Miscellaneous Chatter > Literature

Yearly Reading Targets 2020

<< < (14/15) > >>

The P:
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

I think I liked this more than the first one.  It opens up the world more from the very localized setting in book one.  There are some interesting ideas and world-building going on that I think the first book needed in order to be more engaging.
This book really solidified what was a nagging complaint I had with book one, and it continues here; there is little emphasis put on relationships between characters, but those relationships end up being huge motivators for their subsequent choices.  Maybe I am not picking up on the author's subtleties, but it reads like these interpersonal motivators are very ad hoc to move the plot along.  In a similar way, the settings and ambience of scenes seem underdeveloped.  I guess the other side could end up with a bloated story (not that this book is short), but there needs to be more.
Despite it all, I will read the next and the one after it whenever it comes out.  It is one of the better new fantasies I've read.

The P:
Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man: Collected Stories edited by Nick Braccia and Michael Monello

My friend has a horror themed podcast and got to interview the editors of this.  He was very excited about it, so I listened to the Video Palace podcast (it's like a 10 episode radio play), then read the book.  I don't normally dig on anthologies, but this was pretty good.  My only real complaint about it is the inconsistency as it concerns the framing.  The through line of the anthology is these are stories and accounts gathered by some professor concerning the titular figure.  But some of the stories are written in third-person omniscient, which kind of took me out of any immersion.  There are some good stories in here and some mediocre ones, but nothing either amazing or awful.

The related podcast is pretty well done, and worth listening to if you are bored.  The book doesn't require you to have listened to the podcast.  There are a couple references and just one story directly related to it.  I think they put a couple of the stories up for free as audio files there as well; I haven't checked.

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (35)

The Fall is definitely an important part of the Hyperion saga, and it really does make Hyperion a better book. That said, it still wasn't as good as nostalgia memories say it ought to have been. I'm not exactly sure what I missed this time around, but its still a great pair of books. The Ousters remain some of my favorite "aliens" - despite them not technically being aliens at all.

I really must say though, after all the philosophizing, calling The Void Which Binds a consciousness that grows as consciousness in animals grows, but then reducing back to simply being "love" is something of a letdown.

I dont think I'll make it to my goal of 40, but hopefully I can get to one or two more this year.

The P:
How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It by K. J. Parker

Who knew last year's Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City was the first in a trilogy?  It certainly didn't seem like it needed to be followed, not that everything was nicely wrapped up.  This book takes place years later with a nearly entirely new cast of characters.  It is fun getting a completely different perspective on the events of the first book.  Parker is, as always, funny and entertaining to read.  How to Rule, like Sixteen Ways, is on the shorter side and doesn't have the lengthy sections describing mundane processes that sneaks in to many of Parker's works.  I love it of course, and heartily recommend.  These books might be the most approachable Parker, aside from his short fiction.

Rejoice: A Knife To The Heart by Steven Erikson (36)

Finished this one last week, and it'll be the last one of 2020. Definitely an interesting book, though more of a Thought Experiment writ long form, rather than a book in its own right. Also, despite it being much shorter than what he normally does, it is Classic Erikson. By which I mean, its told as a series of short stories set around the disconnected lives of many different characters, which he uses to weave a loosely connected story. Anyone who has read even part of Malazan will understand what I mean here.

The ideas presented in this First Contact novel are fun, and definitely worth some contemplating, but as he goes through all the various arguments for/against the positions presented in the books there really isn't THAT much let to think about. It is an interesting take on your standard scifi, and it doesn't quite work - for me. Not that he did it poorly, but Erikson seems to have a very strong writing style that I get tired of very quickly. If you're interested in a book with minimal plot, that reads like Erikson-does-Asimov, this is probably the book for you. Or if you want a first contact story that isn't about the humans somehow beating a stage 3 civilization, its probably a good bet too.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page

Go to full version