November 30, 2008

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, November 2008

Carrie Vaughn, Kitty and the Silver Bullet
Fourth volume in the continuing adventures of a werewolf named Kitty; here combining what amounts to an ugly gang war among supernatural denizens of Denver with only-too-recognizable family dramas. (Previous installments: 1, 2 and 3. But probably still fun without them.)
Chris Moriarty, Spin State
Mind-candy. Hard-ish SF about quantum teleportation and labor struggles in a mining settlement. (Only hard-ish because some important things turn on some fairly bogus points about quantum mechanics.) Plus Gibsonian cyberspace, which is always irritating. But quite good nonetheless, especially as a first novel. Thanks to Dan Marthaler for the recommendation.
A. Merritt, The Moon Pool
On the one hand: that was a lot better when I was 14. (To be fair, Merritt's white characters are just as much ethnic stereotypes as his non-white characters.) Plus, the world-building has huge gaps, even by adventure fiction standards. On the other hand: there was a reason I read my way through everything he wrote, and it was that he could in fact really tell a story.
There's a free electronic edition.
Nadia Gordon, Sharpshooter
Mystery: murder among the wine-and-foodies of Napa Valley. Fun. Followed by Death by the Glass.
Larry Gonick and Craig Criddle, The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
A good high school/beginning college level introduction to chemistry, with the trademark Gonick wit and visual felicity. Strong on the physical basis (quantum mechanics, reaction kinetics and stat. mech./thermo.), and a nice view of organic chemistry, but no biochemistry. You'd have to ask a chemist whether it could really replace a textbook.
Warren Ellis and Gianluca Pagliarani, Aetheric Mechanics
A continuation of Ellis's semi-imaginary "Apparat" line, here mashing together all manner of circa-1900 genre fiction.
Eric Rauchway, The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction
Short, as promised, but within that span wholy admirable. I especially liked the way he managed to keep in view both the global forces which gave us the Depression and sustained it, and the very real pain it produced in individual lives; the sense that every tick-mark in a graph is a hungry mouth, a down-cast pair of eyes. The one thing I would have liked to see more of was the labor movement, but probably everyone else would see other things that could be expanded; perhaps he should just write a very long book on the same topic.
Hopefully, this will not prove to be too topical.
Warren Ellis and J. H. Williams III, Desolation Jones
I like the conceit: Los Angeles is a great open-air reservation for used-up spooks; our protagonist is one of those used-up spooks, and is hired to retrieve (this is not a spoiler) a lost film canister containing Hitler's pornographic home movies, shot in the bunker. (Mercifully, not even Ellis attempts to actually show us these.) There follows a sordid yet compelling plot among sordid yet compelling characters, in which Things Are Not As They Seem.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Scientifiction and Fantastica; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime; The Beloved Republic; Writing for Antiquity

Posted at November 30, 2008 23:59 | permanent link

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