Tuesday, April 17, 2007

March Book Reviews (not much more timely)

“Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

To sum it up, I would say: too much Terry, not enough Neil. The plot was entertaining enough, I guess, but I got tired of the sense of humour after a while.

"The Dialectic of Sex" by Shulamith Firestone

I read this one because I Blame the Patriarchy was doing a readalong. Apparently I am not a participator, because I know they discussed at least the first chapter and I never said anything, but I also hate not knowing what people are talking about, so I read the book anyway. It was far more entertaining than the title and cover made it seem. My favourite chapter was the one titled "Down with Childhood", which asked, among other things, what an adult is, except a larger child with more life experience. Though the book was published in 1970 when Shulamith was about 25, and then she spent a good part of the next 30 years in and out of mental hospitals. My guess is she suffers from Bipolar disorder, though it's not fair to diagnose people from their writing.

She has a good sense of humour, and at 224 pages, it certainly didn't kill me to read.
I hate the fact that I often choose what book to read based on its size.

"Light" by M. John Harrison

This book was sent to me via interlibrary loan after I went looking for any book by M. John Harrison. And, I wanted to read a book by him because I followed a link from mumpsimus.blogspot.com to Hal Duncan's web site where he wrote two exceptionally long posts about what's wrong with fantasy, and used Harrison as an example of where SF can work. Most of the Harrison books in the Toronto library system seemed to be "for the exclusive use of the Merrill Collection" which bugs me, as when am I ever going to be near enough to the Merrill Collection with nothing to do for a day than enjoy an entire book, even if it is only 218 pages? It smacks of book hoarding to me, and I hate hoarding in other people (I make an exception for myself, of course).

Reminds me of Joan Vinge's "Snow Queen" and "Summer Queen", I couldn't tell you why; surprisingly good for a science fiction novel about quantum physics. Actually, maybe I could tell you why -- because that's probably the last real hard SF I read, and I read it three or four years ago.

I have a nasty habit when I'm reading fiction--when I've read 50 or 60 pages, I usually flip to the back and read a little bit of the ending. I'm not trying to ruin it for myself, I'm just curious as to where it's going and maybe a bit impatient. With "Light", I wish I had read a little more of the ending. That's probably because I don't read that much science fiction, and I forgot that so much of it is "ambitious" and winds up with the main characters leading to the salvation of humanity or something like that. I wish I had known where it was all going, because then I might have been more tolerant of the ending when I got there. The scene at the end with the Shrander seemed totally a letdown to me. There were also a couple of spots where I felt like the author had gotten bored and just decided to wrap things up in a paragraph. Sure, I feel that way sometimes, too, but that's what the second draft is for (fleshing those paragraphs out).

It had some quirks I found jarring: "Here's what happened:" statements at the start of long stretches of exposition. But it had fabulous moments as well. Around 70 pages in there was an explanation of space travel that said that once they got out there, it was incredible they hadn't done it before, because apparently everything worked. Every wacko theory could propel you through space, even theories that cancelled each other out.

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