April 30, 2013
The Business and Practice of Coaching – Lynn Grodski
Solid, in depth, nitty-gritty nuts ‘n bolts book about what it says it is. Very useful.
The Quantum Thief – Hannu Rajaniemi
Rajaniemi burst on the scene a few years ago to great props with this, and they are justified. Hugely fun romp through a posthuman future where the hard science has melted and become effectively magic. Clever, entertaining, definitely a standout of recent SF.
The Course of the Heart – M. John Harrison
Deeply weird novel. (Came it at #1 on the Guardian’s list of weird fiction, as it happens.) Probably does the best job of presenting the experience of the uncanny entering into the normal world I have seen. At times deeply frustrating – what exactly are you trying to say here, Mr Harrison? – , but short, acute, and its strengths are so overwhelming – so many amazingly good lines! – that it is worth the effort. Maybe would be clearer on a reread.
Thundersqueak – Ramsey Dukes
OMFG. Incredibly funny, entertaining, and brilliant. It is scary that something written over thirty years ago can be so fresh, relevant, anarchic, and thought-provoking. Incessantly quotable. A book about magic via politics, it has a lot to say about politics, even for the jaded, and sort of encapsulates the whole point of chaos magic (of which it is considered a founding text). And so much more. One to return to. (Dukes (itself a pseudonym) is here writing under a pair of pseudonyms, Liz Angerford & Ambrose Lea.)
Vathek – William Beckford
A 17 year old English lord’s son wrote this in 3 days about 150 years ago. And that sort of shows, but also, there is a reason people are still reading it. Entertaining, mildly deranged, tale of the Caliph Vathek being tempted by evil, and succumbing, abusing his absolute power. The vision of Baal’s fiery palace, and the wrong doers eventual punishment, is remarkable.
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
Classic SF novel about the madness of war unfolding across relativistic spacetime. Breaks most of the show vs tell dichotomy in writing, but what he is telling is consistently interesting and entertaining. Mostly, aside from the technical stuff, which isn’t too hibrow, the book is really about abiding disgust with war, and human and military stupidity. A short fast read, well worth it.
Currently on: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which comes with a big rep as far as being good literature goes, and so far lives up to it.