November 14th, 2005


Mrissa and the Four a.m. Hour

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, and instead of going back to sleep, I squinted repeatedly at the alarm clock, which was due to go off at 4:50. Blerg. But I haven't heard from markgritter that their flight was messed up in any way I could help with, so that part of the day went well. Also I took timprov to Perkins for breakfast. They don't have biscuits any more. We need to range a little further afield, because when you need biscuits, really nothing else will do, and as much as I am an enthusiastic baker, it is a bad idea for me to be baking before about 7:00 a.m.

Anyway, yesterday I read Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Midnight Hour from my World Fantasy freebie bag. I almost put it back on the trade table, because the back indicated that it was a book about werewolves and talk radio. And, in fact, it is a book about werewolves and talk radio. It...hmm. It was a quick, light read, and if you like Contemporary Light Horror, definitely give it a go. ("Light Horror": fantasy with traditional horror tropes. If it's got werewolves and vampires and you are not really supposed to be scared or horrified, I would call it Light Horror.) One of the things I really liked about it was that pack hierarchical behavior was not sanitized -- Vaughn recognized up front that if humans behaved like a wolf pack, it would be at best dysfunctional and in many cases abusive.

But. This was not a book that did really interesting new things with these tropes, nor did the characters grip me enough that I wanted to read about them regardless of what speculative conceit had joined them. In the end, this was firmly, squarely a werewolf book. I'm not actually keen on those categorically, and despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that none of the interesting plots were anything like resolved, I won't be buying Kitty Goes to Washington when it comes out. Kitty and the Midnight Hour was better than I thought it would be, and I'm glad I kept it, but it wasn't enough better than I thought it'd be to make me a big fan.

Too Horrible to Bear

My grandfather lent me James Patterson's Maxmium Ride: the Angel Experiment, because it's an SF YA by one of his favorite authors, and I like SF and YAs.


I can't say for sure whether James Patterson is patronizing because this is a YA. I've never read his other stuff. For all I know, James Patterson patronizes all his readers, not just the young ones.

But this book, this book, oh. So very bad. I quit about a third of the way in, and I'm not going back. There has just been a major plot twist, and I don't even care, because this book is so bad. So there's the patronizing tone, which is bad enough -- readers can never infer how someone is feeling, we have to be told -- and then there's the science. These kids have wings. Huge wings that they can actually fly on. That fold up tightly enough that they can pass for normal until they have their shirts off. Uh-huh. Right. Go read Laurel Winter, for heaven's sake. And also they have really light bones but are amazing good fighters, because having bones like a bird would not matter in hand-to-hand combat between preteen bird-boned people and adult men. Light bone density, as we all know, is only an advantage, never a drawback.

And there are all the Teenage Perspective, Dammit clichés, and then, oh, oh, oh. The Evil Scientists? Apparently they know even less science than James Patterson. Because here is their reaction when one of the bird-kids does something really cool: "Amazing. Cognitive ability. Interpretive skills. Creative problem solving. Dissect her brain. Preserve her organs. Extract her DNA." Um...riiiiight. Because 1) you have to kill things to extract their DNA and 2) preserving organs is of more scientific interest than watching them work and 3) you get a lot more data from a dissected brain than from a functional brain. Yes. The minute scientists see creative problem solving in something, they want to kill it! kill kill kill! because they are scientists, and scientists like killing stuff! Science is really all about killing stuff, and not about figuring stuff out at all!

Life is too damn short for you to read this book.