December 1st, 2005

last unicorn

More books!

42) Brightness Falls From the Air (James Tiptree, Jr.)
The first part of this book was really difficult to read; after setting up immediately likeable characters, Tiptree promptly starts showing all the little mistakes they're making that you, as the reader, know are going to lead to disaster... I kept wanting to reach into the pages of the book to shake them and warn them. I think that's probably a sign that this was a good, absorbing read. Some of the follow-through wasn't quite as smooth as the setup, and some of the resolution was a little too smooth, but overally, I really enjoyed this one. ****

43) Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (ed. Joyce Carol Oates)
Would you believe, I'd never read any Lovecraft before now? I was feeling rather remiss on that score, which is why I picked this book up while I was in the library. I can certainly see why Lovecraft is influential -- there's a nice mood to the stories, and they are generally very effective in conveying the unsettling effect of these encounters with the weird. Many of the stories started to feel rather familiar, read so close together -- the structure is often the same, and they're all heading for a very similar climax. But that's due to the collection, not the stories themselves. My other complaint is about the racism and sexism of the stories. I recognize that these are effects of the era as much as anything else, but it's really quite noticeable. Non-white societies are routinely described as "primitive", and in very unflattering terms. And women are simply absent, strikingly so. Although I was able to enjoy the stories anyway, these issues were occasionally rather jarring. Which is a shame. ***

44) Callaghan and Company (Spider Robinson)
Another short-story collection, this one of largely humorous science fiction stories set in an idealized bar where people are kind and caring and look out for each other. The puns in these stories are terrible (Really really terrible. And occasionally over my head, for which I was actually a little grateful). But the stories themselves are heartwarming and often funny and clever and generally great. They made me laugh out loud occasionally, and smile a lot. Highly recommended. If you can stand the puns. *****

45) The Shape-Changer's Wife (Sharon Shinn)
This is a lovely little fable. It's about a magician who falls in love with his wicked mentor's wife, and learns about loving and letting go. It sounds trite, but it's really not. It's a morsel, but an enjoyable and touching one. ****

46) Scratching the Surface: Canadian Anti-Racist Feminist Thought (ed. Enakshi Dua and Angela Robinson)
Like many anthologies, particularly academic-esque anthologies, this one has its ups and downs. Overall, I felt that I was reading a lot of reiterations of things I already knew, and that there were more statements of problems than cohesive arguments. However, there were some very good articles. They're mostly from a sociological or historical perspective, which was interesting, although I sometimes felt they were raising things but not addressing them from the angles I would have liked to see. ***

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