Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Books read, early October

Isaac Asimov, The Currents of Space. Discussed elsewhere.

Felix Gilman, The Half-Made World. Discussed elsewhere.

Reginald Hill, Exit Lines. Missing Dalziel and Pascoe book for me! I am now down to missing just one! Of course, because this one is out of print, I can tell you that it's a good place to start the series. Of course it would be. But Felony and Mayhem should be bringing it back into print soon. We love Felony and Mayhem. It's trying to disentangle the last words of several victims, and each chapter starts with famous last words of somebody, and Hill has started to hit his stride for having fun with this sort of thing, and the characters are able to be themselves, not all of them that we'll get in the late books, but everyone who's here is here fully. So. Good stuff. If your library has it, go ahead; it's a decent middle starter.

Kurt Johannesson, The Renaissance of the Goths in Sixteenth-Century Sweden: Johannes and Olaus Magnus as Politicians and Historians. Oh dear. Well. Johannesson seems to think that sixteenth century Roman Catholicism had a great deal to offer Sweden, and that the Magnus brothers--the last bishops of Sweden--were great representatives of this. And...fundamentally, I really don't think that the Protestant Reformation was a mistake for Sweden, as a country. Politically or religiously, I just don't. So when he was on, for example, about how the Magnus brothers were some of the most learned Swedes and you could tell because they knew the most Popes--this struck me, as I said to some people in e-mail at the time, as the equivalent of saying that Wil Wheaton is the greatest actor of his generation because he knows the most SF writers personally. I mean, I think Wil Wheaton is awesome, don't get me wrong, and I am an SF writer and like knowing SF writers. But it seems at least worth noting that many of the other people who might be competing with him for "greatest actor of generation" are not even trying to know lots of SF writers personally. And that this is maybe not the only measure of greatness in an actor. Um. At all. Which is not to say that the Magnus brothers were not learned. Certainly they were. But when all the other learned Swedes of their generation had extended a large and deliberate middle finger to the very concept of the papacy, saying that they were awesome because they knew the most Popes was...more than a little tone-deaf. There were still interesting bits of this. But it just got a little bizarre in spots.

Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death. So remember when I was reading The Wind-Up Girl and I said, "I'd like you to think about whether that is the best, most creative way for your thing to be done," regarding rape (or, more generally, sexual violence) in works in this genre? Yah. Well. The sexual violence in Who Fears Death is really necessary. It is absolutely integral to the book Okorafor was writing. I can't even say that it would be a substantially different book without the sexual violence, because I have no idea what book that would be. You might as well pick one out of a hat. That is how well-integrated the sexual violence is to this book. That puts it very far ahead of many other books in the field that choose to tack on the rape of one character or another for drama and then handle the consequences of that rape secondarily or as an interpersonal fantasy rather than speculative fantasy or not at all. But it is, in fact, a book where various kinds of sexual violence are very much to the fore, and potential readers should know that. It's also a book that does other interpersonal things rather well, and the setting is not one we see much in speculative literature. It will take a fair amount of energy because of the subject matter, so I would recommend choosing rather judiciously when and whether you read it, but not because it's done badly.

Nevil Shute, Landfall. I was amazed that this book was published during WWII, because it had a wartime setting and a central accident within a wartime setting that seemed like it would hit awfully close to home for anyone who was still in the middle of experiencing that war. Perhaps it's the fact that the people reading it had, by definition, not read post-war Shutes, so they had more confidence that it would all come out right in the end than I did. Shute's definition of all coming out right in the end sometimes gets really iffy. Anyway, it was short and completely dodged his problem areas and was fairly sensible about how and why people considered class issues in that setting at that time, without actually thinking that they were dreadfully insurmountable itself. A good fast read, one of the better Shutes.
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