November 30, 2019

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, November 2019

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste, and no expertise which entitles me to opinions about books on the factional struggles of right wing nuts, even those factions which only avoid being active fascists because they're too busy jerking off online.

Trudi Canavan, The Magicians' Guild
Lilith Saintcrow, Steelflower, Steelflower at Sea, Steelflower in Snow
Marguerite Bennett et al., Insexts vol. 2, The Necropolis
Fantasy mind-candy, assorted. The fact that I read all three Steelflower books in a row says something about their what-happens-next power; I'd have cheerfully read many more, for much the same reason I wish there were more than two Sanjuro movies.
Marie Brennan, Turning Darkness into Light
Pseudo-historical mind-candy; it's a sequel to her "Lady Trent" books, is largely about translating an ancient epic, and is more dramatic than a story about philological niceties has any right being. It's probably readable without having read the previous novels, but definitely more fun if you have.
Matthew Hughes, A God in Chains
Mind candy fantasy. Jack Vance was one of my favorite writers; unfortunately, being dead, he is no longer producing new stories. (I realize that mortality has proved no obstacle to many other writers, but Vance's talents evidently did not extend to dictation from beyond the grave.) A number of writers have attempted to channel Vance, or (even better) his spirit; of these, the best is Paula Volsky (a.k.a. Paula Brandon), who hasn't published anything since 2012. The second best Vance-channeler is Matthew Hughes, who is more faithful to the master's settings, but less good at his anthropological irony or romantic appreciation of a vaster universe. A God in Chains is essentially a perfectly good Vance novel, featuring amnesia, demonic meddling in human affairs and vice versa, and a world observed with just enough ironic detachment.
Disclaimer: I got a review copy of this book through LibraryThing.
George Hawley, Making Sense of the Alt-Right
A deliberately anti-sensationalist presentation by a dedicated student of the American right and its factions. There are some fairly consequential bits where Hawley's nothing-to-see-here tone has been overtaken by events (e.g., Stephen Miller's connections to white nationalism). I suspect this has something to do with a scholar trained in studying intellectual traditions mediated by print not quite getting how an essentially online social movement works, especially one for which ha-ha-only-serious is a basic organizing principle. Nonetheless, Hawley is good on how the alt-right continues, and grows out of, strains of American right-wing thought that were denied a place in the (formerly?) mainstream post-war conservative movement.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Scientifiction and Fantastica; Running Dogs of Reaction

Posted at November 30, 2019 23:59 | permanent link

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