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Books read, early December. - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, early December. [Dec. 15th, 2011|09:56 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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I am so not going to finish this giant biography before morning, so it's time for the early-month book post. Hey, look! I got my ability to read nonfiction back!

Mary Alexandra Agner, The Scientific Method. Discussed elsewhere.

Emma Bull (coffeeem), Territory. Discussed elsewhere.

Colin Cotterill, Slash and Burn. This is the latest Dr. Siri book, not a discussion of fanfic and insults on the internet. If you like the earlier Dr. Siri books, you will almost certainly like this one. If you haven't started the series, this is not where to start. Start at the beginning, with The Coroner's Lunch.

David Crystal, The Stories of English. I think this is strongest and most interesting in its early sections, where it's talking about how Anglo-Saxon/Old English is not a monolith. I ran into some amusing spots where the author, despite his very firm and repeated conviction that spoken and written English are not each one thing, not even "properly" spoken and written English, had made an assumption that some pronunciation was universal that was not, in fact, the way I handled that phrase at all. That was a good time. The later eras felt a bit more perfunctory to me, but one can't have everything; among other problems it would result in an unwieldy size of book. Anyway, whoever recommended this at 4th St. in 2010 was right to do so.

Cory Doctorow, Context. This is a very quick, short read. It's a series of essays on topics you may have encountered Cory talking about before, although not all of them were familiar to me. If you like reading his longer BoingBoing posts or Locus columns, there you go.

Barbara Hambly, Fever Season. The second Benjamin January book. I did not feel that the affection I felt for the series upon reading the first of these was in any way betrayed by the second.

David McCullough, John Adams. This is one of those biographies that is firmly in the category "interesting if you are interested in the subject." I don't feel that it transcends that, although others of course may disagree. I also saw what might have been hints that the biographer occasionally wished he was writing about John Quincy Adams instead, but that might have been my imagination.

Philip Reeve, No Such Thing As Dragons. A fairly slight children's fantasy. Reasonably fun, not earth-shaking.

Beth Revis, Across the Universe. Sometimes you can see why other people might like a book without liking it yourself. This is one of those. I think it will mostly appeal to people who have not already read ten million--or, y'know, two--generation ship books. The plot twists are not very twisty, the romance looks like a completely foregone conclusion, and there is--surprise! in a speculative novel published in the last five years? NO WAY--sexual violence! You know, on the one hand I'm pretty tired of calling this out in recent books. And then on the other hand I'm hoping the fact that just about every fortnight I make a book post that says, oh yes, and this book has sexual violence in it AGAIN might be pointing out that there are some problems here.

Delia Sherman, The Freedom Maze. I think it's very brave that Delia Sherman wrote this book when Kindred already exists in the world. The sub-genre of "person travels back in time and is a slave in the past" is already occupied by Octavia Butler, which is pretty intimidating company. I mean, sure, there's more than one thing to say on this topic, but Kindred looms pretty large. And honestly, The Freedom Maze is a readable, enjoyable, and interesting book, but it's no Kindred. Still, there shouldn't be a rule that you can only read one of them. If anybody tried to make that rule for you, stop them and go ahead and read both.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: wordweaverlynn
2011-12-16 08:17 am (UTC)
They're excellent but depressing. I can't read them uninterrupted. Must leave at least 2 weeks between volumes.
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2011-12-16 11:27 am (UTC)
Query: I thought Kindred was adult SF and The Freedom Maze was YA/middle-grades. Was I mistaken? Because I'm thinking of getting TFM for my school.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-12-16 12:56 pm (UTC)
It is YA. I don't think I would go so far to say it's MG.

I'm probably over some line on how much I would give adult SF to adolescents, but in fact I would. So.
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2011-12-16 02:17 pm (UTC)
I would (and have) but it depends on the kid. Given how tiny our physical library is, I would rather donate a smaller book of more general utility. If they want Kindred, they can borrow mine. (Which, hm, I wonder where it is. I hope I didn't accidentally donate it.)
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2011-12-16 01:37 pm (UTC)
I did not like the Revis book at all.

I am also not a big fan of McCullough, but he regularly saves Thanksgiving at my house, so I keep reading him and wishing he was someone else.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2011-12-16 02:02 pm (UTC)
I don;t know that I'd give Kindred to a junior high reader, but THE FREEDOM MAZE, I could.
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[User Picture]From: netmouse
2011-12-16 10:28 pm (UTC)

And what about Zetta Elliott's book?

Even more immediately relevant than Kindred is A Wish After Midnight, by Zetta Elliott. The protagonist, who also travels back in time, escapes being labeled a slave, but just barely. The book is beautifully written, also YA, and came out in 2009.

I am curious to see what Sherman does with these tropes, but disappointed to see this book getting so much more attention than A Wish After Midnight, which I thought was a lovely book. That Sherman has many (well-deserved) fans and friends already in the genre is no doubt a large part of it but one cannot help but also note that Sherman is white while Elliot is black. The cover of Wish also makes it clear the book is about a black girl in a way that the cover of Freedom Maze does not.

Edited at 2011-12-16 10:29 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-12-16 10:50 pm (UTC)

Re: And what about Zetta Elliott's book?

Well, The Freedom Maze is not about a black girl. It's about a white girl with various complicating factors leading her to be mistaken for a slave--noting, of course, that "black" and "white" are not monoliths with identical meaning in all times and places. So that's probably why the cover doesn't make it clear that the book is about a black girl.
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[User Picture]From: netmouse
2011-12-16 11:36 pm (UTC)

Re: And what about Zetta Elliott's book?

Indeed. And a mixed-race background is an interesting launch point, with its own valid issues to explore. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

But I hope you will consider reading and reviewiing A Wish after . I'll send you a copy if you send me your address (to akg.netmouse at gmail).

I was also wondering, have you read Andrea Hairston's Redwood and Wildfire, or Cold Magic, by Kate Elliott? They are both alternate history, rather than time travel, but they look very interesting.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-12-16 11:56 pm (UTC)

Re: And what about Zetta Elliott's book?

I have not read either, actually. Address forthcoming.
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