Friday, November 18


Capsule Reviews

Zendegi, Greg Egan

Meh.  Lost interest, stopped reading.

Snuff, Terry Pratchett

Not his best.  But then, his best is very, very good.

The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge

The long-awaited sequel to the classic A Fire Upon the Deep disappoints.  Some interesting parts, but the villain of the piece is petty, stupid, and dull.  Doesn't measure up to the original or the prequel.*

The Atrocity Archive, The Jennifer Morgue, The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross

I like most (not all, but most) of Stross's work, and these are some of his best.  Think computational linguistics meets British spy thriller meets H. P. Lovecraft.  Snow Crash meets Declare.  Recommended if you like any of those things.  (I was re-reading those after I tossed Zendegi on the eight deadly words pile.)

The Clockwork Rocket, Greg Egan

Has potential, still reading.  It's about an amoeboid alien chick from another universe who is her species' Einstein-analogue.  The science is laid on a bit thick at times - what I'm looking for is more of Egan's brilliant last-third-of-Schild's-Ladder** and so far this is intriguing but not quite it.

* Mind you, both of those won the Hugo award for best novel, so it had a lot to live up to.

** The first third wasn't bad either; the second third plodded, but the last third took wing and soared.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:13 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 I always thought the third in the series should have been A Sky Full of Fire, focused on the core expedition. I eagerly bought the new one anyway, but set it aside after the first few scenes, and haven't gone back yet. It just didn't grab me.


Posted by: J Greely at Saturday, November 19 2011 03:33 AM (2XtN5)

2 I don't know if Stross is just very hit-or-miss for me, personally, or he's had a bit of a meltdown over the last half-decade or something.  I really liked the beginning of his Family Trade series, and then it got uncomfortable... and then it got into "let's luxuriate in grotesque portrayals of genocide at the hands of the United States Hated Mordor" territory.  Likewise, the Atrocity Archive was great, the Jennifer Morgue was acceptable, and the Fuller Memorandum was full of baby-eating American Christian fundamentalists, evil White Russians, and a protagonist descending into full-on malignant Hollywood Atheism.  At least he managed to avoid presenting us with any heroic abomination-slaughtering commissars, but you could feel him trembling with manful restraint on that subject.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Saturday, November 19 2011 04:23 AM (jwKxK)

3 The portrayal of US politics in the Family Trade series is, frankly, juvenile lefty bullshit, and certainly marred those stories for me too.

I agree that The Fuller Memorandum was the weakest of the three, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and it never ticked me off the way those parts of the Family Trade books do.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, November 19 2011 08:14 AM (PiXy!)

4 What's wrong with heroic abomination-slaughtering commissars? I quite like the Ciaphas Cain series...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Saturday, November 19 2011 09:06 AM (pWQz4)

5 A Warhammer Expy of Harry Flashman?  OK, Avatar, you've sold me on checking out the omnibus.  Although the Flashman effect is a bit too culturally nihilistic for me to tolerate Flashman himself in more than pennypacket doses, so we'll see...

Posted by: Mitch H. at Tuesday, November 22 2011 05:29 AM (jwKxK)

6 It's as close to humor as you'll find in the Warhammer universe, except for orks.

Honestly, I've never read the Flashman stuff.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Tuesday, November 22 2011 06:34 AM (GJQTS)

7 Just wanted to let you know that your latest spammer also spammed me, which means he has a login.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wednesday, November 23 2011 02:11 AM (+rSRq)

8 Thanks.  I'll get rid of them and ban them from the server.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, November 23 2011 10:46 AM (PiXy!)

9 Yes, Atrocity Archive is a classic. Sadly, I learned in conversation with Stross that is a semi-rabid leftist, which colored my reading of his books -- when he had Dick Cheney nuking the United States, the stupid overcame the awesome and I haven't read him much since.  I had a similar problem with Scalzi, who is (sadly) not just a leftist but insists on being an utter  douche about it.  The author of those two wonderful Takeshi books also apparently hates capitalism bitterly.  What is the connection between leftism and brilliant fiction?  The Hayekian conceit again, I suppose.

Children of the Sky was one of those books that seemed to be born out of inertia, it just didn't go anywhere or do anything new.  It should have ended with the Blighter fleet in orbit.  And FFS, (spoiler!) how do they not kill Nevil at the end?  I mean, come on.

At any rate, I have high hopes for Trent Zelazny and Tony Daniel, and I am firmly resolved to avoid learning of any political views they might have.

Posted by: TallDave at Sunday, November 27 2011 04:05 PM (lNW+B)

10 The first omnibus of the  Caiphas Cain series was pretty nifty - kind of like Flashman, but not nearly as harsh, the protagonist isn't as much of a secret shit as Harry Flashman.  In fact, he bears more resemblance to that Horatio Hornblower expy from a few years back, what was the name.. Nicholas Seafort, David Feintuch's space opera series with all the "Hope" titles

Posted by: Mitch H. at Wednesday, December 07 2011 04:52 AM (jwKxK)

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