April 30, 2006

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, April 2006

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste.

Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon
Mind candy. Read on the recommendation of Henry Farrell, who, while accurately describing the Hornblower-meets-Pern setting as sounding exquisitely repulsive, said it was actually a lot of fun: which it is. (Cf. Cheryl Morgan's review in Emerald City.) Annoyingly, the first book in a trilogy; less annoingly, the sequels are coming out this summer. — Sequels: 2, 3, 4
Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon
Cute to charming (though, really, there is such a thing as being too concerned with food). Fulfills any desire I might have to actually live in France.
Jane Haddam, Hardscrabble Road
Mind candy. Mystery novel about a right-wing talk radio idiot caught with an addiction to prescription painkillers --- but who is not Rush Limbaugh, if only because there's obviously a large admixture of Bill O'Reilly. (Similarly, "Jig" Taylor seems to be a cross between Linus Pauling and Noam Chomsky.) As always with Haddam, the delight is in the characters and the dialogue; she should do more with politics.
Karin Slaughter, Faithless
I did not need to stay up all night with this before lecturing on metric transitivity. But, well, read that first page...
Ken MacLeod, Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
This is a lot of fun — as MacLeod always is: a human genration starship makes first contact with the first known alien intelligence, a species of bat-winged humanoids who are in the throes of their own industrial revolution. Complications ensure. About half of the book is told from the contactee's perspective, and that reads like an old-fashioned golden-age-of-SF story, or even (cf. subtitle) something out of Wells. (For that matter, compare MacLeod's aliens to the moon-bats of the Great Moon Hoax of 1835.) And the other half of the book, largely from the perspective of a teenage girl aboard the starship ("Learning the World" being the name of her blog) seems like some kind of friendly settling-of-accounts with Heinlein, perhaps by way of Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage... But it's all, unmistakbly and gloriously, MacLeod.
Phil Rickman, The Smile of a Ghost
Another novel in the Merrily Watkins series, which, amazingly, shows no sign of fading... Also, for once the rational explanation is entirely satisfying, given that one of the characters is very deeply twisted (which is abundantly established in the book), yet not completely unsympathetic.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime; Scientifiction and Fantastica

Posted at April 30, 2006 23:59 | permanent link

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