Working my way through the canon. Slim
book, fat (if not entirely watertight) ideas. Thinking of collating a
Linguistics in SF list. There’s this, Embassytown, Snow Crash, and of course 1984. Any other ideas?
I enjoyed this book. In places I enjoyed it
very much indeed. Please bear that in mind, as I’m going to spend most of what
follows talking about its many faults. Though to be honest, they’re all really manifestations
of one fault. It is all, appropriately enough, just a little too… a little too.
I think I’m becoming more nostalgic in my middle
age, and especially so when it comes to my reading. More and more I find myself
harking back to the things I read as young(er) adult, not so much conceptually
but emotionally. Part of this is the natural passage of time and experience, I
think, but the more comparators you have for something the harder it becomes
for it to raise its head above the herd.
opera of a sort, despite the fact very little of it takes place in space. Marge
Taishan is an anthropologist charged with investigating the planet Jeep.
Unknown generations ago it was settled by humans, whose society has long since
reverted to pre-industrial modes. An attempt at recolonization failed once it was
discovered that he planet harbours a virus which kills all men (and a good
proportion of women), leaving the planet isolated and the survivors
stunning and mercifully short journey through the inner lives of a young woman
in inter-war Brazil. Lispecter's works have had a bit of a renaissance in
recent years (as far as I'm aware, at least), and I can see why. The prose
switches seamlessly between mimesis and stream-of-consciousness, as the orphan
Joanna creates her own worlds as she passes through being raised by intolerant
relatives and a loveless marriage to the unfaithful Otávio. I say 'mercifully short'
because the effect of this constant tumult is as exhausting as it is
captivating, and in the perfect marriage of form and function the reader can occasionly
become as exasperated with Joanna as the characters around her; god help me,
but I genuinely laughed out loud at some of Otávio's more exasperated
interjections. Excellent stuff.
Sentences is, at least as far as plot goes, about a
poem that causes anyone to read it to die. The blurb suggests that this conceit
is shared with The Ring, but for me
the obvious comparator is Monty Python:
A surprisingly nostalgic reading experience,
this. A ripsnorting thriller praised by a number of authors I like (Philip
Pullman, Alastair Reynolds) and which, despite being set in the early 1990’s,
has a distinctly Cold War feel that threw me right back into the Tom Clancy
novels I ploughed through as a teenager. It’s also utterly ridiculous.
Everyone wants coffee except Dr. Tijou, who
struggling to explain why I found this line is so funny, but it provided my first
book driven LOL of 2017: a good three or four minutes of guffawing about tea. I
am, however, going to give an explanation a bash, because if nothing else it's
going to be a good way of working through exactly why I enjoyed this book so
The first book of the year gets 2017 off to a
mixed start. On the one hand, this garnered a fair amount of praise and I can
see why: it's well written, thoughtfully plotted, and the characters are only
too believable. But on the other, it also served to remind me that coming of
age stories really aren't my cup of tea at all. If I were less of a middle-aged
curmudgeon I'd be able to praise this for more that its technical execution,
but as it stands I'll just say that if pig-headed and self-obsessed teenagers
are what floats your boat then you could do a lot worse than this.