July 16th, 2010


Books read, early July

I don't talk about stuff I read in manuscript, and I don't talk about stuff I quit before I finish reading it, and I've already talked about a few of these, so this is looking like a lighter fortnight than usual.

Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker. Vivid YA SF. Worldbuilding and characters both very easy for me to get swept along with, and I don't recall anything quite like this future Louisiana reaching me before. It's not a nice future, not by any stretch, and we don't get any time in this book with the posh end of the future. This is not by any means a flaw.

Gretel Ehrlich, In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape. I never consciously try to read Gretel Ehrlich in July and August, but according to my booklog I gravitate towards her this time of year subconsciously, for relief I suppose. Ice, ice, and more ice. Greenland, northern Canada, northern Russia. Lifestyles of nomadic peoples on the ice. Narwhals. Walruses. Mmmm, ice.

Elizabeth Ann Hull, ed. Gateways. Discussed elsewhere.

Ursula LeGuin, The Word for World is Forest. Discussed elsewhere.

David Liss, The Whiskey Rebels. I really, really hope David Liss has smartass friends like mine. Because structurally it is as though one of his smartass friends shouted, "Do a flip!" in the middle of this book. And he then did. And while it is pretty good when, like, thousands of readers or the New York Times or whoever go, "that was wicked awesome!!!", it's even better when the person saying it is the person to whom you said, "Hold my hat/coat/drink and watch this." So I hope he has smartass friends like mine. Oh, the book? I loved the book. It's about the Whiskey Rebellion and the early US and early banking therein and a whole bunch of other stuff I was not at all sure I cared about. Loved it. Going to go get more of his stuff when I can.

David MacAuley, The New Way Things Work, a.k.a. "the Mammoth Book." This is the book wherein mammoths are used to explain it all to you. It all = cam shafts, nuclear power, hot air balloons, whatever. This is a very useful book. We have already gotten it for several small persons of our acquaintance and will get it for more as they grow into it. It is not a "sit down and read cover to cover" book, mostly, but one to dip into for amusing thumbnail sketches here and there.

John Elder Robison, Look Me in the Eye. This was described as a memoir of Asperger's, but I found other aspects of his life just as interesting. For example, I am not at all interested in very stagey hair bands of the 1970s and 1980s. But the people who design their stage effects are a great deal more interesting, having to have certain aspects of the geek nature and yet interact with rock at some of its most excessive. And Robison was apparently one of those people. Interesting stuff, not easily categorizable--I can see how it got put into being "an Aspie thing" simply because that is both true and the most obvious way they can label it.

Jack Weatherford, The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire. I had been looking forward to this, and it didn't disappoint. I didn't realize how much "daughters" was going to be metaphorical, as in "female descendants and their heirs," but it worked much better than trying to focus on a single generation of Mongol women for the amount of documentation and information we seem to have. I think, though I can't swear to it, that Central Asian history buffs will still find things of interest in this volume; certainly the majority of us who don't know very much about Central Asian history will.