October 11th, 2005

last unicorn

Much-delayed book blogging

31) The God of Small Things (Arundhrati Roy)
This book was, in many ways, perfectly characteristic of trendy postcolonial "literary" fiction. It was a beautifully-written family tragedy. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it didn't seem so perfectly characteristic of its type, which isn't entirely fair to the book itself -- it is a lovely book, it is beautifully written, the story is affecting . . . it's just a little too familiar. ***

32) Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Douglas Adams)
I do love Douglas Adams. This isn't a Hitchhiker's Guide book -- the tone is subtly different (I want to say less over-the-top, but it's still pretty over-the-top, so that's not an adequate description). It was most enjoyable. And it was kind of nice to get the jokes for the first time instead of reciting them in my head as I read (yes, this was my first read-through of Dirk Gently. Shocking, I know). ****

33) Midnight Robber (Nalo Hopkinson)
I have just discovered Nalo Hopkinson. She is wonderful. I really loved this book -- the distinctive voice, the story... it's something special. I intend to very soon run out and read everything this woman has written. My only complaint about the book was that it set up some things at the beginning that were never entirely paid off -- as though it started out being a bit of a different story, and then forgot those early tendrils as it got wrapped up in the story it ended up telling. There were a couple of things in those early pages that the narrator (once you're told who it is) couldn't possibly have known -- probably a relic of the same changing of story along the way. But I enjoyed it so much, I'm willing to forgive it. ****

34) Orientalism (Edward W. Said)
This is a hard book for me to evaluate. It's probably the great classic of post-colonial theory, for one thing. And it discusses quite a number of works that I'm not familiar with at all, which makes it difficult to assess the argument. The broad strokes of what he's saying are almost gospel these days, but I would have liked to be able to follow more of the fine details. Alas! Too much background reading required. ***

35) So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy (ed. Nalo Hopkinson)
As with all anthologies, there were some stories I liked more than others, but overall this was a very interesting book filled with very good and interesting stories. I need to think more about that distinction, postcolonial. What does it mean to be postcolonial in a sf/fantasy context? No concise answers from me yet, I'm afraid. But I'm thinking about it. ****

36) Tesseracts 7 (ed. Paula Johnson and John-Louis Trudel)
Another anthology, with the same caveat as above: some stories were better than others. There were more stories in this one that didn't really speak to me, but there were also more stories that appealed to me really strongly. My one comment/complaint: this is supposed to be the anthology of "new Canadian speculative fiction". Apparently spec-fic includes fantasy, which doesn't quite make sense in my brain, and (although I am a great fan of fantasy, don't get me wrong) it was a little strange to find a vampire story (fantasy vampires, not horror vampires, for another little distinction) in a spec-fic anthology. I want to think of spec-fic as a slightly extended version of what we used to call science fiction (and still do, unless we're literary snobs! ;) ). This anthology seemed willing to include anything vaguely fantastic. Still, lots of really good stories. And the one thing about anthologies is that even if you don't like one story, odds are the next one will appeal to you more. ****

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