Monday, 20 February 2017

Babel-17

(February 2017)



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?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Too Like the Lightning

(January 2017)



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.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Ninefox Gambit

(January 2017)



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.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Ammonite

(January 2017)



Space 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 quarantined.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Near to the Wild Heart

(January 2017)



A 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.
  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Death Sentences

(January 2017)



Death 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: