August 31, 2022

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, August 2022

Attention conservation notice: I have no qualifications to opine on early 20th century Russian and Mongolian history, or even on crackpots.

Craig Alanson, Columbus Day and SpecOps
Mind-cotton-candy science fiction. I use the phrase "cotton candy" deliberately: it's pure diverting fluff of no substance whatsoever. I appreciated the diversion, but feel no compulsion to read any further in what is evidently a long series. It did, however, inspire me to re-read William Tenn's magnificent "The Liberation of Earth", which deserves to be retained as a precious part of our common cultural heritage. §
Richard Stark, Nobody Runs Forever
Mind candy crime fiction. This is a Parker novel, which is to say coolly detached competence porn set among professional criminals --- with emotional amateurs providing contrast and heaps of Plot. I found it refreshing. §
James Palmer, The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia
The life and times of an orientalist crackpot who rode the Russian Civil War to enacting a reign of terror in Inner Asia checks so many of my boxes that I have avoided reading this for years, lest it disappoint. Far from doing so, it was a treat. The subtitle is a bit inaccurate (as Palmer explains clearly, there was a khan, and he was a Mongol). But the book itself is clear, amused (when appropriate), humane, learned (when appropriate) and lively. §

Constant readers (if I have any left) will notice that this was not a lot of books. This is because I am now engaged in a very time- and attention- consuming project which will occupy me for the foreseeable future. My collaborator in this endeavor requests that I not blog about it, but I am allowed to describe it by linking to an emblematic image. I like to imagine that the satyr is playing the pipes because he and the nymph have learned that it is, paradoxically, actually the only way to get their baby to sleep.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Scientifiction and Fantastica; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime; Afghanistan and Central Asia; Psychoceramica; Writing for Antiquity; The Running-Dogs of Reaction

Posted at August 31, 2022 23:59 | permanent link

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