I’ve been meaning to post reviews of the books I read as I read them, but I never get to that. So, here’s a data dump of all the books I’ve read in the past couple of months as I make notes on them and erase them from my ebook reader.
Alvin Maker - a fantastic series from Orson Scott Card. A 7 book alternate history of early America, where earth-type magic is real and people have “knacks”, which are minor magical talents such as making people feel at home or making barrels that never leak. Alvin knows from childhood that his power is something special. He is a “maker”, someone who can alter and create anything, as a force for good in the world. Of course, the world is full of petty, jealous and ambitious people who have something to say about that. I’ve read the first 4 (Seventh Son, Red Prophet, Prentice Alvin and Alvin Journeyman) pretty much back to back because I want to know how it turns out. Riveting.
Starfire: Insurrection by David Weber and Steve White – I loved David Weber’s “Empire of Man” series with John Ringo, but I couldn’t get into the Honor Harrington books that he wrote on his own. This series looks like another non-starter for me. Three times I’ve tried to start it, and three times I’ve been confused and angry by the time I finished the first chapter. I feel like I can’t figure out who is doing what and who everybody is, even just a few pages in. I guess it’s the John Ringo part of the Empire of Man that I like…
Adventures, Encounters, Exploits by Mike Resnick – These are three separate novels detailing the adventures of a scoundrel in British colonial times. He goes by “The Right Reverend Honorable Doctor Lucifer Jones”, and he has decided that the best way to make a quick buck is to set up a church somewhere and rake in the dough. These books document his stumbling from one scam to the next trying to raise enough money to build his “Tabernacle of Saint Luke” and settle down. In Adventures, he eventually gets kicked out of every country in Africa, so he moves to the Orient in Encounters, and then by necessity moves to Europe in Exploits. The first is gut-busting funny. The next two are more of the same, but they seem to get rather formulaic and a bit bland. Enjoyable, nonetheless.
The World Jones Made, by Philip K Dick is the story of a man who can see exactly one year into the future, and therefore lives every moment twice. The story is told from the perspective of a government agent in the big-brotherish organization that is tasked with investigating him. Dark, philosophical and surprisingly readable for a Dick novel. I’m surprised there isn’t a very poor nothing-like-the-book movie adaptation yet.
The Sirens Of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is a bizarre little book, a science-fiction acid trip. It radically changes gears and becomes a different book at least three times during the course of the story. It’s very enjoyable and I will definitely read it again, but all the way through it I couldn’t help this nagging feeling that I was back in high school and I should be writing an essay on what each character and event symbolized.
Heart of the Comet by David Brin and Gregory Benford - I like Gregory Benford, and David Brin is one of my favorite authors (Kiln People is brilliant) so I jumped when I saw this. It was more than I expected. A massive tale of scientists who set up a research station on Halley’s Comet and ride it through a full 70+ year orbit. The entire story is well told, has a fascinating group of characters, and takes a couple of sudden right-angles at two different points in the book that leave you wondering where it’s going. You don’t wonder long, as the story picks up and rockets off in the new direction and you can’t help but get pulled along. It’s got deep things to contemplate about human/machine interactions, racism, community and the definition of “human”. Exciting, meaningful, deep and well written, it’s a keeper for sure.
End of part one, more tomorrow.
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