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Search tags: december-2015
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text 2016-02-24 21:14
Reading progress update: I've read 285 out of 462 pages.
White Teeth - Zadie Smith

Hoping I can finish this book tonight.  It's due on Friday and I will be out to the theatre on Thursday night (to see As You Like It).  Now that I've put in this much time, getting to the end is starting to feel rather necessary!

 

I heard the author, Zadie Smith, give a lecture at our university two weeks ago and now I can hear her lovely voice, telling me the story in my mind's ear.

 

177 pages to go.

 

 

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text 2016-01-18 16:01
Reading progress update: I've read 71 out of 176 pages.
Bitter Lake: A Novel - Marika Deliyannides

Well, I'm enjoying this novel quite a bit.

 

What a relief!  You know how it is when someone with significance in your life asks you to read his wife's book?  You feel pressure to like it.

 

No problem with this one--I think its going to be a 4 star book.

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review 2016-01-08 18:28
Stormbringer / Michael Moorcock
Stormbringer - Michael Moorcock

The epic tale of Elric of Melnibone, albino prince of ruins, moves to it's awesome conclusion -with the whole of the natural and supernatural world in mighty conflict - the final conflict, Armageddon. Elric holds the key to the future: the new age which must follow the destruction.To turn that key he must sacrifice all that he loves and risk his very soul.

 

The strongest feeling I get from Moorcock’s Elric series is melancholy. I understand the lure of that state, as I get it when I read my beloved King Arthur books or at the end of a Shakespearian tragedy. But I feel like Moorcock does it with smoke & mirrors instead of through masterful story-telling. In Stormbringer (and the other Elric novels to be sure) I get this feeling from a combination of atmosphere and setting, but Elric himself leaves me cold. It’s pretty hard to root for the guy who is portrayed as the lesser evil. The details of each novel are tiresomely repetitive—Elric tries to resist using his demonic sword, Stormbringer; without it, he is too weak to be of any use in macho pursuits; he returns once again to using his soul-sucking weapon.

One simple word, repeated several times, was also jarring to me. Elric keeps saying “thanks,” which to me feels like a very modern usage and out of place in this rather archaic setting. If he said “many thanks” it would have grated less for me. Likewise, a number of times contracted words were used, when I thought that spelling out both words would have been more true to the ancient atmosphere, not to mention matching with the other language used. I guess I expect more precise language in a pseudo-archaic world.

I can’t say that I’m unhappy to be finished the Elric saga…..in many ways, it has felt like reading the same book six times.

Book 203 of my science fiction and fantasy reading project.

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review 2016-01-04 15:46
Half-Off Ragnarok / Seanan McGuire
Half-Off Ragnarok - Seanan McGuire

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn't expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone...

 

 

Hail! Cheese and cake for all!

Half Off Ragnarok is another delightful installment of the Price family series, cryptid investigators and protectors par excellence. This third book follows Alexander Price, Verity’s brother, in his studies of reptiles, both regular and cryptid. I appreciated the accuracy of the reptile information and of Alex’s location at a zoo, an environment that I am familiar with.

The excellent Aeslin mice are still present, although we are obviously dealing with Alex’s branch of the species. Colonies of sapient mice are one of the best inventions in McGuire’s series and they retain their charm in this third novel. They don’t have the same prominence in HOR, but they still provide an important touchstone—the mice need to be fed, consulted, and protected.

We also meet Shelby Tanner, Alex’s love interest and a stereotypical representation of an Australian. Even the cover illustration makes her a strange cross between Barbie and Bindi Irwin. Thankfully, she becomes a more rounded person as the reader gets to know her, since I suspect she will be a regular character in future.

I’m a fan of urban fantasy and this remains one of my favourite series.

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review 2016-01-04 15:44
Armor / John Steakley
Armor - John Steakley

Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth's most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man's mind.

This is a remarkable novel of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat--and how the strength of the human spirit can be the greatest armor of all.

 

Roll together Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Arnold’s Terminator, and you get the influences on Armor. It must have been part of the zeitgeist of the mid-1980s, as Card’s Ender’s Game was published right around the same time. The suit of armor is its own character, which binds the two bits of the story together. At first, we follow the exploits of semi-superman Felix, as he battles the Ants, an insect-like interstellar enemy of Earth (very like the Buggers of Ender’s Game). Eventually, we see space-pirate Jack Crow acquire the suit of armor and explore it’s stored memories with two scientists on a world that he is supposed to be infiltrating.

It was engaging, although I found the Jack Crow sections to be a bit opaque in meaning. Why did the author switch to his point of view? I’m unsure. And I found long unbroken stretches of text, where it was difficult to find a reasonable place to leave a bookmark, pausing places if you will.

All in all, military science fiction isn’t really my thing, although I appreciate the things that it can say about society.

Book 202 of my science fiction & fantasy reading project.

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