December 31, 2017

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, December 2017

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste.

Andrea Camilleri, Angelica's Smile, A Beam of Light, A Voice in the Night, A Game of Mirrors
Mind candy; Inspector Montalbano continues to be in fine form. However, his mysterious attractiveness for much younger women grows a bit tiresome --- even more so than his not-so-mysterious attraction towards them. (Sequels.)
Joan Myers, Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey
A photographer journeys to the bottom of the world, and falls in love with it.
Ann Leckie, Provenance
Mind candy science fiction: In which family expectations, all-politics-is-local, and a cozy mystery (more or less) meet ancestor worship via collectibles --- in spaaaace.... Set in the same universe as Leckie's earlier trilogy, evidently slightly after the last book, but pretty much independent of them.
Marie Brennan, Lightning in the Blood
Mind candy fantasy. Sequel to Cold-Forged Flame, and similar remarks apply, but you could probably read this by itself with enjoyment.
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
Literary fiction. It's gorgeously written on a sentence-by-sentence, even scene-by-scene level, and there is something of a Christian message, but it's very hard for me to see how all the incidents and scenes actually cohere. It made me feel like I was missing something important.
Elizabeth Bear, The Stone in the Skull
Mind candy. The beginning of a new fantasy trilogy, set in the same world as her (magnificent) Eternal Sky series, but a few decades later, and, at least to current appearances, largely independent. (Incidents get mentioned as history; a few old friends are glimpsed.) The setting now, which is extremely well-done, is the not-India of this world, as opposed to the not-Central-Asia of the previous trilogy; something bad is definitely brewing, but its full shape is still obscure by the end of this book --- which only leaves me wanting the sequel.
Richard Bulliet, Chakra
Mind candy, perhaps best characterized as answering the burning question "What would happen if a distinguished historian of Islamic civilization decided to write Rig Veda fan-fiction* in the manner of an airport thriller?" It's a perfectly serviceable example of the kind of thriller where an Ancient Myth is revisited with Science-Fictional Ideas --- all action and exposition, narrated from many tight-third-person view-points but also clearly looking down on every character with more or less contempt for their pretensions, and at least one plot twist I really didn't see coming. Against this, the central conceit is completely ridiculous, and the characters are all two-dimensional at best. (I suspect Bulliet is quite aware of both of these facts.) It doesn't leave me with a burning desire to track down his other fiction, but it certainly passed the time while under the weather.
*: A quick check of the most authoritative repositories turns up no fan-fiction for any of the Vedas. I trust that the Internet will quickly fill this gap in the meta-para-literature.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime; Scientifiction and Fantastica; The Commonwealth of Letters; Afghanistan and Central Asia

Posted at December 31, 2017 23:59 | permanent link

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