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review 2017-02-08 01:24
The Builders by Daniel Polansky - My Thoughts
The Builders - Daniel Polansky

The Builders was another of my guts buys.  It came up in my Kobo recs, I think and I was intrigued by the blurb and the price was right, so... I bought it.  :)  It's a novella and it's basically Brian Jacques Redwallesque except it's not suitable for youngsters.  *LOL*  Lots of violence and mayhem.

Now, one of my all-time favourite movies is The Magnificent Seven - the Yul Brynner version, of course - and as such, I'm drawn to books that feature a motley band of characters heading off on some kind of adventure or crusade or mission or whatever.  And that's what we have here.  It's a quick tale about a crew of not-so-noble animals heading off for what might be their final adventure.

And I liked it!

I liked Polansky's writing style and I enjoyed his character creations, even if I had to write down their names and what animals they were to keep them straight.  Once I wrote them down, though, it fixed in my mind, so I'll just blame by advancing years for that.  :)

Anyway, fun read and I'll be keeping Polansky's name in mind.

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review 2016-11-28 00:00
Those Below
Those Below - Daniel Polansky I really wanted to like this, and I can see where it's dark fantasy elements would appeal to many but I prefer my fiction to leave me with some hope at the end.

Man and Immortal fight, politics is complex
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text 2016-11-01 14:56
Jews vs Zombies
Jews vs Omnibus: Jews vs Aliens and Jews vs Zombies - Naomi Alderman,Daniel Polansky,Sarah Lotz,Shimon Adaf,Rachel Swirsky,Eric Kaplan,Rebecca Levene,Lavie Tidhar,Sarah Anne Langton

So that happened! 

 

For whatever reason, I ending up being assigned a bunch of Jewish science fiction (or science fiction written by Jewish writers, if you prefer) by my editor, which ended up being a fun mini-class. I picked this up as it's edited by the fabulous Lavie Tidhar. His A Man Lies Dreaming is one of those most bananas alt-history pulp meltdowns; it must be seen to be believed. 

 

I only read Jews vs Zombies, but BL doesn't have anything but the omnibus listed. Like most short story collections, it's a mix of better and worse. "Zayinim" by Adam Roberts is a standout, a sly alt-history that could easily keep going to novel length, given the richness of the detail. "The Scapegoat Factory" is funny, which one does not expect from zombie fiction, as is "the Friday People", but there the humor is black as pitch. The real Talmudic ones didn't work for me, too abstruse, but they may work for others. Definitely a better collection than the silly name implies. 

 

Ta da!

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text 2016-10-01 08:02
Books read (or not!) in September
Rivers of London: Body Work - Ben Aaronovitch,Luis Lobo-Guerrero,Lee Sullivan Hill,Andrew Cartmel
Those Above - Daniel Polansky
An Accident of Stars - Foz Meadows
The Kraken Sea - E. Catherine Tobler
The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin
Goblin Moon: Mask and Dagger 1 - Teresa Edgerton
Of Sorrow and Such - Angela Slatter
A Case of Possession - K.J. Charles
Night Broken - Patricia Briggs
Dark Horse - Michelle Diener

Books started: 13 (including the 2 I'm currently reading)

Books finished: 11

Books not finished: 1

 

Genre: Pretty much SFF, with one foray into historical m/m where there's magic so that probably still counts as SFF too. 

 

What progress on Mount TBR?: Got a few finished off, added a few... 

 

Book of the month: As you would probably guess, the stand-out book this month for me is The Obelisk Gate. Like its predecessor, one of the best things I've read all year. 

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review 2016-09-21 22:44
A Dreaming City
A City Dreaming - Daniel Polansky

[I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

 

Quite a strange book, in that it didn't exactly have a plot, more of a collection of "slice of life" moments. Well, moment in the life of a being able to bend reality to his will, or almost, surrounding himself, whether he wants it or not, with other exceptional beings.

 

After years, decades of wandering around, M is back in New York, where he gets reacquainted with old friends and enemies (not mutually exclusive), gets entangled in the local magic politics, finds himself facing strange worlds and creatures at times, all the while trying to remain "in good terms with the Management"—in other words, balancing feats of magic just right enough to live nicely, without getting much of backlash. And let's be honest, M's friends are often worse than his foes, considering the dire straits they take him into.

 

The New York M evolves in is definitely strange and enchanting in its own ways, mixing daily mundane places and events with happenings out of this world. Immortal mages trying to kill each others, the two Queens of New York trying to get the upper hand each int their own sly ways, revenge and curses, magical underground trains, apprentices coming out of nowhere, traders playing at human sacrifice... There are so, so many odd things in that city, in M's world in general.

 

The major problem I see with this novel is the fact it's a collection of mini-adventures, connected by a loose red thread much more than by any kind of solid plot. M meets some old friend who drags him on a crappy errand, or has to go and trick pirates to free another friend who got kidnapped, or finds himself in an alternate world whose rules may very well trample his own perception of reality... and so on. The blurb was misleading, in that its wording led me to believe there would be more of a plot (there's no real war between the Queens, for instance, and some of the stories felt repetitive). Instead, the connectors are people and places rather than events leading to other events, and not in the way of a more traditional narrative. Which is an interesting thing or not, depending on how you perceive it.

 

While I wasn't too convinced at first, in the end, this technique nevertheless offered glimpses into a magical world, and I found myself wanting to see which new adventure would unfold in every new chapter—not to mention that whenever connectors met, they still gave a sense of things tying together, but just a little, just enough, not as a series of convenient coincidences. (Because -that- can also be a problem, when a plot is too well packed and loose ends are too nicely tied.)

 

These stories also provide an interesting view on modern life: night scenes, drug addiction, poverty (so many people around you, who won't see you as you're being dragged down...), making and losing friends, art and pleasure, unpleasant acquaintances, wealthy lifestyle vs. a more subdued kind of existence, choices to make in the face of adversity, responsibilities, humanity...There's a strong current of life to this New Work, carrying its people just as much as its people carry it, and the author pictures it funny, dark and loving tones all at once.

 

Conclusion: I can't say I absolutely loved this book, however it contains a lot of imaginative elements, and the New York, the City with a capital C described in it, was such a vivid backdrop that it may just as well be called a character as well. 3.5 stars, going on 4.

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