot waves."
In the universe where our two heroes—Myron and Donal—live, the exploration of the solar system has led to the discovery of inhabitants on all the other planets. Some of these have come to earth, as ambassadors and business entrepreneurs, but just as with immigrant peoples between countries in our Earth, some are being exploited, employed at low wages in the least desirable jobs, or working in slave-conditions out of sight of the general population.
Myron and Donal are journalists on a zine called London Eye, and although they are employed to report on the relatively uncontroversial issues of fine dining, wines and entertainment, they rove the streets of London like a couple of hard-bitten investigative journalists of film noir vintage. Except of course for the advanced technology they and everyone else in this convincingly possible future London make use of with such ease.
I used to live in the areas covered by the story, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Islington; and am wholly convinced by Clare's evocation of the struggle that life has become (may really become?) for the increasingly poorer ordinary folk. But against this bleak background there is adventure and fun, with several plot-lines evolving through the story, and satisfying revelations at the end [no spoilers] thanks to our heroic duo weaving their way through streets, underground tunnels, computer programs, restaurants, and hit-tech offices in Docklands in their fight for the right and for justice. It's the next 50 years' equivalent of swashbuckling, and there are fireworks too!
Carefully researched and compellingly written, this is a book for fantasy/SF readers who like to identify with the good guys and see the baddies get their come-uppance. Thoroughly recommended.
Although science fiction, ‘Dining Out With The Ice Giants,’ has a grounded, gritty and realistic feel that I really enjoyed. The two main characters are journalists for a zine called the London Eye. Donal is a red headed, Irishman (restaurants and inexpensive wines) whilst Myron is an imposing six foot plus Jafraican (Adult entertainment) .Both are both fully realised characters with a convincing and believable friendship.
The zine’s offices are equally well penned and the author creates an atmospheric and fleshed out setting. Characters are distinct and engaging and often described with short, evocative phrases. One of my particular favourites concerned Angie, the zine’s chief, “a comfortably-built lady with lots of curly brown hair and cardigans in winter. She’d have made two of the other girls.” Rather than an escapist piece of work (which is the type of speculative fiction I usually read) the novel uses the science fiction genre to look at social issues and the plight of the immigrant and outsider, those less fortunate and also the chaotic and confused nature of society. The author shines a light on the exploited and downtrodden such as the Plutonians who are more or less serfs, constantly protesting that Pluto is actually a world. The way the author ties this in with the Tania/ Titania storyline and her morally questionable mushroom business was pure genius.
The novel reminded me a little of Alien Nation in that the main character (Detective Mathew Sykes) is more enlightened than his fellow humans, acting like a social conscience whilst investigating issues and injustices that the rest of the human race would rather not acknowledge. This is quite cleverly symbolised in the way Donal possesses super acute senses, making him more open to his surroundings and also to the alien immigrants around him.
If you like intelligent, well written sci-fi with a social conscience ‘Dining Out With The Ice Giants’ is the book for you. Clare O'Beara is a very talented author and I look forward to reading her other works.
This smartly written fantasy/sci-fi story starts out with two journalists, the protagonist Donal and his friend Myron. It’s holiday time at a riverbank and they’re watching fireworks. There they see a redhead woman and capture her photo. Donal is intrigued and the next day at work asks a techy friend, Flossie to enlarge the photo so they can try to place where the redhead is from. This is when the story gets really interesting because there’s something odd about the photo: the woman’s skin is not what they expect, and to Donal it doesn’t add up. This element of mystery propels the story. The read held my interest not just from the storyline but the way it was written with great metaphors in the dialogue that made it all feel very familiar and inviting. It all works together and comes together to make a smooth and good read with descriptive scenes like, “Westminster bells chimed and Big Ben struck as I clapped earplugs into my tender ears.” Another aspect that appealed to me was the intelligence with which it was written, down to describing the duck virus mutating to pigs and humans, not unlike health issues facing earth now. (This particularly appealed to my advance degree in science, as did the smart descriptions of technical advancements through out the story giving the reader a smart taste of the future). As the story progresses the search for a redhead woman, named Tania, reveals she is not an Earth native and we find she is among a species of aliens coming to Earth in search of employment. This influx aggravates the Earthlings giving rise to the story’s conflict: a power struggle. This rings very familiar to much of what is happening in modern day time with the influx of migrants to countries where their citizens resent paying for them or losing out jobs to them. I like the way this contemporary theme was worked into a story that may have otherwise left me cold. My reaction to it in the end was a rather warm surprise. I really enjoyed it and will certainly read more from this author.
Dining Out With the Ice Giants is a whimsical view of life in London, England at some point in the future where inter-planetary travel is not only possible, but is common. This story is told in first person view through the eyes of Donal, a male reporter who works for an on-line news source that is quite popular and highly esteemed.
During his regular rounds throughout the city Donal stumbles upon a race of Plutonians (inhabitants of the planet Pluto) who are being treated like slave labour. One would think after the 20th century experience in slavery and emancipation, Earth would have known better by now. But no! Apparently mistreatment of beings from other planets is tolerated and not widely reported, and Donal plans to change all that.
This book takes place in a futuristic society, but I wouldn't really consider it science fiction. Rather, I would categorize it as humour and commentary, although in a science fiction setting. There are no spaceships in this story (none that our characters set foot on, anyway) and no laser blast fights or planetary conquest. For this reason, this story does not seem to have a traditional story line, but rather it takes time to slow down and delve into several issues, one at a time (i.e. environmental concerns, political corruption, and municipal zoning) some of which are quite intellectual and thought-provoking.
The pace is at times a bit relaxing, and the tension is light, but for those who love reading commentary, it is a feast for the mind.
The two journalists Donal and Myron were living in a futuristic London full of immigrants of every planet in our galaxy, and they always on the hunt for interview them. I choose a couple of them: Tania a Uranian girl who runs a mushroom farm with Plutonian workers, and two Neptunians with curious names: Osstprssa and Vsstcruush that Donal and Myron met at Cutty Sark in Greenwich. There are interesting scientifical new things like: antigrav lift, and excellent explanation about Helium 3 and Helium 4, for name a few. A very good read for me, was nice to imagine the city of London with all this people from other planets, including Mercurian and Venusian that are the most near to the sun, planets where life weren't supposed to exist.
Dining Out with The Ice Giants (Dining Out Around The Solar System, Book 2) takes you to an alternative London of the future where residents of Pluto, Neptune, Mars, and Saturn live alongside Earth-born Londoners. This is the world where Donal and Myron, two bright, hard-working journalists ply their trade. Donal, also the narrator, has enhanced senses, especially smell: “I snuffed in a deep breath rich with scent of Myron – a spicy mix of powdered ginger and orange oil, to me – of Tania, a cold alternate chemical combination of dead leaves, derelict soot-clung damp brick, tarmac and traffic, compost and mushrooms.”
In the course of the book, they cover many stories, often overlapping. The Uranian woman who’s growing mushrooms in an abandoned Tube station, the Finance Minister having an affair with a Martian maid, the rescue of someone caught in the Thames flooding, the ongoing problems at the XuPharmDan plant.
Life in this London reflects concerns today: climate change, xenophobia, human trafficking, and fear of the future.
But Myron and Donal are both friends and colleagues. They’ll handle whatever trouble comes their way – and probably get a good story out of it.
The ending feels more like a pause than a finale. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. This book is a treat – well-written, fast-paced, and complex. Highly recommended!
This story is told in first person through the eyes of Donal, a male reporter who works for an on-line news source that is quite popular and reputed in London. During his regular rounds throughout the city, finds the inhabitants of planet Pluto are treated like slaves, and Donal and his friend Myron plans to change it. The story is about social issues relating to the integration of alien immigrants in London. No spaceships, no laser fights or planetary conquest, for this reason, this story does not seem to have a traditional story line but rather it takes time to slow down and handle several issues, one at a time like environmental concerns and political corruption, some of which are quite intellectual and thought-provoking. The author is indeed an out of the box thinker when it comes to storytelling.