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review 2018-02-28 02:35
Review of "Dust" (Jacb's Ladder #1) by Elizabeth Bear
Dust - Elizabeth Bear

This reader's personal opinion, ©2018, all rights reserved, not to be quoted, clipped or used in any way by goodreads, Google Play, amazon.com or other commercial booksellers* 


This was an uneven read for me.  Had an air of From the Legend of Biel - Mary Staton, Zelazny's Amber books and thousands of SF&F with characters in episodes exploring about a derelict ship, space stations, worlds, dimensions,  or whatever — mostly the atmosphere of familiar reads was actually wonderful.

 

One of those books better in concept to me then in the actual read.  I get the deep issues like genetic manipulation, class struggles, etc.  Not really from the book description itself which was misleading.  The description of this book the next in series makes is better:

"For hundred of years, the generation ship Jacob’s Ladder—conceived of by a religious cult as an experiment in forced evolution—has drifted derelict in orbit around a pair of dying stars."

Others likely would rate higher; I'm not fond of too much wandering about places not developed enough to become interesting and not really adding to the storyline.  Too many introduced, then moved on from.  There was a story, but much was spent just one adventure after another inside ship parts.  

 

I might have DNF'ed except reading to catch up for a group read of book #2, Chill - Elizabeth Bear  and it was an interesting concept from a favorite author.  Never really got a sense of urgency.

 

I think the POV changes were handled well.  Felt sympathetic to many characters.  Some hiw just didn't really connect to the characters, though.  Leaving me with a story that ddn't prigress quickly and irritating scant hints at how evolution was working on the world's within world's that were spaceship environs.


*©2018.  All rights reserved except permission is granted to author or publisher (except Penumbra Publishing) to reprint/quote in whole or in part. I may also have cross-posted on The Reading Room, Libib, LibraryThing, and other sites including retailers like kobo and Barnes and Noble. Posting on any site does not grant that site permission to share with any third parties or indicate release of copyright.  

 

Ratings scale used in absence of a booklikes suggested rating scale:

★★★★★ = All Time Favorite 
★★★★½ = Extraordinary Book. Really Loved It.
★★★★☆ = Loved It.
★★★½☆ = Really Liked.
★★★☆☆ = Liked.
★★½☆☆ = Liked parts; parts only okay. Would read more by author.
★★☆☆☆ = Average.   Okay. 
★½☆☆☆ = Disliked or meh? but kept reading in hopes would improve.
★☆☆☆☆ = Loathed It. Possibly DNF and a torturous read.
½☆☆☆☆ = So vile was a DNF or should have been. Cannot imagine anyone liking.  (Might also be just an "uploaded" word spew or collection that should not be dignified by calling itself a "published book." If author is going batshit crazy in the blogosphere over reviews -- I now know why they are getting bad reviews.  Or maybe author should take remedial classes for language written in until basic concepts like using sentences sink in. Is author even old enough to sign a publishing contract or do they need a legal guardian to sign for them?)

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review 2018-01-24 04:52
[Book Review] We
We - Yevgeny Zamyatin,Clarence Brown


Several things drew me to We.  Comparison to 1984 is unavoidable, yet it predates it by several decades. A science fiction dystopia written in 1921 Russia that is still being read and discussed today seems like the type of foundation literature I should be familiar with.

The book is definitely an interesting read, pulling on themes we expect to see in any modern literary dystopia with investigation and discussion of what it means to be an individual.  It is also difficult to read, a short novel that makes use of uncomfortable descriptions and has passages that are undeniably racist.  What remains is to untangle what is relic of the environment in which the book was written, what is an aspect of the horror of the setting, and what is true bias of the author.  Philosophically interesting, but for me the discomfort rides heavy even if took minimal space in the text.

Discussion Fodder:

  • What aspects of this book are due to its dystopia setting, and what aspects are due to when and where it was written?
  • How are concepts similar or different?  In particular concepts of the beauty, rationality, logic, the soul, etc.
  • How reliable is the narrator?  Is he a metric of which we can measure the standard contentment of ciphers, or is he an abnormally content in his world of rational numbers?
  • What is the place and purpose of the arts in this story?  How does the formulaic structure of their music and poetry change the impact and role? 
  • How does the author talk about physicality?
  • The narrator describes a "past" while the author writes from approximately a century ago.  How do his descriptions match the world we live in, and how have things changed?
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2018/01/book-review-we.html
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review 2017-12-22 18:46
[Book Review] Grass
Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
Grass / Sheri S. Tepper

It was good for me to return to this book, ten to fifteen years since I read it last.  I think, on reflection, while I loved the story then, a lot went over my head.  Which is a bit surprising since Tepper isn't exactly subtle in this book...  Not all science fiction is political, but you can count on examinations of politics, morality, and gender in Tepper's works.  This does end up with some instances of archetypes rather than characters, but she makes it work well, in part by using an archetype with depth that other characters to reflect off of.  Some of the mystery is lost in a re-read, but there were still enough details that I missed or forgot that I hunted for clues throughout.

I throughly enjoyed my reread, and plan on hitting up the other two Arabi books in the near future.  At almost 20 years old, Grass does not suffer from anachronisms, neatly sidestepping how society and technology has changed between 1989 and now.

Discussion Fodder:
  • How does the story play with preconceptions?  What do you think of the reveals?
  • Sanctity imposes birth restrictions but bans abortion.  How does Tepper frame and examine issues regarding birth control?
  • What is the role of religion?  How have religions as we know them changed?  What are the strengths and flaws in the religious powers? 
  • Let's talk about the Hunt, and the Foxen and Hippae.  What's going on?  How are things revealed and obscured?  What about the deliberate ignorance, how much of it is true due to manipulation and how much of it is ignoring the truth?
  • Several different cultures and society exist within the story.  How do they contrast?  How are they similar?  What are their blind spots? 
  • What character tropes are used in the story?  What purposes do they serve?
  • How are virtues and vices handled?  What about guilt, mercy, morality, and forgiveness?
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/12/book-review-grass.html
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review 2017-11-12 04:31
[Book Review] Viscera
Viscera - Gabriel Squailia

No one writes quite like Squailia.  I met her when we were both on a panel about body horror, and shortly afterwards looked up her book, Dead Boys.  It was strange, creepy, creative, and wonderful.

So that brought me to eagerly looking forward to reading Viscera, and it seemed like a good choice for an October read, so here we are.  Viscera is dark, funny, weird, creepy, unexpected, and human.  I also see a lot of what Squailia talked about in the panel, particularly at looking at gender dysmorphia in the framing of body horror. Excellent novel that I could not put down.

Discussion Fodder:

  • What are the different approaches to morality in the book?  How do the characters construct and frame their lives and behaviors?  Think of Ashlan, Hollis, followers of Fortune, and the Puppeteer.
  • How do the Gods fit into the story and the shape of the characters lives?
  • How does the author write gender and identity?
  • What genre would you say this book should be classified as?  How does it cross genres?
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review 2017-10-18 03:51
daaaamn
Viscera - Gabriel Squailia

seriously.  damn.

 

Gabriel Squalia writes like no one else.

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