mneme: (Default)
From [ profile] sartorias.

What I am reading: Surface Detail, by Ian Banks. I’m mixed on this book. On the one hand, as usual, Banks’ creativity and depiction of technology and technological possiblity just sucks me in, with a a microscopic armored tattoo, a philisophical technological war in virtual reality (with some interesting lines placed in terms of where characters break morally), an ancient but highly advanced habitat, etc. On the other hand, despite the fluidity of gender and sexuality in the Culture books, there are definitely problematic issues to the novel, both in the amount of rape (not that much so far, but really, I didn’t need rape both in the slavery story -and- in hell. It would be just fine to drop it from one; or even both!) and how sexuality is handled.

The last book I read was Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold. A lovely and delightful romantic farce, this novel achieves the “looking at the Vorkosigan Crazy from the outside” feel that Bujold was clearly going at for her previous novel (Cryoburn) but unlike the previous novel, this one is very much a success, with an engaging secondary character, great Ivan moments, and lots of well crafted comedic moments. I read it twice.

Next? I’m not sure; I might read the first of Catherynne Valente’s Prester John novels; I’ve been holding on to those for a while and really should give them a whirl.

So, what are you reading? What did you read last? What do you plan to read next?
mneme: (doctor)

Feed -- Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire)

I waited until I was in the right mood before reading this—and as much as I enjoyed the novel, I'm glad I did. Whatever it is (a political thriller with a blogger protagonist, in a world plagued by the ever-present threat of zombies), it's not all bunnies and kitties.

Instead, we've got a book that combines three themes I'm not particularly into -- zombies, political thrillers, and near future sf (ok, I am somewhat into the latter :) into a single book that totally engrossed me. Were there quibbles? Sure; in particular, I don't buy a techonlogy price curve that would have the same person carry a 10 meg wristwatch recorder and a 5 terabyte handheld (it's just too many orders of magnitude--if the 5TB handheld is plausible, a 16gb or even 32gb wristwatch is close to free; we're close to there now, with .5tb handhelds and $7 1gb cards the size of a fingernail)--but while that pulled me out for a moment, it just wasn't important to the story.

The twists and turns in the story are believable, engrossing, and (usually) unexpected; the zombies are both hugely important and not actually on screen enough to make the book "a zombie book"; the themes of the book are both subtle enough not to overpower the story and present enough to grant it weight, and the characters -- both major and minor -- are nicely differentiated and interesting.

One note on this book vs. the Toby books (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, with more to come): As much as I like them, the Toby books know what genre they're in (Modern Urban Fantasy with a significant romance subplot) and nail it. But Feed? Feels like listening to/watching the author geek out about one of her favorite topics (i.e., global pandemics), with the added bonus of having all that other stuff (plot, characters, etc) in there too--which is awesome.

The best part of the book though? Is that there's more where that came from.

White Cat -- Holly Black

I'll have a better idea of what I think of this after the next few books came out, but it's certainly well written, and pretty fun to read.

Think of this world as one of those "everyone has a unique hidden magical talent" books gone horribly right. Magic is uncommon, but well known, with some people/families having hidden, powerful magical talents...also, magic is illegal, so most magical "curse workers" are lone criminals or, more frequently, work for the mob. Our hero is the lone person without magical talent in a magical crime family, know how this usually goes.

There are a couple of interesting factors here. First, there's "the con". For reasons that become obvious, our hero is an accomplished con artist--and the use of "the con" pervades the book in a number of interesting ways.

The second is that of likable characters. The protagonist -is- likable, in a fashion, but not exactly a nice person (maybe?). On the other hand, this is one of a small fraction of books about teenagers where the teens do what -my- set did as teens -- play D&D, read sf & fantasy, and geek out -- and while most of that is our hero's friends, a fair amount is him, which is nicely refreshing (far too often, it seems like even SF & F authors, feeling they have to show their protagonist as a "normal" teen, pretend this stuff doesn't even exist, probably bending over backward in an effort to avoid having things get too autobiographical or making everyone in the world look like them). So one can partially identify with the protagonist, certainly identify with his friends, and at least for me, feel that the teens in the book are "our set" however different their world is.

The Dragon Hoard -- Tanith Lee

This is a nicely short book (162 pages; I started it this morning and finished it over lunch!), and quite enjoyable. Very much a YA adventure novel in the "fairy tale" genre, our protagonist's wicked aunt (or is she a cousin?) curses him and his sister in a fit of pique, setting of a chain of adventures that result, eventually, in multiple marriages, evil enchanters defeated, and, generally, people getting what they deserve. Not deep, but fluffy and fun; very much a nice change after the previous two novels!
mneme: (doctor)
(This is the "mostly avoiding specifics" review of Rosemary & Rue. I might do another with a lot more spoilers, or I might not (I'll likely put it under a flock, though))

Review Ahoy! )
mneme: (oldharp)
[ profile] drcpunk's dad was getting rid of books a few weeks ago, so I came home with the first three volumes of Knuth's Art... and a bunch of Daschell Hammett novels. Guess which I got through first.

Ok, not really hard, though I cracked Algorithms before Hammett.

The Thin Man was the first I read, and it was very nice and sweet -- though unbeknownst to me, a bit atypical for Hammet.

Next came three Continental Op works -- (I'm still working my way through the third) -- Red Harvest, The Big Knockover, and Continental Op. The first is easily the least typical -- Red Harvest may begin and end with a mystery, but between it's all character study, caper, and very nasty plot. Knockover, by contrast, has some very nice stories (and it's worth noting, for those who don't know, that I don't usually read detective fiction), with good dialogue, but by and large, nothing near that level. The title story of Knockover is a cut above most of the rest, though -- and the first story of Op The King Business, gets us back to some of the fun in Red Harvest of just watching the "Op" work without much mystery to worry about (oddly enough, those two tales are the only ones where the Op has a romance. But I think that distinction is merely a symptom). Good stuff, regardless. (a bit later, I've read through Corkscrew, which has some similarities to Red Harvest (also, a girl), though the western bit weakens it somewhat).

Meanwhile, we saw Beowulf 3D (which I, forewarned, enjoyed as what it was rather than disliking it for not being what it's not) and Enchanted, which is exquisite; predictable in the right ways, with a nice sharp commentary/comment on gender roles and on the fairy tales. I doubt they will, but I'm curious what they'd do with a sequel.


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Joshua Kronengold

October 2018

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