46. The Furies
(Suzy McKee Charnas)
This is a long-delayed sequel to Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines. I'm not sure it was entirely necessary on that front -- the story felt adequately complete at the end of Motherlines, and this book has something of the feel of stirring up storylines and then having difficulty re-resolving them. The story itself is largely credible, and works emotionally, although it doesn't leave one terribly hopeful about the future of the human race. I found the pacing somewhat jerky, as it jumped ahead in time past events that would seem to be significant to other ones that seem... Not un-significant, but maybe less so. ***
47. The New Single Woman
(E. Kay Trinberger)
A sociological study of middle-aged and older single women, The New Single Woman is based almost entirely on a series of interviews conducted with a group of about 25 (?) single women. It attempts to lay out a theory of what single women need in order to live happy, fulfilling lives, and to suggest that this is increasingly possible in a way it didn't use to be. Although Trinberger acknowledges that her sample size is small, and not really generalizeable, she nevertheless tries to generalize, and I found this more than a little frustrating. While the anecdotes are interesting and suggestive, they felt like they should be annexes to more rigorous research, and not the research themselves. I also though Trinberger's inclusion of herself in the category of women being studied was somewhat problematic. It's an interesting and suggestive book, and it's nice to see something that's optimistic about singleness, but I didn't think it went as far as it really should have. ***
48, 49, 50. The Neanderthal Parallax: Hominids
(Robert J. Sawyer)
Sawyer's really fascinated by quantum computing, isn't he? I suppose the idea of multiple universes opens up lots of possibilities for a sf writer. In this particular case, it's contact between the human world and another, parallel world in which homo sapiens died out and Neanderthals became the dominant species. Plenty of world-building and love has clearly gone into the development of the Neanderthal world, and it certainly seems like an interesting place. Sawyer tries very hard to make the Neanderthal world flawed and possessed of problems, but he largely succumbs to the tempation of making it mostly idyllic, as a contrast to the flaws in the human world that he's at pains to point out.
As always, Sawyer's characters are his great strength -- almost universally likeable (except for the villains), they're people you want to root for. Things work out a little too providentially at times, especially towards the end of the third book, when Mary suddenly manages to overcome all her upbringing and instincts in her adaptation to the Neanderthal world. Still, it's hard to complain when the good guys come out ahead.
If there's one thing I can complain about, it's that there are a few too many themes/issues crammed into the books. Even granting that there's three books to fill, I felt like at a certain point things were just being piled in that could have been entire books on their own. It left me feeling like none of them were really addressed as completely as they should have been.
All that said, this is a good trilogy and an enjoyable read. ****
51, 52, 53. Sabriel
I was told this was a trilogy of children's/teen books, so I was a bit surprised at first to find them all about necromancy and people who can raise the Dead. That said, teenagers often do have a tendency to the morbid, so I probably shouldn't have been so surprised. Regardless of who it's for, this is a really good trilogy. The heroines (and it's nice to see a fantasy heroine who is very much the heroine of her own story, and that the story isn't romance-focussed) are smart, capable, and interesting young women, and the magic universe is fresh and well-thought-out. Highly recommended for adults and older teens alike. *****
54. Tempting Fate
(Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
I am enjoying these books -- stories about a really, really good
vampire -- but there's something odd about Yarbro's pacing. Or maybe it's a style thing. Anyway, it's even more obvious in this book than it was in the previous one I read. There isn't a readily identifiable plot -- just a lot of events happening at the same time. Or maybe there are just a lot of plots, and none of them are the obvious threads. There's very little resolution, and nothing happens the way you would expect it to. Which is a good thing, because it's nice not to know how things are going to turn out, but it's definitely disconcerting. ****( Collapse )