|Books read, late May
||[Jun. 1st, 2010|12:29 pm]
Bruce Catton, The Army of the Potomac: Glory Road. Grandpa's. Not about a Heinlein novel. This is the middle volume of Catton's history of the US Civil War through the lens of the Army of the Potomac. It is very well done, and I like it very much. Unfortunately, Catton found, in his perusal of lots and lots of mid-19th century papers, at least one example of the misuse of the word literally that so plagues us today. Unless a particular 19th century politician literally did annihilate his entire bar association, but the rest of the paragraph didn't seem to act that way, much to my disappointment. I mean, it's interesting, but it's not that interesting. Looking forward to the last one.
Harry Connolly, Child of Fire. An urban fantasy doing things that are not exactly like every other urban fantasy. I still didn't like any of the characters or, at the end, have much urge to return to spend more time with them, which I regretted, since it was doing different things with limited knowledge and paper magic and a nasty toymaker.
Matthew Frederick, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School. Part N of the Writing Is Like Hockey Is Like Playing the Guitar Is Like school of study. timprov had picked up this tidy little illustrated thing. It's quirky, fast, and not at all deep, but it's not trying to be.
Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World. Not an adult SF version of Elizabeth Enright's Gone-Away Lake. Can someone write me that, though? That'd be keen. Much obliged. The plot twists inhabited that middle ground between feeling natural to the plot (good) and telegraphing themselves a mile off (bad). Still. I liked most of the time I spent with this book. Even the bits with mimes. Well, mostly even the bits with mimes.
J.A. Pitts, Black Blade Blues. Discussed elsewhere.
John Sandford, The Night Crew. A thriller in which the characters have many opportunities to be stupid and politely decline them. This was good fun. Life actually is complicated enough without adding in the dumb, so go that guy for recognizing it.
Francis Spufford, Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin. Not a gonzo British children's YA wherein a bunch of children rebuild the space program in somebody's garden shed. Can someone write me that one, too? It took me forever to get to this because I had to forgive it for not being that other thing. Anyway, nonfiction. British technology fights back against, um, lack of British technology. And is awesome. It very nearly fights crime. If there had been just one more chapter I'm pretty sure it would have fought crime. As it was it designed games and made up cell phones and flew rockets and things, which I have to confess I like better than fighting crime.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Empire in Black and Gold. I have a hard time describing this in a way that will not sound gimmicky, but it's got all sorts of things that fantasy should have, societies that are changing in interesting ways and people with incomplete knowledge and more than two sides to every story and human motivation complicating large-scale politics. Am looking forward to the later ones.
Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson. Grandpa's. There's a reason this is considered minor Twain. It's not that he's wrong about slavery, particularly race-based slavery, being a stupid idea, or about culture influencing people's views of what they can accomplish. It's just that he gets is accomplished pretty quickly and then there's sort of the rest of the book to slog through. With lots of I'se-yo-ole-Mammy dialect.
Walter Jon Williams, Implied Spaces. This Is Not a Game tipped me over from "I will read WJW from time to time" into "I will read all the WJW I can conveniently get my hands on." Implied Spaces would not have had that effect; and in fact if I had not just read TINaG, I probably would have quit in the first few pages, because Implied Spaces starts in an adventure gaming world that doesn't interest me much. At all. It then departs and gets much more interesting to me. I had fun with this, but it's not where I'd recommend people start with WJW.