Five books read, five books reviewed this month, all done in the middle of a drowned desert steppe on the edge of tornado alley. While the weather was wet and turbulent, the reading was inundated with golems and authors of conservative persuasion. And, AND!, I managed to work in three groin infection jokes!
I should really apologize for that, by the way.
A month of reading extremes! I loved the YA, epistolary, Heinlein-inspired Emergence (1984) and hated the stodgy, Hard SF, first contact classic, The Mote in God’s Eye (1974) by stuffy White dude duo Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. While most readers agree with me on Emergence, (I rarely see a bad review), my social analysis of Mote may have ruffled some feathers. I stand by my conclusions: Mote is boh-rang, and it rubbed me the wrong way with its racial and gender insensitivity.
In the middle of those extremes, I shared my thoughts on China Miéville’s third and final Bas-Lag novel, Iron Council (2004). Not as exciting as The Scar (2002), nor as lascivious as Perdido Street Station (2001), Iron Council is a steady political quest, less popular than its predecessors, and not as radical as I expected, but enjoyable for readers wanting something that feels more personal, and less puissantly distracting, from this author. But beware the 229 golems!
I tied up the month with a third foray into Poul Anderson’s work, another of his planet-sharing, Israel-Palestine allegories, Fire Time (1974). Better than People of the Wind (1973) and The High Crusade (1960), this big plot is better tailored to fit Anderson’s short novel tendencies, the characters feel realistic and compelling enough to gel the different POVs. Then, I finally posted my quick, dissatisfied review of Michael Swanwick’s dino-time travel effort, Bones of the Earth (2002), a disinterested commercial effort that could use a little more flesh. (…stole that line from the good admiral.ironbombs, tyvm).
Books Read, Books to be Reviewed
This coming month, you can look forward to reviews of yet another eclectic gathering of Hugo nominees. Fritz Leiber’s multi-character, global disaster Hugo winner, The Wanderer (1964) is coming up, followed by David Brin’s odd and convoluted detective novel about clay cloning (erm, more golems) Kiln People (2002). I’m excited to share my thoughts on James Morrow’s Towing Jehovah (1994) once I figure out what I think about it. (I can’t decide which is more shocking: the blatant blasphemy or the unexpected respect for faith. My cognizance is dissonating!) Finally, after the racial space wreck that is The Mote in God’s Eye, I think Larry Niven somewhat redeems himself in the (not-very-mathy) Integral Trees (1984).
Books Read, Books to be Flash Reviewed (I’m stealing “Flash Review” from Nikki@BookPunks.)
In between books, I squeezed in a much desired TBR, Lavie Tidhar’s Osama (2011), which I snarfed in a weekend and will add to a future New-ish Book Flash Review compilation. Osama is brilliant, a must read, and is further evidence that the BSFA shortlists are the best shortlists around.
Books to be Read
No matter how I organize my reading schedule, my least desired TBRs manage to monopolize the spring and summer seasons. I fear these next two months will be full of eighties and nineties meh, but those decades sometimes surprise me. I did manage to set aside a couple of interesting pieces for this month:
River of Gods (2004) by Ian McDonald- Ian McDonald may or may not have influenced part of my summer vacation last year with a quick jaunt to Istanbul thanks to the gorgeous The Dervish House. (That book made it difficult to ignore a life-long vacay wish. Will River of Gods have the same impact?)
Two pieces that I’m not so excited about:
Mother of Storms (1994) by John Barnes- This guy has several degrees but, based on the first couple of chapters, I really doubt any of them are in Literature. Clunky, passive sentences are very obvious when read in tandem with the talented Ian McDonald (above).
Mirror Dance (1994) by Lois McMaster Bujold- I’m not in love with this fan-crazed space opera series, so I’ll probably go straight audio with this one and power through it on my drives to and from work.
Monthly Book Tallies: A Political Breakdown! For No Particular Reason Whatsoever!
Books Blogged: 5
Books with conservative themes:
-that I hated: 1
-that was okay: 1
-that I loved: 1
But that can’t be. All of these novels are Hugo nominees. Conservative authors never make the Hugo lists.
Books with liberal themes: 2
-that I loved: 1
-that I hated: 1
Hmm. Maybe SF fans don’t actually rate books based solely on their political preferences.
Will this trend continue? Let’s find out! (And wait ‘til you see what’s in store for me in July…)