Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Bellwether by Connie Willis. Science fiction.
A comedy about a statistician trying to figure out the genesis of fads (specifically, 1920’s hair-bobbing). Plus a little bit of romance. This book seemed like it was made for me! And it was enjoyable, but…I wanted to be charmed more than I was. Academic/office politics satire is…well, it’s been done quite a bit, hasn’t it?… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee. Science fiction.
If you love Leckie’s Ancillary Justice books, you should read Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy. But don’t read Revenant Gun until you’ve read the first two books; it will make zero sense. To be honest, I have read the first two and while I (mostly) always understood what was going on in Revenant Gun, I sometimes had no idea why.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Science fiction.
I can imagine how this would have made an excellent and terrifying radio show. As a book, it’s pretty tedious. Not that it doesn’t have some moments, and I do generally enjoy Wells’s writing, but a lot of this book collapses down to “masses of people rushing to and fro across the countryside, with every town and village itemized.” (Do the inhabitants of Chipping Barnet get a special thrill when they are stomped on by aliens?) I’m not sure I would have stuck with it except that (a) the edition I was reading (NYRB) had marvelous chapter-heading illustrations by Edward Gorey and (b) the introduction I read in a different edition (Barnes & Noble Classics) reflected a fascinating, cringeworthy light on Wells’s technocrat agenda, and I was curious to see how that played out in the book.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Naked in Death by J. D. Robb. Science fiction romantic suspense.
This is going to be one of those reviews in which it seems I didn’t enjoy reading the book. That is not the case. It was an immensely fun page-turner, which I plowed through in three sittings. Nora Roberts knows how to tell an engaging story.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Fox’s Tower and Other Stories by Yoon Ha Lee. Science fiction and fantasy short stories.
I’ve raved about Lee’s work here before and will do so again. If you’re not ready to commit to his bizarre and wonderful trilogy about starship warfare based around calendars, try The Fox’s Tower. Most of the stories are at most a page or two, poetic and strange and warm.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Vulcan by Dayton Ward. Science fiction.
A nicely done fake travel guide to the planet Vulcan, for hardcore Trekkies only. The author must have put in a lot of work. I appreciate the callbacks to a couple of the better novels, such as Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan, as well as the reference to Mark Gardner’s Vulcan Language Institute (very politely sourced, even!).… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee. Science fiction.
Another book by Yoon Ha Lee means more strange space battles, more snappy dialogue, more abstruse politics you will never understand, and more hilarious sociopaths arguing about music, playing card games, petting cats, eating sweets, cosseting onion plants, and racking up death tolls in the tens of thousands. (But mostly off-screen.)
Jedao was grinning at her.
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Literature/Humor/Science Fiction (sneakily—watch for it).
It’s always a dangerous business when you search out whichever classic it is that has almost the same plot as what you’re writing. Some authors refuse to read That Book (whatever it is for them), and I’ve sometimes fallen into that camp. This time, though, I don’t really care.… >> Read more