August 19th, 2007



I did a lot of reading on my summer vacation. It was wonderful.

37. A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr.)
I first read this when I was… oh, probably 13 or 14. I remember not liking it very much. I think it may have gone largely over my head, because reading it again now -- I really enjoyed it. It's funny and sarcastic and relatively credible as post-apocalyptic worlds go. It seems unfair to complain about the lack of women in a book set largely in a monastic community, but I do complain: I can't imagine celibate men as the only ones interested in preserving knowledge. ****

38. Black Powder War (Naomi Novik)
I think Random House made a good call when they published the first three Temeraire books more or less all at one time -- it gave us all a chance to get addicted to Novik's world and characters. Of course, now we're going to have to wait while she actually writes the fourth one... anyway. As before, Novik basically wins me over with her characters who are, once again, almost all utterly likeable. The plot is a little smoother this time than last time, though it once again seems to take a while to get to the meat of things, and ends up being a bit on the episodic side. I think I've said it before about these books: they're delicious morsels, to be enjoyed but not over-analyzed. ****

39. Iron Council (China Miéville)
Really really good. Ideological, sure, but realistic -- even the "utopian" society has problems. This one's not a horror story like Perdido Street Station was, so it's not nearly as atmospheric, but it is strongly creative and captivating. I liked this one much better than the Scar, though I'm not sure what, exactly, made the difference. *****

40. The Necessary Beggar (Susan Palwick)
Oh wow. This was incredibly good. The ultimate immigrant story. More more more please. *****

41. Savage Grace (Natalie Robins and Steven M.L. Aronson)
I picked this up off the cottage bookshelf on a whim. It's a salacious true crime kind of thing. I feel dirty just having read this, but must concede that the narrative style worked exceedingly well, and it was quite captivating. The story's told almost entirely through excerpts from interviews with those involved, and their friends and relatives. Surprisingly effective. So points for style, though not for actual content. ***

42. Factoring humanity (Robert J. Sawyer)
I don't know if the science is accurate -- it seems credible to me, but I’m no scientist. It hardly matters, though, because the human relationships feel right, and it is in the relationships that the story is grounded. Sawyer's quite good at writing "hard-ish" sf that's really all about people's relationships with each other. ****

43. King Rat (Chine Miéville)
Yes, I'm reading everything Miéville's ever written. So sue me. This is his first book, and you can tell -- it's not quite as confident as some of his later work. But it's still a really good story, and the environment is believable. The whole thing works very well. ****

44. Hôtel Transylvania: a Novel of Forbidden Love (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
Le Comte de Saint-Germain is a vampire, but (of course) a good vampire who tries to take down a group of evil sorcerers bent on doing terrible, terrible things. In the process, he falls in love with the girl he's trying to protect. This was quite an enjoyable read. The research was showing through a little obviously in places -- mostly in excessively-detailed descriptions of what people are wearing -- but it generally worked quite well. It's a little over-the-top in places -- particularly the bad guys and the heroine -- but as an exemplar of the romatic-vampire genre, it was a good read. ****

45. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
And so ends a publishing phenomenon. ****

Collapse )