association-list a veritable mint for dunning-kruggerands

Bookshelf Update

Some comments on recent purchases.

Glasshouse by Charles Stross.

Longer review forthcoming. The long and the short of it: possibly Stross’ best to date. Go get it.

Worldwired by Elizabeth Bear.

The Chains That you Refuse by Elizabeth Bear.

Blood & Iron by Elizabeth Bear.

I really should write something longer about Bear. The first one is OK so far, it’s a continuation of Hammered and Scardown. I’m not a huge fan of this series, but it’s OK. That said, I liked it enough to pick up Chains (also, partially for the awesome title), which is very good. Somehow I’ve managed to miss everything that Bear has done in the short form so far, and I’m glad that Nightshade has brought most of it together in one place. Highly recommended. I picked up the last because I was so impressed, and my estimation of Bear only continued to rise. I had trouble putting it down. I’m eagerly awaiting the next thing that Bear comes out with. Seeing as she’s gotten out five or so books in less than two years, I don’t think that I’ll have to wait long.

Zootsuit Black by Jon George.

Just started this one, but already have some comments. George has a talent for some wonderfully vivid scenes, but the level of polish so far is really, really uneven. He suffers greatly from infodumpism, and they’re not particularly graceful infodumps. In fact, they’re kind of annoying. I’ll see it through and likely comment again, but the writing here is really rough in places. I’m hoping that it gets better now that most of the character introductions are out of the way.

The Engineer Reconditioned by Neal Asher.

More Asher. Asher has a blog now. And this book of short stories contains some introductions. The conclusion that I take away from these small samples of non-fiction that the man has written is that Asher is something of a personal responsibility guy, and by something, I mean he hates it a lot when people abdicate any degree of personal responsibility at all in any form whatsoever. He’s also not enamored of the current UK government. I don’t really blame him there, but I think that there are better reasons to dislike them. Somewhat unconventionally, he also seems to hate religion for much the same reason, which isn’t something that you see a lot in America, where people want you to be personally responsible so that their massive companies aren’t responsible for the damage that they do, and then turn around and tell you that you should also love Jesus and vote as your pastor tells you to. So, not all bad. And the short stories are pretty good. There’s a lot of stuff here that falls outside of his main Polity storylines, not all of it great, but most of it very interesting. The title story, set in the Polity universe but not quite worked in to where he’s taken it lately, takes up a good chunk of the book, and is quite good, giving a lot of info about the Jain and what might really be going on there.

Gravity’s Angels by Michael Swanwick.

Michael Swanwick depresses me. The other short story collection, this one from earlier in his career. Not quite as good, overall, as Tales of Old Earth, but excellent all the same. Go get it.

Infoquake by David Edelman.

Not sure what to say about this one. The writing is pedestrian, the ideas are interesting, the history seems unlikely, and the structure is awkward. The characters are OK. Two out of five isn’t really all that great. (note to self: strike the word ‘really’ from vocabulary). Anyway, there’s some good stuff and some bad stuff here, as I’ve said. I think that a lot of my ambivalence after the fact stems from the fact that the book doesn’t really focus on the interesting things that he could be talking about. We follow a weird, brilliant, self-involved protagonist with some tragedy in his past, but he’s more or less a child of privilige all the same. There are some interesting glimpses into the corners of the world that he’s building, but they’re just glimpses. And the giant macguffin that he’s building us up to the whole time just isn’t all that interesting or revolutionary. I didn’t hate it, though. It just didn’t really speak to me.

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