Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Books read, early February

John Barnes, The Merchants of Souls. I read this one accidentally out of order, and the fourth one is looking worse thereby: this is not the bridge I thought would have to happen between the second book and the fourth book. So there is no such bridge. So -- um. The fourth book is looking a lot more disjointed now.

Darryl Brock, If I Never Get Back. Baseball time travel novel. The main character doesn't think about anything but himself, ever, throughout the book. This never comes back to bite him in the butt. He tells people things that would prove untrue in their timeline, if not in his, and no one seems to notice or call him on it, even with ample opportunity to spot discrepancies between his story and reality. When they went to San Francisco, I thought, ah, here it all comes crashing down on his head, because he said he was from San Francisco and doesn't know anything he should about it and has no friends or acquaintances there. But no, what happened was misty angst and continuing tacked-on Fenians. Great. Also he thinks nothing of having unprotected sex with a woman in 1869, because tra la la, they really love each other. So when he disappears back into the future and may well have left her pregnant, with huge social and economic consequences, well, at least they really love each other! What a jerk. Books about jerks can be okay, I guess, but this was a book about a stupid jerk, plus a bunch of oblivious stupid people around him. Some of them also jerks. Harumph harumph harumph. (Worst of all, it wasn't bad enough for me to quit in the middle, and it wasn't good enough for me to actually enjoy it.)

Charles de Lint, Promises to Keep. This is a Jilly Coppercorn story, so you don't have to have the feeling that everyone in Newford does the same things and likes the same things, because it's not a new component of everyone, it's Jilly. It's filling in some backstory rather than going forward with her, and since the gaps in her back story are not that large, it ends up being rather slight for its length. Not an "it was only a dream" ending, but not far enough from it for my taste.

Diane Duane, The Door Into Shadow. Better than The Door Into Fire; clearly the work of a few more years of experience. I wanted more fire elemental, but what're ya gonna do.

Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine. This time traveler thinks about stuff other than himself. Which is good, because there's not much to the book but him thinking about stuff, really. Do you want a classic-style "snapshots of possible futures as the time traveler hops along" book? This is that. It's not more than that. It's also not less.

Sandra McDonald, The Outback Stars. When the central relationship in a book is a romantic one and you totally don't buy the romantic relationship in any way, it sort of cuts down on your enjoyment of a book.

Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac, Tournament of Shadows: the Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia. Fascinating stuff about Central Asian history as influenced by Europeans; if you want the focus to be on what the people who actually lived there were doing, you need a different book. Moved right along, for all that it was a great big brick of a book. I was pleased and amused to see standard adventure novel tricks go badly awry in real life: did you know, for example, that a great big Englishman with brown dye on his skin does not actually look like your average Tibetan? That he might stand out somehow? That they might look at him and say, "Oh, look, it's some big white dude with walnut juice all over his face," rather than, "Hey, Lobsang, that must be your cousin Dorjee, who is totally from around here!"? I was just so pleased at that not working.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain. Okay, I give. I'm reading Kim Stanley Robinson again. I really, really, really didn't like The Years of Rice and Salt (I want to read about people, not types), and The Martians rubbed me completely the wrong way as well, and I was thinking I was done. And then rysmiel was talking about these, and they were out in paperback, so I got the first one. So. It wasn't Green Mars, but I think it was at least Red Mars level. It was the stuff I used to read Kim Stanley Robinson for in the first place: he is so very earnest, and you never have to stop and scowl and say, "No scientist ever said something like that." Or even, "No bureaucrat ever said something like that." Also he is very good with weather, and that's very very necessary in this book. So. I'll get the other two in this series, and if you liked the Mars trilogy but not as much his stuff since, maybe you should, too.
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