October 28th, 2006


Extreme Book Catch-Up Session

45. Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
Credit where credit is due: this is a cyberpunk classic for a reason. It's a smooth, enjoyable read, and there are plenty of interesting ideas and what-ifs. The franchised future is all-too-credible, although the imagined Internet doesn't quite match up with the way things are really evolving (it's a typical imagined-future-'net -- to be fair, it is one of the prototypes). It's funny, too. There are plenty of little puns and jokes scattered through it -- the main character's name, for example, is Hiro Protagonist. I have a few quibbles, but overall -- a good read. *****

46. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (Samuel R. Delany)
Delany is probably one of the most "artsy" sf writers out there -- you can always tell there's been a lot of attention paid to things like metaphor and word choice. He also thinks a lot about sexual customs and quirks in his imagined societies. Which can be an interesting way to see a world, don't get me wrong. It just sometimes makes me blush. This is a good book, but somewhat frustrating. It starts in one place and then spends most of the rest of the novel somewhere else; it's slow in terms of the action; the two protagonists don't actually meet each other until halfway through; and it ends on a cliffhanger. It is the first volume of a planned diptych, but the second volume has yet to be written/published. I hate not knowing what's going to happen next, and I was expecting something a little more self-contained. Sigh. It's a very dense book, but it's generally worth it -- there are plenty of interesting ideas. I just wish there were a little more movement, too. ***

47. The Big Over Easy (Jasper Fforde)
Humpty Dumpty has been murdered! Can Jack Spratt and Mary Mary solve the case? This book is, of course, absolutely insane. Fun, though. Not quite up to the standards of the Thursday Next books, but good nonetheless. It's not just a silly book full of nursery rhyme jokes (although it's that, too) -- there is a real murder mystery going on, and that plot is as interesting and well-done as the jokes. Absurd, yes, but true to its own rules. ****

48. Green Arrow: Quiver (Kevin Smith et al)
This is a comic book for comic book fans. It was good, but a large chunk of it flew right over my head because I don't know (and probably will never be able to keep straight) all the intricate DC-Universe history built into it. It certainly doesn't pander to the newcomer -- while I tend to prefer stand-alone stories, I actually kind of respect that. Having said that, it's a good story, and it feels right. The art is quite lovely and stylized, and works nicely with the words. ****

49. The War of the Flowers (Tad Williams)
This one, I've gotta chalk up as fluff. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's a funny book: it reads as if someone had been reading through "advice to fantasy writers" guides, and taken to heart the perpetual complaint about faerielands always being stuck in the Middle Ages. So we have an industrial-age faerieland instead. Which is a nice change. The writing is clear and generally transparent -- nothing inspired, but very little to get hung up on. I was rather annoyed at a few major plot details being obvious to me, but apparently to no one else. That always gets on my nerves. Generally, a fun, light read. ***

50. A Paradigm of Earth (Candas Jane Dorsey)
Oh my goodness. How is it I had never heard of Candas Jane Dorsey before? Never read one of her books? This was great. A mysterious alien, come to earth apparently to observe and learn about human beings... humans dealing with their own emotional issues... just about everyone, even the government man, trying to be good human beings. It was a lovely read. I never knew where things were going to go next. My only complaint is that the murder plot didn't seem to have a sufficient impact on the characters... but then, they were all rather wrapped up in their own issues. *****

51. Machine Sex and Other Stories (Candas Jane Dorsey)
Again, I think I love CJD. Wow. Most of these are really really great. Fresh and interesting and not giving too much away. I wasn't crazy about the pair of "plains warrior" stories, but the rest were super. ****

52. Tesseracts Nine (ed. Nalo Hopkinson and Geoff Ryman)
The Tesseracts series are great collections of short stories. As with all collections, there were bits I liked more than others, but overall, there were far more stories that resonated with me than ones that didn't. I still haven't come to any conclusions about The Meaning of Canadian SF, but hey. That's not really the point. :) ****

53. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Bill Willingham et al.)
This is a standalone volume, set 100 years or so before the start of the main Fables series. It's quite a good little book. The framing story isn't inspired -- it's a little too literally pulled from the Arabian Nights' Scherezade story -- but the other stories are, for the most part, great. Some are heartbreaking. Some are fascinating. The artwork in each story seems very well-suited to the story itself. Have I applied enough superlatives yet? *****

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