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Books read, late July - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, late July [Aug. 1st, 2010|02:13 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Kage Baker, The Bird of the River. Discussed elsewhere.

Kylie Chan, Earth to Hell. When I was reading this, I told some friends in e-mail that it should be called Mary Sue Goes To Hell: Is Not So Bad Akshully. It's the beginning of a trilogy that continues the story begun in another trilogy. I fear it's an entire trilogy with middle-book-itis. In any case I had a great deal less fun with it than I did with the ones that preceded it, which were less good than cracktastic, and I'm not sure I'm going to keep going from here. It makes me sympathetic to the idea that the first thing people sell should stand alone, because if you sell the first volume of a series, and that first volume doesn't really have an ending, you don't actually know that the author can write endings at all. And endings are hard. Middles are hard, even. And the first trilogy was more or less 900+ pages of beginning. So.

Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. This was the charming heresy stuff I was talking about on my birthday. It explored the interplay between literate and non-literate culture in the period in question, and how we know things about each, and was very chewy and much fun. Recommended for those interested in this period.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Scenting of the Dark and Other Stories. I enjoyed all the stories in this collection except the title story, which I respected but did not enjoy: too many scent-triggers, and I am extremely scent-suggestible. I just wished there had been more here, because it was more a chapbook than a collection--but a very solid chapbook for sure.

Justine Larbalestier, How to Ditch Your Fairy. I'm trying to decide how I feel about this book. On the one hand, I like that not everything was tied up with tidy little bows. On the other hand, there were several elements of the speculative part of the book that felt sort of loose to me, like there were things that just didn't quite wrap as far as they could have. The main characters didn't have standard-issue obsessions, the setting was not out of a box, the slang was very YA/teen slang, and I think my young teen friends would probably enjoy it. I'm just not quite sure about the speculative element of the plot. Would like to hear whether others who've read it found it satisfying.

Nevil Shute, Pastoral. A wartime love story of sorts. If this had been my first Shute, I think I would have thought I knew what ending was coming, but since I know I don't always know what he's doing, I just took it as it came. And it was indeed what the title said. And for its era, it took women's work as seriously--well, as seriously as its era really did take women's wartime work, and not as seriously as the time after the war tried to revise itself into taking women's work. So that was very interesting indeed.

Charles Stross, The Fuller Memorandum. Anthony Price, Mike Ford, Arthur Ransome, all in autopope's Lovecraftian geek books. Everybody sing! This is more or less exactly the book I wanted it to be, I think. This is my favorite of his series.

Walter Jon Williams, Voice of the Whirlwind. The problem with having found the one WJW book that makes me go, "Ooh, must find all his others!" is that the others aren't really quite as good. And that was the case here: this was fun, it was an entertaining read, but it did not wow me. Clone pursues original's story through space. Okay then.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-01 08:07 pm (UTC)
Yes, that was some of what I meant. I didn't think it was nationalism she meant to send up but parochialism, particularly with the New York parallels: when New Yorkers expect everybody in the world to know everything about New York, it's not because New York is America, it's because it's New York, and Steffi's city was also from their country, as I read it, just from a different city. But then the ending of that sort of...trickled off.
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From: swan_tower
2010-08-01 08:18 pm (UTC)
I didn't enjoy it -- but that's probably because it was inflicted on me in a class I found terribly disappointing.
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From: thoughtdancer
2010-08-01 07:57 pm (UTC)
I much prefer Williams post-Cyberpunk works: Aristoi, Metropolitan, City on Fire, than his Cyberpunk-esque stuff (Angel Station, Voice of the Whirlwind, etc). I also liked Implied Spaces, but not as much.

Aristoi is one of my favorites of any SF/F writers. I've taught this on in two different colleges, and I have about three different copies (some marked-up for teaching).

And I really, really wish that a next installment from the Metropolitan/City on Fire world would be published. I've been hanging on that one for far too many years.
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From: thoughtdancer
2010-08-01 07:58 pm (UTC)
"I've taught this *one*"... oops.
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2010-08-02 07:57 pm (UTC)
It had a Royo cover like Hardwired and Voice of the Whirlwind? That's all I've got, really.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2010-08-01 08:00 pm (UTC)
What I loved about How to Ditch Your Fairy was the physicality of the whole thing. Despite the whole Ours thing and a healthy amount of competitiveness, the most important reason the characters do sports is because they love the feeling of pushing their bodies. It's got some of the same feel I love in climbing posts by orbitalmechanic or matociquala, but at a teen level. The only other books I know of with a female heroine that has that is the Dairy Queen trilogy (YA and I like them a lot, but not fantasy).
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2010-08-01 08:01 pm (UTC)
But yeah, the whole fairy thing could use a better rationale, especially the part where it's mentioned they've only been around a coupe of generations.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-01 08:08 pm (UTC)
Right: the kid sister in art school is a supporting character at best, where I think in a lot of speculative books aimed at whatever age, the default is that the art school kid is the main character and the jock sibling is the support character.
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[User Picture]From: marshallpayne1
2010-08-01 08:17 pm (UTC)
I always enjoy these reviews. Thanks!

Edited at 2010-08-01 08:17 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-02 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2010-08-01 08:44 pm (UTC)
I love the Laundry books, and am deeply glad that the ending of this one did not go quite where I thought it would.
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From: evangoer
2010-08-02 02:46 am (UTC)
Love the Laundry books too, and am very much looking forward to this one.
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[User Picture]From: merriehaskell
2010-08-02 02:24 am (UTC)
I was medium-to-well satisfied with How to Ditch Your Fairy--medium because I enjoyed the ride enough not to care too much about the unanswered stuff. (Whereas Liar left me mildly angry in a way, but mostly at myself--but that's another discussion--)

Anyway, my stepdaughter LOVED How to Ditch Your Fairy. Flat out loved. And that's where well-satisfied comes in, because when she talks about it, I see how satisfying it could be if I were a little less well-read and writerly, and also because I gave her the book. Weird, how someone else's reading experiences can affect your own enjoyment of a book... And by "your" I mean "my".
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-02 12:55 pm (UTC)
cathshaffer has talked about theoretically YA novels that get talked about a lot by adult writers but don't seem to get read by any of the young adults she knows, so I'm kind of on alert for that, and How to Ditch Your Fairy definitely seemed likely to dodge that problem. I was considering giving it to a young friend of mine, but I'm not sure I could deal with her declaring everything "doos."
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From: diatryma
2010-08-02 04:25 am (UTC)
I don't have a great match with Larbalestier's books in general. Fairy was frustrating because the characters were so centered on what they saw as the problem, and I was much more interested in other things. I have Liar out from the library now and am really, really wary of it-- I'm going to read it because people I trust have told me it's good, but I have prepared myself for not liking it almost to the point that I can't like it because the stories Larbalestier tells with her worlds are not the stories I would tell and they leave me dissatisfied. I like her books much better when all I do is think about them.
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[User Picture]From: minnehaha
2010-08-02 06:21 am (UTC)

Walter Jon Williams

Which Willams books did you like?

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-02 12:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Walter Jon Williams

This Is Not a Game. To which I hear there is a sequel coming, so I'm excited.
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[User Picture]From: minnehaha
2010-08-02 12:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Walter Jon Williams

I enjoyed that, too. I might have read it based on your recommendation.

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-02 12:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Walter Jon Williams

Oh, good.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-08-02 12:52 pm (UTC)
I cross my 7s also, but that's so they are clearly distinguishable from 1s if I don't get the top stroke large enough when I'm writing a page of equations very quickly. See also crossing my zs to distinguish from 2s. My dad told me these tricks, and they are good tricks, and they are not all of why my dad's and my math handwriting is nearly indistinguishable, but it was sort of the last straw. He had given me his calculus book, and a problem set fell out of it and I looked at it and thought, "I don't remember doing these." I hadn't done them, it was my dad 25 years earlier. But our math handwriting is just the same.

Our cursive is very, very different.
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