Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Books Read

It's an ongoing thing: I nearly always have a book and I'm nearly always looking for more.

     Recently under the Bobbiscope:

     Monster Hunter Legion, Larry Correia:  You should realize that if this was 1933, Monster Hunter would be a magazine and Correia would be destroying typewriters keeping the pages filled, probably under some bland whitebread pseudonym the publisher chose for him.  As it is, he gets to keep his name but there's a year or more between books -- and the long wait is well-rewarded!  Legion brings us back to the main cast of MH, after the solo working-vacation (!) in Alpha, with a few of his characteristically-askew retouchings on old tropes (it's a tightrope walk and he never slips, though I always worry when he steps out -- gnomes?  Trolls? ...That hoary old mythical creature?).  He's still the best writer of action scenes in the business, bar none, and gets in some nice X-Files-ish images and byplay this go-round.  It was especially pleasurable to encounter Agent Franks again, possibly the last honest man employed in the Federal bureaucracy.  I won't ruin it for you, but you should buy this book!  Justice prevails, but only just, and the meta-plot still hangs over our the heads of our heros.  I can't wait to read what happens next.

     In The Garden Of Iden, Kage Baker: The first of her "Company" novels, in which a one-way time-travelling company from the far future has set up a network of post-human immortals to very covertly raid all of history.  The immortals are only too human and Baker's evocation of, in this case, 16th-Century Spain and England is on-point. Handled with a surprisingly light hand despite a theme and plot that could have been quite heavy, I recommend this; if you liked Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle," you'll find this book a bittersweet confection.

     Redshirts, John Scalzi: Starts as a romp though a staggeringly bad SF TV series and goes meta when the characters realize they're being written.  Poorly.  By the time its over, it's gone meta on its own meta-ness and you'll have realized what it was bugged you about that TV show you watched in reruns.  While one of the "Codas" struck me a little self-indulgent, overall it is both a good book and a painless lesson in how not to suck at writing episodic SF/Adventure -- principles Scalzi himself had to struggle with as a creative consultant on Stargate: Universe (which didn't suck and bears no resemblance to the series in the book).  If you ever wondered why TV writing tends to slide off into the ditch, you should read this book; if you ever found yourself having to play the redshirt, you must read this book.

     Wireless, Charles Stross: An enjoyable short-story  collection spanning all of his worlds, including some that never made it out of the short-story stage.  Via Kindle and money well spent.

     Hide Me Among The Graves, Tim Powers, picking up the threads of his earlier, terrifyingly-coherent take on what vampires really are in The Stress Of Her Regard, this book is something of a long, lucid and terribly dark dream.  I liked it but you might have nightmares. Powers has a really original slant on the supernatural, IMO the first genuinely new thing since the Cthulhu Mythos.

     The Bible Repairman, Tim Powers -- I didn't know he wrote short fiction; it turns out his dagger is, if anything, sharper and more deftly-weilded than his sword.

     Declare, Tim Powers: this is what set me to catching up on his work.  Charles Stross mentions it as the book he was warned not to read before finishing his own first novel of the The Laundry.  I can see why; though the differences are many, the essential notions are very similar.  If you like Stross but wish he'd written more in the tone of A Colder War, this book is for you.  If you like the bleaker sort of British spy novel, this book's for you. As always, Powers is one of SF's finest stylists; his prose never struggles or stumbles and never, ever occludes the story.

     I am presently nearly through Sir Terry Pratchett's Dodger, which isn't set on the Discworld though I swear sometimes you can see it from there.  It is Pratchett at the top of his form, a delight to read.  Review to follow.

     (As ever, what you should do if you want to buy any of these books is hie yourself over to Tam's and use her Amazon link to order them.  Costs you not one red cent extra and she gets a commission -- thereby freeing her from having to exist on the dry crusts and dessicated vegetables I, as a thrifty landlady, would otherwise feed her. Thus, henceward.)


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

You should also enjoy the rest of the Kage Baker oeuvre. I just read them myself, I think after Tam mentioned them the other week.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Been years and years since I read the Hobbit. I figure a redo was in order.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Redshirts, huh. Funny thing. Since there's so much Bad Teewee out there, the Wife and I are going through old series via Netflex. Just watched an early episode of Eureka, and I noticed the only casualty was the no-name Red-Shirted Pizza Delivery Guy.

You know, I think I need to check my Closet and see if there are any Red Shirts that need to go to Goodwill. Just in Case.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

NJT: You're right, it is about time. Especially with the movie coming out soon.

Anonymous said...

More books to buy?

Jeez, I'll have to start keeping them on the basement floor soon. I hope you are cognisant of that fact ;-p

Anonymous said...

Although I could keep them in a storage unit I have in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Now that's a big word!

Oh, and I concur on Dodger - although getting withdrawal symptoms from both Sam Vimes as well as MHI and Hard Magic. Please, please type quicker Mr. Correia!!!

Reading the latest in Honor Harrington and Lt. Leary interspersed with Odd Apocaplypse whilst in Starbucks. I'd recommend all of them.

Joe in PNG said...

You know, the thought of Larry Correia writing for the horror pulps back in the 20's & 30's give me kind of an excited shiver. Imagine him collaborating with HP Lovecraft & Robert Howard...

Dave said...

Redshirts was excellent, but I real dig Larry Corriea. If you take a gander at his Grimnoir series (starting with "Hard Magic"), you will see that your '30s pulp reference was even more apt than you realize! I read all my stuff as audiobooks and I love them!

Roberta X said...

Dave: Yep, I'm up to date on the "Hard Magic" books. They are indeed right in the pulp bracket, in terms of theme and imagery--

The nice thing is that Larry is writing now, not then; most of the old pulp master wrote at breakneck speed and revised barely if at all. In later years, Lester Dent lamented that even when he didn't have to, he found it very difficult to break those habits. Larry is able to polish, to explore deeper themes or capture a handful of whimsy while still smashing through walls in a flurry of flying fists. This is made of win.

Joe in PNG said...

And without having to pop uppers like candy as poor Philip K Dick did.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Declare is a gateway drug.