Ista went outside to give the neighbor dogs their instructions, and she came in full of vinegar at the very least. We have already had our walk today. We are not having another. It is cold and dark and I am tired. I see Red Dot in my future.
I read some books lately.
John Barnes, A Million Open Doors. I had been deeply unimpressed by the first John Barnes novel I read, so deeply that I fully intended to never read another. (If you're going to model your book on a Heinlein juvenile, and you want me to like it, do not under any circumstances model it on Podkayne of Mars. With either ending. Blarg.) But rysmiel said this one was good, and rysmiel would not deliberately mislead me, so I went out and got it. And I liked it enough to put the sequels on my wishlist: the culture clash with no culture in the right, that was quite good enough to sell me on this series. And I will maybe give another of his books a look. Just in case.
Michael Chabon, The Final Solution. So if you have a book this short, in this flavor of litty, I think what you're going for is the sort of book people will describe in mineralogical terms. A perfect little jewel, lapidary, etc. This was not such a book. I had great difficulty caring about anything or anybody, and I don't feel Mr. Chabon did nearly as much as he could have to help me along. Refugee kid with a spy parrot: meh. Who would have thought meh? But meh it was. Also the illustrations seemed to go with a different style of book entirely, one by Norton Juster or Salman Rushdie, but maybe that's just me. (Also lumping Norton Juster and Salman Rushdie together as the same kind of thing is maybe just me. Dunno.)
Tamora Pierce, Beka Cooper: Terrier. Hmmm. Well, it got better -- the ostentatious description of getting barley water and getting sneered at for it made me think it was going to go even farther than the Trickster books in the direction of trying to undo any good the Alanna books may have done anybody ever. But it didn't go farther. It probably didn't even go as far. I'm provisionally willing to keep on in this series, in borrowed copies, but this book being set 200 years before the rest of the books kind of undermines the "portraying a social shift" justification for the way the Tortall books have gone after the Alanna series.
Geoff Ryman, Lust. And what a dear man he is, to have written such an unerotic book on such a porny topic. Wow. The geekage level was just amazing. If you've ever been the person picking apart what is supposed to be a hot love scene going, "Wait -- where is her foot? I don't think curtain rods are rated for that usage. And did they just happen to bring one of those with? Just in case they found someone similarly inclined? My land, what else must they have in that suitcase, to be prepared like that?", then this is a book for you. (It doesn't pick apart love scenes like that. But the approach is rather similar.)
(I have said many times that I could not go dreamy-eyed in high school watching "Ghost" because I couldn't forget that the body doing the hot love scene was Whoopi Goldberg's, not wossname's, even though they were showing wossname's. Also, wossname is So Not My Type anyway. As much as I hate hate HATE the explicit central thesis of "When Harry Met Sally," and as much as Billy Crystal is not, shall we say, my masculine ideal, at least his character had an inkling of sense of humor about himself. The things that pass off as romantic without any laughter or self-awareness at all...oof. But that is an unrelated rant for another day.)
Nick Sagan, Idlewild. First novel. Most things I could say to characterize it, other than that it has heavy use of virtual reality, would be spoilery. Suffice it to say that this is not a cheerful novel, and that the ending is rather abrupt. But winning the not a cheerful novel, ending rather abrupt sweepstakes for early November, conveniently appearing in order by authorial surname, is...
Adam Stemple, Singer of Souls. They tried to warn me about the ending. They did not convey the magnitude of it in their warnings. It was not that it was an unhappy ending -- I like ambiguous endings better than happy or unhappy ones, but a good happy or unhappy ending will do fine with me. But this specific one went clunkclunkSCREEEEEEECLUNK in my head. Not in a "my world is now different due to the undermining of genre conventions" way, either, I'm afraid, although I could see where it might hit some people that way. The rest of the book was really good, and I've liked his collabs with his mom. I will buy his next book. It's just the last few pages that...didn't do it for me, let's say.
Rex Stout, If Death Ever Slept, Might As Well Be Dead, and Three Witnesses. I liked several things in this segment of the series. I liked how Wolfe's introduction to a rather nice dog was handled -- the dog was beautifully characterized, the monkey not so badly either. But the one that's sticking out in my head is the way that Wolfe and Archie's status as famous detectives actually bites them in the butt. They don't get to have the advantages of Being Famous Detectives without actually having to be famous detectives. Good stuff.
Charlie Stross (autopope), Glasshouse. I was not as impressed with this book as I wanted to be. I still enjoyed it, but there were holes that kept poking at me. He played fair with character memory loss, as far as I remember, but sometimes the reactions to that memory loss were a little strange to me. Some character beliefs were not questioned soon enough, and at least one of them -- in the resolution -- never was. But I still had fun with it.
Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (1crowdedhour), The Mislaid Magician. Third in the series. Much fun. After my friend Ed's daughter was born, before we'd seen them with the kiddo, I wondered what Ed would be like with a baby. And the answer was, "Just exactly like Ed, but with a baby." Good enough, and this was like that: characters growing up and remaining themselves. And they've returned to epistolary format, which is good, I thought.
To-do list: move forward. Stop second-guessing self. Everything else as listed on extremely long to-do list here.
So okay, lots of you have gone over the 50 "most influential" works of SF/fantasy, and that's fine, but here's what interests me more: tell me about one work of SF or fantasy that has influenced you. Not the single most influential if you don't feel like it. Just tell me about one. How old were you, where did you find it, why was it important, do you think its importance to you is in line with how good it is or disproportionate for some reason, etc. etc.